Thursday, March 20, 2008

Devra's Vest Revisited

In December of 2006, I made my very first garment for my friend, Devra. I didn't make a vest because I wanted to, but because Devra complained that all I ever gave her were scarves and now that she's got a whole bunch of scarves she'd like something else. A sweater. Well, I wasn't about to start on a real sweater with my very limited skills, so I asked Jan to find something easy for me. Jan found what was supposed to be a nice, simple vest. It turned out to be the vest that would never die.

The pattern -- which really was simple enough for any beginner -- came from RYC's Classic Beach collection. I made a small adjustment to it: I wanted their outside to be my inside. I figured Devra would prefer the smooth knitting on the outside rather than the nubbly texture the pattern suggested. Because she looks pretty in pastels, I chose Natural Silk Aran. This is a lovely yarn of viscose, silk and linen, and the colors are muted and feminine.

Anyway, this vest was to be Devra's Christmas present, and I worked feverishly to get it done on time. I took the vest to doctor's appointments. I took it to visit my Mom in Canada. I took it on business trips. I spent hours on that darned vest. Knitting and ripping. Knitting and ripping. But as I knitted and ripped, I didn't realize I'd made one small error: instead of the scoop neckline, I'd made the men's crew neckline. And, not only that, being a beginner I didn't know to cast off loosely enough for the neck to stretch, so it was a tight fit over the head. But I figured Devra had a nice, little head so it wouldn't be too much of a problem.

Well, Christmas came and I proudly delivered to Devra her beautiful striped silk aran vest. She loved it. Well, she said she loved it...because she's very nice. But I watched in dismay as she struggled to pull the darned thing over her head. She pulled and pulled and pulled...and I thought her ears might come flying off. But eventually she got it on and we all ooohed and aaaahed and said how lovely it was even though we knew that the neck was a real problem.

Devra gave me some of her absolutely incredible home-made caramels for Christmas and everyone was happy.

FAST FORWARD TO 2007-- This year I decided to make Devra the same vest in a different yarn, and with a neckline she could get over her head. She was so happy when she received it. And I was so happy that finally I'd made her something she'd actually be able to wear. Because Vest #2 turned out so well, I thought I'd better fix Vest #1.

A couple of weeks ago Devra returned the first vest to me and I set out on the daunting task of ripping and repairing to give it the right neckline. The vest went with me to Canada to visit my Mom (she's getting to know this vest very well) and I sat and ripped and ripped and ripped as I got caught up on all the family news: sister-in-law Donna is winning her courageous fight against breast cancer; cousin Pauline wants another Linda Lundstrom coat because the designer is going out of business and Pauline loves her parkas; brother John is making his own dill pickles). Once the deconstruction was completed, it was no mean feat to ensure I had all the right number of stitches and that I was picking up at the right spot. I don't know how many times I counted...over and over again to ensure that I wasn't about to screw up again.

Anyway, after a few evenings of working on it, I had re-created Devra's vest and I think it looks pretty good considering what it's been through.

Today I'm having lunch with Devra and will proudly present to her the new, improved old vest. Unless her head has grown to gargantuan proportions, she'll have no trouble getting the vest over it. I hope.

I think I've decided that my favorite thing about knitting is that you can do the same thing all over again and still feel a sense of accomplishment.

Next year, Devra's getting a sock.

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