Knit the Look: Marthe Wiggers’ vintage-chic pullover

Knit the Look: Marthe Wiggers' vintage-chic pullover

I love how simultaneously retro and au courant Dutch model Marthe Wiggers looks in this slinky, ribbed, black mock-neck sweater and motorcycle jacket. Such simplicity with that sweater, and as usual what makes it noteworthy are the tiny little details — the proportion of the peaks and valleys of that ribbing, and the shift in scale from the sweater to the neck. Which is easy enough to emulate. Vintage patterns would be the best bet on this one, but there are some available options to work from. There’s a reasonably similar Rowan pattern from a few years ago, Fiori (just add ribbing) but it’s worsted weight, whereas Marthe’s sweater seems to be a fine-gauge machine knit. So I’m going to recommend Pierrot’s characteristically rudimentary, English-translated Japanese pattern called 22-23-20 Ribbed Turtleneck Sweater (free pattern), which is written for fingering weight. (As with pretty much all Japanese patterns, it’s one size, so add to the stitch count as/where necessary to adjust the width.) To make it look more like Marthe’s, try the rib in 2×1 or even 3×1, switching to 1×1 on smaller needles for the collar. And instead of knitting the neck to full turtleneck length, stop at about 3”. Yarn-wise, for that gorgeous heathered black I’m a big fan of Quince and Co’s Sabine colorway, which is available in fingering-weight Finch.

For more photos and Marthe’s full outfit, see Vanessa’s original blog post. And for guidance on how to read a Japanese knitting pattern, click here.

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PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Camille Charriere’s stripes

Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

Knit the Look: Camille Charriere’s stripes

Knit the Look: Camille Charriere's striped sweater

Here’s a styling option I hadn’t considered for my striped pullover: shiny pants! Never happen, but I admire how striking Camille Charriere looks in these photos — showing the world that black-and-white does not equal boring. And I do look forward to wearing mine slung over my shoulders like this — one styling holdover from my teen years that I’ve never not loved in the interim. All you really need to approximate this sweater is my notes on my striped sweater, but the other option would be to pick your favorite basic pullover pattern and simply knit it in alternating stripes. Camille’s sweater looks to be more like 1.5″ or 2″ stripes (as opposed to my 2.5″ awning stripes) and more of a truer, flatter black and white than mine. So for yarn, you might consider Brooklyn Tweed’s new Arbor in Kettle and Thaw. I’m told Thaw is technically a really pale icy grey (I haven’t seen it in person) but it would read more white against the black than an undyed (ivory) yarn would. Not a lot of yarns include both black and white in the palette, so feel free to pipe up below with other ideas! As far as the other sweater details, it looks like the waist ribbing spans the last two stripes, and the ribbed cuffs might actually be grey? They seem darker than the white stripes, and I like the idea of that, either way.

For Vanessa’s suggestions on the rest of Camille’s look, see her original blog post.

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PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Perfect grey turtleneck

Best of the Best of Pre-Fall 2017: Joseph

Best of the Best of Pre-Fall 2017: Joseph

It’s good that the Fall 2017 collections will be starting in about 10 minutes, because I’m fairly underwhelmed by the Pre-Fall ones. Not surprisingly though, Joseph is once again at the top of my list of exquisite knits (alongside incredible woven pieces with all the giant patch pockets I love). Just look at those incredible long layers up top, the exaggerated turtleneck and impeccable cardigan in the middle, and then the long rib-knit tunic and pants paired with that exceptional pink coat. Nevermind how unwearable those pants are, I want it all. But especially that army sweater-coat.

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PREVIOUSLY in Pre-Fall 2017:

Knit the Look: Perfect grey turtleneck

Knit the Look: Perfect grey turtleneck

Oh hey, what a happy accident! I’d forgotten all about this photo from Vanessa’s blog last year, and just rediscovered it on the heels of Tuesday’s post about funnelnecks and midiskirts. This one, spotted outside the Miu Miu show last March, is more of an upturned turtleneck, which I personally prefer to a funnel, and this proportion is also a bit more wearable for those of you who were concerned about that. To emulate this gem of a sweater, all you need is Julie Hoover’s Veneto pattern, which, if you take away the color-blocking, is the perfect basic.* It’s a classically proportioned, well-shaped, set-in-sleeve pullover, knitted flat and seamed — which means it’s also highly adaptable. To turn it into something more like the sweater above, all you’d need to do is go up one size (for the slouch factor), extend the hem ribbing to more like 3″, continue a few stitches of ribbing up both sides of the front and back, leave a split hem when seaming the sides together, and knit the neckback to your desired turtleneck/funnelneck length. (You might find you want to pick up a few more stitches for the neck, as well — try it and see.) Veneto is written for two strands of lace-weight mYak held double, at a gauge of 5.5 sts/inch, so you could also sub a sport-weight yarn. Ysolda’s Blend No. 1 would be perfection.

