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Cowl Vest

The original inspiration for this sweater came from Joelle. She envisioned an elegant vest with a cowl whose main virtue would be its simplicity. For me, the challenge (and the fun part) was figuring out how to pare the design down to its bare essentials without sacrificing the details that make a sweater flattering. The result is a seamless tunic with waist shaping and long, loose lines.

We pictured a vest that would pour over the body, that would drape effortlessly, that would hang with an understated ease. The only yarn to answer such a tall order is Jade Sapphire's 2 Ply Cashmere Silk. The feathery lightness of the cashmere is beautifully weighed down by the substance of the silk. I love this yarn for its year round practicality and its decadent softness.

This sweater is a perfect no fuss, no brainer kind of summer project. Sip your lemonade, dip your toes, take your time - your vest will come together just in time for fall!

The Materials

The Pattern

Gauge

6 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch

Finished Measurements

Five Women's Sizes

Hip Circumference: 34 (37, 40, 43, 46) inches

Waist Circumference: 30 1/2 (33 1/2, 36 1/2, 39 1/2, 42 1/2) inches

Chest Circumference: 32 1/2 (35 1/2, 38 1/2, 41 1/2, 44 1/2) inches

Length from Lower Edge to Waist: 12 inches

Length from Lower Edge to Underarm: 18 1/2 inches

Length from Lower Edge to Shoulder: 27 inches

How to Adjust the Length Measurements

There are three places in the pattern to conveniently shorten or lengthen the given measurements.

1. At the beginning of the pattern where it says to knit until the piece measures 6 1/2 inches from the bottom edge: instead, measure from your waist to where you want the bottom edge of the sweater to be and subtract 5 1/2 inches from that number. This is how many inches you should knit before starting the waist shaping.

2. At the waist where you knit 24 rounds: if your waist is shorter or longer than 3 1/2 inches, you can subtract or add rounds at this point.

3. At the Back where you knit until piece measures 9 1/2 inches from underarm: measure from the underarm to the very top of your shoulder (I recommend trying the sweater on to make this measurement) and adjust the length accordingly. Make sure that you knit the Front 1 1/2 inches shorter than whatever length you decide to knit the Back.

Final Note

The photographs that accompany the pattern illustrate the middle size vest.

The Body

With the 24 inch circular needle, cast on 204 (222, 240, 258, 276) stitches.

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

Knit every round until the piece measures 6 1/2 inches from the bottom edge (unroll the edge to measure).

Next round: K 102 (111, 120, 129, 138), place marker, knit to end of round.

*Decrease Round 1: Knit to last 3 stitches, ssk, k1. (1 stitch decreased)

Decrease Round 2: K1, k2tog, knit to 3 stitches before first marker, ssk, k1, slip marker, k1, k2tog, knit to end of round. (3 stitches decreased)

Knit 6 rounds.**

Repeat from * to ** four more times. [184 (202, 220, 238, 256) stitches]

Knit 24 rounds. (If you prefer measuring than counting, knit to 3 1/2 inches from the  last decrease.)

*Increase Round 1: Knit to last stitch, make 1 right (m1r), k1. (1 stitch increased)

Increase Round 2: K1, make 1 left (m1l), knit to 1 stitch before first marker, m1r, k1, slip marker, k1, m1l, knit to end of round. (3 stitches increased)

Knit 12 rounds. **

Repeat from * to ** two more times. [196, (214, 232, 250, 268) stitches]

Dividing Round

Knit to 7 stitches before first marker, bind off 12 stitches (removing marker)...

... knit to 7 stitches before end of the round, bind off 12 stitches (removing marker), knit 85, (94, 103, 112, 121) stitches to first bind off, put next 86 (95, 104, 113, 122) stitches on stitch holders. [86 (95, 104, 113, 122) stitches on hold for front and 86 (95, 104, 113, 122) stitches for back]

The Back

Now working just the stitches remaining on the needle, turn the work between rows.

Row 1 (wrong side): Purl.

Row 2 (right side): K1, slip slip knit (ssk), knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. (2 stitches decreased)

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 three more times. [78 (87, 96, 105, 114) stitches]

Next Row: Purl.

Next Row: Knit.

Next Row: Purl.

Next Row: K1, ssk, knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. (2 stitches decreased)

Repeat last 4 Rows one more time. [74 (83, 92, 101, 110) stitches] **

Next Row: Purl.

Next Row: Knit.

Repeat last 2 Rows until piece measures 9 1/2 inches from underarm.

Cut the yarn. Slip the first 11 (15, 20, 24, 29) stitches onto a stitch holder, the next 52 (53, 52, 53, 52) stitches onto another holder, and the final 11 (15, 20, 24, 29) stitches onto a third holder. 

The Front

With the wrong side facing you, join new yarn and start at Row 1 of the Back. Repeat the Back instructions until the **.

Next Row: Purl.

Next Row: Knit.

Repeat last 2 Rows until piece measures 8 inches from underarm, ending with a purl row.

