Katniss Vest

I got a request for a vest like the one Katniss Everdeen wore in the movie adaptation of Catching Fire of the Hunger Games series. I was totally in to the whole idea but I was picky about my pattern. I wanted it to look as much like the movie as possible but I knew it would be difficult since it looked like it was woven rather than knit.

A very exhaustive Ravelry search later, I had a decision to make. I was torn between two patterns: one used applied fishtail braids to achieve the look while the other used some wrapped tubing to achieve a more accurate look around the collar. I’m going to be totally honest and say that a trip to the hardware store is what killed the other pattern for me. I shelled out a whopping $10 for the PANEM Katniss Cowl Wrap by Dahlia in Bloom, which is easily the most expensive single pattern I’ve ever purchased, and consulted on yarn.

I trotted down to the local craft supply store and picked up some Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Tweed in the set color theme of dark gray or black. I ended up with some charcoal tweed that looks more like a heather black when knit up. I started with three skeins, which quickly expanded into 5 skeins when I read about customization and embellishment.

Once I finally cast on, it was a very quick knit. The vest is knit in two pieces: the cowl and the body. Both are knit flat, seamed or grafted to make it circular, and sewn together to create the vest. Both pieces start small but increases on one side create a drape for the shoulder and under-arm portion. Knit and purled channels are formed through the body and cowl to create a guide for future braid placement. Fishtail braids are created separately and sewn in the purl channels for embellishment. The middle is worked straight, then decreases on the same side as before to create the same effect on the back as the front until the remaining stitches equal the original cast-on. I needed to customize the size to accommodate the body circumference of my recipient, which was not listed in the included sizes for the pattern. Customizing was really easy since it only required adding or subtracting inches to work during the part that loops under the arm. I also added an inch or two to the cowl circumference. There were no instructions to do so but I did it anyhow because it seemed like it needed it.

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The pattern required one fishtail braid, each, to be applied to the purl channels at the top and bottom of the cowl, and the bottom of the body. After that, any extra braid placement is up to personal preference. I took a look at the vest after I got the required braids sewn on and it was basic. Like, it was so basic it came with a pair of leggings and an antioxidant drink calling itself Kate. Truth be told, I didn’t want to add more braids because I hated the process, but the thought of letting Katniss become Kate hit me right in the Strong Female Role Model and I had to fix it. I was supposed to make the braids independently and attach them to the vest, sewing in two knotted ends. Uh-uh. Not happening. I did that for the first three and it was nonsense. I decided to double the length of yarn needed for each braid and fold it in half, with the halfway point anchoring the soon-to-be braid to the purl channel through two or so loops of knit fabric. That left only one end knot to sew in per braid, which is a much nicer way of doing the braids, in my opinion. The braids provided more structure for the cowl to stand up and gave more depth to the body. It looked way more badass than its previous self. Kate took a walk, and Katniss was back.

The Katniss Vest was a fun knit, and I’d gladly do it again for myself or as another gift. The pattern, itself, was easy to follow, and there were a lot of helpful tips and explanations but I still think it was a bit over-priced. I’d consider one of the other patterns that uses a herringbone stitch to make it look woven, though the prudent part of my brain says that I should apply the herringbone to this pattern and see what happens. The braids are yarn-gobbling monsters but they really make the garment, so be sure to buy PLENTY of yarn to allow for experimentation. I had to buy an emergency sixth skein to make and sew on the last braid. All in all, I think it was a very good adaptation of an on-screen garment, and I know it will make its recipient very happy.

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