Idea Log: Everyday vest

Idea Log: Everyday vest

As my mini Sólbein awaits its buttons and ribbon backing and sleeve seams, and the bulky black cardigan I started knitting and didn’t finish in December is now useless until next year (if then), I’ve been really weighing my next cast-on, wanting it to be imminently wearable. Yet another mild winter here has proven that cardigans are smarter than pullovers, and vests are even better. And in addition to (always) craving a good shawl-collar cardigan, I’ve become fanatical about protecting the back of my neck. I’m also really into this photo, his whole look, but in particular his ivory waistcoat. So a garment has formed in my mind, and will hopefully soon be forming on my needles.

My goal is for this vest to be the sort of thing I throw on over whatever else I’m wearing on any given day — the sweater-vest equivalent of a smock. I want it wide and slouchy, but not too much, with deep armholes (similar to my converted Clyde vest) so it can go on over all shapes of sleeves.

For optimum wearability, it should be ivory, of all things, and I have enough natural worsted in my stash to pull it together, albeit in the form of mismatched yarns that are identical enough in color that I think I could knit different pieces from different yarns and all would be fine. But it would be even more useful if it weren’t 100% wool. So I’m torn between patchworking it together from stash or acquiring a cotton or cotton blend for this.

Not sure yet if I’ll adapt it from the Anna Vest or create it from scratch.


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39 thoughts on “Idea Log: Everyday vest

  1. i look forward to the process as it unfolds. i too am a vest lover and prefer stash to buying but understand the want of a good cotton as warmer weather approaches.

  2. I’m going to suggest what I did for my husband (you can see it on Ravelry here: and essentially create a saddle shoulder sweater with the sleeves. You can get a nice drop for the arm holes (and if it’s too much just add more ribbing). I love the look of this for him and he didn’t want it in wool so it would be a nice light layer but I would totally remake this for myself in wool and with pockets.

    • Oh, thank you for posting this! I’m debating trying to do it top-down in one way or another, since I’m a little torn over what I want the length on it to be, and would like to be able to decide that in trying it on.

  3. I think you could get a lovely texture by alternating yarns. Maybe rather than patchworked together, try single row stripes and see what sort of fabric it produces.

    • That’s a good thought, and then I could swap in the different yarns gradually. Will give that some thought!

  4. This would be an excellent “year of the scrap” project ! Can’t wait to see how it turns out.
    I’m currently knitting myself a vest from a japanese pattern book, and think you would love it.

    • You’re right — I forgot about year of the scrap! What’s the vest you’re making? I want to see.

  5. A shawl collared vest is an excellent idea! I’ll try and wait patiently for your finished vest, and then the pattern!

  6. I think you should knit from stash because I am intrigued by how you will make the “patchwork” a design element. Personally I really dislike the stringiness and splittiness of cotton, its lack of elasticity.

    In fairness, I live in Minnesota and today it is again a few degrees below zero, and one can never have too much wool! I’ve gotten wear out of my Lopi sweaters and my Noro Hitsuji in this punishing winter.

    I’ll be following!

    • It was 71 here yesterday, back down to 50 today but weirdly muggy for what’s technically still winter. As much as I like the idea of using this stash yarn, I know from experience that I can wear Balance even in the a/c in summer here, so that would be the smarter choice …

  7. Karen, now you’ve done it! You’ve got me thinking about a shawl-collared vest for my future warm winters in Oaxaca. I’m a spinner, so I can see me combining cotton or bamboo with a fine wool into a fingering-weight yarn & then knitting a shawl-collared vest with welt pockets.

    Darn it, woman, you keep toying with my queue!

  8. I have a sweater’s worth of off-white Silky Wool that will be my not-so-warm Spring knit. It is a great yarn that works even in the summer for sleeveless tops.