Next Row: K 15 (19, 24, 28, 33), slip these stitches onto a stitch holder, k 44 (45, 44, 45, 44), slip these stitches onto another holder. [15, (19, 24, 28, 33) stitches remain on needle]

Right Front Shoulder

Working just the stitches on the needle and turning at the end of each row,

Row 1 (right side): K1, ssk, knit to end of row. (1 stitch decreased)

Row 2 (wrong side): Purl.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 three more times. [11 (15, 20, 24, 29) stitches]

Knit 1 row.

Purl 1 row.

Knit 1 row.

Cut a 24 inch tail and, with the wrong sides facing each other, use the Kitchener Stitch to graft the Right Front Shoulder to the corresponding back 11 (15, 20, 24, 29) stitches.

Left Front Shoulder

With the right side facing you, join new yarn.

Row 1 (right side): Knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. (1 stitch decreased)

Row 2 (wrong side): Purl.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 three more times. [11 (15, 20, 24, 29) stitches]

Knit 1 row.

Purl 1 row.

Knit 1 row.

Cut a 24 inch tail and, with the wrong sides facing each other, use the Kitchener Stitch to graft the Left Front Shoulder to the corresponding back 11 (15, 20, 24, 29) stitches.

The Cowl

With the right side facing you, using the 16 inch circular needle, join new yarn and knit the Back 52 (53, 52, 53, 52) stitches.

Pick up 11 stitches down the Left Front Shoulder.

Knit the Front 44 (45, 44, 45, 44) stitches. 

Pick up 11 stitches up the Right Front Shoulder.

Place a marker for the beginning of the round and join for working in the round. [118 (120, 118, 120, 118) stitches]

(By the way, this photo shows a 20 inch circular needle, which works, but I soon switched to a 16 inch needle realizing that it would be a lot easier.)

Knit every round until Cowl measures 10 1/2 inches from the center of the Front neckline.

Bind off VERY loosely. To ensure that my bind off wasn't too tight, I used a US #9 needle and I knit loosely. Don't worry if the edge looks a little messy because it will curl under and won't be visible.

Weave in your ends and your vest is ready to go!

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13 Responses to Cowl Vest


  1. Paola says:

    Great pattern and pictures! you are amazing. Thank you for sharing it, I live in Chile i will try to find a yarn to knit it and to wear it on spring!.

    Paola

  2. Michelle B says:

    Wow what a wonderful clear pattern! The pictures are so informative. And the sweater is lovely!

  3. cristina says:

    I follow your blog for quite a while and just love your patterns and the explanations very good indeed. I made a fingerless gloves from your pattern to my mother and my niece and they are great. Thanks

  4. Laurie says:

    Wow, what a lovely sweater and what a great choice of yarn. Very elegant in cashmere.

  5. Carme says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!

  6. balzac says:

    So beautiful! Thank you!

  7. alexis says:

    Beautiful — is this going to be loaded on Ravelry? Pretty please with sugar on top? I want to add to my queue and am planning to cast on as soon as I get the yarn! xo

  8. Lisa says:

    I just finished the cowl vest last night and am so pleased! I used the Jade Sapphire yarn in “bloodred”. It was a delight to work with. I made a few adjustments to accommodate my figure. The math couldn't have been easier. I'm looking forward to wearing this into early fall.

  9. evangeline says:

    wish i could afford the jade sapphire. ):

    would it be ok to substitute with a cotton 2-ply?

  10. Andrea says:

    This is going into my will be knitted pile starting in January to be sure I have all my spring knitting finished for these HOT Oklahoma springs we've been having. I've gone onto PurlSoho and not found a spring-like color in the suggested yarn. Do you feel the Swan Island – Lace would make a good substitution? Online it seems to have a similar gauge and feel.

  11. purl bee says:

    Hi Andrea,

    Swans Island's Lace is so thin that you would probably be better off with their Fingering weight. Its drape won't be quite as heavy as the cashmere/silk blend I used, but I think it will have a very nice breezy fee! Here it is: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/6281-Swans-Island-Fingering.

    A couple of other beautiful options would be Spud & Chloe's Fine: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/5884-Spud-Chloe-Fine or Anzula's Sebastian: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/8197-Anzula-Sebastian .

    Thanks so much for your question and good luck!
    Whitney

  12. Chenling says:

    Hi, I have a question for this pattern. Just before starting on the back, the instruction says put next 86 stitches on stitch holders, between brackets it says 86 stitches for the front and 86 stitches for the back. Does this mean to put twice 86 stitches on stitch holders? Starting at the back, the instructions say to keep working on the stitches on the needle, turn the work between rows. Could you specifiy this? I'm having trouble doing this… Thanks in advance.

  13. purl bee says:

    Hi Chenling,

    I see why you're confused! I just changed that instruction to clarify that 86 of the stitches are on hold for the front and 86 are ready on the needle for the back.

    Thank you so much for asking and good luck with the your vest!

    Whitney

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