I published the pattern for the Circles Vest back in 2011, but I never did get around to writing about the design process, or suggesting substitute yarns, as I had promised. Since it's a great transitional layering piece, going from spring to summer to fall, and since the yarn I used has since been discontinued, this seemed like a good time to rectify that lapse.
This vest really started with the "circles" stitch pattern, which yields an unusual and subtle textured fabric that is not quite as stretchy as ribbing, not as three-dimensional as cables. When I saw that it creates a subtle gathering effect next to plain stockinette, I though it would work well as a waist accent. After that I worked out the other garment details with some sketching and swatching: a deep V-neck, curved front hems, and pockets! While these pockets are mainly decorative, you could definitely stow a few bills or, I don't know, tickets or business cards or a shopping list (if you don't use your phone for that...probably a cell phone would be too big/heavy for these pockets). Or you could stand around with your hand in one of them...anyway, I digress.
As to suitable yarns, there are literally dozens; the stockinette stitch gauge is 23 stitches to four inches, or 5.75 stitches to one inch, so choose a DK-weight (or light #3) yarn with an appropriate fiber content (see below), and make sure you can get the proper gauge by making a gauge swatch.
The yarn I used for the pattern was a blend of cotton and wool, which is great for multi-season use; cotton can lack resilience if used on its own, so the wool adds springiness, while the cotton keeps the wool from being too warm. On the other hand, if you'd like more warmth, an all-wool yarn would certainly work well for this design. Other blends such as cotton/microfiber or cotton/silk would also work, and the right all-cotton yarn would work too; look for a pima cotton yarn with a fairly tight twist.
Here are some yarns I have worked with personally:
- Plymouth Yarn Select DK Merino Superwash (100% merino), which I used for the Nerodia Cardigan for babies and children
- Valley Yarns Longmeadow (cotton/microfiber), which was used for the Bell Yoke Tee
- Sublime Egyptian Cotton DK (100% cotton)
- SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash DK (100% merino), which was chosen for the Plaited Tam
- Misti Alpaca Tonos Pima Silk (pima cotton/silk), which I used for the Onda Scarf
- HazelKnits Lively DK (merino wool/nylon), which was chosen for the Fish Isle Pullover
- The Fibre Company Acadia (merino/silk/alpaca), which was chosen for the Altocumulus Shawl
And here are a few more which I have not used myself, but which have gotten glowing reviews from knitters:
- Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima (100% cotton)
- Garnstudio Drops Cotton Merino (cotton/merino)
- Cascade Yarns Anchor Bay (cotton/merino), new this year
These last three (and the Valley Yarns Longmeadow) have the added advantage of being very reasonably priced.
I'm lucky enough to be able to do some of my photo shoots in Italy...but can I tell you how many funny looks I got for wearing a helmet while cycling around Como? Only racing cyclists and small children wear helmets over there! I had even brought my own fashion-forward helmet from the States, but it didn't matter....