A garment for men
Vests and waistcoats have always been an eye-catching and elegant part of men’s fashion. While there have been attempts to steal those genuinely male garments for women’s fashion, there is no doubt that they still look best on men, emphasizing the typically male body features of the chest area. Adding a vest with a great colour, pattern or material to a very basic shirt can turn a boring outfit into a fashion statement.
Vests are a great garment to make
Being absorbed by my mission of knooking and crocheting attractive fashion for men, I found that vests were an appreciative upper-body garment to make because skipping the arms allows you to finish your work more quickly and to save costs when needing less yarn. Also, vests made of a light material such as cotton or linen can be used more independently from season, since they are just an accessory that you can equally wear outdoors in summer and indoors in winter.
Finding the right size
The technique I chose to make the vest presented is knooking. The needle size I worked with is 3.5 mm for the main part and 3.0 mm for the bands. I used the marvellous Wakame yarn, a blend of organic cotton and algae viscose. It has unfortunately been discontinued in the meantime, but you may still find left-overs online. Alternatively you could use McWool from Lana Grossa or Soft Cotton from Lang Yarns. This vest is my own pattern and an essentially improved version of a first work I made some time ago. It is designed as a classical, simple, and no-frills garment in an outstanding spring type colour, enhanced by some beautiful medium-sized coconut buttons I found in Cape Town. After some trial and error, I was lucky to work out the right stitch count, so it turned out to fit me perfectly. Using plain stockinette stitch to keep the design simple, it is not easy to achieve the ideal size. Every stitch counts, and there is no stretching effect. So either it will be too tight or too sloppy or – just right.
What is special about this vest is that I knooked it top-down without any seams. I started at the top of the back and then cast on the first rows of the front directly to the edges of the shoulders. Reaching the bottom of the arm holes, I joined the front and the back parts by just knooking over all stitches. This way I did not need to sow anything together.
Another challenge is shaping the front neck: In what interval do you need to increase stitches on the edges, so it sits at the right height? You don’t want to use an interval that becomes too complicated, such as increasing every 4th and 5th row alternating.
The next challenge is to find out the ideal stitch count when adding the button band to the edges. I had to skip every third stitch of the edge (never slipped first or last stich of any row) to achieve an even band. For working out the perfect stitch count, you must also consider how many buttons you use, how wide the button hole must be, and how the buttons can be evenly spread over the straight part of the band. Eventually you find yourself doing complicated maths, not being very far away from rocket science!
Why not giving it a try and getting started?
Once you know the perfect stitch count, you can create this kind of vest within 3-4 weeks (men’s size M), depending on how much time you can spend on it. Sowing or blocking are not required, except for adding the buttons. It was again really big fun to knook this garment, and I am more than happy about the result. Now it ‘s your turn – get inspired and make your own!