New Favorites: Welcome basics, part 1

New Favorites: Welcome basics, part 1

In a world of 235,147 knitting patterns — and that’s just the ones listed on Ravelry at the moment! — it can be shockingly difficult to find good basics. I mutter about this to myself all the time when doing Knit the Look or fielding pattern recommendation requests, where classic shapes and styles are routinely called for and I can’t just say “make it up” all the time! Maybe basic doesn’t stand out enough to sell patterns, who knows, but I’m thrilled that there are a couple of new collections this winter featuring some very good, timeless, hardworking sweaters. The first being yesterday’s Brooklyn Tweed Winter ’16 collection, where among an assortment of lace and such appeared these new classics:

TOP: Cadence by Michele Wang is a mix-and-match pattern for a super basic raglan sweater with textured body and stockinette sleeves that can be done as a crewneck, V or turtleneck, with varying sleeve and body lengths

MIDDLE LEFT: League by Veronik Avery is a great take on the always-popular sporty look that sounds like it involves some fun construction

MIDDLE RIGHT: Tallis by Michele Wang is a nicely-shaped drop-shoulder pullover with a little bit of not-too-decorative stitchwork along the seams (that could also be omitted)

BOTTOM: and Snoqualmie Cardigan, also by Michele Wang, is an iconic cabled shawl-collar cardigan (a worthy follow-up to Bellows)

By the way, for everyone who lamented the difficulty in getting ahold of that Naxos pattern I posted about last spring, Snoqualmie is a great alternative — you could easily knit it with or without the shawl collar.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Favorite New Favorites of 2015

26 thoughts on “New Favorites: Welcome basics, part 1

  1. Snoqualmie!!!!! Adding that to the “2016: Year of The Sweater” list – lofty goal of 4 sweaters this year… including a couple of vests (anna KAL? and another Cowichan style) – starting today with “Shire”!

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  2. Agree completely, these basics are so needed and welcome! Snoqualmie is the real stand out for me in this new collection – haven’t been able to get it out of my head since laying eyes on it. Looks like an expensive yarn-eater, though – any thoughts from you or your readers on how to knit this baby for under $150? (Quarry and Puffin come out to the same cost for the yardage.)

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  3. Michele Wang never disappoints. I too prefer basics and they are hard to find. I am finally realizing I need to look for the shape I want and then just edit all the fluff. I find it hard to decide which neck and arm I want for my first Cadence. I made Bellows and have enjoyed it more than I ever thought i would. I guess I better try the new cabled version too.

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  4. It is very hard to find basics in knitting patterns, and when you do they are often slightly outdated, seeming too long or too short or too wide. For example, in recent years it has been hard to find sweaters that are long enough to go with the low waisted jeans that have been around for the past twenty years. Rises are getting higher at long last, but you still find the average pullover or cardigan length to be 23 inches from the shoulder for a size medium, and even shorter in smaller sizes. That little gap between the sweater and the waistband is cold and inelegant.

    Only the beautiful Cadence is plain enough for me here. I have been knitting for over forty years and design my own very simple sweaters, but I don’t have the training of a fashion designer and I can’t come up with the simple yet unique ideas that they do. I wish that it was possible to find the kind of patterns that are available in machine knits for the home knitter. Some things on Ravelry are beautiful but even so, too elaborate. Oddly enough, sweaters designed for men and especially, children, tend to be plainer. Unfortunately their silhouettes are also plain.

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  5. I spent a lot of time last night and this morning looking through the new Look Book for Brooklyn Tweed. Not only were the knits yummy – it was “The Look” I was so fascinated with. The layering. Casual. Comfortable. Lovely. And everything posted here just makes me smile. I think its me… But I would have to sew my own soft shirts for under the knit pieces. Excited by these ideas!

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  6. I think there are a lot of good basics out there, actually! You just have to know where to look.
    I do like the new BT collection.
    And BTW, another great resource for basics is Home & Away by Hannah Fettig. I love that collection!

