I began my Machrihanish Vest this week. Stranded knitting has its unique challenges and benefits and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy projects like this. Although I have some Scottish background, none of my ancestors came from the Shetlands as far as I know, much less the Orkneys or Fair Isle. But I do so enjoy the rhythm of this style of two-handed knitting with the myriad patterns that can be created. Maybe I'll find a link some day.
I started the swatch right away -- shown here. Did I mention challenges? Since this project is knitted in the round, I needed to make my pattern swatch in the round, too. I had to do this on a very long needle using a magic loop. I worried that the loop gap might cause gauge issues, but it wasn't that bad. You might see a little distortion running through the center of the leftmost "X" motif where the gap was. I steeked across the other gap and later cut it. I didn't reinforce it at all. Love the grabiness of Shetland wool! After steaming, cutting, pinning and drying, the swatch was at 37.5 stitches over 4", just over the called for 36. The lightest of tugs and I was just fine. Oh -- and US knitters take note -- this pattern calls for a 2.75mm US2 needle. Many needles marketed as US2 circulars are actually 3mm. Check the millimeter size! I had to get a new one. It's from Knitter's Pride, and I quite like it, though the dark cord can make the blue stitches hard to see.
The swatching directions call for knitting half the motif on one size needle and half on another, because there is an option for making the lower section narrower. I'm more tube-shaped than v-shaped, so I'm not bothering with the shaping. There's also an option for making the ribbing twice as long and then doubling it under for extra strength. This appealed to me at first, and I bought extra yarn for it, but ultimately decided it would be too bulky for Texas.
I started on the vest proper a few days back and I'm to the point that the swatch left off. I've only dropped stitches a few times, but found them and fixed them easily enough. I'm really liking watching this pattern grow. So far, so good. As is often the case, successful projects start with good planning. And this patterns' detailed instructions for swatching were greatly appreciated.