KNITWEAR 101: THE BASICS OF SWEATER KNITS

asian women with sweaters around her neck

asian women with sweaters around her neck

KNITWEAR 101:

I love sweaters. It’s my favorite article of clothing. Not only do I design this category for a living, I’m infatuated or “obsessed”, is how we influencers call it.  My long career of designing sweaters started 20 years ago. However, we’ll save that story for another post.

I recalled the first time when I first fell in love with knitwear. I was studying in Florence, Italy and took my first knitting class. Italians are the experts and it was my chance to learn from the best.

It was simple as taking a string of yarn, laying it across a hand flat machine. Gliding the carriage back and forth, until my arms were numbed. After awhile, it became a shaped panel, from which started with just a piece of string. The artistry of creating full fashion garments with my bare hands was incredible. Every Thursday, I looked forward to Knitwear 101.

Ever since, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in knitwear. Lucky enough, my first job was an assistant knitwear designer in New York City. I had the opportunity to travel the world and  even lived in Hong Kong for eighteen months, studying next to the factory workers. That’s where I honed all my skills.

Lucky for you, I’m taking my twenty years of knowledge and sharing them with you today.

asian women with sweaters around her neck

asian women with sweaters around her neck

FIBER:

It all starts here. The finer and longer staple, the more luxurious. Like human hair, we all have different thicknesses and lengths. Well, same with animals.

Natural fibers, such as wool (lamb), cashmere (goat), alpaca, mohair (angora goat). silk (silk worms), cotton (shrub plant) and linen (flax plant) are the most common. Stick with these and you’ll be good to go.

Here are the reasons why:

  • Longer wear
  • Comfort to skin
  • Biodegradable and good for the earth
  • Renewable

All the man made or synthetic fibers, like acrylic, rayon, polyester and nylon, can have many issues.

  • Pilling (see below)
  • Made with chemicals (ewwww)
  • Shorter wear
  • Non biodegradable
  • Non absorbent causing discomfort when worn

*Read the label content as if you would on any food you purchase. You want to eat healthy, so why wouldn’t you want to put nicer things on your body. So stick with natural fibers. If it’s a blend of mostly natural fibers and a bit of synthetic, it won’t hurt. Like 55% Wool 25% Cotton 15% Silk 15% acrylic. Trust me, you’ll live! And I won’t judge.

YARN:

Fibers are gathered and fed into a spinning machine to create spools of yarn. Solo types of fibers or different fibers can be blended to create them. Other techniques, are added to create specialty yarns giving a textural surface such as:

  • Bouclé: Loopy yarns range in size of large loose circlets
  • High Twist: for a drier hand feel
  • Tape Yarn: Flat or rounded to create a coarser and loopy surface
  • Thick and Thin: Thicker and thinner parts of the yarn in a continuous pattern to create an uneven texture
  • Sequin Yarn: Sequins are added to the string of yarn for a festive look

The options are endless…..

GAUGE:

The weight of the garment starts with the gauge, the thickness of needles used. The coarser the gauge the heavier the garment and vice versa. When the garment is heavier, more yarn is necessary. Therefore results in a more expensive sweater, depending on what type of fibers were used. In general when you see a chunky sweater, it can cost more than a lighter weight sweater. Try comparing next time you shop.

PILL:

Pilling is an action of loose fibers on the surface of a garment and creates tiny balls. Or you may call them fuzz balls. They are usually located where there’s most abrasion of the fabric. The armpit, side seams, underarm sleeves seams or even the chest. The more it has the poorly it looks. Personally I’m not a big fan of it, because it can be a sign of a cheap or old sweater.

How to avoid it? You can’t! ALL SWEATERS PILL. I repeat… ALL SWEATERS PILL. It’s just a matter of how soon. Especially when it’s made in synthetic fibers or when it’s loosely knit. This is a sign of a poor quality sweater.

Tips: Invest in a good quality. Follow the care instructions. Remove the pills.

 

asian women with sweaters around her neck

asian women with sweaters around her neck

asian women with layers of sweaters

A FULL FASHION SWEATER:

What is a full fashion sweater? A garment made of panels shaped to body form by reducing and adding needles. It’s apparent with full fashion marks. The pieces are put together in a linking machine to create a sweater. Unlike woven garments, like a jacket or pant, which are made with patterns cut onto already woven fabric. Then, finished altogether in a sewing machine.

When flipping a sweater inside out, if you see a clean edge, that’s how you can tell it’s a full fashion sweater. Keep an eye for those fashion marks too. Generally appears around anywhere with shape, such as the armhole, neck, back shoulder or waist.

There you have it! The knowledge of basic knitwear is all here. Now you’re an educated consumer and will make the best choice when you buy that next sweater.

Find all the Nordstrom Signature sweaters I designed. (As you can tell, I’ve been busy.) All of the pieces are made in luxurious fibers and get the most value, because it’s sold only at Nordstrom.

Drop questions or comments if any. Love to hear from ya!

Have a great week!

 

XX, E.

Photography by Jason Tang

 


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2 comments

Dilya December 11, 2018 at 6:55 AM

Thank you, very informative! Knitwear is my favorite type of clothing and I own dozens of sweaters, best of them made by my mom. It’s very hard to find good quality natural fibers content sweaters nowadays.

Reply
elisa December 11, 2018 at 4:50 PM

Yes it is and they cost a lot. However, there are some that I can recommend to you that I find good quality at a fair price. Let me know if you’re interested. Perhaps I can even write a blog post on it. Thank you for following and love hearing from you! XX, E.

Reply

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