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Cable-knit vest

Josefly | Posted in Knitting and Crochet on

There’s a very attractive cable-knit vest shown in the J Jill catalog, and online at this site: http://www.jjill.com/shopJJillDetail.asp?AreaID=OL&ColorToUse=271&SizeID=1&txtProductID=626312&offerid=IU&seldept=12&EAquest=cable+knit+vest&srch=direct&EAST=keyword It appears to be knitted side-ways – is it possible to knit it all in one piece with the armholes knitted in somehow? I realize that that may be an idiotic question, but then that’s what I am when it comes to knitting…Has anybody seen a similar pattern for this vest? Not that I could do it, with the cables, etc., but maybe a simplified version.


  1. starzoe | | #1

    The vest is not knitted sideways, if it was, the cable would be running across the body. It is apparently an oblong back, with two wide oblongs for the front. I couldn't see well enough about the cable, but there is a turnback with cables and so perhaps this is knitted with a two-side cable.

    There are a multitude of free pattern sites: one of my favourites is garnstudio.com with hundreds of patterns and I wouldn't be surprised if there is a vest pattern there that could be knitted to resemble your picture. Go into Google and type knitting patterns free.

    1. Josefly | | #2

      Thank you for the site, I'll check it out. Actually, the cables do appear to run across the body. The collar, or turn-backs, hang down and the cables appear to be vertical there, but underneath that, the cables run horizontally. I have a catalog at home and the picture is better than the small one seen online.

      1. katina | | #3

        Hello Josefly

        Yes, you're right about it being knitted from side to side, and no, this is not an idiotic question - it's rather interesting actually. This type of knit is all the rage at the moment. Because the collar hangs down the way it does, my guess is that there's minimal if any shaping of the knit pieces at the neckline. You could make this in 3 pieces, each knit from side to side, but then you'd have side seams which might be bulky and awkward to seam because of the cables. The vest depends on the knitted fabric having a very soft hand - this gives it the drape. It's likely to be a very fine knit which is hard to duplicate by hand - this really requires a knitting machine capable of handling fine gauge yarns.

        My suggestion is to make yourself a very quick and simple mock up of the style in some kind of knit fabric so that you can determine how this would fit you. This way you can decide on width of shoulder seams, etc. I assume you're intending to knit this, though you could of course sew one. If sewing is indeed your plan there are some stunning knits available which would work very well, however finishing the edges neatly might be a problem. If you are going to knit it, your yarn choice will greatly impact the finished result. The cable stitch will add bulk, resulting in a heavier fabric. But it can certainly be done!

        If you would like to have a go at knitting this vest, I'd be happy to offer some suggestions for knitting it in one piece.

        Good luck



        1. Josefly | | #4

          I don't really want instructions, since my skills wouldn't produce a successful project, but thank you so much for offering help. Still, it interests me, especially since you suggest that it could actually be knit in one piece - how are the armholes handled, I wonder? This garment looks to me like a rectangle with arm openings placed so there's enough fabric at the top to fold down and drape around the neck.I love the way the vest drapes at the neck, and the interesting way the cables cross the body - which would look great on my daughter, tall and slim. I'm glad you pointed out that the drape-ability requires a fine, soft yarn and a knitting machine to handle such fine yarn. Way beyond a beginning knitter, it sounds like, especially with the cables. Maybe I can find one of the knitted fabrics you suggested, and sew it up for my daughter. Placement of the arm openings might be a little tricky, but, hmmmm. Thank you for your expertise.

          1. katina | | #5

            You're very welcome! I don't think you'd find it difficult to sew such a garment.


          2. rodezzy | | #9

            Hi Katina:>

            Was reading the threads concerning the cabled vest and after hearing you speak I was wondering how you knit cables.  I'm learning and I've done a two cable swatch in worsted weight yarn, but having an awful time doing the same pattern in the super bulky yarn suggested for the purse pattern.  I looked on the internet and found instructions on cabling without a cable needle.  Have you ever done this?  How'd you do, is the process simpler cabling with or without the cable needle on the super bulky yarn.  The yarn is Lionbrand wool ease super bulky.  I want to knit a cabled purse with a passion that runs deep in me.  But I need some guidance.  I've tried it four times now, and took it out because of dropped stitches, or lack of attention because I was talking or watching TV.

          3. starzoe | | #10

            Yes, it is possible to knit cables without a needle, but super bulky yarn is another story! I always use cable needles, less chance of losing stitches that way. You don't actually need a cable "needle", a pickup stick, a crochet hook, a double pointed needle, even a bobby pin in an emergency.The heavier the yarn is the harder it is to cross those stitches and the problem is compounded with super bulky yarn. I do a lot of knitting and bulky or super bulky is not in my vocabulary at all, but that is just a personal preference.

          4. rodezzy | | #12

            Thank you for your reply. 

            Yes, that super bulky is tricky.  I even tried to carry it on a third US 15 needle and handling all those needles was aweful.  I may just do a six by six rib for the purse and make two panels of the worsted weight yarn to make the purse with cables.  I had no problem with the smaller weight yarn.  I love the look of cables and will do the purse in November.  Too much on my plate these last two weeks of Oct.

