Spotlight, Trending

Spotlight: Rainbow Bright

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Soft Rainbow Shawl by Zsuzsa Kiss.  Photo copyright Soft Rainbow Designs. (here)

Rainbows are that magical, unlikely ray of colour that comes with a patch of sunshine in a rain storm. They are the reminder that there can be something positive even in the midst of a negative situation; of the promise of better, sunnier times ahead; of the colour in life that can sometimes feel all grey and darkness. Rainbows make people smile. They are ‘where troubles melt like lemon drops’* and dreams can come true.

And in the gloomy days of winter, rainbow colours can be a perfect shot of bright positivity that can lift your mood, and literally add a bit of colour to your otherwise dull day.

Rainbows are even on trend: cardigans and coats of many colours came down the autumn/winter 2017 runway, from chunky stripes to intarsia shapes, faded ombres and mini pompoms.

Clockwise from top left: Missoni Pullover (here), Gucci Embroidered Wool Knitted Top (here), Alice + Olivia Brady Pom Pom Jumper (here), Gucci Oversize Striped Cashmere Knitted Cardigan (here), Mira Mikati Diamond Stitch Sweater (here), Gucci Men’s Wool Sweater (here).


Knit-inspiration:

You can easily create a rainbow effect in your knitting by combining a range of ROYGBIV colours or by using a multi-colour self-striping, degradé, speckled or variegated yarn.

If the traditional rainbow colours seem a little too bright for you, either consider wearing them in small statement pieces such as a cowl, hat or mittens, or consider diluting them by striping or mixing them with a darker colour. Rainbows can also be re-interpreted in more pastel tones, or alternatively given further vibrancy and impact by using neon shades.

Any project can be rainbow-ed, whether as an all-over effect or as an edging or smaller detail. It can be a perfect way to use up any leftover or stash yarn which may be insufficient for a whole project but ample as a stripe in a larger sequence.
Stranded colour work and slipped stitches using a rainbow self-striping yarn against a solid background can be particularly effective-and allow you to have a multi-coloured look without the multi ends to sew in that would occur with the use of multiple skeins.
For more ideas of rainbows in knitted garments and accessories, see below.

For the Love of Rainbows by Knitting Expat Designs (here): this triangle shaped shawl combines sections of bright, rainbow stripes and lace eyelets in 4-ply/fingering yarn.

Rainbow Bridge Wrap by Lavanya Patricella (here): rainbow stripes mix with a more muted shade muted neutral in a combination of garter stitch, short rows, eyelets, and brioche.

Soft Rainbow Shawl by Zsuzsa Kiss (here): (see photo at top of post) This elegant  lace-weight shawl with simple lace motif is given a magical, uplifting feel by the use of a Kauni yarn that gives a rainbow effect through the long colour repeats.

Lifesavers by Tanis Lavallee (here): rainbow stripes pop against a plain, neutral background in this simple top-down, one-piece cardigan. Knitted in 4-ply/fingering weight yarn, it’s a great project to use up leftover sock yarn scraps, or for mini-skeins such as the rainbow set produced by the designer-see Tanis Fiber Arts here.

Rainbow Trail by Christina Ghirlanda (here): simple worsted weight sweater knitted seamlessly, top-down that is made more special with rainbow stripes from a long gradient dyed yarn set amidst a solid background colour.

Rainbow Cardigan by Helen Hamann (here): this striking cardigan is knitted using the intarsia technique and 20 colours to create a shaded, rainbow patchwork effect.

ZickZack Scarf by Christy Kamm (here): available as a free pattern, this rainbow chevron striped scarf is reminiscent of classic Missoni designs and is knitted in a 4-ply/fingering weight, self-striping yarn (Lang Yarns Mille Colori Baby (in colours 51 and 52)).

Rainbow Magicowl by Elizabeth Brassard (here): this unusual, two-layer cowl is great for using up leftover yarn in worsted or chunky/bulky weight and gives you two distinct rainbow looks with different stripes and textures.

Rainbow Twist by Thao Nguyen (here): available as a free pattern, this cosy, super chunky/bulky weight cowl twist knitted in rainbow variegated yarn would be great, quick knit present. Sample shown in Malabrigo Rasta in 866 Arco Iris.

