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If It Knits – All the Different Kinds of Sweaters

Like it or not, there comes a time in the year when swaddling up in layers is an absolute necessity, unless you’re lucky enough to live in a perennially balmy climate, of course. The simplest answer to shielding oneself from the cold is with a good old fashioned pullover (or jumper, or guernsey, whatever you want to call it).

Way back when it was introduced centuries ago, was a (literal) lifesaver for workers and fishermen who spent so much time out in frigid weather. 

To help you figure out what to add to your winter reserves, we’ve curated a lineup of the essential knitted styles and techniques that you ought to be clued-up on. 

Crew Neck

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First up, let’s talk classics. Here we have a crew neck, defined by its round and collarless neckline. The name, which originated sometime in the early 1900s, isn’t just reserved for sweaters–you’ll have seen it on everything from sweatshirts to T-shirts.

Read more about the organic highland wool used in this offering from Corridor version over on our shop.

V-Neck

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Just like the aforementioned crew, the V-neck (which, if you haven’t guessed, has a pointed dipped profile) is a pretty enduring collarless style that’s been around for over a century, at the very least. A word of advice—unless the neckline is absolutely, definitely, 100-percent high enough, always wear a tee or shirt underneath this style. 

A collaboration between Division Road and Dehen 1920, this version is available on the former’s store

Turtleneck

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Few garments have become so closely associated with a public figure than the turtleneck did to Steve Jobs (his were made by Japanese designer Issey Miyake). The design dates way, way back to the fifteenth century, but the high-neck sweater as we know it today was popularized about 200 years ago. 

Phlannels’ wool and cashmere-blend version will be a wardrobe staple. 

Shawl Collar

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Think of the shawl-collar as a v-neck but higher. That is to say that it’ll keep you a little warmer, and again, you ought to layer a tee underneath it. This kind of collar is also really popular in cardigans, but more on that later.

This contrast-trimmed example is by Faherty and is available from Stag Provisions

Cable Knit

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The exact origins of knitting are pretty foggy, but cable styles became popular sometime around the 1890s. In Ireland, people on the Aran Islands invented their own style of sweater using the pattern, and these days the term is commonly confused with cable (just so we’re clear, ‘Aran’ is a style of sweater, while ‘cable’ is a knitting pattern often featuring lattices or braids).

A classic example, Allevol + Inverallan’s indigo-dyed one is available through Clutch Cafe.

Fair Isle

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Just like the Aran sweater, the Fair Isle gets its name from the island of the same name, located in the Scottish Shetlands, and there’s some evidence to show that its history can be traced as far back as the 1580s. The technique creates patterns through a variety of stitches (often done ‘in the round’ for a continuous motif and seamless appearance) and is regarded as a traditional style. 

Harley of Scotland’s version has been made in the region and is available here.

Shetland

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Speaking of the Shetland Islands, this style refers to a type of wool that comes from sheep whose origins are from the area. Sweaters made from the yarns are lightweight, exceptionally warm and dense, but not too heavy or too fine like other styles. Basically, they’re the Goldilocks of sweaters, especially when they’re finished with a brushed texture. 

This one, also by Harley of Scotland, will be a strong investment. 

Cardigan

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We don’t expect James Brudenell – seventh Earl of Cardigan and British Army Major General – ever could’ve imagined that his namesake sweater would be made iconic by someone like The Dude, but there you have it. The Big Lebowski’s character was undeniably cool in Pendleton’s shawl-collared cardigan. 

His version had buttons at the front, but you’ll find plenty with zips, like this one by The Real McCoy’s.


Quality knitwear can last you decades, if not longer (see:  this extremely well-preserved pair of socks which dates back to fourth century AD Egypt). If you’ve got hopes of your nice new sweater still being around in a few hundred years, then be sure to take proper care when washing it and dry it flat, not hanging, to preserve the tension and shape.