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Project Diary: The Chincoteague Jacket

Sep 12, 2012

There's a chill in the air that says fall is here, and with it comes the urge to knit a jacket!

The Chingoteague Jacket by Lisa Jacobs, originally featured in Interweave Knits, is a wonderful design for a knitted jacket, one that will never go out of style. It's knit from two strands of wool held together, making it sturdy and cozy, too.

Two friends of mine knit this jacket last spring. Here are their stories:


Gerda Porter's Chincoteague Jacket
Gerda usually wears a size 12 top. She's 5' 4" tall.

Bust: 38"
Waist: 30"
Hips: 36"

Size knitted: 43" bust
Yarn and needles:
Harrisville Designs Silk and Wool, 20 skeins (to make it a little longer), size US 7 needles (I'm a very loose knitter!).

This jacket was a challenging project, and I had a few false starts before getting into the rhythm of knitting. I would rate this project for an expert knitter, or for an intermediate knitter who has a lot of willingness to learn!

The project is knitted initially in one large piece that encompasses the fronts and back at the same time, resulting in long rows. The charts are to read from right to left for right side rows and left to right for wrong side rows. I forgot about this because I knit in the round so much, and it's important to note when working back and forth in rows!

The charts are somewhat intimidating at first glance, but they are easily memorized as you go. It's helpful to place markers where the charts change and to use a magnetic board or liftable highlighter tape to keep track of which row you are working on.

One problem I had was that I couldn't figure out how this was actually going to fit me; there is quite a bit of ease and the end result was actually much bigger then I thought it would be. My gauge was correct, but the coat is too large for me around the body and the sleeve hole. I might be okay though because I'll really be able to wear it as a jacket; it'll fit over cool-weather wear just great.

The yarn used for this project was perfect, it gave wonderful structure to the project and it showed the stitch pattern beautifully.

The stitch pattern looks great, and the design is flattering. The length is just right and hits me (a short person) exactly where I would want a jacket to hit.

I knitted the jacket in a medium, and when working the sleeves I chose to follow the small instructions. I could tell that the sleeves were going to engulf me based on the size of the armhole. When I completed the sleeves and tried it on, the sleeves were way too short so I added four rounds of double crochet to serve as a ribbing. I liked how that turned out it gave a nice finish.

I decided that I would probably never wear this with the reverse side showing so I worked the collar in stockinette. The result is that the collar is wider than I would have liked, but I still preferred that to working the collar in the chart pattern.

I admire the skills required by the designer to come up with this jacket, and if I were to make it again, I would figure out how to make it smaller. I also think this stitch pattern would be fabulous in a skirt or on a pillow.

—Gerda Porter


Mimi McClellan's Chincoteague Jacket
Mimi usually wears a size 22 top. She's 5' 7" tall.

Bust: 50"
Waist: 47"
Hips: 56"

Size knitted:
51" bust
Harrisville Designs Silk and Wool, 20 skeins, size US 10 needles.

What first drew me to the Chincoteague Jacket was the stitch pattern—I just love the zigzag design. I ordered what I thought was a light blue colored yarn, but it ended up being a lavender/periwinkle, which I wasn't at all sure about. It grew on me as the sweater grew, though, and now I really like it.

I had a rough start on the pattern because I wasn't totally clear about which order the charts were knitted in on the wrong side rows. I knit about three inches and my design was obviously not looking like the photos in the magazine. I called my Gerda, and she said she'd had the same issue, but got herself straightened out. She got me straightened out, too, and soon I had the hang of the charts and was whizzing along.

The first snag came when I did the pockets. They're tiny! Maybe it's because I knit the sweater in the largest size, but they should be bigger, I think. I also had a brain lapse during this part and one of my pockets was shorter than the other. I fudged on the last few rows, though, and now they're pretty much the same size.

Everything was on track again until I got to the part where I picked up stitches for the sleeves. Since the jacket is reversible, the directions say to pick up stitches in rib, one on the right side and one on the left side. This is a cool technique, but it leaves a rippled look where the sleeves were picked up.

After working the first sleeve cap, I started the other sleeve and picked up stitches using a smaller needle and pulling tight, which resulted in a better look. I was happy with that, but not happy with having to rip out my first sleeve. I think if I had it to do over, I'd forget about making the Chincoteague reversible and just concentrate on the somewhat advanced chart work of the zigzag pattern.

I'm really happy with my jacket so far; the fit is great and I still love the zigzag pattern. And this project made me feel like a really great knitter because I relied a lot on my intuition to guide me. For example, I figured out that when knitting the collar you have to knit the stitch pattern set-up row in order for the zigzag stitch to work correctly, which isn't mentioned in the pattern. Yay, me!

My best piece of advice if you knit the Chincoteague is to read through the pattern before you start and again when you get to each new part of the jacket.You'll be happy you did. And don't be afraid to knit this pattern! It's really fun and you'll love the results.

—Mimi McClellan

Thanks Gerda and Mimi, for sharing your experiences with us. And congratulations on your beautiful jackets! To get this pattern plus many others, download the Spring 2012 issue of Interweave Knits today!


P.S. What's your favorite thing about knitted jackets? Leave a comment and let us know.

Featured Product

Interweave Knits, Spring 2012: Digital Edition

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Step into spring with 18 fresh projects from Interweave Knits. Make the most of warmer weather with crisp texture, diaphanous fabrics, and simple, graphic color.


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pokey_peg wrote
on Sep 17, 2012 12:10 PM

The yarn recommended for this project, Harrisville Designs Silk & Wool Yarns, has been discontinued. The idea of a brand new publication using an unavailable yarn is pretty annoying. It colors my attitude toward anything else in the book. I don't see any recommendations for a good substitute. Do you have anything to recommend?

Mostitch wrote
on Sep 17, 2012 11:34 AM

Joanne Dueck may be right that the sweater design does "nothing for the wearer", but I am tired of wearing clothing that "does something for me."   I am sixty-four years old and have made peace with my body shape.  I am the way I am.  I wear clothing that pleases me and makes me feel good, regardless of whether or not it "does something" for me.  That said, within my circle of four sisters and four sisters-in-law four agree with me and four don't!

LL Howard wrote
on Sep 13, 2012 4:12 AM

My favorite thing about knitting a jacket: being DONE!

I love the process, but after a while, I get a little bored. I've tried several types from easy one color to cabled, multi colored, and still lose my impetus. Min you, I don't quit, I just get tired of it. Then when It's ready to wear, it's like a new toy, and I can't stop wearing it. So, it all works out in the end.

on Sep 12, 2012 8:04 PM

I love to knit jackets because I love the warmth they provide during the winter!!

on Sep 12, 2012 1:10 PM

I'm curious as to the inspiration of this jacket.  I understand that it is by Lisa Jacobs, and originally featured in Interweave Knits, but as I am at the Island of Chincoteague nearly every weekend, I was just wondering how the idea came about? :)

dpmarshall wrote
on Sep 12, 2012 12:58 PM

I couldn't agree more - not flattering. And when you're having to use your intuition while following a pattern - well, that just sounds like a poorly written pattern.

JoanneDueck wrote
on Sep 12, 2012 10:05 AM

While these are lovely sweaters they do no favors for the wearers.  A single breasted design would be much nicer.