I've knit lots of things in my life for other people's babies, but now that I have my own, I realize some of the mistakes I've made. Small neck openings, scratchy materials, bulky yarns, difficult buttons. So, with four months of experience under my belt, I set about designing a vest for the real life of my baby.

There are two truths about my son: he never stops moving and he's a hot little potato. For months I've been rummaging his drawers for a layer that would keep his core warm (but not too warm!) without encumbering his arms, but I came up empty handed every time.

The solution is obvious. This boy has been practically begging for a cotton vest. One that has buttons on the shoulder to minimize the over-the-head struggle, a super soft feel to prevent unpleasant baby rashes, and classic cables to make him look cute!

 

Materials

  • 2 skeins of Rowan's Purelife DK, 100% organic cotton for the main color. I used Natural #986.
  • 1 skein of Rowan's Purelife DK for the contrast color. This is Logwood #981.
  • 3 stitch holders (Optional: you can use scrap yarn to hold your stitches if you prefer.)
  • A cable stitch holder (Also optional: you can use a double pointed needle instead. Whether you use a cable stitch holder or a double pointed needle, make sure it is at least one size smaller than the main knitting needle you use.)
  • 2 buttons, 1/2 inch in diameter (I used some old buttons I happened to have, so you won't find them on our website, but you'll find other cute options there!)

 

Pattern

 

Gauge

7 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in the cable pattern with the larger needle (5 1/4 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch)

Finished Size

3 months to 6 months

Chest circumference = 19 inches

Hem to underarm = 6 inches

Hem to shoulder = 10 1/4 inches

(Babies come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Try to measure the recipient if you can. If you can't, rest assured that cotton is quite maleable, stretching with a little blocking and shrinking with a little time in the dryer.)

Notes

How to Adjust the Size

The easiest way to adjust the size of this vest is to alter the gauge. Instead of knitting the cable pattern at 7 1/2 stitches to the inch, change just the needle size (for slight size adjustments) or the yarn and needle size (for more extreme adjustments) to knit the pattern at a smaller or bigger gauge.

To figure out what gauge you need, divide 144 (the cast on number) by the chest circumference you want. So, for example, if you want a 22 inch chest: 144 divided by 22 = 6.5 stitches to the inch (in the stitch pattern and blocked).

You may have to alter the number of rounds and rows you knit in order to get the right length from the hem to the underarms and from the underarms to the shoulders. If the recipient of the vest isn't on hand to measure, I recommend referring to other sweater patterns that list or diagram these measurements for the size you want to make. (The Child's Placket Sweater in Last Minute Knitted Gifts has a great schematic for a wide range of baby to child sizes.)

How to Make the Cable

To make the cable used in this pattern, first slip two stitches onto a cable needle (or double pointed needle). Slip the stitches purlwise, which means, insert the right needle into each stitch as if you were purling it.

Bring the cable needle with the two slipped stitches to the front of the work. Let it hang there while you go on to knit the next 2 stitches from the left knitting needle.

Slide the slipped stitches to the other end of the cable needle. Do not spin the cable needle or try to knit the stitches from the same end that you used to slip the stitches.

Now use the right knitting needle to knit the two stitches off the cable needle.

That's it! In this pattern the abbreviation for making a cable will be "mc".

The Ribbing

With the contrast yarn and the 24 inch US #5 needle, cast on 144 stitches.

Place a marker and join for working in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

Rounds 1-5: *P1, k1, repeat from * to end of round.

The Body

Change to the main yarn and the US #6 needle.

Set Up Round: Knit.

Rounds 1-4: P1, *k4, p2, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, k4, p1.

Round 5: P1, *make a cable (mc), p2, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, mc, p1.

Round 6: Repeat Round 1 (P1, *k4, p2, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, k4, p1).

Repeat Rounds 1-6 six more times.

Next Round: Repeat Round 1..

Next Round: Bind off 5 stitches (always bind off in pattern, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purl stitches), p1, [k4, p2] 10 times, bind off 10 stitches, p1, [k4, p2] 10 times, bind off 4 stitches, cut the yarn and pull it through the last stitch.

Slip the next 62 stitches onto stitch holders or scrap yarn.

Front Armholes

With the right side facing you, join new yarn and work back and forth on just the 62 stitches that are on the needles.

