A Few Takes on Breton Stripes

First of all, you may notice that we’re in a slightly different place!  Our blog has moved because in the coming weeks our website will be changing (for the better!).  In the future, it’ll be really easy to move between the blog and the main website, but right now it’s a little awkward.  Bear with us, it’ll be better in the end!

Having said that, let’s talk stripes.  There’s something about a bold set of white and navy stripes that reminds of the beach, a boat and summer.  The Breton tee is a classic: characterized by long sleeves and horizontal stripes (usually navy and white) these were traditionally worn by the French navy.  Coco Chanel canonized the look, making it forever chic.

Coco in Breton

As knitters, we have a ton of fun with this look, bringing endless variations of the theme to life.  Last year I had a ton of fun with a serious spinoff of this look, knitting up Visser (a pattern by Anna Maltz) who takes the classic striped tee and turns it on its side, literally – making the stripes vertical.  Meanwhile, this winter I knit up Medano Beach (a fantastic free pattern by Heidi Kirrmaier) using Blue Sky’s Skinny Cotton, bringing that Breton look everywhere as a go-anywhere bag. 

Then last week I stumbled upon Léger Redux, a new-ish pattern from those generous ladies at Espace Tricot.  Léger Redux is a modification of another pattern from Espace Tricot, making it less boxy and a bit more feminine than the original.  Léger Redux is knit up in Juniper Moon’s Zooey, a cotton-linen dk-weight blend that I happen to love.  Free pattern?  Crave-worthy yarn?  It all added up to me wanting to cast on for this project – but it also made me want to explore the world of striped Breton-Inspired sweaters that I love.

There are a ton out there, so go have a look on your own.  These just happen to be my favorites.

Leger Redux
Léger Redux

I love that the ladies at Espace Tricot make everything so accessible.  Léger Redux is a free pattern, with a simple, unfussy construction.  Zooey also happens to be a pretty economical yarn.  This is a sweater that just about anyone could make – and I’m always grateful to pattern writers who make it things simple and straightforward in these ways.  (In case you’d want alternatives, you could totally make this sweater in Skinny Cotton or Neve, two other cotton options.  There’s a ton more out there if you want to look at other fibers as well!)

Breton JF
Breton © Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

If Léger Redux oozes simplicity, Breton (by Jared Flood) is on the opposite end of the spectrum.  It appears simple, but its construction is not quite so straightforward.  This is the Breton sweater for an experienced and exacting knitter, for someone who loves the challenge and wants clever and thought provoking construction.  Plus, it’s totally divine.  Written for Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft, this sweater is fine in all the best ways.  Loft is absolutely lovely to work with, but you could also make this with Shibui’s Birch or Fern, or with TML or La Jolla!

Bristol Raglan

Bristol is a fun Breton-inspired sweater, which caught my eye since it was written for HiKoo’s Kenzie.  I just completed another project with this yarn (my swoon-worthy swoncho) which has invigorated my appreciation for this yarn.  It has gorgeous stitch definition and develops a heavenly halo after blocking.  Pretty basic except for a cable detail at the raglan, this sweater is feminine and flattering with a few flourishes.  Clearly I love Kenzie, but at this gauge you could also look at Shepherd’s Wool or Falkland Aran.  Given that it’s a seamless piece, I’d be mindful about your fiber choice on this one!


My absolute favorite Breton-inspired sweater that has been recently released is Hugo by Michiyo. I love how she playfully combines stripes and cables for the ultimate fisherman sweater.  Written for a DK weight yarn but at it’s gauge I’d consider anything from a DK to a fingering weight for this project.  I think it’d be particularly striking in Loft, and a weight that could be worn year round.  It’d also be lovely in Elsbeth Lavold’s Silky Wool.  Given that it is a seamless sweater, I’d again be mindful of fiber choice, and I’d try to pick something that will give it some body.  Even Shibui’s Birch or Fern would be beautiful choices here! 

As said, there are tons more options.  Check out Purl Soho’s Striped Spring Shirt for a basic take on this look.  Breathing Space by Veera Valimalki is a quirky and unbalanced take on the look.  Hint of Summer by Isabelle Kraemer is a relaxed and incredibly wearable look.  This is just a place to start, and there’s a lot of space for you to find the PERFECT Breton-inspired sweater for you!

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