Welcome Kollaborators! In this Make-Along I’ll be demonstrating how to create my Huntress Vest – just in time for the holidays! Tune in Monday, November 24th for the first part of this three week tutorial :)
When I originally designed the Huntress Vest, I was aiming to create an heirloom piece that was simple and fast to do but at the same time contained design details that made it look like it had been lovingly and rustically made by hand using a variety of techniques. For this reason, I chose to make a small part in a knitted herringbone stitch that would give the effect of a woven fabric and the rest in a simple half double crochet stitch that would make the bulk of the vest quick and easy to complete. I also made the design choice of putting the seams on the outside of the garment to add texture and more of that primitive quality.
After receiving so many requests for an all-crochet version of the pattern, I have recently updated it to include an alternative crocheted herringbone version in place of the knitted piece. And while I haven’t included it in the official pattern, I’ve also helped others adapt the pattern for an all-knit vest. In this Make-Along we are going to tackle the original pattern, but I will also include instructions and guidance for fully knit and fully crochet Huntress Vests.
The stitches used in this pattern are easy, but because the construction is slightly unconventional I consider the pattern to be an easy+ or low end of intermediate level. The great thing about this piece is that it is extremely forgiving and fits so many different body types because of its asymmetrical shape. And because it embraces that rustic feel, it doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t be scared!
To begin, I wanted to start by saying that as I mentioned in the project description, this garment can be manipulated in a variety of ways to suit different body types, and while it’s important to follow the instructions, a little change or hiccup here and there is not going to affect the overall look of the piece. I often tell people that this pattern is like cooking, not like baking. As long as you have the right ingredients it’s going to turn out great, but being EXACT is not a top priority here.
Ok, let’s get started! The first thing you should do before beginning any knitting or crochet project is to check your gauge - especially if you are a newbie to either craft, as you tend to knit and crochet much more tightly when you’re first starting. The trick with the Huntress Vest is to get a nice, easy tension going that isn’t too tight, which will help you to work faster and reduce the stress on your wrists, but you also don’t want it too loose or it will become unmanageable. After loads of testing, I’ve determined the best gauge for this project to be:
8.5 sts = 4” in herringbone knit stitch
8 sts + 5 rows = 4” in half double crochet
Achieving this tension will produce a fabric that is thick and warm but stretchy enough to fit a variety of sizes and be worn over a little jacket. I include approximate dimensions for each of the 5 pieces that make up the vest at the end of each of their instructions, and I use the word “approximate” because if you are off by an inch here and there it is no biggie – once it’s all together you can stretch and pull and manipulate this thing quite a bit so that it forms to your body.
If you are concerned about the “one size fits most” size and think you will need a particularly smaller or larger size, I always recommend cutting out the individual pieces of the pattern from muslin using the suggested dimensions of each piece as a guide and whip stitching them together and trying the mock up on. You can then make adjustments to these pieces to determine how much you need to increase or decrease each piece of the pattern. I’ve found that simply by loosening or tightening your tension, you can create a variety of sizes without the need to add additional stitches or rows. Just adjust your gauge to reach your desired dimensions and you’re good to go! And of course if you don’t want to mess with the gauge you can also add stitches and rows based on the amount you want to increase/decrease each piece. The construction part of the pattern would remain the same.
The other thing you want to do before diving head first into a pattern is to read through it – maybe twice. It’s important to have a general understanding of how the whole thing will come together because it will influence your understanding of the individual pieces as you make them.
The Huntress Vest is made of 5 pieces:
Front Triangle Patch
Middle Vest Piece
Lower Vest Piece
The front triangle patch is the only knitted piece in the original pattern. The other four pieces are crocheted using a half double crochet stitch, which is worked through the back loop only. The pattern now includes instructions for a half double crochet herringbone front triangle patch so that those who do not knit can complete the vest. And because all of the crochet pieces are essentially just rectangles, it is very easy to recreate them using a knit 2 / purl 2 rib stitch so that the whole thing can be done without crochet. I’ll provide suggestions in italics underneath the directions for each of the crochet pieces to be worked in knitting.
The last thing I wanted to mention this week is one of my favorite knitting/crocheting skills – the magic knot join. This is a technique that allows you to join a new ball of yarn without leaving tails to weave in at the end of the project. Since we have 5 separate pieces and the seams to go along with them, we are going to end up with a bunch of loose ends at the end of this that will need to be woven in. With 4 balls of yarn to work, we would have an additional 6 ends to weave in unless we use a join that eliminates them, and the magic knot is the perfect one for this project because it is quick and easy.