**Row 1 (right side): Bind off 3 stitches, k2, *p2, k4, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, p2. (59 stitches)

Row 2 (wrong side): Bind off 3 stitches, p2, *k2, p4, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, k2, p3. (56 stitches)

Row 3: Bind off 2 stitches, *p2, mc, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, p2, slip next 2 stitches to cable needle (cn), hold in front of work, k1, k2 from cn. (54 stitches)

Row 4: Bind off 2 stitches, *k2, p4, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, k2, p1. (52 stitches)

Row 5: K1, ssk, *k4, p2, repeat from * to last 7 stitches, k4, k2tog, k1. (50 stitches)

Row 6: P1, p2tog, p3, *k2, p4, repeat from * to last 8 stitches, k2, p3, p2tog through the back loop (tbl), k1. (48 stitches)

Row 7: K1, ssk, k2, *p2, k4, repeat from * to last 7 stitches, p2, k2, k2tog, k1. (46 stitches)

Row 8: *P4, k2, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, p4.

Row 9: K1, ssk, k1, *p2, mc, repeat from * to last 6 stitches, p2, k1, k2tog, k1. (44 stitches)

Row 10: P3, *k2, p4, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, k2, p3.

Row 11: K1, ssk, *p2, k4, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, p2, k2tog, k1. (42 stitches)

Row 12: P2, *k2, p4, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, k2, p2.

Row 13: K2, *p2, k4, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, p2, k2. ***

Row 14: P2, [k2, p4] 2 times, k2, p2, bind off 6 stitches, p1, [k2, p4] 2 times, k2, p2. (18 stitches remain for each shoulder)

Front Left Shoulder

Work just the 18 stitches of the front left shoulder ("left" as if you were wearing the vest). The other 18 stitches can just remain on the needle or, if you prefer, you can put them on a stitch holder until later.

Row 1 (right side): K2, [p2, mc] two times, p2, k2.

Row 2: Bind off 2 stitches, k1, [p4, k2] two times, p2. (16 stitches)

Row 3: K2, p2, k4, p2, k3, k2tog, p1. (15 stitches)

Row 4: K1, [p4, k2] two times, p2.

Row 5: K2, p2, k4, p2, k2, k2tog, k1. (14 stitches)

Row 6: [P4, k2] two times, p2.

Row 7: K2, p2, mc, p2, k1, k2tog, k1. (13 stitches)

Row 8: P3, k2, p4, k2, p2.

Row 9: K2, p2, k4, p2, k2tog, k1. (12 stitches)

Row 10: P2, k2, p4, k2, p2.

Row 11: K2, p2, k4, p2, k2.

Row 12: Repeat Row 10.

Row 13: K2, p2, mc, p2, k2.

Rows 14-18: Repeat Rows 10 and 11, ending with Row 10.

Row 19: Repeat Row 13.

Rows 20 and 21: Repeat Rows 10 and 11.

Slip the stitches onto a stitch holder and cut the yarn.

Front Right Shoulder

Working the 18 remaining stitches, join new yarn with the wrong side facing you.

Row 1 (wrong side): P2, [k2, p4] two times, k2, p2.

Row 2: Bind off 2 stitches, p1, [mc, p2] two times, k2. (16 stitches)

Row 3: P2, k2, p4, k2, p3, p2togtbl, k1. (15 stitches)

Row 4: P1, [k4, p2] two times, k2.

Row 5: P2, k2, p4, k2, p2, p2togtbl, p1. (14 stitches)

Row 6: K4, p2, k4, p2, k2.

Row 7: P2, k2, p4, k2, p1, p2togtbl, p1. (13 stitches)

Row 8: K3, p2, mc, p2, k2.

Row 9: P2, k2, p4, k2, p2togtbl, p1. (12 stitches)

Row 10: K2, p2, k4, p2, k2.

Row 11: P2, k2, p4, k2, p2.

Rows 12 and 13: Repeat Rows 10 and 11.

Row 14: K2, p2, mc, p2, k2.

Row 15: Repeat Row 11.

Row 16: Repeat Row 10.

Row 17: Repeat Row 11.

Change to US #5 needles and the contrast yarn.

Row 18: Knit.

Row 19: *K1, p1, repeat from * to end of row.

