Knitting For Non-Knitters:’Tis The Season

The 2017 Interweave Knits Holiday special issue is out and there’s a great article on the back page about holiday knitting for non-knitters. It’s sometimes hard to knit for people who don’t know how to appreciate what we make for them. They have no idea how much time and effort we put in, or how the nuances of what we’ve made make our gifts so darned special. For many of them, a sweater is a sweater and the intricate cables-and-lace all over pattern with the waist and bust shaping, pico hemmed edges, re-calculated neck line drop and modified saddle shoulder are unimpressive because the recipient has no idea how mad your skills really are.

In her article, Lisa Shroyer lists several things to keep in mind if you want to please the loved one you’re knitting for. Lisa’s first recommendation is to keep some perspective on what’s generally popular. She writes, “Remember, ‘normal’ people live in a world or mainstream fashion and ready-to-wear trends. If all the stores are carrying infinity scarves and cocoon cardigans, that’s the kind of knitting a ‘normal’ woman encounters and sees as stylish.” In other words, your non-knitting loved ones may not know what to do with the textures, patterns or colors that make knitting interesting to you. Especially the young women on you list. They know what they see, and they know what they like. And if you want them to love what you knit, give them what they are expecting in the way of style. If it’s meant to be a gift, this is not the time to try to educate them.

So…what are we seeing on the ready-to-wear racks, and how does that translate into knitting for the holidays? Well, I’m glad you asked. According to Vogue Paris, “Padding, protective lines and cosy knits came together on the catwalks, perhaps as a shelter from the doom and gloom of a world in crisis. But if trends are truly heading for more and more comfort, fashion is retaining its sense of fun, its color…” While most of us are not so very much into Paris runway fashion, there are a few things we can take from this. Padding, protective lines? Hmmm. I’m seriously hoping linebacker shoulders are not coming back. But cozy knits? I can get with that.

For the coming winter season, we’re expecting to see the following:

• First, a little…or a lot!..extra ease for women’s garments. Think soft, deconstructed shoulders, roomy busts and waists, and extra long sleeves.



Images from left to right from are from the fashion trend websites and

Leggings, with boots or sneakers, will still be a thing, but they’ll be paired with simple, cozy, boyfriend style sweaters, layers with retro comfort pieces like denim jackets. No sleek, form fitting, fully fashioned shapes here. Did you see the textures? Smooth stockinette and simple ribbing. And are you taking notice of the colors? Neutrals. So, what can you do about it? Well, here are some Ravelry selections that could become the staples of your  gift recipients wardrobe.


These are Ravelry patters are, from left to right, Cozy Sweater by Anna and Heidi Pickles, One Month Sweater by Lisa Shroyer,  Cosy by Kim Hargreaves, His and Hers Sweater, by Sarah Hatton and Boyfriend by Ann-Kristin Knardal.

They don’t look like exciting knits by most knitter’s standards, but they could be the deeply thrilling thing your recipient will reach for over and over again…and think of you every time they build an outfit around your beautiful gift. 

• Second, believe it or not, fringe. You may be one of those folks who believes that fringe never really went out, but fashion blog Fabulous After 40 has a great spread of updated, on trend looks that are a nod to our 70’s roots.



Images are all from Nordstroms where you can buy these styles off the rack

Notice the same loose fit and non-shaped shapes and the same neutral colorways.  

Though the Ravelry selections I’m highlighting don’t look exactly like the Nordstrom’s offerings, they have the same “those-were-the-good-old-days” meets “now-what?” feeling. they all keep it comfy, cozy and a little bit retro.


The Ravelry patterns are, from left to right, Women’s Fringed Pullover by Vanessa Ewing, 84-3 Cardigan by DROPS Designs, Clearwater by Emily Nora O’neal and Gully by Berroco Design Team.

• Third, I am chagrinned to say, ponchos are not going anywhere. Ponchos, capes, dusters, ruanahs, or those hybrid darlings called swonchos…a poncho with sweater sleeves in it…the longer and bigger the better are the outer layer to look for this winter. I haven’t been a fan of ponchos since I was 10…in 1972. But, here again, cozy deconstruction with a wistful sigh for our idealized past is the concept of the season. And keep it simple.

Of course, if you have an adventurous loved one who understands and respects your knitting, the sky’s the limit. Go all out for them. But if your going to knit for someone who’s primary experience with knitwear is commercially produced ready-to-wear fast fashion, take a look in your favorite ready-to-wear department store. See what your loved ones are seeing. Then go look for patterns that are going to work for them. Simple, cozy, deconstructed, neutral, maybe with a bit of fringe. They’ll thank you for it.



Written by mim


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