 


 

Have faith in your dreams and someday/ your rainbow will come shining through….

From ‘A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes’, written and composed by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston for the Walt Disney film Cinderella (1950). 

 


Over to you:

Do you have any favourite rainbow yarns or patterns? What do you wear to cheer up your wardrobe in the grey, winter months?

 


 

* from the song Over the Rainbow, music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Yip Harburg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knit Focus

When wrong is right: a celebration of the wrong side of knitting

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Inside out: Sonia Rykiel Jacquard Knit Sweater Cotton Threads (here)

 

‘I’m not wrong, I’m just knit that way.’*

We learn from an early stage of knitting that one side of our fabric is the right and the other is wrong. This sounds strangely moralistic – as though one side is innately better in its qualities- when, in fact, the designations are simply a way to distinguish sides of knitting to enable knitters to keep track of stitch patterns, shaping etc.

Nevertheless, perhaps partly encouraged by the terminology, we do tend to carry expectations about the relative values of the sides of our work.

Looking at a piece of stocking stitch/stockinette, we immediately recognise the smooth, crisp v’s of the knit stitch as the smart, finished fabric that will be the public face of our knitted piece. The bumpy waves of purl on the other side appear less refined in comparison, and without much thought, most of us would turn this to the inside of a garment, hiding it away from the public gaze.

We have such assumptions of the relative smartness of the sides that it is common for knitters to move away from garter stitch – in which purl bump ridges on both sides are reminiscent of the purls of wrong side stocking stitch- considering it a less smart or less polished look once we have graduated to the smoother stocking stitch.

Reversible stitches are often attractive to knitters as they provide a uniform finish that means we can wear a piece in more ways, relaxed in the knowledge that we will not accidentally expose the wrong, less attractive side of our knitting.

These assumptions are by no means universal or unquestioned- many find their thoughts about their knitting evolve as they try out different yarns and patterns- but they can lead us to overlook and miss out on some of the beauty and potential of our knitting.

Wrong side right

Sometimes, things on the wrong side of the fabric are just more fun.

Stripes are a great example of this. While there can be a clean, crisp finish to stripes on the right side, the wrong side has far more going on. Little dots and dashes of colour – a kind of Morse code – form parallel tracks, like sewn running stitches either side of the solid line of the stripe. Each side offers a different mood: simple, graphic definition versus a busier surface that blurs and blends the colours from a distance.

The wrong side also reveals the evidence of our working: while the right side shows the end result, it is the wrong where we can see the transitions between one colour and the next, or the carried loops of yarn in stranded work or the little slanted twists of intarsia colour-work. The right side is the graceful swan gliding across the pond; the wrong side is the kicking legs and the displaced water.

Clockwise from top left: Sonia Rykiel Jacquard Knit Sweater with Ruffles (here), Stella McCartney (here), Mira Mikati Diamond Stitch Sweater (here)

This autumn/winter season, several fashion designers have used this visible working on the wrong side as a way to challenge traditional construction: they turned sweaters inside out to reveal dotted intarsia panels with hanging threads, or mixed visible strands of colour-work with the smooth right side finish. This trend seems to be part of an overall interest in textures and embellishment, but also the focus on deconstruction, subverting and rebelling against norms.

This subversion can be really effective in revealing interesting new textures and making us think again about fabrics we usually overlook. In some cases though, I have to admit that I was reminded of a teenager desperately trying to be edgy by wearing their clothes inside out, and I suspect that after wearing some of these looks, you may end up wanting to hold up a sign saying ‘yes, it’s supposed to be worn this way round!’

The wrong side of stranded colour work and strangely beautiful backwards writing.

There can be something a little magical about the wrong side- not only can it be unexpectedly pretty or striking, but it seems to almost form itself as the unintended consequence of what you wanted to achieve at the front. The wrong side is evidence of our creation and yet seems set apart from us. It reminds me of looking at handwriting through the back side of the paper on which it is written-seeing the letters become unrecognisable, transformed to a set of beautiful lines, loops and curves. In knitted fabrics, the effect is sometimes less immediately attractive- there are strange puckers on the back of yarn overs, muted distortions on the back of cables- but as with stripes above, many other stitches present an equally pretty surface as a kind of collateral impact of the right side effect.