          5. katina | | #11

            Hi Rodezzy

            I almost always knit cables with a cable needle of some sort - I'll use a traditional cable needle, a tapestry needle, a toothpick, whatever is at hand.  Cabling without a cable needle is more fiddly for me than the usual method - could be because I have some arthritis. I rather suspect your problem is the yarn itself - it's not only bulky but quite stiff, so it perhaps doesn't 'yield' too easily to the twisting. If you can work with a bulky yarn which is more lofty, I think you'll be successful. Please keep us posted on your progress - cabled purses are so striking.

            Keep that passion burning.


          6. rodezzy | | #13

            Thanks Katina for your reply:>

            You know what, you're right, that yarn is stiff, but I have some bulky yarns that are much softer and pliable.  Angelhair was one I used in one of my jackets.  I don't have anymore but that makes sense.  I'll just have to get a softer bulky yarn to get the same look.  Thanks sweetheart. 

          7. katina | | #14

            Rodezzy, isn't this forum and the Internet just wonderful?

            Good wishes


          8. rodezzy | | #16

            Yes it is wonderful to talk to many knowledgeable people about these problems.  I have almost no people I can talk to in person about my sewing, knitting, crocheting and crafting problems on the spot.  You guys are great!!!!!!!!!!

          9. katina | | #23

            You and me both, Rodezzy. The great thing for me though, is that we get invited out to fabulous meals very frequently by the dear souls who are so grateful for my help in making their curtains and doing little repairs and so on. I get by far the better deal as I'm not known for my culinary skills! Still, it's interesting how people who don't do any form of needlework think it's all just done in a matter of minutes.

            On another note - I have far too big of a stash and have been gradually reducing it by making tote bags as the gift bag for presents. Kids in particular love getting "presinks" in brightly coloured bags.

            Keep plying those needles.


          10. Josefly | | #24

            Great idea - tote bags for presents. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. BernaWeaves | | #6

    Yup, it's knitted sideways as one big oblong.   Chico's had a garter stitch version a few years back, too.   The armholes were just slits, but it would be more flattering to shape them.

    To be honest, this is NOT a flattering garment on.  The JJill model has it belted, which helps, and it's a stretchy knit, which also helps.  I'm fairly slim, and I thought this wasn't flattering on me, so just a thought before you go to all the effort. 


    Edited 10/17/2007 11:51 am ET by BernaWeaves

    1. Josefly | | #7

      Your answer is another big help. I would have guessed from the catalog photo that this was very attractive, but I can see that the belt would be necessary, now that you mention it. So, thanks for the warning. The possible difficulty of placing the arm openings reminds me of another fairly recent thread on this forum, where arm openings were cut into a rectangle of fabric, and judging the correct width across the back was a problem. Can't remember the topic title, though. So "muslins" are sometimes necessary even when knitting, I guess, huh?

      1. BernaWeaves | | #8

        Oh yes.  You definitely need a muslin for this, if you're making up your own pattern.  And you want it out of a stretchy knit fabric the weight of your yarn.

        A thin knit may drape nicely, but if you knit it up in chunkier yarn, it will drape differently.



  3. starzoe | | #15

    After having another look at the illustration, I will concede that this vest is knitted sideways. It is a pretty simple pattern and would work with sports-weight yarn in mostly one piece. Cast on enough stitches to go around the body plus ease and crossover and knit until you want the armscyes then you would have to work each piece separately. Alternately, you could knit the whole thing in one piece and use steeks for the armscyes

    The back would have to be knitted to your particular measurements and the fronts would have to be quite wide. Play with graph paper and a sewing pattern. Personally, I think it would hang and fit better if it was knitted bottom-up or top-down. Sweaters knitted sideways really stretch a lot and are floppy unless knitted in a firm gauge or felted.
    It looks great on the model, belted. I gave up belts long ago otherwise I would be tempted to try this bottom-up with vertical cables....maybe for one of my thin DILS.

    1. Josefly | | #17

      I become more and more convinced I don't want to try this vest. Still, I appreciate your input and answer to my question. It looks so attractive in the catalog, but not for me - I thought maybe for my daughter and daughter-in-law, both slim as rails. But the stretch in the knit would be going up and down, wouldn't it? so not very comfortable. So, for me, first things first - maybe a cap. And then maybe I can learn what steeks are!
      :>)I want to join in with what rodezzy and katina are saying - posters on this forum are so generous with their knowledge. Thank you.

      1. starzoe | | #18

        Steeks? Steeks are a feature of Scandinavian sweaters knitted in the round. Instead of doing the armscye separately with another ball of yarn, a few extra stitches are added so that the garment can be knitted in the round all the way to the neckline. Later (and here comes the scary part), the steek is CUT to make an opening for the sleeves.Knitters trying this for the first time are usually freaked out at cutting their handiwork, but it works.....you just need a glass or two of wine before you make the cut!If you want to get in on a neat knitting forum, try knitting.about.com - lots of experts there to help you along.

