Wool and the Gang James Jacket // Crazy Sexy Wool Khaki Green // Closet Case Files


Wrapping up my mega chunky Wool & the Gang projects for the year, let me introduce you to the ultimate core warmer, the James Jacket. The knitted equivalent of a puffy down vest, I have found just about every excuse to wear it since it was finished. Am I wearing it right now? Maybe. Will I wear it tomorrow? Indubitably, as long as the snow keeps falling and I have to  go outside for puppy potty breaks every 90 minutes. Have I napped in it? What do you think?

To show it off to its maximum puffy vest goodness, we shot an LL Bean inspired photoshoot in a snow covered Vermont meadow a few weeks ago because pretending to be an outdoorsy WASP is fun.

Wool and the Gang James Jacket // Knitting Projects // Closet Case Files  Wool and the Gang James Jacket // Knitting Projects // Closet Case FilesWool and the Gang James Jacket // Knitting Projects // Closet Case FilesWool and the Gang James Jacket // Knitting Projects // Closet Case Files

For this warm mom hug of a project, I sprung for the Crazy Sexy Wool in Khaki green during the WATG Cyber Monday sale. They are masters of branding; I was delighted to discover that everything arrived in a white flour bag. As for the wool, while I love the colour in real life, it proved to be every difficult to share on instagram; all my in-progress shots looked like I was knitting with baby poop.

Wool and the Gang James Jacket // Crazy Sexy Wool Khaki Green // Closet Case Files

Having learned my lesson from my comically oversized Cross Country Coat, this time around I actually made a swatch. I’m discovering I’m a loose knitter, which surprised me quite a bit, at least on this project — I can’t imagine how dense the fabric would have been on smaller needles! Because I’m lazy and had already blew my yarn wad, I just did a little mental math and tweaked the pattern to work for my gauge. The pattern itself is quite simple so it wasn’t too hard to figure out how to make it work, although I had to do a little creative easing to get my raglan seams to line up properly around the shoulder when all was said and done.

Wool and the Gang James Jacket // Knitting Projects // Closet Case Files Wool and the Gang James Jacket // Knitting Projects // Closet Case Files

Unfortunately, it’s pilling like mad, but I’m too busy being warm as hell to worry too much about it. As an added bonus, it makes me look like I could chop and stack a cord of wood with my bare hands in two minutes flat, and then pose for a casual “All in a days work!” pose without breaking my stride.

Wool and the Gang James Jacket // Crazy Sexy Wool Khaki Green // Closet Case Files

Yes, I actually struck that pose. Oh Heather.

So, have I made you crave a knitted puffy vest of your own? What’s the warmest project you’ve ever knit? And how should I deal with the pilling?!

ps. My hat is real fur but it’s thrift-store vintage and I live in a very cold climate. Recycling is always preferable to moldering in a dump somewhere.

  • While I love the vest, really all I want to do is run into your photos and jump in that SNOW!!!! It was over 40 degrees Celsius here ALL week last week. No shit. I’m melting.

    • Haha. Thankfully it’s been mild most of the winter. Its hard to appreciate the snow when its minus a million degrees outside!

  • Naia

    I love the vest! But its pilling, I hate when that happens. I have been on a mission for at least the last decade to find yarns that hold up to wearing. Some people find plied yarns hold up better, but honestly, I have had mixed results. I find those lovely, soft, merinos are the worst; the cuddlier the yarn, the faster it pills. The best luck I have experienced is with lightly processed wools, they are, unfortunately, usually scratchy. Also, check the ravelry comments to see how the yarns hold up.

    • I am going to remember these words the next time I start cuddling merinos in the store….

  • K_Line

    I wear fur constantly and I’m only in TO. You’d be nuts not to wear it in Mtl. And I’ve wondered about how that yarn wears. Not thrilling when it pills right of the bat, I know. Your sewing skills are and will continue to be a boon when it comes to knitting. That’s what I learned when first I started knitting. And your design skills will have you designing knit sweaters in 3 years, I predict.

    • Oh lordy! I think it might be too mathy for me but ya never know!

  • Oh man, I love this!! Olive green is one of my favorite colors to wear and I could TOTALLY use the knitted version of a puffy vest!

    • Right?! WHy didn’t we think of this sooner?!

  • Hélène

    Olive green is universally flattering – looks fab with every colour. And your fur hat looks wonderful too, but I still prefer your little dude’s fur coat.

    • Hahaha I would wear him sitting on my head like a breathing hat if people wouldn’t run from me in terror.

  • Love, love, love that you’re enjoying knitting as much as you are! I saw on Instagram that you’re doing some cabling… if you want to see some lovely patterns, check out Debbie Bliss patterns(http://debbieblissmagazine.com/back-issues to see the breadth of her styles). I’ve made about a dozen of her designs, and they always turn out *perfectly*! (BTW, photos of my Clare coat coming… when I can bear to take it off. I love it!!)

    • I’ve definitely added some Debbie Bliss patterns to my ravelry queue! SHe makes lovely designs. And please show me you coat when its all done!