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  7. There are some wonderful patterns in Ravelry and I hope this helps

    Basix by Sue McCain, super simple plain sweaters.
    VERSACIKNITS on Ravelry
    vermontfiberdesigns.com again Sue McCain
    Beth Brown-Reinsel
    Chic Knits a variety of sweaters. not a lot of pullovers if I remember correctly.
    Janet Szabo primary aran sweaters/cardigans top down and well written.
    Thea colman, a variety of pullovers, cardigans, and misc items
    Jo Sharp from Australia
    Classic Elite Yarns has several compendiums and I just adore them
    Alice Starmore, both color work and cable sweaters, more pullovers if I remember correctly
    Melissa Leapman nice cables sweaters, does a nice variety of sweaters, and crochet as well.
    Diane Soucy general collection, top down
    Kathy Zimmerman a variety, I love her cable sweaters. stunning.

    Hope this helps.

    Patty the collector of patterns!

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  8. I second the Cascade Eco recommendation as an alternative to BT! I’m knitting Bellows right now with is and it’s wonderfully squishy to work with! And any of Hannah Fettig designs are great basics – Knitbot or Home & Away!

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  9. I love these new Brooklyn Tweed basics, too!
    For the folks looking for inexpensive(ish) alternatives to Quarry, you might try Briggs & Little yarns. I used their Heritage as a substitute for Shelter and it was excellent to work with and has held up incredibly well over the years; their Atlantic, a bulky weight (which I have also used), might be a good alternative to Quarry.
    For what it’s worth, I’ve used Cascade Eco on a couple of projects (including a Fezziwig, the pattern mentioned above, which IS a great basic cardigan!) and while Eco an excellent value for the yardage, it does not hold up over time. It pills like you would not believe. Can’t say I’d recommend it unless picking off pills every time you wear your sweater sounds okay to you.

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    • Thank you for the Cascade tip. I seem to get pills on 80% of the yarns I use. I know this sounds terrible but I “shave” them off with a very coarse sandpaper block. Perhaps when I become a “master”knitter I will splurge on more expensive yarn:)

      Did you think the Fezziwig had negative ease? I am thinking of making the medium as I wear a small to medium in most tops.

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  10. I made the 34″ for Fezziwig and I found it fit me pretty perfectly everywhere (little to no negative ease everywhere except the bust, for which there was about 1″ negative ease which is basically what I wanted. The pattern is designed so the yarn is knitted at a pretty loose gauge so the fabric is quite stretchy!

    For what it’s worth, Briggs & Little yarns are definitely a budget-friendly option. There aren’t too many online suppliers right now (St-Denis yarns seem to have abandoned their website right now, anyone know anything about that?) but it generally retails for $5-$7/ 215yd skein which makes Snoqualmie a $45-$90 sweater depending on your size, and which end of the price scale you end up upon. I just priced out Cascade Eco at yarn.com and it looks like it would take $95-$140 for Snoqualmie.
    Just sayin’.

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  11. Whenever the new Brooklyn tweed comes out Michelle’s patterns are always my fav. I love that cabled cardigan!

    I just wish I KNIT FASTER!

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  12. Pingback: New Favorites: Welcome basics, part 2 | Fringe Association

  13. I’d also like to recommend Amy Herzog’s Custom Fit program, which will make all kinds of basic shapes in whatever yarn you want to use.

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  14. As I librarian and avid knitter I just wanted to put in a plug for your local library: they should have lots of knitting books, both new and older, full of classic, hardworking shapes and styles.

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  15. Snoqualmie is on the list for this year. I have a bucket load of white Lettlopi, wondering if anyone has experience dying a completed garment in tea or coffee? I would love to use the yarn I have but would prefer an “off white” for this cardigan – I’m thinking about knitting it up and then soaking it in a tea bath???? thoughts?

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