A Walk on the Wrong Side: Patterns that play with right and wrong 

Reverse Snowball Fight by Melissa Lambino (here) : worked in super chunky/bulky yarn, this hat is a super quick knit worked in reverse stocking stitch/stockinette to showcase the colours in variegated yarn.

Floats Cowl by Jake Canton for Purl Soho  (here) : this understated cowl celebrates both the wrong and right sides of its fabric: you can wear it with the elegant columns of “floating” slip-stitched strands on show, or choose the simpler, smooth surface with subtle vertical columns. You can also find the pattern directly at their website- here.

Comfort Fade Cardi by Andrea Mowry (here) : This cosy, dk weight cardigan with a garter shawl collar is mainly worked in reverse stocking stitch/stockinette, which serves as a great canvas for the mixing of different coloured yarns in the fade effect for which the designer is so well known. Variegated yarns are particularly highlighted in the textured purl bumps.

Melli by Camille Roselle (here) : this sweet dk weight cardigan is worked from the bottom up and features a ‘bee’ stitch pattern that stands out from its reverse stocking stitch background. Buttonbands are worked as you go and the sleeves knitted flat afterwards before seaming to the body after blocking.

 


Over to you: do you enjoy the wrong side of knitting? I’ve found it quite hard to locate patterns with reverse stocking stitch/stockinette, so I’d love to hear any recommendations you have that contain that stitch or which celebrate or play with the different sides of knitting.

 


* in case you’re wondering, the quote at the top of the page is a paraphrasing of the  line from the 1988 live action/animation film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, in which the cartoon Jessica Rabbit proclaims, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” This was one of my favourite films as a child and although I haven’t seen it in years, apparently some of it stayed with me, ready to pop up when I contemplated knitted fabric! (Luckily the nightmares about the terrifying villain played by Christopher Lloyd have remained in the past…)

 

 

Spotlight, Trending

Sweaters of the Season: Penguono

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Penguono by Stephen West. Photo copyright westknits.

What is the Penguono?:  A pattern by the fantastically colourful and innovative designer Stephen West, the Penguono is a kimono style, short sleeved jacket that you can also flip upside down and wear as a long coat.

Why is it a sweater of the season? Penguono was published by westknits in 2014 but embodies many of the trends in knitwear this autumn/winter 2017, particularly echoing the shapes and use of colour and texture at Chloe and Missoni.

 

 

Clockwise from top left:  Missoni Cardigan (here), Chloe Loose mohair sweater with colour blocking (here), Missoni Pullover (here), Missoni Striped Wool Long Cardigan (here), Chloe Colour block tweed poncho (here), Chloe Fil Coupe Sweater (here).

    • Oversized
    • Striped
    • Patchwork effect
    • Unconventional construction
    • Embellished/multi textured
    • Optional Dangly Bits
    • Marled effect

See Related articles below for more on these trends.

Pattern Particulars:

Yarn: this is a perfect project to use up leftover yarn of all weights- simply hold them together to get your desired gauge. Depending on your choice of gauge, you can make a sleek, soft sock-weight cardigan or a more robust, cuddly chunky-weight jacket.

Construction: unusual and rather ingenious, this cardigan starts with a rectangle for the back, before you work the sides and fronts sideways, incorporating simple v-neck shaping. Then you make two more rectangles for the shoulders and sleeves before finishing with the collar and bottom band, all outlined in an i-cord.

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Order of construction: Penguono by Stephen West. Photo copyright westknits.

Stitches: The design includes garter, seed stitch and an i-cord edging.

Personalisation: this cardigan gives lots of opportunity to play with textures by mixing yarns of different weights and fibre content. This can produce a subtle depth to the fabric, such as the addition of mohair to a merino wool. Alternatively, the knitter can create a more dramatic effect by adding sections of greatly contrasting weights of yarn or using novelty yarns such as faux fur or yarn with attached sequins, or multiple colous, such as variegated, speckled, barber poled or self-striping yarns.

