So long, winter wardrobe: Notes for next year

So long, winter wardrobe: Notes for next year

The trees around Nashville began to bloom in the third week of February this year, following several weeks of mild weather … which followed those few weeks of uncommon cold around the turn of the year. So having a string of last-minute days in the 40s and 50s this week has me feeling all nostalgic and squeezing in these last few wears of some of my warmer sweaters, albeit with lighter layers and, in some cases, exposed ankles. Still, there’s no denying it’s Spring, and I’m eager to do some seasonal wardrobe planning, but first wanted to make some notes for next year:

1) My sweaters skew too warm
At this point, I’ve knitted myself a lovely collection of sweaters for a person who lives at least one zone north of me. With the lone exception of my striped raglan, they are hardy wools and either worsted gauge or heavier. That was all well and good during that extreme cold snap, but it means I’m at a bit of a loss during more typical Nashville weather. That said, I’m not kicking anything out of the closet, or deaccessioning any of my remaining wool sweater quantities. Next fall, I’ll finish the blue Bellows (and figure out how to wear it) and allow myself a turtleneck to replace my sad ratty old one, but other than that, I need to think about lighter and/or non- (or not 100%) wool sweaters, and to be really strategic about what happens to the rest of the wool in my stash. Which means cardigans, lighter fabrics (as opposed to densely packed cables), abbreviated shapes, etc.

2) Monotony and claustrophobia are cousins
My winter outfit plan did eventually start to feel a bit stiflingly formulaic. I think it’s relevant that this is also the most bothered I’ve ever been by the short days, which may in turn be related to how cold it was for part of this year. This winter made me feel claustrophobic, and my wardrobe monotony contributed to that. (As I’m typing this, I’m realizing the actual weight of my sweaters likely played an unconscious role, as well.)

3) More shoes, please
Leaving myself with really only one pair of winter shoes didn’t help, especially as they were stiff and hard-soled. I’m so ready to be free of those boots! Which, for a boot lover like me, is really saying something.

4) Lighten up
Last year’s key message to myself was this reminder: “… what I want after New Year’s is completely different from what I want during the Fall and holidays. I always have an urge to lighten up — the things that felt cozy a week or three earlier suddenly feel dour and depressing — once we’re headed downhill toward Spring.” Having that in mind, I did set myself up with a lighter palette this year, overall, and have appreciated that. So the takeaway from that plus all of the above is to continue to lighten up, in every sense.

In the next few weeks, I will still be able to wear some of the sweater-over-my-shoulders looks seen in the Big Rubble post, the November outfits and the Paris packing plans. But other than that, I’m thinking about spring/summer sweaters — what that really means to me — and spring wardrobe planning overall. More on that very soon!

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38 thoughts on “So long, winter wardrobe: Notes for next year

  1. Living in NC, I agree with the need for lighter sweaters. I am looking forward to seeing
    what you come up with. And what to do with all the beautiful worsted wool I have collected
    over many years, mostly a carry over from living in NE. I am happy to see more patterns
    and wool appearing in dk, sport and fingering weight.

    • I just love beautiful wool yarns and sweaters SO MUCH. And yet I definitely don’t want to move any farther north — the even shorter days would kill me. It’s such a conundrum!

  2. Although it’s difficult for someone in a more northerly climate, like me, to appreciate the need to lighten up so early in the season (it’s snowing as I write this), I understand the need to adapt one’s wardrobe to local needs rather than the whims of fashion. When we moved back to Canada after 16 years in Washington, DC, I had to re-learn how to dress. I good solution I found is lots of layering pieces: fingering-weight sweaters, vests, and cardigans. However, a southerly clime can, I discovered, be perfect for the wearing of thick sweater coats in what counts down there as winter. If I’d had Audrey’s Coat back then I would have worn it to death between November and February. I also learned that moths and other insects can be more troublesome farther south, so wool storage in off seasons becomes more critical.
    Love seeing your whole winter wardrobe laid out in one place.
    And yes, getting rid of heavy footwear is one of the joys of spring. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet.

  3. Holy cow, Karen! This post, and the posts you reference, are so good! I have never, EVER taken inventory on my wardrobe or taken time to put outfits together from some very basic pieces. I found myself looking for a way to print this so I could write notes to myself as I attempt to asses my existing wardrobe as well as look toward the spring. One thing that really resonated with me was #1. I never gave thought to the weight of the sweaters in my chest. No wonder I find myself in a pickle when the days get warmer. Honestly, this was so very helpful! It doesn’t hurt that you have such a great sense of style, girl!

  4. You have great shoes!
    You know, Kate Davies’ new Stronachlachar might come in handy — lightweight cabled tee that can be layered easily.

    • I do have great shoes, but have worked my way into having only one pair of boots (apart from my tall boots, for dresses, which I haven’t worn this season). Really excited to getting back into my other assorted shoes and putting the black boots away.

  5. If you do consider destashing your wool/worsted stash, some of us live several zones north of you. Just hinting. :)

    As Elizabeth said, you’re lightening up already? Sigh. We had a few warm days here in the Twin Cities and now it’s cold and windy again. Spring in March here is just a concept. It only becomes reality in May.

