The Man I Left Behind Vest by Kathleen Sperling

The Man I Left Behind Vest

October 2020
DK (11 wpi) ?
25 stitches and 27 rows = 4 inches
in Stranded pattern after blocking on larger needles
US 4 - 3.5 mm
US 3 - 3.25 mm
1632 - 2312 yards (1492 - 2114 m)
men's small, medium, large, 1X, 2X
Flag of English English

In the first season of Outlander, at the end of “The Way Out”, Claire despairs of ever returning to her own time. But then one evening, she hears a song performed in Colum’s hall. The lyrics, translated to her by Jamie, tell the story of a woman who had an experience just like Claire’s - by touching the tallest stone on a fairy hill, she had “traveled to a far, distant land, where I lived for a time among strangers who became lovers and friends”. The song goes on to tell the second part of the woman’s tale, where she touched the stones again and returned home, and “took up again with the man I had left behind”.

Claire decides that the folktale described in the song has a basis in fact, and that it is indeed possible for her to go back to her own time. She imagines returning home to her husband Frank. In her fantasy vision, we see him coming to greet her with a loving smile, and he is wearing a fair isle vest in a style which is classic of his own 1940s time period.


The book is missing information on how long you should work the ribbing at the bottom of the vest. You should be working Round 1 until the work measures 2 (2, 2.5, 2.5, 3) inches or 5 (5, 6.5, 6.5, 7.5) cm.

Skills required

  • Knit & purl, cast on & bind off
  • Increasing, decreasing
  • Long-tail cast on
  • Three-needle bind off
  • Working in the round on circular needles
  • Working from charts
  • Stranded colorwork
  • Picking up stitches
  • Steeking

Yarn requirements

In sample shown, MC is brown, CC1 is blue, CC2 is yellow, CC3 is red, and CC4 is black.

  • Small: 5 balls MC (approx. 545yds), 3 balls CC1 (approx. 345yds), 2 balls CC2 (approx. 235yds), 1 ball of CC3 (approx. 80yds), 1 ball of CC4 (approx. 50 yds)
  • Medium: 5 balls MC (approx. 635yds), 3 balls CC1 (approx. 365yds), 2 balls CC2 (approx. 275yds), 1 ball CC3 (approx. 80yds), 1 ball CC4 (approx. 50 yds)
  • Large: 6 balls MC (approx. 725yds), 4 balls CC1 (approx. 450yds), 3 balls CC2 (approx. 310yds), 1 ball CC3 (approx. 100yds), 1 ball CC4 (approx. 60yds)
  • 1X: 6 balls MC (approx. 815yds), 4 balls CC1 (approx. 510yds), 3 balls CC2 (approx. 350yds), 1 ball CC3 (approx. 115yds), 1 ball CC4 (approx. 70yds)
  • 2X: 7 balls MC (approx. 910yds), 5 balls CC1 (approx. 560yds), 3 balls CC2 (approx. 385yds), 1 ball CC3 (approx. 125yds), 1 ball CC4 (approx. 75yds)

These amounts include the yarn needed to make a colourwork swatch with 60 sts per round, 35 rounds high.

Size information

  • Small: 25.25” long, 37.75” chest circumference intended to fit actual chest 35”
  • Medium: 27” long, 42.25” chest circumference, intended to fit actual chest 39”
  • Large: 28.5” long, 46.5” chest circumference, intended to fit actual chest 43”
  • 1X: 30” long, 51” chest circumference, intended to fit actual chest 47”
  • 2X: 31” long, 55” chest circumference, intended to fit actual chest 51”

Other materials needed

  • Stitch markers, including a unique one to mark beginning of rounds
  • Stitch holders
  • Safety pin
  • Scissors
  • Crochet hook, or sewing machine and sewing thread, for reinforcing steeks
  • Yarn needle