Now that we’ve covered all the basics and Thanksgiving is around the corner, I think it’s a great time to practice your skills over the holiday break and get ready to start working on the individual pieces of the pattern next week. I’ve got some videos that demonstrate each of the stitches we will use in the pattern that you should watch and familiarize yourself with.
1. My favorite way to cast on for the front triangle patch is the cable cast on. This video gives a very comprehensive demonstration of this cast on method, and it’s a great video to check out if you are totally new to knitting.
2. The herringbone knitting stitch creates a really nice fabric that is thick and dense like the other four crochet pieces, so it works into the pattern very well. If you’re not familiar with the herringbone stitch, check out this video for a wonderful demonstration.
3. Here is a video that demonstrates how to work the half double crochet stitch through the back loop only, which is what we use for the majority of the pattern.
4. All of the seams in the Huntress Vest are done in a single crochet edge stitch join. Here is a video of this stitch being used to join granny squares.
Welcome back everyone! I hope you all had lovely turkey dinners :)
Let’s get back to our project. The first part of the pattern is the front triangle patch. It is important to cast on loosely here because the knitted herringbone stitch tightens up A LOT and gets really difficult to work with if you don’t keep the whole thing a little loosey goosey. It is usually suggested to size up 2 or 3 needle sizes when working the herringbone stitch for this reason, and that’s why we use US 19 needles for this piece.
Because we are creating a triangle and not a rectangle, we need to decrease as we work to get to a point. The patterns calls for us to do this on every purl row, decreasing one stitch at the beginning of the row and one stitch at the end so that the sides of the triangle are even. To do this, you will purl the first 2 stiches together at the beginning of the row, taking both stitches off of the left needle, in order to decrease 1 stitch. Then you will work the herringbone stitch on the purl side as usual, starting with the 3rd and 4th stitches, and only letting the one stitch come off of the left needle. Work in this manner until there are only 2 stitches remaining on the left needle. Purl those last 2 stitches together, which will decrease another stitch on that row for a total of 2 decreases.
When you reach row 22 you will only have 4 stitches on the left needle, so you will simply purl 2 together twice, leaving you with 2 stitches. Then you will turn and knit these two stitches together through the back loop.
To make a fully crochet version of the Huntress Vest, you can also make an alternative herringbone half double crochet front triangle patch in place of the knitted piece. Here's a great tutorial on how to do this stitch.
The gauge for this piece is 6.5 sts + 5 rows = 4”.
With larger crochet hook, ch 20.
Row 1: Starting in 3rd ch from hook, HBhdc into each st across row. Ch 2 and turn. (18 sts) Row 2: HBhdc2tog, HBhdc to last 2 sts, HBhdc2tog. Ch 2 and turn. (16 sts)
Row 3: HBhdc into each st across row. Ch 2 and turn.
Rows 4-15: Rep rows 2 and 3. (4 sts)
Row 16: HBhdc2tog twice. Ch 2 and turn. (2 sts)
Row 17: HBhdc2tog.
Cut yarn and pull through the remaining st.
Finished dimensions should be approx. 11”/28cm (cast on edge) x 14”/35.5cm x 14”/35.5cm
The next two pieces – the middle vest piece and lower vest piece – are worked in a half double crochet stitch through the back loop only, and are simply rectangles with one angled edge. The only difference between them is that the lower vest piece is slightly longer than the middle vest piece, so you will chain more stitches at the beginning.
For those of you who would like to make an all-knit version of the Huntress Vest, I would suggest casting on around 12 sts to size US 17 needles for the middle and lower vest pieces and working in a knit 2 / purl 2 rib until you reach the dimension of the top of each piece. Then decrease one stitch per row along one edge until you run out of stitches. This will create similar ribbed rectangles with an angled edge to the crochet pieces in the pattern.
The fourth piece of the pattern is probably the easiest – it is simply a rectangle done in the same half double crochet through the back loop stitch as you used for the middle and lower vest pieces. No decreasing needed!
For a knitted scarf, cast on another 12 sts to the size 17 needles and work in the knit 2 / purl 2 rib until you reach the length of the scarf in the pattern.