Now if only I could help you with that amazing skirt. You can see more pics of both garments in Vanessa’s original post.

*Veneto really should have been in the pullovers installment of Make Your Own Basics — I’ll rectify that.

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PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Jenny Gordy’s comfiest cardigan

Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

First of the Best of Pre-Fall 2017: Funnelnecks and midiskirts

First of the Best of Pre-Fall 2017: Funnelnecks and midiskirts

The Pre-Fall 2017 collection images are gathering slowly, but one silhouette trend I’m already loving is the combination of hip-length, funnelneck pullovers with midiskirts and killer boots. Seen here at Adam Lippes (top) — my always-favorite skirt length there, hitting just at the bottom of the kneecap — Protaganist (bottom left) and TSE (bottom right).

Definitely fueling my slouchy turtleneck fantasies

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PREVIOUSLY: Spring 2017

Prada’s hippie-Cowichan funhouse sweaters

Prada's hippie-Cowichan funhouse sweaters

There was this thing on the Prada Fall 2016 runway last spring that I quickly clicked right past, aghast at the … well, at the whole thing, let’s be honest. I didn’t linger nearly long enough to notice or wonder about the knitted fabric that made up the body of that cardigan. Then last week a reader sent me an email containing the image at the top of this post — from Prada’s current ad campaign — asking if I could shed any light on it. A few days later, a friend texted the Eddie Redmayne becardiganned version below it. Both images had the opposite effect on me: I could not take my eyes off them. The fabric is fascinating, but the vest! It’s like some kind of hippie patchwork version of my fitted Cowichan-ish vest, one of my all-time favorite garments. The colors in the Prada vest are too Bob Newhart Show for me (although I like it against the pink!), but the palette of Eddie’s cardigan is mesmerizing — like The Plucky Knitter was involved.

But what IS IT, you’re wondering? So was I! For a diagnosis, I turned to my friend Kate, who sees it as a variation on the short-row scallops you see in something like Olga’s Aranami shawl, with intarsia for the color changes, and a single-row stripe worked as a purl stitch running along the upper row of each scalloped ridgeline. No big deal!

I’ve never knitted anything in the scallops category and never done intarsia, but I’m sufficiently fascinated with that vest that I might have to give something like it a try someday. (Thank you, Ece!)

Prada's hippie-Cowichan funhouse sweaters

PREVIOUSLY in Fall 2016: Best of the Best: Dries’ epic sweater

21st-Century Thrifting: On the Hunt for Dries Van Noten

Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner — the Mason-Dixon ladies — are two of my favorite people in the yarn world, and I’m really happy they now have a webshop and warehouse because it means Ann now works in the same building as me, which means I get to have lunch with her from time to time! A couple of weeks ago, she told me about her idiosyncratic take on thrifting, and I thought it was the perfect way to kick off Long-Worn Week of Slow Fashion October. So here’s Ann—
—Karen

21st-Century Thrifting: On the Hunt for Dries Van Noten

I have a very specific way of approaching slow fashion: I buy old clothes on the Internet.

One very specific kind of old clothes: anything by Dries Van Noten, the Belgian designer.

A decade ago, I discovered Dries Van Noten when I was lying flat on my back in bed with a cold. It was late, and the Nyquil was kicking in. The Style channel was on, and Elsa Klensch was recapping fashion shows. Willowy women floated into my bedroom, wearing Japanese-inspired fabrics and shapes, and Elsa talked about how this Dries Van Noten person was drawing on paintings by Whistler for inspiration.

Sublime. I thought I was hallucinating. I was a goner.

And I was really gone when I found that his clothes came with astronomical price tags.

That was in 2006. I began to follow Dries the way some people follow the Green Bay Packers. I await each new season, curious to see what will happen next. His fashion shows in Paris — here’s the most recent one — are ten-minute dream worlds where his explosions of color and pattern and texture and shape can bring me to tears.

I do not typically cry about a pair of pants, just saying.

