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Trend Watch: Fur Yarns

Sunday, November 17th, 2013
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Fur has been hitting the catwalk and our shelves, but is there a way to keep in step with this trend while avoiding looking like a Muppet? The key here is to think small. Accessories and details add edge to your wardrobe without going overboard–I’ll show you how.

furcowl

To play with this trend, I knit myself a quick fur cowl in only a few hours using Prism Plume in the Kilimanjaro colorway. I simply cast on enough stitches to fit around a 40″ US 13 circular needle, twisted my stitches before joining them to create a twist in the cowl, and knit through two hanks of yarn before binding off. The hand-dyed colors of Plume are luscious and it’s super soft around the neck. Fur cowls look great against a cabled sweater for texture contrast, or go monochrome and match your cowl to your jacket or top–it’s like making a shirt you already own into a fur-necked turtleneck! For a retro-inspired shape, try a keyhole scarf like Zelda from Louisa Harding or a fur collar.

furvests

Fur vests can be a fun layering piece, but wear carefully and avoid other fur accessories with this one. Berroco’s Granita (left) and Lousia Harding’s Olive (right, from Book 129) feature similar construction styles with different fur textures. Both are meant to be worn open, which creates a long vertical line and helps avoid any ‘wrapped in animal hides’ comparisons. Belts emphasize the waist–always a good thing! I’d pair these vests with something sleek on the bottom, like slim-fitting pants, skinny jeans, or a pencil skirt and tights.

furyarns

The hardest part of all is deciding which fur yarn you’ll choose! These are not like the eyelash yarns of yesterday–fur-look yarns now come in different fibers and textures ranging from natural-looking fur replicas to colorfully flamboyant options. Rozetti Wicked Fur (bottom left, in color 104 Zebra) is soft, fluffy and comes in natural shades with different color ‘tips,’ just like real fur. If you want a splash of color, check out Louisa Harding Luzia (shown in 02 Ruby and 05 Sapphire) or Filatura di Crosa Jenny (shown here in 08 Almond, but it’s also available in jewel tones). Luzia has a smoother texture that tends to lie flat, which I think looks very realistic in its natural colors; Jenny has longer feathery strands mixed with shorter ones for depth. And Berroco Marmot (in the back, color 3743 Amber) creates a fabric reminiscent of shearling fleece when knitted up.

Will you be trying out one of these fur yarns this winter? How will you be using it?

Trend Watch: Oversized

Thursday, June 13th, 2013
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It can be hard to translate runway fashion into our everyday lives. (After all, can you really see yourself wearing Alexander McQueen’s over-the-top heels to your 9-5 office job?) Designers put their spin on oversized garments for the Fall/Winter 2012/2013 season, and the trend shows no sign of stopping as breezy blouses, dolman-sleeved tops and easy sundresses now fill the racks of stores everywhere. Positive ease makes positively perfect sense for warmer weather, so how to explore this look with your knitting?

Raid the men’s section like Katie did! This is Fairbank from Rowan Dalesmen. Men’s patterns are a great way to add ease and a relaxed feel to your wardrobe, since they eschew the waist shaping that many women’s patterns favor. Bonus: You can borrow from a man in your life to have twice the clothes to choose from!  Katie balances the masculine nature of the vest by adding a cute necklace, bright tights and heels, while her menswear-inspired hat matches the vest. Those tights (love the tights!) coupled with the shorts show off her legs and draw the viewer’s eyes down her body, which further helps to keep everything proportionate.

A loose, oversized cardigan can take you from day-to-night with a quick change of styling. Theresa, our Customer Service Supervisor, knit this gorgeous Creature Comforts Cardi and graciously let me borrow it for the shoot. For a daytime work look, I paired the cardigan with a sleek pencil skirt and a waist cinching belt–the combination highlights the smallest part of the body and helps the cardi look chic-ly loose rather than sloppy. When the clock hits 5 and it’s time to head into Northampton for a date, slip on some skinny jeans and untuck the shirt for a more casual, but still put together outfit.

Here are my top tips for rocking an oversized knit:

  • Opposites attract. Try and pair your oversized piece with slimmer ones to provide contrast and show off your shape. A vest like Katie’s can work with voluminous trouser pants that properly fit in the waist and when paired with a fitted blouse, so don’t feel like you always need to reach for the tightest clothing you own.
  • When in doubt, wear your favorites and then add a new garment. You already know that your stand-by sheath dress is a winner, so why would a swingy cardigan suddenly change that? If you’re confident in what you’re wearing you’ll exude that same confidence all day long.
  • Start small. Add a large shawl like Color Affection to get comfortable playing around with volume, or another accessory of your choice.
  • Educate yourself! Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter is a great tool to help learn more about your body shape and how to best flatter it. The book includes patterns, fashion advice and tips on how to modify patterns to better suit your body. And Amy has weekly ‘Fashion Friday’ posts on her blog where she showcases different outfits while explaining what works and what doesn’t.

For more inspiration, check out these other oversized patterns: VersaciKnits’ Suit, Manos del Uruguay’s Mirkwood, Blue Sky Alpaca’s Smock Top and multiple patterns from Berroco’s Norah Gaughan Collection Volume 12. Pay attention to how the model is styled–would you wear it like she does? What part of the body is highlighted or downplayed by the garment and the styling choices? Pick the right pattern for you and join the oversized bandwagon! I’ll save you a seat next to me.

Trend Watch: Neon Knits

Monday, February 25th, 2013
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Does the word ‘neon’ give you flashbacks to 1980s bad fashion montages, complete with teased hair and shoulderpads? Neon might not be a new color concept but it’s back in a big way, showing up in magazines, shopping malls and even on our shelves! I’ll give you a few ideas of what to knit or crochet with and how to wear these bright colors.

Louisa Harding Mila takes neon over the top by adding a sparkly thread to its interesting chainette construction. The colors are fresh and juicy, with names like Citron, Tomato, and Candy. I immediately thought of crocheted jewelry and whipped up this necklace. Monochromatic outfits are in, but who has an entire electric coral wardrobe? I paired my necklace with a matching tee instead to scale that trend down and added my signature skull cardigan. Branch out into neon slowly by incorporating it with your favorite pieces if you’re nervous.

The next level is a colorful accessory, like Greta’s Neon for Neon cowl knit in Manos del Uruguay Alegria. Since Alegria is bright and highly variegated, it’s perfect in small doses and solid colored clothing really helps it pop. Greta’s top already mirrors the great pink tones of the cowl, so a saturated aqua satchel pulls out the blues and provides contrast. Depending on the rest of your outfit, you can match or contrast small accessories like jewelry, bags, shoes or even nail polish with your neon knits. A perfect opportunity to consult your Color Grid!

Turn your knitting all the way to eleven with a neon sweater like Shiri Mor’s Helix Cabled Vest from the Vogue Knitting Winter 2012/13 issue. After all, we put so much work into our handmade garments, and highlighter yellow-green yarn is guaranteed to steal the spotlight! Let this sweater vest shine by pairing it with neutrals, but don’t be afraid to mix neutrals to add visual interest and break up your look–a black skirt and sweater veers close to suit territory. I love grey and black together for this outfit and chances are, you already have similar pieces in your closet. Matching neon triangle earrings keep the look fun and the focus up by your face.

Done right, neon can be modern, fresh and funky, not scary! For more neon-spiration, check out some of these blindingly gorgeous projects on Ravelry.

What do you think, are you ready to electrify your look with some neon knits? Will you go big or start small?