Row 20: [K1, p1] three times, yo, p2tog, [k1, p1] two times.

Row 21: Repeat Row 19.

Bind off.

Back Armholes

Now working the 62 stitches that have been on hold, orient the work so the right side is facing you. Use the US #6 needle and join new yarn.

Repeat the Front Armholes section from the ** to the ***.

Row 14: Repeat Row 12. (P2, *k2, p4, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, k2, p2)

Row 15: K2, *p2, mc, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, p2, k2.

Row 16: Repeat Row 12.

Row 17: Repeat Row 13. (K2, *p2, k4, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, p2, k2)

Row 18: Repeat Row 12.

Row 19: K2, [p2, k4] two times, p2, bind off 10 stitches, p1, [k4, p2] two times, k2. (16 stitches remain for each shoulder)

Back Left Shoulder

Work only the 16 stitches of the back left shoulder.

Row 1 (wrong side): P2, [k2, p4] two times, k2.

Row 2: Bind off 2 stitches, slip 1 stitch to the cn, hold in front of work, k next 2 stiches, k1 from cn, p2, mc, p2, k2. (14 stitches)

Row 3: P2, k2, p4, k2, p1, p2togtbl, p1. (13 stitches)

Row 4: K3, p2, k4, p2, k2.

Row 5: P2, k2, p4, k2, p2togtbl, p1. (12 stitches)

Row 6: K2, p2, k4, p2, k2.

Row 7: P2, k2, p4, k2, p2.

Row 8: K2, p2, mc, p2, k2.

Rows 9-13: Repeat Rows 7 and 6, ending with Row 7.

Row 14: Repeat Row 8.

Rows 15 and 16: Repeat Rows 7 and 6.

Join the Left Shoulders

Join the shoulders using a three needle bind off. Here's how:

Orient the two left shoulders so that the right sides are facing each other. Hold the stitch holder and needle parallel to each other.

Insert the needle into the first stitch from each shoulder and knit them together.

Knit the next two stitches together, and then slip the first stitch over the second, just like a normal bind off.

Continue the three needle bind off in the stitch pattern so that you knit the knit stitches together and purl the purl stitches together. When you've completed the row, cut the yarn and pull it through the last stitch.

Back Right Shoulder

Working the 16 remaining stitches, join new yarn with the wrong side facing you.

Row 1 (wrong side): Bind off 2 stitches, p3, k2, p4, k2, p2. (14 stitches)

Row 2: K2, p2, mc, p2, k1, k2tog, k1. (13 stitches)

Row 3: P3, k2, p4, k2, p2.

Row 4: K2, p2, k4, p2, k2tog, k1. (12 stitches)

Row 5: P2, k2, p4, k2, p2.

Row 6: K2, p2, k4, p2, k2.

Row 7: Repeat Row 5.

Row 8: K2, p2, mc, p2, k2.

Rows 9-12: Repeat Rows 5 and 6.

Change to US #5 needles and the contrast yarn.

Row 13: Purl.

Rows 14-16: *P1, k1, repeat from * to end of row.

Bind off.

Right Armhole Edging

With the right side facing you and starting at the middle of the underarm, use the contrast yarn and the 16 inch US #5 needle to pick up 64 stitches around the entire armhole.

Place a marker, and join to knit in the round.

Rounds 1-3: *K1, p1, repeat from * to end of round.

Bind off.

Left Armhole Edging

With the right side facing you, use the contrast yarn and the 16 inch US #5 needle to pick up 3 stitches through both layers of the left shoulder ribbing (joining them together).

Pick up 61 more stitches around the left armhole, place a marker and join for knitting in the round. (64 stitches total)

Rounds 1-3: *K1, p1, repeat from * to end of round.

Bind off.

Neckband

With the contrast yarn, the 16 inch US#5 needle and the right side facing you, pick up the first stitch at the corner of the inside layer of the left shoulder ribbing.

Pick up a total of 71 stitches around the entire neckband. Work the neckband back and forth, turning the work between rows.

Row 1 (wrong side): *P1, k1, repeat from * to end of row.

Row 2: *K1, p1, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, p2tog, yo, p1, k1.

Row 3: Repeat Row 1.

Bind off.

Buttons

Sew on two buttons right below the buttonholes on the left shoulder.

Your baby vest is all done!