  • Francesca Amodeo

    Very cool – and warm :). Love! And i have old fur stuff from my mother which I wear when I go away to cold countries – nothing works like it, and like you said – using is better than dumping!
    You have to expect pilling from a single ply fattie of a yarn like this. Big Wool and so on all do this. The only thing you can do is a) be zen about it and b) invest in a lillylbrush – you can get them on amazon. I love mine, it is super brilliant also for tremoving animal hairs from your clothes. It’s also known as Save our sweaters. I got mine from Loop in London because they don’t ship to Malta, but they also have a large size one which looks great for sofas etc – now you have a lovely hairy dude who – if you’re anything like me – will snuggle next to you and not in a bed on the floor:)

    • And…….. just added that to my wishlist! For now Harry sleeps in his crate and then we have morning cuddles for an hour or two… Not sure if I can keep him out of bed forever, haha

  • sallieforrer

    Love this!! The color is such a good neutral without being boring, you know? I’ve been loving knitting my BT riptide sweater, and can’t believe how fast it’s going because of those big needles and yarn – so satisfying! But I have a feeling that Quarry will be a pilly yarn as well, so if you have any insight into the pill issue, please let me know! Also, your photos make me miss real winter.

    • Yarg. It’s such fun to knit with but I was scared of the same thing!

  • Warmest knit? Definitely Brooklyn Tweed’s Hawser. I’ve been LIVING in it all winter and I’m afraid my coworkers have started to think I don’t own any other clothing.


      • Oops, didn’t see your reply at all. You will not regret it!!!!

  • drPmakes.wordpress.com

    Love that! Going to give knitting another try I think
    also, I’m glad you mentioned the fur thing…vintage is OK. ..better than it going to waste, right?

    • I love old fur coats and I like the idea of giving them second lives but it’s a hard look to pull off without looking like a jerk sometimes, hahah

  • Grace

    Hold up… is this a SEAMED raglan cardi? I assumed it was a seamless top down raglan. It looks great, especially over that chambray shirt. I think the bulky yarn makes a great vest. It kinda reminds me of my last bulky project which was an amazing Knit.1 magazine pattern. Your vest is kinda making we want to knit it again. Check it out here… http://ravel.me/wzrdreams/1cc

    • Yes! Its super simple, but the body is in 5 pieces. I think it gives a nice shape to the shoulder. And that cardigan looks SOOOOO COZZZYYYY!

  • I’ve never seen a knit tedious collar like that before, it looks great over your button-up!

  • Vera

    The jacket looks real warm! 🙂 The collar looks really lovely and would be a great addition to any winter wardrobe.


  • Sarah

    Re your hat: Just a note in case you already do not know — since you love it, keep it away from your darling pup. He may ignore it for days, weeks, months, even years…and then one day, he won’t, and you will no longer have a hat. A lot of new dog folks do not know, which is the only reason I mention it. I am not sure I know a single dog who has avoided real fur forever!

    • Noted Sarah! I could see the little bugger going to town on this hat.

  • Jessica

    Love olive green. It’s such an underrated color. I stay away from soft yarns for this very reason (especially the single ply ones), I just can’t bear spending all that time knitting something only to have it pill. I know, the sturdier, scratchier yarns aren’t nearly as cuddly – for me the longevity tradeoff is worthwhile, for others it isn’t. One trick I LOVE is to strand Kidsilk Haze (or any mohair/silk blend) with a worsted wool and then to knit it on size 10 needles for ~14 st/4in gauge. The result is gorgeous and drapey, especially if you use a heathered wool that isn’t a perfect color match to the silk/mohair (because the resulting fabric has a lovely depth), and the mohair/silk makes it soft and fuzzy and greatly cuts down on the pillage factor. I used that trick in a number of projects and still get comments on those sweaters, five years later. Seriously, when your non-knitterly male acquaintances comment on your five year old sweaters (including: “I knew that was you from across the cafe because nobody else has such nice sweaters!”), you know you have a winner.


  • A great outfit for cold weather!

    Stacy from http://www.stacyco.com

  • Love it! But don’t love pilling. I’ve recently started hand spinning and am learning a lot about the construction of yarn. As a general rule, woolen yarn is less likely to pil than worsted yarn. (Your WatG yarn is worsted and single ply and chunky which = pilling.) I’ve fond that softness might be an immediate “wow” factor but get past that and there’s loads of other qualities to select yarn for. Jessica’s earlier tip below is a great one. Sue Blacker gives a slightly technical but excellent Q&A here – http://wovember.com/2013/11/15/sue-blacker-on-woollen-vs-worsted-mill-spinning/

  • This is super cute!! I loved WATG packaging too – when I first ordered from them I was blown away. Also hooray for knitting lessons learned (i’ve learned the same ones) – happy swatching!

  • I love how this turned out. I love that pattern and I tried to make something like that (I am stubborn and even though I know almost nothing about knitting, I still try to make my own patterns) but I used a less bulky yarn and knitted it more loosely and… well it looks nothing like the original.

    But I will try again 🙂

    It’s this one: