June 29, 2011

Knit Wit*

I’ve found that with blouses and button-downs, it’s very tricky to get the proper fit—you gotta worry about the bust, waist, shoulders and sleeve length being just so. And even with a little stretch thrown into the fabric mix, I still feel constricted, like I’m gonna pop a button even though I have only a modest bust line. On top of that, while I do sometimes like the crisp, tailored look of a flattering shirt, I detest the ironing required to achieve it.

That is why I love knits. They’re easy to pack, stack, wash and place on the drying rack. Seasonless and versatile, sweaters feel luscious especially when spun from cashmere, cotton, silk or extra fine merino wool. Much like a sweet, comforting layer cake, I enjoy piling on soft, cozy knits over a base of tees or tanks.

Fresh slice of layered cardigans

Wayne Thiebaud, Cakes, 1963, oil on canvas

Besides wearing colorful yarns, I recently experienced them in a whole new way. There’s an exhibition called “Color Forms” at the Hirshhorn (yes, I’m in the midst of an art museum binge) which “explores the ways in which color has been an essential tool for artists, regardless of medium.”

Color Forms exhibition at the Hirshhorn

A sculpture by Fred Sandback cleverly reshaped a white expanse of gallery space “with a dozen columns of store-bought red and black yarn.” (Probably the most inexpensive installation ever.)

Pulling strings (no really, I never touched the actual installation)…Fred Sandback, Untitled (Sculptural Study, Twelve-Part Vertical Construction), 1990, red and black acrylic yarn

Alas, I have no clue about knitting itself. Weft vs. warp? Flat vs. circular? Right-plaited vs. left-plaited? My talented friend Katie, though, is a whiz and launched her business teaching others how to create exquisite blankets and accessories from yarn. She’s definitely patient as well as passion-knit.

*I can’t take credit for the title of this post. It’s the name of a small chain of designer clothing boutiques in my hometown, Philadelphia. I remember Knit Wit as always being equally expensive and intimidating. As a teenager, I would walk by the downtown store and be drawn in by the avant-garde fashions on display. The salesladies, wrapped in their harsh snootiness, were the ultimate nitwits.

Update on July 2, 2011: I just read about this DC lobbyist-turned-entrepreneur who redesigned the traditional women’s oxford shirt so it doesn’t gape open at the chest. That’s cool, but no thanks—I’ll remain a sweater girl.

Update on Oct. 29, 2012: Suzy Menkes reports in the New York Times that “fashion has re-embraced knitwear this autumn.” Hooray!

Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. Knits and Thiebaud – two of my favorites! xo -k.

  2. […] I mercifully didn’t have a lot of stuff to “put away” till next year.  Jeans, lightweight wool and cashmere cardigans, tank tops, Longchamp bags–I wear all of it all year […]

  3. […] is pretty much my signature look–skirt, knits, easy, versatile, […]

  4. […] second closet is configured differently, with wide shelves for my sweaters and wraps, and additional room to hang even more skirts: Wide open […]

  5. […] a big fan of knitwear, I liked Jean Paul Gaultier’s version of a cozy sweater: Women’s Ensemble. Russia […]

  6. […] in the fall and winter, and on their own in the sweltering DC summer, and underneath my beloved knit cardigans in the spring. Check out my drawers (couldn’t […]


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Art and Color Inspiration, Cool Associations, Fashion, What's In My Wardrobe


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