    • It has felt like Spring for over a month, and having the trees bloom so early has put an exclamation point on it. I just hope we don’t wind up with an early summer as well! A long, long spring would be lovely.

  6. Even living in Minnesota, I knit a fair share of fingering weight sweaters, and it is what I am turning to now that the days are inching into the 40s. I think of it as having to have a wardrobe for three seasons, not two, and the season that is Fall/Spring is actually the longest. Besides fingering weight wool, I turn to wool/cotton or wool/linen blends, silk (the most perfect of them all when it can be found), but not so much cotton, because 100% cotton tends to get baggy after a couple of wearings and needs more maintenance. As Deepa wisely says above: right now, spring is a concept, not a reality!

  7. I am about yo finish a light weight sweater. I hope we have one cool day, so I can wear it once this year. I need more light weights but they take forever to knit.

    • The only semi-lightweight sweater I’ve knitted is the striped raglan, which is two strands of lace-weight, but knitted on 6s, so it was more knitting than my average sweater, but bearable. I think that’s the range I need to focus on — lighter yarns knitted on 6s for lighter fabric. I’d never finish a sweater knitted on tiny needles.

  8. I am a Michigan girl currently living 40 miles north of Atlanta in the foothills — a climate not much different than you have in Nashville. As you can imagine, I have some lovely, hand-knitted wool sweaters that came with me that I could not give away. On rare occasions, as you, I get to wear some of them. :)))

    What I have discovered is a lovely yarn from The Plucky Knitter: their Lodge base in worsted and fingering. Lodge is 60% Merino, 20% Cotton, 10% Linen and 10% Silk. It is simply lovely running through your fingers and has great stitch definition. I am about to cast on a Naima cardigan by Ankestrick (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/naima-2). Will be posting on Instagram @a.single.blue.thread.

    Hope you’ll give Plucky’s Lodge a try!!!
    Cheryl Ortwein
    @a.single.blue.thread

  9. I will thoroughly enjoy reading your ideas for lightweight sweaters. A few years ago I realized that I needed to look for yarn and patterns for the weather we have 75% of the time in SoCal. . . that opened up a whole new set of projects for me, and much to learn.

  10. After assessing my sweater situation last Fall, I also decided it was time to lighten up, and so I’m in the process of knitting three short-sleeved fingering weight cardis, that don’t totally come together in the front. I think they’ll be great in air conditioned places this summer over a tank top and also next Fall (and on warmer Winter days) over long sleeves. I live in northeast GA, so just a tad bit warmer than Nashville. I look forward to seeing what ideas you share in the coming weeks.

  11. I can relate to craving lightness after January–suddenly my go-to black cardigan feels oppressive.
    I’m also reevaluating my knitting…I just don’t live in climate that calls for heavy wool.

  12. Karen, this post really resonates with me. Living in southern Virginia, worsted wool is just too heavy. I knit two Lopi sweaters and have only worn them once this winter. Icelandic yoke styled sweaters are trending now, but they are not what I reach for in the morning. Lighter weight yarns are all that I use now.

  13. The forthcoming UNIFORM Knit & Sew book from Madder and Grainline studio would be a major boost for anyone’s wardrobe. (Personally, I canNOT wait for mine!) With so many options for hem, neckline, sleeve, etc. the fingering weight cardigans especially would be perfect for your climate’s colder months. Even the worsted weight would work depending on your yarn choices. Plus, both the sweaters and tunics are ripe for customization. For instance, I can totally you see turning the tunics into chic little dresses to wear with your new next year’s chic winter ankle boots!

  14. I can’t wait to see more light weight options. The beautiful sweaters you’ve shown lately just don’t work for me in California.

  15. One of my favorite, much-worn summer cardigans is Dune, by ANKESTRiCK, knit in Calista, a cool, cable construction mercerized cotton. Two more favorites are shortened versions of Quick Sand and Fine Grain by Heidi Kirrmaier, made of cotton, linen and combinations. I would love to get more ideas.

    • I am just starting Fine Sand now, using Cestari’s Monticello Collection Cotton/Flax. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  16. I find that worsted weight wool sweaters are often too heavy for the SF Bay Area and have tried to focus more on DK or fingering weight sweaters, which seem to work better year-round here. I know that is a bit more knitting because of the finer gauge, but when you already have the basics covered, you can give more time to the new sweaters you are adding to your wardrobe.

  17. I am just finishing my full Winter as a Southerner (in Chattanooga; hello, fellow Tennessean!), and find myself with an equally weather-inappropriate collection of sweaters. In fact, I knit the loveliest funnel-necked sweater a few months ago and managed to wear it for a mere half-day – A HALF DAY – before packing it away for the season. Grumble.

    In any case, currently trying to navigate those “warm weather knitter” problems, m’self, and look forward to reading about your approach. Onwards, linen!

  18. Having lived in TN and TX for the last 40 years, I found that I could use my wools in vests and get quite a lot of wear out of them. Lighter weight wool such as fingering or DK worked better than worsted or bulky. No doubt you’ll find the solution that works best for you.

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  20. Hi Karen – can you tell me the name of the grey shorter sleeve sweater which is on the bottom row – left. It is beautiful and I’d love to be able to knit the same, or something similar. Love reading your blog every morning – thank you!

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