They say the devil is in the details, and that applies to so many parts of our lives, but especially in knitting. How many hours have you spent knitting a project, only to feel like it loses some of its shine in the finishing? For me, my confidence in my ability to knit sweaters grew by leaps and bounds once I finally mastered mattress stitch (and now I am a vocal advocate for mattress stitch because it’s awesome). It’s those knitting finishing techniques that really make a huge difference in how our finished objects look, and that applies even more so to knitted garments.
Alex Capshaw-Taylor understands the necessity of finishing details, and her new book, Dressed in Knits, explains all manner of finishing details right up front. Part finishing-reference book, part couture-knitting collection, Dressed in Knits features 19 knitting patterns to create a timeless knitwear wardrobe that can take you from day to night and everywhere in between.
The book opens with an entire chapter devoted to what Alex calls “Knitting Foundations.” From selecting yarn and achieving gauge to installing zippers, Alex covers a wide range of techniques that are not only used throughout Dressed in Knits but also commonly found in knitting patterns at large. The knitting finishing techniques Alex focuses on include weaving in ends, seaming, picking up stitches, buttonbands, blocking, adding beads, installing zippers or grommets, even steeking and duplicate stitching.
While Dressed in Knits is a wonderful reference manual in its own right, it also features 19 incredible patterns to knit for women. Broken into five sections, the book includes patterns for foundation garments (including a lovely camisole), day time looks, night time looks, outwear, and accessories. Most of my favorite projects come from the Night section, but there’s great pieces throughout the entire book.
The Asciano Tweed Moto Jacket combines a hard-working wool yarn with a metallic thread for a bit of glitz and glamour in a traditional motorcycle jacket shape. A buttoned collar with shiny buttons and an exposed zipper add chic details to this stylish jacket.
The Bukhara Silk Brocade Cardigan pairs a silk and wool yarn for the body with a silk lace weight yarn at the hems. Beads are added using two different methods: knitting with beads as you work, and sewing beads on in finishing. Both methods are covered in the reference section. Alex describes this knitted cardigan as a piece that’s great for office or weekend wear, and I wholeheartedly agree!
I’m normally not a fan of bobbles—I find them finicky to work and generally overwhelm a knitted fabric, but the Catalunya Funnel Neck Pullover uses bobbles perfectly. The allover texture reminds me of Swiss dot fabric, but instead of knitting a light yarn on small needles to yield the gauzy effect of Swiss dot fabric, this sweater uses a slightly metallic worsted weight yarn for quick knitting. Set-in sleeves and a short funnel neck make this a knitted pullover that can be dressed up or down with ease.
I’m a huge fan of colorwork, and I love the plaid fabric achieved in the Falkirk Plaid Wrap. To keep the knitting simple, Alex designed this stole to be knit in the round and cut open with steeks in finishing—she includes detailed instructions on steeking in the reference section at the beginning of the book. The neutral palette used in the book sample is stylish and classic, but I can also see it modernized in bright colors for a fun, modern look.
Large, graphic intarsia hearts are worked all over the body of the Montmartre Intarsia Scoop-Necked Pullover. Infinitely wearable, the neutral palette of this sweater is accented by a contrast color heart… but what if you used different colors for all the hearts?! The flattering scoop neck and long sleeves make this a great top to wear everywhere.
Alex’s Montreal Lace Panel Cardigan features a lovely scoop neck accented by appliqué lace panels. The cardigan itself is knit first, and then the lace portions are worked and sewn along the front neck and openings. The lace panels stop at the shoulders, but you could probably easily extend them to go around the whole neck if you desired.
Shinshiro is a show-stopper in my book. This long cape, reaching to about mid-thigh, features an all-over herringbone stitch. Worked in pieces to keep the knitting simple, this topper even has zippered pockets! The funnel neck helps keep drafts away from the neck. Knit in a lightweight worsted yarn, this cape is the epitome of fashionable and functional.
Wrapping up this blog post is the Xian Lace Pullover. It’s such a stunning piece of knitwear that it’s also the focal point of the book cover. The body is worked in a DK weight yarn, with the lace sections worked in a super fine fingering weight yarn. The classic combination of gold and black works perfectly, but again, this is such a great sweater that the colors could be changed out for an equally gorgeous effect.
Dressed in Knits features even more beautiful patterns than I’ve included in this post, and it’s available for sale now in both the physical edition as well as a digital download. Order your copy today to start knitting your own couture knitted wardrobe.
Dressed in Knits:19 Designs for Creating a Custom Knitwear Collection