There are also further opportunities within the design for customisation: you decide the width and frequency of stripes, and the balance between stripes and blocks of colour. Leave the hemline as a sleek icord edge, or add single/multi-coloured fringe or pompoms.

 

 

To see more about the pattern or to buy, see Ravelry page here. Or see Westknits website, here.


Over to you: have you made the Penguono? What are you planning to make this autumn/winter? Which knitwear pieces from the catwalks stood out for you this season?

 

 

always knitting, From the Archives

From the archives: Every other woman in Scotland knits…

 

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Man en vrouw aan een tafeltje aan het meer, print by Johann Heinrich Maria Hubert Rennefeld, after Hein Burgers, 1855 – 1877. From Rijksmuseum collection- see here

 

In this fourth instalment of the ‘always knitting’ series, the focus is on knitting in Scotland in the late 19th century.

In his account in The Queen magazine (an earlier form of the modern day Harper’s Bazaar), the writer E.B.T. comments on the surprising ubiquity of knitters in Scotland, noting this activity goes across all classes, and even includes boys:

Every other woman in Scotland knits. The peasant women knit, the highest ladies in the land knit. Even the little boys learn to knit…

He also details the frequency of such knitting, first noting the way that apparently  middle to upper class women include their knitting hobby in every part of their day:

…the lady has taken her knitting to breakfast or luncheon. She has done a few new stitches before and after the meal, burying the needles in her table-napkin meanwhile. She has even taken the stocking out driving, or in shooting expeditions, and has never read anything, not even the newspaper, without knitting away all the while…

The knitting of poorer Scottish women is just as incessant, but the writer hints at the economic imperative lying beneath this activity and suggests that this frequency of knitting may not be from choice but necessity, given the poor payment it accrues.

The Scotch peasant knitters work walking along the road, knit sitting on their doorsteps, knit nursing their babies -always knit, in fact—and even then they earn very little, for it is a poorly paid trade.

Scottish, active 1843 - 1848)
Hill & Adamson (Scottish, active 1843 – 1848). [Two unknown women, Mrs Margaret (Dryburgh) Lyall, Marion Finlay and Mrs Grace (Finlay) Ramsay], 1843 – 1846, Salted paper print from a Calotype negative 16 × 21.1 cm (6 5/16 × 8 5/16 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. See here

The writer does not display the amused indulgence or impatience that is often found in contemporary accounts of knitters. Instead, he claims that their constant activity is a little unnerving, reminding him of his own comparative idleness:

At last we have become accustomed to that eternal click of the needle, which at first made us feel quite nervous. Even now that endless click reminds us we are wasting our time, and that we are not industriously enough inclined…

19th Century Knit-inspiration: Shawl bedspreads

The article also discusses the knitwear that is most commonly available to buy in Scotland. Shetland shawls of varying degrees of price (from 10s to £20*) are described as being always in demand. The writer suggests an alternate use for such shawls that may also be a helpful suggestion for contemporary knitters who have more shawls than they can wear, or for those who like to collect beautiful old shawls from antique fairs or charity shops. (*About £30-£1,200 in 2005.)

A pretty idea for employing these shawls is to use them as bedspreads. For this purpose they are lined with thin silk, and a pretty deep frill of the same makes a kind of frame to the spider-like threads…Nothing of equal lightness gives equal warmth…They are delightfully warm and cosy for babies’ crib covers, and they have the advantage of being somewhat of a novelty.

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Eureka Silk, 1880-1900. From here.

Sock innovation (and the fashions of 1892)

Just as socks are one of the favourite items produced by hand knitters today, it seems that socks or stockings were very popular among women knitting both for their own family and for public sale. Perhaps more surprisingly, it seems that there were also clear trends in the fashion of stockings.

There is as much fashion in stockings there is in anything else. The huge checked stockings seem to be quite out of date, and have descended to the tourist leg. Plain ribbed stockings of dark colour are all the fashion, and the more elaborate and marvellous the turnover the greater the triumph…

In 1892 the trend for interesting turnover cuffs on stockings gave way to some interesting innovations: the article seems to suggest that socks were knitted from the cuff down and after the turnover section was completed, the work would be turned inside out, before contiuning to knit the rest of the sock. Thus, meaning that when the cuff was folded over, the right side of the work would still be shown!

