Vest Bets for the Ladies
I have a tendency to overlook vests. Besides a reliable puffy winter vest, I feel like they’re missing something… sleeves. Really truly, though, vests are totally awesome. Despite their lack of arm coverings, they actually do add a layer of warmth. Depending on the weight of the vest, they can be worn any time of year. Also, they are an easy layer that you can add to an outfit that has the ability to completely transform it. Plus, babies and kids always look adorable in vests. For today’s purposes, I’m going to focus on women’s vests. As long as you don’t get sick of reading about vests, I’ll put together a post on vests for men and children/babies as well!
The arrival of the new Blue Sky Trunk Show motivated me to think more about vests. The Janesville Jacket is technically not a vest, but its open, unstructured construction makes it a simple piece that can be thrown on over anything. Made of Blue Sky’s Woolstok, it’s light as air but still makes a statement. I highly recommend stopping by Wool & Grace to see the sample which will be at the shop for the next couple of weeks. It’s one of those pieces that looks amazing on (but not as impressive on a mannequin). Also check out Ravelry to see users’ takes on the project. There are some striking color ways beyond Blue Sky’s interesting suggestions!
Aurora is a pattern familiar to us, as it was part of a Shibui Trunk at Wool & Grace in the spring. This trim, tailored vest can be worn frontwards/backwards, and is sophisticated and refined. Made of Shibui’s Reed and Cima held together, it has an incredible hand and is delightful to wear.
Elizabeth Smith has designed a number of very cool vests, but I always gravitate toward Pineland. Its construction is totally simple, with a bit of simple lace, and a lot of stockinette and garter stitch (meaning easy knitting). It is essentially a large rectangle with armholes, and the result is the dramatic drape of a collar. Yes, it makes a statement. Pineland calls for a worsted weight yarn, so think about knitting this up in something like Shelter, Woolstok, HiKoo’s Kenzie, Falkland or any of our other favorite worsted weight yarns. If you’re a vest-person, I totally recommend checking out all of her patterns as there’s a huge variety of awesome vests in her pattern collection.
Pike is another vest that calls for a worsted weight yarn. This pattern by Norah Gaughan features a strong cable lining the fronts of the vest and an asymmetrical hemline. Moss stitch adds some cool texture throughout. This is the type of vest that I want to make for my mother (because she knows how to rock a vest like nobody else) and myself (because I always want to be a little more like my mother). I just think this piece is striking, cool and interesting. Plus, the lines of the hem make it super flattering to so many body types, and you can wear it over anything. I’d love to see this one knit up in Iris (the new yarn from Pure Bliss), because I think it’s singlet construction would play nicely with the moss stitch and the slightly organic look of this piece. But all of the wonderful worsted weight yarns listed above for Pineland would be equally interesting in this piece. For a particularly gorgeous version, consider combining Shibui’s Birch and Pebble (my new favorite Shibui combo) which knits up into a ridiculously awesome worsted weight fabric.
Découverte is a lightweight vest designed by Julie Hoover. Designed to be worn open, it’s also refined and sophisticated, with more of a cool-girl attitude than Aurora. Hoover wrote the pattern for a light-fingering yarn, so consider using something like Ito’s Kinu or Shibui’s Pebble. Using these yarns will make a very fine, light garment. However, with a gauge of 24 stitches/4” feel free to play with the density of the fabric. This piece would be gorgeous in something like Shibui’s Staccato (refined, sophisticated colors with a hint of sheen) or Birch (extra fine merino wool at its best). Or have some fun with color and use Madeline Tosh Merino Light (yes, we still have some) or La Jolla from Baah. One more great yarn for this project is Sueno, with all that twist this project will roll off your needles in a yarn like that!
One more lightweight vest that I’m dying over is the Georgia Vest by Cecily Glowik Macdonald. I never imagined I’d think this about a vest, but it really is so cool. Worn buttoned, this vest is drapey and sculptural. Worn unbuttoned, the neck folds open and falls beautifully, giving it an almost edgy look. The Georgia Vest also has a gauge of 24 stitches/4”, so all of the yarns listed for Découverte would work beautifully for Georgia. Shibui’s Staccato, in particular, would be a perfect choice for this project.
One thing I love so much about all of these projects is that they are flattering on all different body types. Vests seem to let us bring out the best, showing off a woman’s awesome arms and draping to make the most of the waistline. Also, a vest is a great way to dip your toe into knitting garments, getting a taste of garment construction without the burden of knitting the sleeves. My searching on vests led to so many awesome pieces, and Julie Wiesenberger has a number of vest patterns that are worth a good luck. If you are looking to make a vest in a particular yarn, please comment and I’d be happy to give you a few suggestion