The vest that made me want to knit

Banana Republic Heritage hand knit cable sweater vest

I want to state this very plainly in the first sentence of this post: I did not knit this sweater. I can’t even tell you who did knit it because, while it is authentically hand-knit, it was purchased at Banana Republic, of all places, sometime in late 2009. I know it was that year because I had just started a job at Salon (for the second time) and had a coworker named Kathy who was instantly intent on copying it, while I, being a non-knitter, was utterly floored by the suggestion. She might as well have told me she could copy the Great Pyramid of Giza. (“How … how would you …?!” “It’s a pretty simple design. And those stitches are so big I could just count ’em up.” “But how would you even know how much yarn to get?” “Well I’d just weigh the sweater.”)

It’s funny how mind-boggling that seemed to me then, when it’s so straightforward now. She told me if I’d let her have it for a week, she’d be able to figure it all out and she’d knit me more of them, in my choice of colors, if I bought the yarn. (BR had made a limited number of them, and only in this lovely grey.) I never took her up on it, and always told myself it was because I couldn’t bear to part with it for any amount of time. (I wore it over everything that winter.) But in reality it was one of two things in my closet that were compelling me to learn to knit, and I think some part of me wanted to be the one to figure it out. Someday.

I still haven’t done that, but I keep telling you there are these two things that made me want to knit — especially knowing people could make stuff up using only their eyeballs, brains and a kitchen scale — and so I’m finally showing you this one.

The other item, coincidentally, is also from Banana Republic. Which is funny because I’ve probably bought four things at BR in the past fifteen years. It’s a massive, very simple but incredibly chic shawl, which is at least a dozen years old and is starting to look it. That one I am definitely doing a pattern for. So expect it sometime soon.


Meanwhile, the winner of the Stadium and Whichaway Giveaway is blithespirit. Thanks so much to everyone who participated! I didn’t make paying me a compliment a part of the requirements and was blown away by all the kind remarks. I’m really happy so many of you love those patterns.

27 thoughts on “The vest that made me want to knit

  1. That is a gorgeous vest! I LOVE wearing vests and would make this in a heartbeat if a pattern existed. Thanks for sharing your inspiration!

    • You’re welcome! I hadn’t had it out for a while and was reminded how much I love it. Am now debating with myself over whether it would be improved or compromised if I did it in an aran weight yarn instead of bulky.

  2. …all the right lines, in all the right places … yep, great minds think alike !! ;-)

  3. I’m not much of a vest person, but that one is beautiful. Looking forward to being converted with your pattern!

  4. Oh this is a good one! I’d keep it in bulky though-I’m thinking Rowan’s cocoon-despite being a single spun I think it would be great! Let me know if you need help or test knitting!

    • Hi, Anie!! I do like the bulky but this thing is really warm, and can also look out of place in even mild-ish weater. So I have the urge to tone it down just a leeetle.

  5. JUST THIS MORNING, I thought to myself that I need to knit some vests for my wardrobe! Just like that- open with no closures. That length- or maybe even a little shorter…

    • Sadly hand knit in store bought items means it was knitted on a machine. Shocking but true.

      • I don’t doubt that happens, and it may even be true here, but I remember reading all about this collection before it came out — and making sure I knew exactly when to show up to get that vest. It was this special, super limited-edition collection they did for a big anniversary that year, available only in a handful of stores, etc. I’m gonna cling to the belief that the label is telling the truth and it really was hand knit, since that was a big part of the story.

  6. Great vest – I can imagine how you were never able to loan it out.
    I’m in for a KAL – on the Rowan Coccoon team.

  7. As my days of wearing chunky knits are (sadly) behind me, I’m going to vote in favour of aran. There is a rustic, earthy look about the design: what about upsizing the cables, keeping the same amount, just with more stitches in each. You could work 3×3 rib instead of 2×2, p3 (or more) between the cables, and even work the front bands vertically, working alternate bands of stst & rev stst. A tweedy yarn would also maintain the casual look. Oops – I think I’ve just talked myself into knitting one! Hope these thoughts are helpful.

  8. New to this site so this may be way out of date for help. Am wild for the vest. Looked at other suggested vests and they fall short of the wonderful balanced design elements in this. Is there or will there be a pattern available? Have done lots of advanced things but not design from picture.

  9. Pingback: Sweater inventory, part 1: Vests and other sleeveless | Fringe Association

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