… [the tops of stockings] are knitted about four inches deep, and are then turned inside out, so that when worn, although turned over, they still show the right side to the world.

Tartan Trend

The most expensive sock in fashion was also the most complicated to knit, but perhaps the most impressive and wonderfully Scottish in appearance: the tartan sock! A hand knitted pair could cost as much as 2 to 3 guineas, or £126-£189 in 2005, and the equivalent of 6 to 9 days’ wages for a craftsmen in the building trade in 1890. As the writer points out, this intarsia technique makes tartan:

the most difficult stocking of all to knit…Some of the tartans require sixteen balls, all going at the same time. This, of course, requires a very experienced worker, and is consequently very well paid.

 


Over to you: did you enjoy this little insight into 19th century Scottish knitting? Have you ever come across a similar sock pattern where the cuff is turned inside out before continuing? Have you ever tried knitting anything in tartan?

See here for Part One of the Always Knitting series, and see the menu for ‘From the Archives’ or the tag ‘always knitting’.


All excerpts taken from the Ladies’ Column in the Dundee Evening Telegraph from Monday 8th February 1892; this article was itself extracted from an article by E.B.T. in The Queen, a magazine founded by Samuel Beeton (husband of the famous Mrs Beeton and publisher of her Book of Household Management) that featured high society life. Newspaper found in the fantastic British Newspaper Archive, see here.

Currency conversions from here.

 

 

 

Knit Focus, Spotlight

Spotlight: an eye for detail

 

 

These cute little mitts featuring foxes, beavers, squirrels and rabbits are part of The Woodsy Association 2.0 collection from tiny owl knits.

They’re a great example of how little details can make a design really special – from the subtle colour shading in the animal faces to the adorable little tassels added on the edge of each mitt which continue the animal theme: dangling acorns for the squirrel and matching tails for the rest. I particularly love the little white pompoms for the rabbits! Knitted in 4-ply, they range from small to XL.

Find out more about the collection at tiny owl knits (here) or you can see and buy the pattern at Ravelry (here)

 


Over to you: do you have any favourite patterns with thoughtful little details? Or suggestions for stranded colourwork mitts? 

 


Image above from tiny owl knits – see here

 

 

always knitting, From the Archives

From the archives: knitting while she works

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Habitus et cultus Matronarum Nobilu et Rusticarum (Clothing and Manners of Noblewomen and Countrywomen) 1619 – 1623. From collection at Rijksmuseum (here)

 

In North Wales the women are very industrious; they are always knitting…

Another short extract today for the ‘always knitting’ series, which features 19th century commentary about European women’s apparently ubiquitous and incessant knitting. (See here for part one of series and see menu for From the Archives – always knitting).

The extract below is taken from an article in a Manchester paper in 1846 (itself extracted from the Sunday Times) and describes some pretty impressive multi-tasking by a Welsh knitter.

 

MAKING THE MOST OF ONE’S POWERS – In North Wales the women are very industrious; they are always knitting stockings at least, and sometimes doing more. We passed a sturdy-looking dame yesterday, who was knitting stockings, of course; had a load of wool on her head, a child tied on her back, and a cudgel under her arm, with which she was driving four cows before her. Nor was her tongue idle, for she scolded the cows in Welsh if they dared to swerve from the path she meant them to pursue. – Sunday Times.

The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Wednesday 23 September 1846. From the fantastic British Newspaper Archive- see more here

 


Over to you: Are you a fan of knitting on the move or while you work? I’d love to hear about your experiences or any memories of similarly industrious family members or friends.

 

 

Trending

Trending: picture knitting

 

Delpozo intarsia sweatet AW2017
Delpozo Block Colour Sweater (here)

 

Intarsia, also known as picture knitting, was a big trend on the catwalks for Autumn/Winter 2017.

This technique allows designers to precisely apply and play with colour. Unlike   stranded colourwork, intarsia can be used to place blocks of colour anywhere and in any shape within a knitted fabric, using as many colours and moving between colours as often as desired.

