I took a trip to our local shopping mecca (the Short Hills Mall) this week in hopes of becoming super-inspired for a “you can make that” blog. I wasn’t, but fall merchandise in the stores made me start thinking about transitional dressing and picking pieces that could straddle seasons with ease. Meanwhile, I just completed a super-satisfying project and I found myself wondering if I could actually wear it in the store when I work this weekend. I think I can… (come visit on Saturday to see if I actually do!) and I started to think about transitional knitting.
It’s ok if you have no idea what I’m writing about here, because I just pulled that term out of nowhere. That said, just like transitional dressing with pieces that can be worn throughout the various seasons, we can knit pieces that can be worn year-round. When it comes to knitting, we’re thinking about pieces that we can layer. Pick yarns that are anywhere from lace-weight to DK-weight. Also, consider using fiber blends that incorporate cotton, linen, silk among others. All that being said, when I think about pieces that you or I could wear any time of year, these are some of the pieces I think about:
- Hayward by Julie Hoover
I think about this one, because it’s the project I just finished. In one of my conversations with our very talented Sarah, we gushed about Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft being a favorite yarn because it’s light enough that you can wear it throughout the year. Of course I agree with her, and Hayward is definitely one of those pieces that puts a cherry on that statement. Knit at a generous gauge of 20 stitches/4” (not typical for your fingering-weight yarns), this is totally possible with Loft because it’s a woolen-spun yarn and it will just expand to fill that space after it has its first wet blocking. The result is a fabric that is light and airy. This pattern has been around for a long time, and it’s so fun to see how it’s been modified and re-interpreted over the years. Knitters have made it with less ease, with various weights of yarn, with long sleeves. Julie Hoover herself recently re-knit this sweater in a combination of Shibui’s Vine + Silk Cloud – and this is the version that stopped me in my tracks and led to me knitting my own. It can be layered over anything (tailored shirts, long-sleeve tees, dresses) or under more of your hand knits.
- Boardwalk by Heidi Kirrmaier
This sweater is another that makes the most of Loft’s versatility. Brooklyn Tweed has since revisited it in Peerie since that yarn’s release. It’s another prolific pattern brought to us by way of Brooklyn Tweed, and over the years it’s been knit over and over in a countless number of yarns. It’s fun to stroll through this project’s Ravelry page to see how knitters have knit it and wear it. That said, it’s best to see our very own and very talented Lori wear her version in store. She looks chic-as-all-get-out when she wears it over a white shirt, with jeans and a pair of Oxfords. It’s a look that any stylish girl can wear in the spring, fall or anywhere in between.
- Boardwalk by Heidi Kirrmaier
- Ankestrick’s Girlfriend Cardigan
Three awesome knitting designers brought their interpretation of the same sweater into the world together, and it’s been fun to see how knitters themselves have given this sweater a life of its own. This piece was especially brought to our attention when a very shy, very talented knitter stopped by wearing her own version of this sweater. She had made Ankestrick’s version of the Girlfriend Cardigan, holding a lace-weight silk/mohair together with a light fingering yarn. She had faded it by her own design and the piece was stunning. Our mystery knitter looked incredibly stylish, and at the time it really struck me that she was wearing this beautiful sweater on a hot summer day. Truth is, we often transition from one air-conditioned location to another in the dead of summer, and we want to have light-weight layers like this to wear – just as our mystery lady was doing.
The Girlfriend Cardigan is a great transitional piece because it can be worn as a lightweight jacket in summer or it can be worn as a snuggly sweater come winter. Ankestrick’s version is on the lighter side (with a dk-type gauge of 21 stitches/4”) which really means it is light enough to be worn throughout the year. If I was doing it myself, I’d probably mimic our mystery knitter’s choice and mix up Shibui’s Silk Cloud with a yarn like Tosh Merino Light, La Jolla, Pebble, or Peerie.
- Storm Shawl by Joji Locatelli
Earlier in the week Carrie mentioned her own recent cast-on – Joji’s new Storm Shawl. She was looking for a shawl that could be made with one skein of your typical fingering-weight yarn (of approximately 400 yards of yarn). The finished size of this project is part of what drew Carrie to it. Storm is riddled with dropped stitches (purposeful!) and eyelets that create a light, open fabric. All of that empty space means that 400 yards of fingering-weight yarn can cover more real estate. This is lovely, but it also creates a wonderfully light fabric that is a great layer throughout the year. Use it during a very-air-conditioned museum visit in August or to add texture over your wool coat in November. I generally like my fingering-weight shawls to be made with 800 yards (or more) of yarn, because I like their scale. Joji managed to overcome that issue with this clever design. Good find, Carrie!
You can use almost any fingering-weight yarn for this project. One skein of Tosh Merino Light – you may need a little more than one if you’re using some of our other fingering-weight favorites like Squishy, La Jolla, Cozette or Peerie. One great new yarn that deserves a look is Merino Dream from Cascade. This soft, single-ply yarn is hand-dyed with hits of color that will add great texture to a piece like this!
- Vela Shawl by Shara Made
This cute, two-color shawl is on my mind because it’s on my needles right now. As mentioned above, I like the scale of your typical two-skein, fingering-weight shawl because it’s big enough to drape over my shoulders and it’s also big enough to treat it like s scarf come winter. There are countless beautiful designs out there, and Ravelry’s search functions make it easy to narrow your search to find something just right for you.
This one happened to be just right for me, and I’m having a fun time knitting it. Chunks of striped garter stitch are broken up with chunks of a mosaic-knitting cross motif. It is easy knitting for the most part, with each individual line of the mosaic knitting being easy to memorize when I get to it. I’m going to finish my Vela Shawl with tassels just like pictured in the pattern because they are just plain fun. I’m knitting up my Vela Shawl using two colors of Anzula Squishy , but you should have fun with any combination. I would recommend working with one semi-solid color if you’re going the hand-dyed route, because it makes for better definition of the mosaic-knitting motif. My own version is somewhat low-contrast. If I were starting all over again, I might pick a color combo with more contrast, but this electric yellow/pale grey combo is making me feel very happy. Have fun and don’t be afraid to mix up fibers with this project. Just pick a color combo that makes you feel happy, and pick about 380 yards each from some of our favorites: Tosh Merino Light, La Jolla, Loft, Peerie, Staccato, Merino Dream, Sueño, Cozette and Squishy would all be totally dreamy choices for project like this.
This is just a taste of what’s out there for great knitted pieces that work in your life throughout all four seasons. There are so many other options when you play with cotton (think Rowan’s Cotton Cashmere or Juniper Moon’s Bud!) and stick with lighter weights (even wool is comfortable year round if the fabric is light and airy).