I sense in him something rare: a combination of patience, curiosity, discipline and refinement that should be held up as an ideal for anybody who creates things. The energy necessary to create four collections of this quality each year — two for men, two for women, for 25 years — is hard to imagine.

This is my favorite Dries video because it shows him talking, filmed in his gorgeous Antwerp studio.

21st-Century Thrifting: On the Hunt for Dries Van Noten

HIS PHILOSOPHY

Dries Van Noten runs his fashion empire in an unorthodox way. He owns his company, meaning that he answers only to himself, not to a corporation pushing him to improve profits, expand The Brand, or create bedsheets or beach towels or derivative crap. He preserves a pure vision this way.

The Independent writes:

Van Noten isn’t interested in keeping up with his competitors. In fact, he refers to them as “colleagues” – an indication, perhaps, of a magnanimous spirit that is rare in an industry transfixed as much with the bottom line as it is with hemlines. “Style-wise I do the things that I want to do,” he says. “But organisation-wise you have to run a company, you have responsibilities.”

Those responsibilities include to his stockists, his staff, and his suppliers. “I try to see that every season we have prints, so that we can work with our six printers. In India we have a cottage industry involving 3,000 people working on many techniques of embroidery, so for me it’s important that in every collection we have embroideries. Sometimes they’re very in-your-face and visible, sometimes they’re subtle. But they’re always there, so that I can give work to these people.”

The Financial Times writes:

Dries Van Noten, the Belgian designer for whom embroidery is a part of his signature, has been working with the same family-owned business in Calcutta for the past 25 years. “A lot of people assume that if you are going to do embroidery in India, it’s ipso facto ethnic,” says Patrick Scallon, a spokesman for the designer. “But it’s a very respectful creative process. He has his designs, they have their views, and they both inform each other.”

Dries Van Noten’s relationship with the Indian embroiderers has been carefully nurtured, with one full-time member of his staff essentially splitting time between the workshop in India and the designer’s base in Antwerp, as choices are made about beads and fibres.

“It demands investment,” Mr Scallon said. “You can’t just phone it in. Maybe some companies send the work off through an agent but it is worth it to invest in this relationship.”

Most extraordinary: Dries buys no advertising. You will never see an ad in Vogue from Dries Van Noten. But you will see him in the editorial pages, because the editors can’t deny the quality of his work.

21st-Century Thrifting: On the Hunt for Dries Van Noten

MY QUEST

My first piece of Dries was a skirt I found in London, 60% off. It was by far the most I’d ever paid for a skirt. Ten years later, it’s my favorite skirt, a dark jacquard with asymmetrical tucks that make no sense except that they shape the skirt in a fantastically tidy way.

I found a few pieces on sale here and there: A coat with a deep brocade border; a quilted skirt; a jacket with Japanese fabrics; a shirt with crewelwork all over it. For the most part, and for many years, my fascination was abstract. I couldn’t see how to justify spending so much on clothes, no matter how much I admired them.

Technology, as has so often happened in my life and work, changed the whole Dries situation.

Clever shoppers have shopped thrift stores for ages, but I never had the focus for them. Too much randomness for me. Now, the Internet has revolutionized the market for clothes sold by consignment. Sophisticated technology allows you to find exactly what you’re looking for. The online consignment business has exploded, and it’s possible to buy the most exquisite clothes in the world for a fraction of their original price.

The Dries I used to dream of is now something I can collect without any pain to my pocketbook. It is indulgent in its way, sartorial ice fishing. You never know what you’ll catch. And often, you come up empty. But I’m telling you about this because this new consignment technology means that beautiful, well-made, enduring clothes are available to us in a way they really weren’t, even a few years ago. Yes, eBay has been doing this for years. But eBay is the Model T of this technology.

If the goal is to find clothes that last, that are made by designers who care about the people making their clothing, that inspire you every time you wear them, then sites like The RealReal and Poshmark are doing something of real value.

And something that is a lot of fun, too.
Ann Shayne

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Thank you, Ann! For my part, although I’m a devout garage saler and flea marketer when it comes to furniture and home goods, I’ve never been a clothes thrifter. But over the past couple of decades, I have managed to hold on to some things so long they’re actually vintage — it’s just they’ve been in my closet the whole time! That’s what I crave now, as I said last year: clothes with long lives and legacies. What about you — is thrifting part of your wardrobe, and how so?

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PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: Elsewhere