Instructions for a knitted men's sleeveless sweater vest

Updated April 17, 2017

Sleeveless sweater vests for men can be a good choice for a first sweater project for knitters. Men's sweaters require less shaping than those for women, and because it has no sleeves, it avoids major seaming, sleeve cap shaping, and various other more advanced techniques for sweaters. Additionally, sweater vests are easily knit in the round, from the bottom up, with a mostly seamless construction. This type of garment is suitable for advanced beginner to intermediate level knitters.

Measure the recipient and check gauge. You will need to take the chest, neck, armhole width, armhole to waistline and shoulder width measurements. Knit a gauge swatch in your yarn and measure how many stitches per inch you get.

Calculate the initial cast on. Take the chest measurement number and multiply by the number of stitches per inch from your gauge swatch. For instance, if the chest measurement is 44 inches and you get 6 stitches per inch for gauge, you will cast on 264 stitches. As you will be knitting the first few inches of the tank top in a two by two ribbing pattern, you will need a number that is divisible by four. Round up or down to reach an appropriate number.

Use a stretchy cast-on technique and begin knitting. Stretchy cast ons are necessary for ease of movement and taking the garment on and off. Try a twisted German cast on for stretchiness. Cast on your desired number of stitches, place marker and join for knitting in the round. Begin knitting in a two by two ribbing pattern; knit two stitches, purl two stitches, and repeat. Knit in rib for three inches and switch to stockinet stitch. Continue in stockinet until you have reached the measurement between the waistline and the armhole.

Shape the arm holes. You will need to decrease stitches from the chest measurement to the shoulder width measurement. Count the number of stitches on your needles and place a second marker at the halfway mark. At the first marker, bind off one inch of stitches and knit to the second marker. Place the other half of the stitches on waste yarn, as you will now be working flat, rather than in the round. Turn your work, bind off another inch of stitches, and knit back across the row. Continue binding off one to two stitches at the beginning of each row until you have reached the shoulder width measurement.

Continue in stockinet stitch until you have reached the armhole depth measurement. In the middle of the next knit row, bind off the number of stitches that equals the neck measurement. Place the stitches on the other side of the bind off on waste yarn.

Knit in stockinet and decrease two stitches at the bound off edge until you have reached your desired neck opening width. Make the neck opening a little wider than your measurements, as you will knit a two by two ribbing around the edge. Place all stitches on waste yarn. Pick up the other shoulder edge from the waste yarn and repeat.

Pick up all the stitches for the front of the tank top from the waste yarn. Repeat the armhole and neckline shaping that you did for the back. All four shoulders should be on waste yarn at this point.

Join the shoulders. Using the three needle bind off technique, and your double pointed needles, join the shoulders of the front and back. Have the recipient try on the tank top for fit.

Pick up stitches at the neckline. Using your circular needle, pick up every other stitch and knit around the neckline. On the next row, begin a two by two ribbing pattern. Continue in rib for one inch, and bind off all stitches loosely, in pattern. Repeat for each arm hole.

Weave in the ends and block. Using your tapestry needle, weave in all of the loose ends on the sweater. Block your sweater using either steam or wet blocking.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Circular knitting needles
  • Double pointed knitting needles
  • Yarn
  • Stitch markers
  • Scissors
  • Tapestry needle
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Based in New York City, Virginia Watson has been writing and editing professionally since 2004. Her work has appeared in magazines including "The Roanoker Magazine," "Blue Ridge Country," "Pinnacle Living" and the award-winning "Virginia State Travel Guide." Watson holds a Master of Arts in philosophy of education from Virginia Polytechnic and State University.