  9. Agreeing with Anecolie and Amelia: I would try to incorporate some of several of the yarns in each piece to add texture, and avoid an overly patchy look. I have done several of these kinds of projects and that has been more satisfactory to me. Using textured stitches to “mix” the different yarns, especially if their weights are slightly different is also a great way to enhance (not disguise) slightly different shading.

    I am still wondering, however, given the climate you live is, why you do not use climate appropriate yarn that you can wear for more of the year? Even a cotton wool blend would give you more wearability, and there are lots of those on the market, many of which have already been suggested here. Besides wool/cotton, there are great linen cotton blends and I have begun to see American hemp/cotton blends as well (my handknit hemp vest is one of my most treasured. Hemp is often considerd to have the lowest impact on the environment), and my favorite: silk, which is a great year round fiber. Given the thought and time that will go into this, why not a vest that can be worn for 9-10 months of the year?

    And finally: a stash-along would be a great idea, and you could use up all that white wool then

    • Yeah, that’s why I was saying it would be best if it were not 100% wool, so I can wear it more. I just really like wool! So like to have at least some of it in the blend, but I’ve been wanting to try some of the hemps and such. It’s hard not to just go to my default, Balance, because I know how well it works for me.

  10. One yarn I love for those in between times when wool just seems too wooly and warm is a wool/silk blend. Feels sleeker and cooler than wool while still having the elasticity that cotton and cotton blends lack. It might work as well for you as does for me in the relatively temperate Pacific Northwest.

  11. this will look great on you. Somehow I missed knowing that Anna could be purchased as a single pattern. I can’t wait to give it a try.

  12. Have you seen Treeve, a new pattern from Bonnie Marie Burns? It’s very similar to your drawing. I have Treeve in my Ravelry favorites. I live on the Monterey Peninsula in California so I don’t need a lot of warm sweaters. I’m all about layers!

    • I have! And I like it a lot and considered it seriously. But it’s more of a Cowichan shape, which isn’t quite what I’m after for this one.

  13. I’m working on a vest very similar to this for my daughter, inspired by your Cowichan KAL. Obviously I now want one for myself…can’t wait to follow along while you knit this!

      • It’s very loosely Cowichan inspired – I guess the only Cowichan-y thing about it is the colorwork and the bulky gauge. In my mind the finished vest looks a lot like your sketch above in terms of the shape, but since I made the pattern up myself (never learned to read patterns…) who knows what the finished garment will look like. Or rather, how many times I’ll have to knit it to get it to look like it does in my mind!

  14. When I saw “Idea Log” I immediately pictured you knitting a log cabin vest. Why not? We need more log cabin everything! But with the asst yarns you have, I thought of single row stripes to trick the eye.

  15. My vote is use cream wool for something else (hats, dying experiments, those house slippers you posted with some leather at the bottom for durability, cowl, dickey,..) and go with what you know works for you. Balance! And take lots of notes. And write a pattern. I will buy. This is something I want to wear…all year.. except for heat of summer.

  16. Similar sentiments here. Looking forward to your solution. I’ve been trying to think about how to replace all those fleece vests with hand-knit garments, but they need to be out of something that will not wrinkle in suitcases or under other jackets. Neck and pockets required.

  17. I’ve been looking for a vest pattern recently and really enjoyed your post today. The Anna vest is beautiful and simple. So often vests seem to have so much going on and what I want is a classic shape that I can tweak (if I feel like it) but enjoy just as much as written.

    My aunt introduced me to your website recently after giving me a High Fiber tote bag and a Stowe pattern for Christmas. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts and am looking forward to making a Stowe bag for myself. The High Fiber tote is already in constant use!

    Thank you so much!

  18. I practically live in my shawl-collared “Buttonbox Waistcoat” ( Such a good layering piece and perfect for spring/fall. My first had a narrow collar, but since then I’ve posted instructions and photos for a deeper collar. I like that your vest has a boxy silhouette, something I’m gravitating to more now that my daughter/model is living in California and I’m knitting mostly for myself. Looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

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