meet the sheep

Totally Practical Vest (and Practically Useless Pattern)

Do you ever feel like your day job is really getting in the way of your knitting? Well, after several weeks with fiber projects on hold, I finally had some time to catch up. Here’s one of the finished products: a sleeveless cardigan sweater made with a collection of yarns I’ve written about on this blog. I meant it to be thick and sturdy–something you could wear while working out in the cold–and that is indeed how it turned out. If I were to do it again (or, god forbid, frog portions and re-do), I would make some changes, which I’ve noted in the pattern below. And, as you can tell from the pictures, it would help to do some serious blocking, too.

I’ve called this a “practically useless pattern” because the handspun yarn I used was one-of-a-kind and the Bodega Pastures yarn is not widely available, but the concept can be used with any yarn, as long as you do your math.


Yarn: One skein Bodega Pastures yarn (bottom half of sweater); several super-chunky handspun skeins (yoke); extra matching yarn of similar weight for edges.

Needles: Size 9 circular; size 10 circular (32 inches or bigger)



44 st per 4-inch swatch for Bodega Pastures yarn; 32 st per 4-inch swatch for the handspun.

Finished Dimensions

About 40 inches around the chest and 21 inches long.


Concept: This sweater is knit from the bottom up in one piece. It is essentially a classic nordic ski sweater without the sleeves. To keep it interesting, I used the reverse stockinette stitch side as the right side for the bottom half. One unintended result of this was that the connection between the two halves is somewhat less than smooth. (Perhaps more vigorous blocking could remedy this.) I also ended up with way too many buttons. And, I ran out of Bodega Pastures yarn a little shy of the length I was looking for, so it turned out a little bit “cropped.” I added a couple of inches to the bottom at the end of the process, but, if you want a full length vest, adjust the length of the bottom half accordingly.


Using the Bodega Pastures yarn and size 9 needles, cast on 160 stitches. Knit in stockinette stitch until you run out (my piece measured 10.5 inches).

With “right side” facing (remember, I used the reverse stockinette side as the right side for mine), switch to handspun yarn and size 10 needles. The next step establishes the yoke.

K33, put 12 stitches on holder (these are the underarm stitches), turn piece and cast on 25 stitches (using cable cast on–these will be the bottom of the cap sleeves), turn piece and join back with bottom, k70, put 12 stitches on holder, turn piece and cast on 25 stitches, turn piece and join back with bottom, k33.

Continue in stockinette stitch with handspun on size 10 needles. (I put stockinette on right side for the yoke.)


When yoke measures 5 inches, k2, k2tog for one row.

When yoke measures 7.5 inches, k1, k2tog for one row.

At 10 inches, I ran out of handspun and switched to another yarn on size 8 needles, which essentially accomplished the final decrease. Assuming you don’t have that constraint, at 10 inches, k1, k2tog around.

For a short collar, switch to “edge” yarn. Knit back and forth in garter stitch for a few ridges until collar is as long as you want it to be. Bind off neat-but-loose.

Handspun Sweater


I also picked up stitches along the bottom edge and did several ridges of garter stitch along the bottom.

Handspun Sweater


Finally, the button plaque. To make the plaque, you pick up stitches along each side of the front opening, starting where the collar ends and ending where the Bodega Pastures meets the bottom edge. On the side with the buttonholes, knit back and forth three or four rows; with right side facing, do a buttonhole row. You’ll need to do some math to figure out where the buttonholes go, but the basic idea is that you divide up the number of stitches you have by 1+the number of holes you want. Then, knit that number of stitches, *YO, k2tog, knit the number of stitches-1* repeat until the end.

Handspun SweaterAs you can see from the photos, I messed up a bit on the buttonhole side. First, I picked up more stitches on the buttonhole side than on the button side. Second, I put too many buttonholes in. I think 8 would have been a great plenty; I ended up with 12. Third, when I was placing the buttons, I didn’t do a very good job lining up the colored strands on the two sides of the yoke. You can learn from my mistakes and make yours perfect.


This entry was published on December 22, 2014 at 3:37 pm. It’s filed under Patterns and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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