Third Time Lucky with Debbie Bliss Cotton Denim DK

You might have seen the high neck and v-neck cropped vests that I knit from Debbie Bliss Cotton Denim DK in charcoal earlier this year. Both were original designs that I worked up myself, and both were really successful. I was able to get the shaping that I wanted in my pattern-writing, which I see as a huge win! However, while each of them turned out kind of how I wanted, they were both lacking something in terms of fit.

The high neck vest was too large around the back, and I found myself constantly pulling it up, while the v-neck was too short in the body and I found myself constantly pulling it down! I thought I might be able to get by with them, but having not worn either more than once, I thought it was time to put sentiment aside and make something that I was absolutely going to use.

So I set about frogging both of my lovingly knit vests, and I learned a huge lesson about focusing on practicality and wearability in my work, as opposed to emotion. I still wanted to make a vest, but this time I chose to create one garment from the two balls of yarn I had, so I could guarantee better coverage and comfort.

As my style has evolved over recent months, I wanted something with a casual, looser fit that would be easy to throw on when the warmer weather is with us. Again, I decided to wing it myself with an improv pattern design, one that I didn’t even write down this time, and the result was great.

I think the length is perfect for my style (I’m still all about the crop), but I love the wider straps and the scooped neckline. It looks great paired with jeans and trainers, and it’ll take me into autumn layered under my cropped leather jacket with a pair of ankle boots.

I have to say that I’m really quite grateful for how smoothly my improv knitting work has been going! While the first two vests didn’t quite work out, I learned a lot from them about pattern designing, fit and style, and I know it’s knowledge I’ll put to good use in the future.

Have you guys experimented with improv knits? What lessons have you learnt? I’d love to know how you’ve got on!

2 replies on “Third Time Lucky with Debbie Bliss Cotton Denim DK

  • Catharine McLaren

    How did you work out how to do the shaping? Are there any resources you used? I’m trying to knit something similar. Thanks 🙂

    • JFJohnson

      Hi Catherine! I actually just made this pattern up as I went along, so I didn’t use any resources for the shaping, and unfortunately didn’t write down my technique to share with you. As far as I can remember, the main part of the body is knit straight in the round, and I then cast off stitches for the underarms and continued to work the back and the front separately.

      For the front, I knit until the body was long enough for what I wanted and cast off stitches in the middle, then continued each side, decreasing evenly at the neck edge to curve for the straps.

      For the back I continued to decrease at the armhole edges to create a bit of shaping, then knit straight until it was as long as the front (I think!). I then cast off the stitches in the middle, leaving the same number as were left for the front straps on each side to sew the shoulder seams together.

      I hope that helps somewhat with what you’re trying to create, and please don’t hesitate to ask any further questions you might have!


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