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Memory Vest & 3 Needle Bind Off

I’ve been working on a modern version of a child’s vest, knit by my maternal grandmother during the first half of the 70’s.

My maternal grandmother, Judith Harvest, was born in the northern Danish town of Aalborg in 1908. In so many ways, she is my entry point into historical knitting. Although she died when I was little, I grew up with her knitting. And of course, my mother taught me everything in knitting that her mother taught her. I am currently working on finding out more of my grandmothers’ story. So this is definitely not the last time she will be mentioned on this page.

I first tried knitting the patterns from the small vest in 2014:

The child’s vest from the early 70’s. Judith Harvest’s original on the right and my muted version on the left.

Now, I’ve dug up my notes on the vest, and I’m going to turn them into an actual knitting pattern. It will be called “Memory Vest” and will come in women’s sizes.

The colors of the original are both garish and somewhat uncoordinated. And that is not a criticism – it just goes to show that my grandmother grabbed into her yarn basked and used whatever came out. She did not plan patterns out beforehand. Look at the large red and yellow pattern band on the top part of the original. It is not centered around the V-neck, that’s what happens when you just knit! She must have thought that it was not a big problem.

My first adult version of the vest is in cool aqua shades with a light gray background. I am knitting it with Rauma Finull

And that finally brings me to the topic I was actually going to write about in this post: how I close shoulder seams using a 3 needle bind off. It is basically a variation on the standard bind off (or cast off, whatever you like to call it) where you knit 2 stitches and pass the first over the last, knit one, pass over, and so on.

In a 3 needle bind off, two stitches from two different needles are knit together (instead of just knitting one in the standard bind off). The 3 needle bind off allows you to knit two pieces together with a strong and slightly elastic join, perfect for a shoulder seam.

When the body is finished, I turn the work inside out. Here, the stitches for one shoulder are held, the front and back stitches each on their separate needle (or actually two ends of a circular needle in this case).

A third needle is inserted through one stitch from each of the two needles holding the stitches – the first stitch on one needle and the front stitch on the other

Then, the two stitches are knit together

Repeat for the next two stitches, that leaves two stitches on the right needle

Just like in a standard bind off, pass the first stitch (that was worked first) over the last

One stitch was bound off. Then, knit together the next two

And pass the previous stitch over. Keep going, knitting two together and passing the previous stitch over, until all stitches have been worked

Break the yarn and pull the end through. The bind off is finished.

When I worked my blue version of the Memory Vest, the stitches to be bound off in shoulder seams were all grey. If you find yourself needing to 3 needle bind off color-knitted rows, the best thing is to work in the color of the stitches, holding the yarns in the same way as when doing colorwork. The yarn used for the bind off will show just slightly on the right side.