The jumper season is upon us, and it’s cosy consolation for the end of summer. If we must say farewell to warm, sunny days, at least we have our favourite knits to cuddle up in whilst enjoying a cuppa. Do you have a jumper knit you especially love? Do you love any jumper, no matter the knit? Can you name the knit on your most treasured cardi? Read on for a rundown of common knits for jumpers and cardigans, and what makes each uniquely appealing.
Jumper knits of any variety can differ in thickness and weight depending upon whether the yarn is cotton, cashmere, or wool, and upon the gauge of the knit, which is the number of stitches per inch. Another factor is the yarn’s weight, which can go from fine to thick. Merino wool and cashmere sweaters are usually made with fine weight yarns and fine gauge knits in order to create their prized silky feel and drape. Chunkier sweaters generally have a lower gauge number and a thicker weight yarn. Any style of knit can be made bulky, fine or anywhere in between, and be used for any variety of sweater—from cardigans to V-neck pullovers to knit hoodies.
If you take a close look at a basketweave jumper , it’ll be clear why it received its name—the knit pattern resembles the over-under design of a woven basket. It is a variation on the plain weave used in shirt fabrics and textiles where the vertical (warp) threads and the horizontal (weft) threads form a simple crisscross. In a basketweave design, however, multiple knit rows go in each direction to accentuate the basket-like appearance and create the knit’s snuggly texture.
Crochet is a process of interlocking yarn with a single crochet hook rather than the two needles used in knitting. Traditional crochet must be done by hand, but the distinctive look can be found in today’s fashions without having to learn the craft yourself. The homespun, crocheted jumper look is achieved through open, airy stitchwork. This makes these boho-style jumpers beautiful for layering because the tee or blouse you wear underneath is visible.
The vertical stripes of ribbed knit jumpers are created with two alternating basic stitches. The stockinette stitch creates the raised vertical lines, while the reverse stockinette creates the recessed vertical lines. Often the raised and recessed stripes are narrow and even, but the ribs can be wide, varied, or even angled to create unique patterns. Many ribbed knit jumpers offer a sleek, slimming silhouette that looks great under a gilet or jacket, and makes them a go-to choice for autumn days.
The ropey design of cable knit jumpers is rooted in the maritime industry, with the traditional pattern known as a fisherman’s sweater or Aran sweater for the Aran Islands of Ireland where it was first knit in the early 19th century. The wives of fisherman knit the thick sweaters to keep their husbands warm and dry in the face of gale-force winds and seaspray. The four knits on classic fisherman’s sweaters are symbolic: the cable knit resembles a fisherman’s rope and represents safety and life on the ocean, the basket weave knit represents a hearty catch, the honeycomb knit represents hard work, and the diamond pattern symbolises wealth.
Fisherman’s sweaters remain popular classics, but wearing a cable knit jumper doesn’t mean you have to resemble a sea dog. Today’s cable knits can be pullovers with slim-fit silhouettes that make a natty partner to your everyday jeans or mixed-knit cardigans that keep you warm without the bulk.
There is an unmatched delight in wearing the first jumper of autumn. With it come thoughts of changing foliage, and the pleasure of being snuggly warm even though the air is crisp. Hopefully, knowing the warp and weft of common, comfy knits adds a new layer of enjoyment to pulling on your jumpers this season.