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the Livingstone vest

If there is one thing I am not, it is ‘cool’. Yours truly has been probably the most un-cool person ever since day 1. So when many people commented on my Instagram post saying how cool this vest was, I won’t lie, I was rather chuffed. If you can’t be cool, you can at least make cool things! On this occasion I’d like to pat myself on the back because I’m very, very happy with how this new design turned out.

Scroll down for details and to download the Livingstone Vest knitting pattern

So far the it’s been described by friends, family, and folks on Instagram as looking ‘a bit medieval’, ‘a bit Game of Thrones’, ‘like a fencing vest’, and ‘kinda suit of armour vibes’. None of which were my original intention, but I’ll go with it. Nice to have something a bit different, hey? My actual intention was to create a vest / tabard / dickie hybrid garment that would be super warm and practical, but also feature a bold, modern, wrap. Hopefully one can tick both the modern and medieval boxes at once.

Brioche stitch & tutorials

All the techniques required for the Livingstone Vest are explained over on my new YouTube channel. If you like the look of it but haven’t worked brioche before, I’d recommend giving this video a watch first and practising basic brioche stitch worked flat. I promise brioche stitch isn’t scary! It just takes a little getting used to as the stitches are worked differently to regular knitting. As a designer, this can be really handy; the unusual gauge means you can create shapes and curves that wouldn’t be possible in regular stocking stitch or rib. Wacky brioche stitch gauge is what enabled me to create those curved edges that wrap around the sides of the body – most satisfying to knit, if I do say so myself. The fabric produced doesn’t curl at all, therefore no finishing is required at the edges either. So yes, if you’re scared of brioche, don’t be. Drop me an email if you’re struggling. Now I’ve typed the word ‘brioche’ so many times that it’s starting to sound strange – who ever did name a knitting technique after a pastry, anyway?

Styling – how to wear the Livingstone Vest

I have an Instagram reel scheduled for tomorrow on this very topic, but since a couple of people have already asked, I thought I’d share styling tips here too.

— With your biggest, bestest, sleeves. Personally I’m a little obsessed with oversized sleeves and said obsession extends beyond knitwear, so I have several voluminous-sleeved shirts in my wardrobe. As you can see from test knitter photos, it looks great over a regular shirt too, or a simple t-shirt. I know one lovely lady wore her’s for Thanksgiving dinner, and I think it’d make a great Christmas day item too! Kinda put together, but still a cosy sweater.

— Layered over dresses. Possibly my favourite way to style knits. The wrap shape highlights the waist just nicely over a floaty dress.

— Over a simple turtleneck. I’ve worn mine this way with plain leggings and love the minimal, sleek look. Wool with (faux or real) leather is a favourite combination of mine – they complement each other so well!

— Alternatively, wear it with absolutely nothing underneath. Wouldn’t recommend for leaving the house this way but it’s fun to mess around at home and snap photos within your own 4 walls.

Test knit roundup

Now for my favourite part, the Livingstone Vest worn by all these wonderful test knitters. Since this knitting pattern is pretty different to my usual style, I was intrigued to see how it’d look on different bodies. As a designer you can grade a pattern as carefully as possible and draw schematics to visualise the different sizes, but it’s no substitute for actually seeing how the garment works on real people. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw how this looked on everyone! So so grateful for their help – thanks so much guys.

(Oh and on the topic of sizing, the ‘wings’ can be easily modified by mixing and matching sizes, and the pattern includes instructions for modifying for a higher or lower waistline. Petite and tall ladies, worry not.)


YARN: Aran weight yarn, approximately 544 (592; 650; 702; 739) [798; 855; 931; 993] metres / 595 (647; 711; 768; 808) [873; 935; 1018; 1086] yards.

Sample shown in West Yorkshire Spinners 100% Bluefaced Leicester Roving in shade 002 Light Brown.

Yarns used by test knitters: Knit Picks Simply Wool Twist Worsted Weight / Brooklyn Tweed Shelter / DROPS Nepal / Studio Donegal Soft Donegal 2ply / Classic Elite Yarns Lush / Malabrigo Rios / Knit Picks City Tweed Aran

NEEDLES & NOTIONS: 5mm needles: circular needles of your preferred length for working small circumferences for the yoke (ie. 16” / 40cm, or 1 long needle for magic loop), plus needles of your preferred method for working flat for the body (ie. 24” circulars, or straight needles). 4mm needles (of any type) for working waist tie.

You will also need: scrap yarn for holding stitches, 4 stitch markers (with one marker different to the rest to denote the beginning of round), a tapestry needle, and 2 x 38mm D-rings (inner diameter)

GAUGE: 14 sts and 40 rows to 4” / 10 cm in brioche stitch on 5mm needles, blocked. See Notes for swatching brioche stitch.

SIZING: 1 (2: 3: 4: 5) [6: 7: 8: 9], to fit bust 28-30 (32-34; 36-38; 40-42; 44-46) (48-50; 52-54; 56-58; 60-62) inches / 71-76 (81-86; 91-97; 102-107; 112-117) (122-127; 132-137; 142-147; 152-157) cm. Sample shown is a size 2 on a 34 inch / 86 cm bust.

For sizes 1-4, the side ‘wings’ meet in the centre as shown in photos. For sizes 5-9, the side ‘wings’ do not meet, as it is not possible to include enough shaping without distorting the fabric or making the vest much longer.

TECHNIQUES: This pattern uses brioche stitch worked flat and in the round, brioche increases, (optional) Italian cast on, simple short rows, i-cord bind off, and a small amount of Kitchener stitch. Videos are linked in the pattern for these techniques.

I LOVE seeing people knit my patterns and make them their own – if you could tag @lilykatemakes and #LivingstoneVest on Instagram that would be great!

The Livingstone Vest pattern is also available via Ravelry and Etsy.

Lily Kate x

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