I had the Bernat Natural Vest pattern in my queue for about 2 and 1/2 years. I originally found the pattern in the 2009 Pattern-A-Day calendar; but it is now available free from Bernat. I think you have to join/sign-in to be able to download the pattern. Anyway, I planned on making this for my sister. As soon as I saw it I knew it had "Helene" written all over it.
The pattern calls for Bernat Alpaca Natural Blends. I had/have a random ball of the yarn around and I can say that it not only feels NOTHING like alpaca (it's 70% acrylic, maybe that's why), but also that it's a pretty skimpy/sheddy skein of yarn for almost $6 a ball. I can't imagine knitting a garment in this, or at least anything other than a hat. So I poked around for a suitable bulky-weight alternative yarn and found KnitPicks Cadena. It, too, is about $6 a hank, but it's 70% WOOL and 30% alpaca for about the same yardage. So I bought 6 hanks of it in Caribou (sort of a light, milk-chocolate color) to make this vest...in 2009.
Needless to say, "life is what happens when you make other plans," and I never got around to making this vest. It seems that my completion of three February Lady sweaters in as many months has boosted my confidence in being able to get medium-scale knitting projects done in a timely fashion. Whereas, a project like the friggin' Pinwheel Sweater, which is still languishing in a knitting bag in a corner, serves as mental and emotional punisher. Add my completely miserable existence over the last 6 months or so and voila! Knittin'-a-plenty. I started and finished a pair of socks, 2 bunny toys, a scarf, and a baby blanket within 4 weeks.
Groundhog Day arrived this year and I realized that I only had 4 WIP going: a pair of ordinary socks (which are now almost done), Socrates gloves (1 out of 2 done), lovely Talbot socks (houndstooth, 1 out of 2 done BUT, thinking of frogging and starting over due to a couple silly errors I made), and said friggin' Pinwheel Sweater. I know, I know; I should just finish the gorram thing. But even looking at it punches me in my soul.
I'm not sure why I remembered a vest pattern from 2009, but it crossed my mind that I could easily get it done in time for my sister's birthday (March 1). So I unearthed the Cadena yarn and started knitting. I finished the vest in 8 days. I changed up the pattern just a little by making it longer (pattern says 20"; I made it 22", and it blocked to 23"). And I also added a belt instead of making those little attached ties in the front. I think it looks WAY more chic this way:
And she can choose to wear it with or without the belt. With the ties, you're kinda stuck with them. I might make one for me at some point, but I don't know if vests are a good idea on my frame, such as it is currently. Maybe 50 pounds ago....