Knit the Look: the mini Guernsey Literary Society henley

Knit the Look: the mini Guernsey Literary Society henley

If you’ve seen the Netflix adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (which is not quite as twee as the title suggests), you know it’s chock full of sweaters. No ganseys, oddly, given that it’s set on Guernsey, and it’s a little confusing whose sweaters look possibly handknit and whose definitely don’t, but we’ll leave that aside. The point is: sweaters! The thrust of the story is that a pretty young London writer visits a group of book-loving strangers on the isle of Guernsey, which is still reeling from the Nazi occupation. She is a first-rate packer. Although she’s meant to be there a night or two, her mix-and-match travel wardrobe carries her through a longer stay: tweed trousers and skirt, three or four pretty silk blouses with big collars, two sweater vests, a pullover with a little Peter Pan collar, a pretty great blue-marl cardigan, a brown suede jacket and a brown garter-stitch beret are all she needs, with just a pair of borrowed workpants for when she’s helping her unanticipated love interest with his pigs. (Oh, surely you can see that coming!) For my money, though, the kids and the men get all the best sweaters. Best of all being the tattered henley pictured on the little girl, Kit, above.

There are weirdly few images from the movie on the internet, and they’re all of the woven garments, despite the fact that every single character except the military fiancé wears multiple sweaters in the film. I mean, too many cardigans to even begin to count. (There may be more Knit the Looks about these.) But that’s why all I have for you is an iPhone photo of my laptop screen, and you’ll have to trust my eye and memory on the rest.

So about this little pullover, which obviously I want in my size and minus the post-occupation tatters: It’s just a mushroom colored, boxy little henley but what makes it interesting, as always, are the details. The sleeves are ribbed but it appears to be garter rib, which would be less bunchy to wear and also features strongly on a few other of the movie’s sweaters. There are two little chest pockets also in rib. (It makes me think of Marshal, in some ways.) But what really seals it is that henley placket that runs right down to the waist ribbing. To emulate it, you could use the free ’80s-era pattern from Drops known poetically as 4-24. Knit the sleeves in garter rib and fashion a couple of chest patch pockets to match, and instead of working the placket opening a few inches shy of the neck, start it just above the waist ribbing. (And refrain from inserting shoulder pads as Drops appears to have done!) The pattern is written for bulky, so I’m recommending Harrisville’s lovely tweedy Turbine yarn in Driftwood, but it would also be easy to adapt that pattern to a lighter gauge.

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PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: The Crown’s cardigans

40 thoughts on “Knit the Look: the mini Guernsey Literary Society henley

  1. What I’m dying to make is that yellow colorwork hat that Kit wore at the end of the movie! And you’re right – I couldn’t find any pictures on the internet of it. The hat (if I’m remembering correctly) had earflaps, was mostly grellow colorwork with a diamond-shaped solid section at the top, with a pom-pom at the bottom of the diamond. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t find a picture or a pattern like it!!!

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  2. If you wanted to copy the sweater, it seems like it would be easier to make a basic, classic cardigan (Ann Budd would be invaluable here with her Book of Sweaters), starting with a provisional cast on and minus the bottom ribbing. Once completed, you could overlap the button bands, pick up the live stitches, and knit the ribbing downward. Less to modify, and available to all sizes.

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  3. If you want to watch another movie with really great knitting, I recommend Their Finest, by Lone Scherfig. It’s set during the London Blitz, and all the costumes and scenery are just beautiful !
    Gemma Arterton wears lovely cardis and henleys with little collars and lace, but I favour Sam Claflin’s brown tweed sweater. I watched this film twice, and the second time it was only for the knitting !

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  4. All the knitted goodness immediately caught my eye as I watched that movie and your post had me going down the rabbit hole of your other “knit the look” posts. There’s some great stuff in there and Knit the Look has always been one of my favourite reads on your blog.

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    • The movie was pretty beautiful, I’d say. It had a lot more weight than I expected, given the twee title, as Karen said. And on that title, it’s why I never read the book, even though I had a copy of it somehow. I thought it had to be lightweight with a title like that.

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    • Right?!? I love that book with all my heart and the audiobook is beautifully done as well. I did watch the Netflix version but it only sent me back to reread the book.

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  5. lol at the drops sweater – when I started reading the post and looking at the photos, I thought “oh good heavens, the 80’s really are back!” thinking that was a current pattern. So glad to see that it isn’t! Yes to modifying and leaving out the shoulder pads.

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    • I was prepared to say the wardrobe was hilariously more enormous than her little suitcase, but then when I rewatched it and counted up the garments, it’s actually pretty brilliant! She’s just an excellent packer. ;)

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  6. I took many screencaps from this movie. I love the cardigan Kit wears at the end and found a pattern for a similar grown-up version from the late 30s or early 40s (love the stitch on this one). The color palette as a whole is wonderful as well.

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