As I make my daily rounds, I look at sweaters. It’s a habit that comes naturally. I look at sweaters that my fellow shoppers and pedestrians are wearing, of course, but I also stand staring in front of shop windows. Knitwear is often the pride of a brand’s collection, and there are some great sweaters in the shops.
I don’t suffer from “I could knit that” syndrome—where you never buy a handknit because you could knit it yourself—but I do find it very hard to purchase a sweater that should be knit by hand. This is particularly true of a sweater with cables or Fair Isle, where it’s obvious to a knitter if corners have been cut, or lesser materials used. Even in expensive sweaters, you sometimes find fibers that would make them frown and shake their heads in the Hebrides.
But I will buy a stockinette sweater, particularly if it’s fine gauge, in a fuzzy, slippery or otherwise potentially troublesome yarn, or black.
I look at shop sweaters not just as potential ways out of knitting something myself, but as knitting inspiration. A stitch pattern, color combination, or shape can help me figure out what I should be knitting for myself. And the nice thing about sweaters in shops is that you can try them on and see how they look on you before spending a month or two knitting, only to discover that bold geometrics are really not your thing.
Here are five sweaters that grabbed my attention recently.
I stared at this one in the window of the Riess on Columbus Avenue for a long time, trying to figure out the stitch pattern. (Didn’t succeed.) Stripes interrupted by intarsia-like patches of houndstoothiness. Thumbs up for the shape, thumbs down for the orthopedic turtleneck.
This jacket at Peruvian Connection got me thinking about mosaic knitting as something wearable. How fun would this be to knit? The simple, boxy shape would make it easy. I can’t work out whether it actually has sleeves or just a very wide body with openings through which to stick one’s elbow-length gloved arms. (Fun fact: Peruvian Connection has “art knits” designed by Kaffe Fassett.)
A mohair box-top pullover at Eileen Fisher. Because you don’t have to knit all the sweaters, especially the laceweight mohair ones. (Note this is a pullover being worn over a pencil skirt. I’m still on that kick.)
OK, this one is kind of outside of my demographic, I’ll admit. It’s at Topshop. It is breaking out in fluff on the shoulders, it’s kind of busy, it’s kind of confused about what kind of sweater it wants to be.
But it made me think about how much fun it would be to put grommets and studs onto a handknit.
This was the winner, for me, at Rag & Bone. A marled, tunic-length pullover with a dip of a contrasting color at the hem and cuff. I’m not sure about the novelty bouclé-ish yarn, though. It’s kind of stretchy.
Maybe I do have to knit all the sweaters.