Designers such as Chloe, Missoni and Alexander McQueen kept things simple with clean, abstract lines and shapes that ranged from monochrome to brightly coloured palettes.

Clockwise from top left: Alexander McQueen Swallow Intarsia Bomber Jacket (here), Victoria Beckham Denim Patchwork Sweater (here), Sonia Rykiel Fine Wool Cardigan with Intarsia Motif (here), Chloe Loose Graphic Sweater (here), Eskandar Square Patch Cashmere Tunic Sweater (here).

In contrast, a 1940s and 50s style was evoked at Gucci, Valentino, Miu Miu and Alberta Ferretti with inset designs of pretty flowers and birds, often used in conjunction with embroidery designs (see Trending: more is more).

Clockwise from left: Miu Miu Pointelle-trimmed Cashmere Sweater (here), Miu Miu Cropped Intarsia Wool Sweater (here), Alberta Ferretti Goodmorning Sweater (here).

A more quirky, humorous take on intarsia was on display at Stella McCartney, MaxMara, Moschino and Gucci, as well as menswear at Gucci and Christopher Kane. Designs featured comic book characters, doodled faces, UFOs and an array of brightly coloured cats, rabbits, tigers and birds.

Clockwise from top left: MaxMara Cashmere Sweater (here), Gucci Oversize Embroidered Wool Cardigan (here), Stella McCartney The Dandy Print Turtle Neck Jumper (here), Gucci Men’s Wool Sweater with Planet Intarsia (here), Christopher Kane Menswear Intarsia Face Jumper (here).

 

Knit-inspiration:

Intarsia can seem quite intimidating- it often seems to feature on knitters’ lists of techniques they have not yet tried or are scared to attempt. But while intarsia can definitely be very fiddly and involve a lot of detangling of yarn, it can also be really fun and satisfying to knit, with even simple intarsia designs resulting in a big impact.

There are some great introductions to intarsia online, including very clear tutorials by Staci Perry at VeryPink Knits (here) and by Knit Picks (here). The Craftsy blog also has a brief history of the technique (here) as well as classes (here).

Holly by Kaffe Fasset at Rowan
Holly by Kaffe Fasset. Photo copyright Rowan Yarns, 2011. (here)

The king of intarsia: Kaffe Fasset – a great innovator in intarsia colourwork, Kaffe Fasset has produced numerous, inspirational patterns since the 1960s and is still designing today, often collaborating with Rowan yarns. See his website here and archive of patterns at Ravelry here.

Rowan magazines: these magazines often feature updated versions of traditional styles, including many examples of intarsia and other colourwork. Rowan Yarns website can be found here.

Inspiring intarsia designs:

Sunlight cardigan by Marly Bird (here)– Inspired by the warm colours of a Colorado sunset, blocks of colour form a striking design on this 5-ply/sport weight boyfriend cardigan. Knit in the colours suggested or create a very different look with less contrasting or paler colours.

Lucky Star Jumper by Jimenez Joseph (here)– This oversized, boxy style jumper is knitted in dk weight yarn and features a star motif in a contrasting colour and contrasting lace texture. The sweater includes a wide scoop neckline, drop shoulders and super-long sleeves with optional thumbholes that can double up as fingerless mitts.

 

Avignon by Rachel Søgaard (here)– Knitted in dk weight, this oversized sweater is a great piece to throw on over other layers. The transitions in colour are accompanied by changes in stitch pattern, including the textured sand stitch, garter stitch and broken rib.

Albers Pullover by Julia Farwell-Clay (here)– A different take on stripes, this dk weight sweater uses intarsia to create broken strips of colour. The clean, crisp look is underlined by the simple ballet neckline and neat fit.

 

#24 Fox Pullover by Wei Wilkins (here)– This classic v-neck, worsted jumper is given a equirky, fun edge with the intarsia fox detail, as well as contrast colour elbow patches and ribbed saddle shoulders. Made in pieces and then seamed, this sweater could also easily be turned into a tank top/vest.

Pluie Cardigan by Alex Capshaw-Taylor (here)– The all-over umbrella motifs give a fun vintage feel to this fitted, 4-ply/fingering cardigan, while the contrast colour edging gives a polished finish.