The last piece to the puzzle is the cowl. This piece is super easy as well, but it’s also where the unconventional part of the pattern begins so it tends to give people a little trouble. It starts out fine – just a ribbed rectangle like the scarf piece, only taller. Once you’ve completed the rows, you want to bring the short ends together and seam them so you’ve formed the actual tube of the cowl. You can really use any seaming technique, but I always prefer a mattress stitch seam because it is a really clean, even join. This is a great tutorial that demonstrates the mattress stitch join for several different types of crochet work if you’re unfamiliar with the technique.
Once the center back seam is complete and before you tie off and cut your working yarn, you will want to pull and stretch that seam so that it points out at the top and the bottom. The reason for this is that when we are putting the pieces together, the back of the Huntress Vest is shaped like a “v” and by creating a point at the bottom of the cowl, it allows it to tuck in perfectly to that “v.”
To knit the cowl instead, I recommend casting on 32 sts to the size 17 needles and knitting a knit 2 / purl 2 rib until you reach the length of the cowl provided in the pattern. You will seam the short ends together using a mattress stitch for knitting and then pull on the seam the same way that is described above. You can find a great demonstration of the mattress stitch for knitting here.
Welcome back everyone! Now that we have all of the 5 pieces of the pattern completed, the real fun begins! Seaming all of the pieces together will start to bring the Huntress Vest to life. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the Make-Along, I made the decision to put all of the seams on the outside of the garment, and I use a single crochet edge stitch join for all of the seams. This technique is often used to join granny squares for a blanket, as you saw from the youtube link I included in the first week’s posts.
Before we start the construction, I want to note that especially with this project, it is extremely important to pin each piece together before you start seaming so that you can keep the edges aligned properly as you go along. Most times when you’re joining two pieces of knitting or crochet together you are going to have edges that are the same size and fit perfectly together, but not so much with the Huntress Vest! Actually none of the edges you will seam together are the same size on the Huntress Vest :) And thus the headaches caused by this part of the pattern …
The first two pieces that we will join are the middle and lower vest pieces. Lay the two pieces out so that the slanted decrease edges are on your right and the middle vest piece is above the lower vest piece. We are going to seam the bottom edge of the middle vest piece to the top edge of the lower vest piece. You will notice that the bottom edge of the middle vest piece is shorter than the top edge of the lower vest piece, so the latter will have to be gathered while the former is stretched in order to stitch them together and keep the left straight edges and right decreased edges aligned. So slightly stretching the middle vest piece while slightly gathering the lower vest piece, pin them together along the seam. I like to start by pinning the two sides together, then the middle of the seam, and then once or twice more on either side of the center pin so that you have 4-6 sections.
Starting from the right decrease edges and working your way left, begin seaming the two pieces together using the smaller crochet hook. Because the lower vest piece is longer, there are more stitches on it than there are on the middle vest piece. So every now and then you will need to go into the same stitch on the middle vest piece to accommodate the additional stitches on the lower vest piece. You’ll notice it start to bunch up as you move to the next pin if you aren’t doing this. If you want to be super *exact* you could count how many stitches you have in each pinned section and evenly distribute the stitches on the middle vest piece that you will have to work twice, but like I said: cooking, not baking. There is no need to get all crazy perfect, and I always just run with it and if I notice it bunching up I make an adjustment. This seam is also super easy to rip out if you notice it getting really uneven, which is another reason I like it :)
If you’re working on an all-knit Huntress Vest, you can use any seaming technique you’re comfortable with to attach the pieces. A tight whip stitch worked on the right side of the pieces will produce the closest-looking seam to the crocheted join.
The next part of the construction is to attach the front triangle patch to the middle and lower vest pieces. Count 26 sts from right to left along the top edge of the middle vest piece and place a stitch marker. Pin the cast on edge of the front triangle patch along the 26 sts between the decrease edge and the stitch marker, slightly stretching and gathering to fit. Because the cast on edge of the front triangle patch has only 24 sts and is being attached to an edge of 26 sts, you will use the same technique we used when seaming the middle and lower vest pieces together and go into the same stitch on the front triangle patch twice at two points in order to accommodate the extra two stitches on the middle vest piece. Once the front triangle patch has been attached, tie the point of it to the top left edge of the middle vest. You now have completed the actual “vest” part of the garment, including the armhole.