        1. Josefly | | #19

          Thanks for the chuckle. I would need at least two glasses of wine before cutting. And thanks for another site. I don't know why, but knitting seems very appealing now that the weather temps have lowered a little.Joan

          1. rodezzy | | #20

            Wow, just last night a repeat program on "Knitty Gritty" made a faisle sweater for a teddy bear using the "steek" method for the sleeves.  You have to stitch down the stitches in the area before you cut.  Check it out on http://www.diynetwork.com first and see what you think.

            Good Luck. 

          2. starzoe | | #21

            Cute little sweater, but unnecessarily complicated. I have used steeks a lot, and they work very well with wool, less well with acrylic and not at all with cotton or slippery yarn. Wool will curl back from the cut and there is no need for a facing, the wool tails will felt together in the wash. The rest of the yarns need more fiddly finishing.When introducing knitters to steeks, I always tell them to go to a thrift store, buy a 100% wool cardigan, follow steek directions and just be amazed how well it works. I also knit most sleeves from the top down, in the round....another Scandinavian technique.There's lots of info on the 'net and every knitter should try this at least once. Now, back to sewing. It is raining heavily with a high wind here and the hydro may go off. I'll have to knit by firelight, I guess.

          3. rodezzy | | #22

            Thanks for the info, good stuff. 

          4. Josefly | | #25

            I enjoyed looking around on the site you referenced, but I couldn't find the teddy bear's Fair Isle sweater. Still, I think I get the idea. And I spotted more help for beginning knitters!

          5. rodezzy | | #26

            Here ya go.  The episode was called "Sweet Sweater".  I hope that gets you there.




          6. Josefly | | #27

            Thank you. I guess I just didn't look far enough. That does look like a cute little sweater, and a small project like that sounds like a good place to start. The fair isle pattern looks complex - I look forward to understanding how to use multiple colors, etc. For now, I just need to work on maintaining even stitches, etc.Joan

          7. rodezzy | | #28

            You are so welcomed and have fun.  I'm not ready to knit fair isle yet, let me know how you like it.

          8. Josefly | | #29

            Hah! I have a lot of knitting to learn before I tackle that.

          9. rodezzy | | #30

            I understand that!  I decided that there's so much I want done in my yarns that I've collected that as usual, I'll let the yarn to the talking and the needles to some straight st st walking.  I'm making a blue on blue stocking stitch retangle poncho.  I'm using a blue chenille yarn (two balls 1.75 ozs) per block and the next block is a blue boa fur carried along a blue medium worsted weight yarn.  It's turning out stunningly.  I'm going to be very proud to wear it and say I made it.  The chenille looks like dyed mink to me and I can't say what kind a dyed fur the boa fur looks like, but I like it.  I can't wait to finish it, but it will definitely be finished in November because I have to get on that halloween costume for my grand.

            Happy knitting!

          10. Josefly | | #31

            Sounds beautiful, and the combo of yarns makes me want to try my hand. At your speed I'm sure you'll finish the poncho and the Halloween costume before I can find my needles!

          11. rodezzy | | #32

            You always make me giggle and laugh.  I spent my evening with my grand daughter doing a little paper crafting and, I did finish a orange scarf combo after she left, but I had a few rows done the night before.  You should be able to find your needles before I get the costume done.  I'm only going to cut it out tonight. (smile) 

            I've got more time than money, so I guess I could fill it doing something productive (giggle).  I'm so glad I have these things to do, because without my crafts and sewing, etc., life would be truly boring to me.

          12. Josefly | | #33

            Isn't there a saying, something about busy hands making a happy person?

          13. rodezzy | | #34

            Yes, and I swear I'm usually at my peak of happiness when doing my crafts until my old body says, "girl, is you crazy?" and poops out on me.  My hands and arms get tired and my back feels achy and my legs swell from sitting so long.  And I was given an ergonomic chair from my office.  I have two.  They really help me go the distance, but still I have to let it go.  Sometimes I want to finish something and in the wee hours of the night sleep puts me down.  (ha ha)  Sometimes I even for go eating in the evenings to work on stuff. 

            But then there are spells when I can't pick up a needle, touch the sewing machine or look at any of it.  That can last a couple of months.  It usually happens during the early spring months.  But I think it is because I've done so much over the holiday and winter months that I'm just empty. (giggle).

          14. BernaWeaves | | #35

            You know, the other thing I noticed about the JJill vest was that the cables are on one side of the fabric for the body of the vest, and on the other side of the fabric for the drapey, turned back collar.   This seems like it would be tricky to get in exactly the right place, unless you did two sided cables.  

            Two sided cables are done by making the cables K1P1 rib, and making the background garterstitch or moss stitch.   Only by doing this is the the cable fabric completely reverseable.  I can't tell if the JJill vest is like this or not.



          15. Josefly | | #36

            I see what you mean. That didn't occur to me before, probably because I'm not a knitter (yet). Could the part of the rectangle that folds back to form that drapey collar have been knitted in reverse, with the cables on the reverse side?

          16. starzoe | | #37

            We can't see, but there is a possibility that the turnback part was seamed onto the bodice. If I was knitting this vest I think I would pick up stitches from the finished front and knit the revers.Designing that pattern for hand knitting would not be difficult, and it is quite possible that a pattern exists, if not exactly like it, very close.

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