Class Project- Bruntsfield Vest

Bruntsfield is a traditional Fair Isle vest pattern by Ysolda Teague, and we recently wrapped up a 12 week class focusing on the pattern. As a teacher, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone’s hard work and dedication realized, especially in something as challenging as this vest. We actually had a couple of fairly new knitters (around a year of experience) tackle this project. I’m seriously amazed with your skill– I was still working on garter stitch scarves at that point!

Bruntsfield is knit with five colors of fingering weight wool on a recommended US #2.5 and #4 needles, requiring a serious amount of knitting! Knitters choose colors, swatched, swapped colors, re-swatched, and measured. Ysolda Teague’s patterns are always so well written, and she offers Fair Isle tutorials for things like choosing colors and color dominance.

Like most of the class, I knit mine with five colors of Harrisville Shetland- charcoal, black, silver mist, white, and marigold. I find that choosing colors is always the hardest part of Fair Isle knitting. While swatching helps, it can be difficult to visualize the pattern as something larger than a 4”x 4” swatch. One of our knitters, who has taken classes from the great Meg Swansen, recommended holding your swatch up against a mirror to see a larger version of the swatch. That’s kind of brilliant.

A few of us did have to swap out colors before starting. I originally had red in my palette, but it dominated the swatch. Another knitter had too many bold colors fighting with one another, so she choose to omit one for another neutral. And then of course, there were a few who were able to pick the right palette from the get go.

We all learned quite a few tricks as we went, even me. One knitter suggested spit splicing new colors in as you go to eliminate as many ends to weave in later. Another found that coloring in her chart with her colors was easier to visualize where she was at in the pattern.

The hardest part about knitting any garment is trying to get the right size. One knitter ended up knitting and blocking three different swatches before she found one that would give her the fabric and size she wanted. Her finished vest has an amazing fit! I have knit two Cruden vests (another Fair Isle vest pattern from Ysolda), and while I love and wear the vests, they are just a little too boxy. I decided to shorten this one a bit and added three more sets of shoulder decreases, both good decisions for my vest.

Oh yeah, the steek! Maybe I should take back what I said about the hardest part about this garment being the size. The hardest part about this one was CUTTING IT! Now, prepping the steek was easy, but cutting your knitting is not something any knitter wants to do. It’s definitely a leap of faith and really the only way you can knit a vest like this without pulling out your hair. A couple knitters steeked in class, and there was a collective sigh of relief when yarn didn’t just fly out from the cut edges. Phew.

The Bruntsfield pattern can be found on Ravelry and is available for purchase and download at Knitorious