Knitwear for the Minimalist

37 items of clothing, 8 pairs of shoes, 3 bags

I’ve decided to do something different this week. I’m catering this post to my Northern Hemisphere followers. You guys are coming into winter, and I thought it would be nice to talk about knitwear. Of course here in Australia, the weather is warming up. For everyone else down here, consider this something to think about in the future. A warning; as I’m speaking about a whole category of clothing for the first time, you’ll find that this is the longest post I’ve written so far!

I personally own six knits. Half the year in Australia is hot, so my knitwear takes up a perfectly reasonable portion of my wardrobe. I once lived in London, so I know that if I lived in the Northern Hemisphere, I would require a larger proportion of warm clothing in my wardrobe. In this scenario I would probably own a few more warm heavy layers.

Below are some of the key factors to consider when buying knitwear.

Fiber

The material of your knit is extremely important, as some fibers simply hold warmth better. I personally am biased toward natural fibers, and I only advocate these sorts of knits. I would definitely recommend you invest in some wool pieces if you haven’t already. There are many different types of wool, but here I will speak about the most practical and readily available ones. Pure wool is extremely effective against cold weather, though I personally find it irritates my skin. If I were to purchase a wool sweater it would have to be a wool blend to avoid a rash. Merino wool is a finer wool which does not irritate my skin. Cashmere is derived from goats rather than sheep so it is a slightly different type of fiber. This is my favourite as the knit is very soft and no irritation occurs. Cotton is nice for lighter knits and warmer weather, because it is more breathable and does not insulate as well as wool.

Weight

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere you need a heavy sweater. A bulky sweater made of pure wool will keep you the warmest. I do not own something like this here in Australia, as it’s not really necessary. Cashmere is probably the next most insulating type of wool. I find that it’s perfect for the ‘extremes’ in a milder climate. As the fibers are finer, cashmere sweaters often feel very light while retaining warmth. Merino wool is another fine fiber, and as a result merino knits are thin and light, often worn fitted to the body. These make excellent layering pieces, and you’ll often find merino wool products in camping/adventure stores as thermal layers. If you want a cotton knit to keep you warm, it needs to have a heavy weave, something like a cable knit. Light cotton sweaters are excellent for mild weather.

Cost

Knits made of natural fibres are more expensive to buy, but I would recommend that even if you can’t afford the top of the range, you find a way to get your hands on one. The quality of these items is definitely worth it. A budget conscious option is Uniqlo. I’m by no means an advocate for the brand and this is definitely not a sponsored post (lol), but I have found that they do offer a range of wool and cashmere pieces at reasonable prices. Keep in mind though, the quality is not as great as it could be, so you have to be quite selective with your purchase. Another, more sustainable option is shopping second hand. A lot of vintage stores have beautiful cashmere and pure wool pieces.

Care

Good quality knit products will usually wear quite well and last long if you are careful looking after them. Many cashmere and wool knits are labeled ‘dry clean only’, and that’s because the knit will shrink or distort if washed in hot water or an aggressive wash cycle. If you own a heavy knit in a darker colour that you always wear layers under, I would stick with getting it dry cleaned once or twice a season. This is probably the best way to keep your knit healthy for years to come, so in my opinion it is worth the price of a dry cleaner. However, if you are going to need to launder the piece more regularly because it is lighter in colour or weight, I would follow this process:

  • Always place the knit in a delicates wash bag.
  • Always wash with like colours.
  • Always wash in cold water.
  • Always wash on a ‘delicate’ or ‘wool’ cycle.
  • Always lay out flat to dry to avoid the piece stretching while wet.
  • Consider hand washing if you have the time and patience, though be careful not to wring water out of the piece as this could distort the shape.

Unfortunately, most wool and cashmere sweaters will start piling and producing lint balls. Never pull the lint balls off, as this will encourage new fibers to come out and produce more. Always cut them off. The most efficient way to do this is using a lint shaver. These can be hard to find but will make your life much easier.

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A lint shaver will make looking after your knits a lot easier.

 

Knits in my small wardrobe

Three cashmere sweaters. Two shades of grey with high necklines, one navy v-neck. These are the warmest pieces of knitwear I own, perfectly appropriate for mild Australian winters. I find these very warm, but at the same time very soft and light. I layer these with button ups when the weather gets very cold.

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Three cashmere knits.

 

Two merino knits. One is black with a high neckline, the other grey with a scoop neck. These are fitted knits. Merino has a tendency to be quite sheer, so these items can be dressed up a little for more formal occasion. A black or dark grey merino turtleneck is the dream for this kind of situation this season. Merino knits also work well as insulating layers as they retain warmth really well.

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Two merino knits.

 

One heavy cotton knit. This knit has a heavier weight to it, but it is not quite as insulating as the cashmere knits. To be honest, this guy gets more wear in between seasons, though it would still be great for a cold winter if you were to pop a thermal layer (such as a merino knit) underneath.

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Cotton knit layers well with fitted merino wool pieces or cat.

 

I hope this post helps organise your winter wardrobe!


16 thoughts on “Knitwear for the Minimalist

  1. I also have one of those lint shavers, and it makes a huge difference! Once I use it, my knit pieces look fresh and new… definitely worth the investment, since just a simple inexpensive tool can really extend the life of our knitwear!
    I also find pure wool irritating for my skin, and I’ve never tried cachemire or merino wool.. I’ll look for these materials next time I’ll go thrift shopping! 😊 great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

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