 


Over to you: do you enjoy knitting intarsia designs? Have you been inspired by any catwalk or high street fashion picture knitting?

 

 

Trending

Trending: more is more

 

Alice + Olivia brady-pom-pom-jumper_AW2017
Alice + Olivia Brady Pom Pom Jumper (here)

 

There were embellishments galore on the catwalk for autumn/winter 2017- many of them appearing at Gucci, which embraced the sentiment of more is more with some abandon.

Tassels, fringing, pompoms, lace and feathers were all left hanging at hems and cuffs- see more at my article Spotlight: Dangly Bits (here).

The fabric of garments was also given a little something extra through the use of a wide range of crafts – embroidery, appliqué, bows and ribbons, sequins, jewels, bobbles and beading- which were used to create quite diverse effects.

Pretty Vintage: Embroidered and appliqued birds and flowers gave a 1940s/50s feel to garments at Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu, MaxMara and Markus Lupfer, while Boutique Moschino featured mini bows and Givenchy used classic pearls as a subtle inset at the neckline.

Clockwise, from top left: Givenchy Pearl Embellished Sweater (here), MaxMara Wool and Alpaca Cardigan (here), Dolce & Gabbana Embroidered Wool Jumper (here), Miu Miu Pointelle Trimmed Cashmere Sweater (here),  Markus Lupfer Embellished Bird Sweater (here)., Boutique Moschino Bow Detail Cardigan (here).

 

Traditional stitching: There was a nod to the history of needlework at Alexander McQueen in their sampler style embroidery, while Andrew Gn was inspired by central American traditional patterning in his monochrome, geometric embroidery. Sonia Rykiel also used simple stitching in contrast colours as a decorative highlight on garments that celebrated the history of Aran knitwear.

From left: Alexander McQueen Samplers Embroidered Cardigan (here), Sonia Rykiel Embroidered Aran Knit Sleeves (here), Andrew Gn Flared Sleeve Embroidered Sweater (here).

 

A little bit quirky: Embellishments also added a less traditional, playful edge: cute embroidered monsters and slogans adorned sweaters at Mira Mikati, graphic sticker appliques featured at Louis Vuitton, and hearts and stars were rendered in rainbow thread at Valentino. Chloe and Alice + Olivia showcased a multitude of multi-coloured bobbles and mini-pompoms, while Etro and Escada featured sprawling tiger and peacock designs.

Clockwise from top left: Mira Mikati Embroidered Monster Aran Sweater (here), Etro Embroidered Tiger Motif (here), Valentino Embroidered Frill Knit Sweater (here), Chloe Bobble Sweater (here), Louis Vuitton Sweater with Embroidered Stickers (here).

 

Gucci: Gucci fully embraced the art of embellishment. From relatively demure sequinned collars and ribbon neckties, to the fairly muted tones of detailed nature studies in embroidered appliqué, to the zany psychedelia of giant embroidered motifs of rabbits, tigers and cats, offset against multi-coloured stripes.

Clockwise, from top left: All at Gucci (here)– Embroidered Wool Hooded Sweatshirt (here), Embroidered Multicolor Knitted Top (here),  Embroidered Wool Knitted Top (here), Cashmere Silk Knitted Top with Detachable Collar (here).

 

Knit-inspiration: Embellishments can easily be added to an old sweater or a newly completed cardigan to change the look or complement the existing garment. There are numerous tutorials available free online and Craftsy has some great classes – see here.

TEXTURED EMBELLISHMENT: Studio Pullover by Cirilia Rose (here)– This worsted weight jumper is emblazoned with a geometric heart made using colourfully dyed curly locks applied using a fibre-hooking technique. Intended as an homage to the designer’s love of wool, the heart brings a wow factor to an otherwise simple sweater.

APPLIQUÉD EMBROIDERY: Windsor Tank by Maureen Clark (here)– A simple, sleeveless pullover is a straightforward knit- (made in pieces and then seamed together)-  but is given a pretty, vintage edge with the appliquéd embroidered flowers at the neckline.

APPLIQUÉD LACE: Lamella by Wondrlanding (here) – Striking appliqued lace runs down the back of this simple, raglan 4-ply/fingering weight sweater. The pattern includes options for both a pullover and dress, as well as two back variants.