Next we are going to attach the cowl to the scarf to form the top part of the garment. Remember that seam we stretched along the center back of the cowl? This is where that comes into play. Fold the cowl in on itself so that the top becomes a fold and the bottom of it will be both the bottom edge and what used to be the top edge. This is basically like folding a turtleneck, only you will fold it down the inside rather than over the outside, which will conceal the center back seam allowances. The bottom of the center back seam should now dip down into a point, which will be tucked into a “v” shape that’s created by crisscrossing the scarf.
Lay the scarf out horizontally. Pin the top right corner of the scarf just to the left of the center back seam along the bottom edge of the cowl. Moving clockwise around the bottom edge of the cowl, pin the top edge of the scarf around it. Crisscross the end of the scarf underneath the short side of the scarf where you started attaching it to the cowl, forming a “v” around the point created by the stretched center back seam of the cowl.
To seam the two pieces together you will again have to do some “double dipping” into the cowl edges because the scarf has so many more stitches. And you want to seam all three layers together – the top edge of the scarf and both of the bottom edges of the cowl. Start seaming at the same point where you pinned the top right edge of the scarf to the center back cowl seam, and move around the pinned edges in the same direction. Once you meet the center back seam on the other side, continue along the top edge of the scarf, seaming it to the shorter end of the scarf with which it is crisscrossed to close up the “v.”
Now it’s time to really bring this thing to life and attach the vest to the scarf/cowl.
Starting at the bottom of the "v" point on the scarf at the center back, count 18 sts to the right and place a stitch marker. Then count another 38 stitches from that point around the bottom of the scarf and place another stitch marker. Turn the cowl/scarf over so that the front is facing you. Pin the bottom right decrease edge of the lower vest piece to the stitch marker on the right, and pin the point of the front triangle patch that is tied to the top left edge of the middle vest piece to the stitch marker on the left. Seam the front of the vest along the 38 sts between the two markers from right to left. The bottom edge of the scarf has perfectly even stitching so it’s easy to see where you will go into those stitches, but the edges of the vest are not so clear. Just do your best to find holes to go into to evenly attach it to the scarf. I suggest finding spots where you can pick up two loops and not just a single strand, because you’ll be going through two loops along the edge of the scarf and you want to keep the seam nicely even and strong. Then continue to attach the short straight ends of the middle and lower vest pieces to the bottom edge of the scarf along the 18 sts between the “v” and the first stitch marker placed. The red and blue lines on the photos help to indicate what goes where. Don’t cut your yarn when you finish this seam!
To start the edging I just use the working yarn from the last seam, which is why I said not to cut it, because this eliminates another 2 ends to weave in. The edging around the vest is really straightforward. It’s easy to see the stitches and very simple to work the single crochet edging into them. The single crochet edging around the armhole starts out fine because you also have these clear stitches to go into, but once you reach the edge of the armhole that is the knitted herringbone front triangle patch, you have all these dips and valleys and wonky direction yarns. Just like attaching the vest to the scarf, do your best to find places you can go into to work the single crochet stitch and always go through two loops/strands of yarn to keep it even and strong.
The best way to recreate the edging around the outside of the garment using only knitting techniques is to use a set of long US 17 circulars and pick up stitches evenly around the entire edge of the vest and work 3 rows, then bind off loosely. Do the same for the armhole.
And now, the bane of my existence: weaving in ends. Just when you’ve stitched your last seam and you’ve got the whole thing constructed and you’re so excited to see it all put together and completed …. You realize you still have a lot of work ahead of you (sometimes hours or days depending on the project) of doing boring end weaving. As I’ve mentioned several times I try to keep the ends as minimal as possible in all of my work. The great thing about this pattern is that, if you’ve followed my recommendations and used the magic knot to join new balls of yarn, you should only have ends to weave in that are conveniently located next to seams, which is the BEST place to hide them. Since the seams on this piece are nice and bulky and dense, it’s the perfect place to tuck these suckers in and keep them there!
Once you’ve got all the ends hidden, it’s time to try this puppy on! Slip it over your head and right arm and get to tugging! Gently pull and shape the garment to suit your body, and try twisting it a bit to the left or right to see where it sits best on you.
Thank you so much for joining me on this Make-Along journey! I hope everyone feels confident in their ability to finish the Huntress Vest now, because I guarantee you’re going to have friends and relatives begging you to make one for them once they see it!