Design Focus – Balboa Waistcoat
What do you do when you have 4 days until your annual photo shoot, no styling ready and a developing tennis elbow from knitting too much? You start work on a new design, of course! This is exactly what I did in 2010 when finishing the Woodlands Collection. I had been working with short rows, and the idea of a completely circular waistcoat fell into my head one sunny day. 3 days later, the finished piece was ready to be photographed! The Balboa Waistcoat has become one of our most popular designs, knitted and loved by beginners and experienced knitters alike.
The waistcoat is named after a stud male called Balboa and is a garment to be worn with pride. It gives a lovely warmth across the shoulders and neck area and is easy to put on over almost anything! The narrow back give freedom of movement whilst the curved front creates a feminine and flattering silhouette. The waistcoat is knitted using 7 mm needles and Purl Alpaca Designs Medium yarn and knits up very fast. Our Medium yarn is a Worsted weight which lies between DK and Aran on the yarn scale.
Although the Balboa Waistcoat is a circular garment it can actually be knitted on straight needles. The garment is knitted back and forth using the short row technique to create the circular shape. The pattern repeat is worked over 4 rows only, and on the 3rd row of your 4 row repeat you turn your work halfway through the row and work back again! This means that on one side of you knitting you are working twice as many rows and one edge will be twice as long as the other hence creating the circular shape!
The textured border is created using Blackberry Stitch. This stitch is an old favourite and is known by many different names such as Trinity Stitch, Cluster Stitch and Raspberry Stitch. It is created by increasing by working three times into the same stitch and decreasing by working three stitches into one stitch at selected points in your knitting to create a small bobble.
When you have finished knitting both your circular piece and your rectangular piece for the back you have to join the two together. By inserting the rectangle into the middle of the circle you instantly create to openings for your arms. The size of these openings relate directly to how you sew in your square. I usually start by attaching the rectangle to the circular shape using safety pins. This way I can join them up and try the garment on for size without wasting time sewing it up incorrectly. I join up the centre of the rectangle with the join in the circular piece, then find the centre point on the opposite side of the circle and join that to the opposite side of the rectangle. It is important that the direction of knit in your rectangle goes across the body hence creating an elastic back panel and making the rows match up nicely from one side of the circular piece, across the back panel and onto the other side of the circle.
Once you have joined your three seams and fastened your yarn ends, you are done and Balboa is ready to wear! It doesn’t get much quicker than that! You can purchase the Balboa Waistcoat Knitting Kit complete with pattern in all sizes from X-Small to X-Large and all the luxurious alpaca yarn you will need or you can opt for the pattern only and choose a different yarn creating your own unique look. Check out our Ravelry pages to see what other people have knitted Balboa in.
Have you tried knitting the Balboa Waistcoat? Send us your photos of you wearing the finished garment and you might be chosen to feature in next week’s customer gallery post!