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Expert Layering With Woolly Winter Knits

Plaid menswear coat layered over a wool cardigan, via Pinterest

Knitters understand the importance of winter layering. We’ve long embraced the utility of building looks around woolly layers, and certainly grasped the concept long before the Olsen twins popularized it.

Aside from providing the perfect template for exploring intriguing stitchwork, cardigans, jackets, and coats extend the versatility of our wardrobes. A summer dress layered over thick tights and under a warm woolen cardigan effortlessly traverses the seasons. A beautiful plaid menswear coat—on trend for 2017— might prove too chilly in the deep freeze of winter, but toss it over a lightweight alpaca jacket and you’re ready to brave the streets.

Examining the science behind the unparalleled warmth of layers reveals that clothing strata provide better thermal insulation than a single, thick layer of clothing. Specifically, the mid layer—your cardigan—is the most insulating layer, effective at trapping and retaining warmth. You can now tell everyone knitting coats is not just fun, but also practical, intelligent, useful work (it always has been, but you are now free to boast that science backs you up!).

The Washington Heights Coat in Stacy Charles Fine Yarns Lena (left) seen with similar textured coats from Pinterest

Our love for hats, mittens, scarves, and cowls aside, there is nothing quite like throwing on a warm wool layer for ensuring we’re ready to face the cold weather. Sweaters are certainly go-to, top-of-the-heap favorites for fall and winter knitting, but their usefulness is limited once temperatures fluctuate. Cardigans, coats, jackets, ponchos and vests needn’t be retired at the end of the season. These layers blur the lines, trickling into early spring and late summer. Who hasn’t packed for a spring/summer vacation and thrown in a handmade cardigan “just in case?”

The Provincial Coat in Tahki Yarns Tucson (left) seen with similar oversized cardigans from Pinterest

Cozy layers are mainstays of Ravelry’s Hot Right Now list. Luckily, several silhouettes have likewise remained in fashion on the runways and beyond. For the past few seasons, we’ve seen the “oversized” silhouette rise in popularity. As previously stated, the loose-fitting, plaid menswear coat is popular for 2017. Fashion’s affection for oversized tops is a direct corollary of skinny jeans’ rise in popularity. Form-fitting bottoms necessitate voluminous tops to strike a balance.

The Idyll Jacket in Tahki Yarns Arlington (left), with waterfall-style cardigans and coats from Pinterest

Waterfall-style layers, with their languid drape and relaxed profile, also support the skinny jean/legging trend. The Idyll Jacket (shown below) is knit in Tahki Yarns light and lofty Arlington, which blends extrafine merino, alpaca, and nylon. Easily worn as an insulator under a winter coat, Idyll beautifully transitions as a lightweight spring and fall layer.

The Banyan Jacket in Tahki Yarns Big Montana (left), seen with chunky winter garments from Pinterest

Sometimes, all you need is a knitted layer. On those early and late season winter days, an overly chunky knit makes a striking sartorial statement and provides plenty of warmth all on its own. Bulky and superbulky yarns play with scale, creating graphic stitchwork with elevated textures. Simple stockinette, pebbly seed stitch, and robust ribbing take on greater dimension. The boldness of chunky layers pairs well with skinny jeans, leggings, and tights.

The Beech Raglan Cardigan in Tahki Yarns Montana (left), with chunky cardigans from Pinterest

Ponchos and vests become a smart choice at the tail end of the season when the heaviness of a winter coat is overkill. Accessorized correctly, ponchos are surprisingly versatile. Pair it with a button up shirt, cigarette pants, and oxfords, and a poncho is office appropriate. Layer it over a mini skirt, tights, and heeled boots, and you’re ready for weekend brunch.

The Stuyvesant Town Poncho in Stacy Charles Fine Yarns Patti (right), styled ponchos from Pinterest

The beauty of winter layers is how easily you can make them your own. Play with scale and texture, accessorize, pair spring garments with winter cardigans and fall boots, have fun. The rules of fashion change with the seasons, but with layers you can make up the rules as you go!