RIBBONS: #06 Turtleneck by Elena Malo (here) – This chunky/bulky weight, ribbed sweater features a bold intarsia heart motif at its centre, outlined by woven ribbon that also borders the bottom of the body and sleeves.

EMBROIDERY: Henrietta Maria Cardigan by Elizabeth Wolden (here) – Contrast coloured embroidery adds a pretty, playful edge to this vintage-style, worsted weight, cropped cardigan with an all-over brocade texture.

BEADING: Frost at Midnight by Kate Davies (here) – Shimmering, beaded trees surround the yoke on this lace weight sweater, forming a necklace like decoration of over a thousand glass beads. Knitted from bottom up, the sweater also includes short rows to shape the neckline in a scoop that frames the face and neck.


Over to you: what do you think of these embellishments? Do you relish the sparkly, shiny extras or does it all seem a bit too fussy? Do you have any suggestions for embellished garments to knit?

always knitting, From the Archives

From the archives: knitting stockings as they walk along…

Adolphe Braun (French, 1812 - 1877)
Canton de Zurich by Adolphe Braun (French, 1812 – 1877) , about 1869, Albumen silver print. 14.6 × 9.8 cm (5 3/4 × 3 7/8 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. See here

 

waiting for customers, they are found knitting…

A short extract today for the ‘always knitting’ series, which features 19th century commentary about European women’s apparently ubiquitous and incessant knitting. (See here for part one of series).

I particularly love the photo above which I thought perfectly illustrated the extract. It was taken in about 1869 in Zurich and is a staged, studio shot of a woman surrounded by baskets of produce that she appears to be selling. The fact that the photographer chose to include a piece of knitting in her hand to re-enact this market scene, suggests how common it was for women sellers to be knitting while they worked.

 

AGRICULTURE IN JERSEY-

…Cider, potatoes, butter, fruit, corn, and even flowers, are brought into the market on Saturdays for sale; and the women come in by companies, and are to be seen perfect pictures of health and cheerfulness, knitting stockings as they walk along, and even when they sit with their butter-baskets and bunches of flowers in the market-place, waiting for customers, they are found knitting.

Coventry Herald- Friday 10 November 1826. From the fantastic British Newspaper Archive (here).


Over to you: did you find this account interesting/surprising? I’d love to hear of any similar accounts of knitters in the 19th century that you’ve come across.

 

Spotlight, Trending

Spotlight: designer socks

IMG_4076
Knitted Long Socks in Mint Mohair (here)

Knitted socks are hugely popular amongst knitters, but rarely feature much in mainstream fashion. But this autumn/winter season, the knitted sock has been elevated to the catwalk. Or at least they were at British fashion brand Mulberry (here.)

Mulberry’s A/W 2017 collection featured an array of fuzzy mohair socks – some above the knee, others ankle length – in a striking 1930s-style palette of mint green, purple, mustard, brown and grey.

Worn with beautiful silks and fine corduroys, and rising from smart high heeled loafers and delicate jewelled sandals, the super soft socks added to the sense of tactile luxury, but also offered a refreshing (incongruous?) change from the more usual bare legs or tights.

Knitted Long Socks in Lilac and Light Grey Mohair (here)

Combined in some cases with midi length skirts/dresses and dropped waist silhouettes, the knitted socks also evoked a 1920/30s, vintage feel. I find myself thinking of the practical secretary in an Agatha Christie country house- wool stockings, tweed skirts and brogues- albeit a wonderfully glamorous version!

Knit-inspiration: you can easily emulate this cosy, vintage look with a pair of hand knitted socks. Choose a mohair, cashmere or alpaca blend if you would like a similarly fuzzy, soft finish.

Clockwise, from top left: Alpaca Sox Long Socks by Catherine Shumadine (here), Cheviot Knee Sock by Jo Storie (here), Percolation Socks by Kylie McDonnell-Wade (here), Basic Sock by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas (here).


Over to you: what do you think of this look? Will you be wearing long socks with your evening dresses this season? Have you ever tried knitting mohair/mohair-blend socks?