How to Add Special Details to Your Hand Knits

A beautiful side seam detail by Baycrew's. I adore the strapping used on the side seam, which is subtly highlighted by some well-placed eyelets.

When I was a full-time designer working in the knitwear industry, we were always searching for new ways to make our knits looks special and more considered.

In the fashion industry, there are so many designs being churned out every week by designers all over the world. In order to be successful, I constantly had to think, "What can I do to make this design stand out from the rest?"

My boss always used to emphasise the importance of detailing. She used to tell us off for plonking a 2x2 rib trim on a garment without considering a more interesting alternative. Of course, she was right! As the old adage goes, the beauty is in the detail.

As a lover of simplicity, you are unlikely to find me designing something overly elaborate. I much prefer to use a simple stitch pattern, highlighted by a beautiful yarn. However, if I'm not careful, it can err on the side of being drab or uninteresting. That's where the detailing comes in. 

It is refreshing to take a common element of a knitted garment, such as a trim or some shaping and add something unexpected and beautiful. The garment remains simple and functional, yet those little details add something special.

Today, inspired by my favourite Pinterest board, "Detailing", I would like to inspire you to try something new on your next knit, whether it's your own design or tweaking someone else's.

It's All in the Knitted Details...

Sweater by Proenza Schouler

This Proenza Schouler sweater is as near to perfection as it gets: lots of beautiful little details, but it doesn't feel too much. 

Notice how the thick, banded rib juxtaposes with the super fine rib trim on the body and sleeves. It creates a striking contrast.

Also, how beautiful is that raglan? The varied scale of the rib is very unusual.

One more details to note is how the bands of rib on the sleeve and body meet on the back of the sweater - clever!

Sweater by Thom Browne

This fine-gauge sweater by Thom Browne is extremely simple, but includes a couple of lovely details.

There is a patch pocket on the chest with an accent stripe at the top of it. This is not particularly unusual, however, I love how the stripe is exactly inline with the tonal stripe featured in the main body of the sweater. That is attention to detail, my friends.

I also like how a variation of the same stripe was used on the back neck trim. An old friend of mine often used to add exquisite ribbon to the inside of her hand knits and it made them look extra-special.

Sweater by Jil Sander

For me, this Jil Sander sweater has gone a little overboard on the detailing. Each one is charming, but when combined, it feels a little fussy. However, I decided to include it because there is much inspiration to be found in it.

If used on a classic set-in sleeve sweater, that neckline would be delightful. The cutaway is unexpected and the little flash of a contrasting colour is a lovely touch.

I also appreciate the banding used above the ribbed trims on the body and sleeve. This concept could be applied to so many different stitch/trim combinations.

Sweater by Berluti

What initially looks like a classic crew neck sweater actually features a little secret...

Along the side seams, it features matte leather piping that nestles neatly next to the wale of a rib.

I love this design feature because it's self-indulgent. The designer knows that most of the time, it will be concealed by the wearer's arms, yet it was included to elevate the sweater to the next level.

This doesn't have to be interpreted in non-knit materials - it could just as effectively be i-cord or a narrow panel of a contrasting stitch. The world is your oyster!

You can't get much simpler than this stockinette sweater by Comme des Garcons.

They have used a contrasting colour at the base of their 1 x 1 rib trim, which, up close, looks like it has been attached separately.

I like the idea of casting on in a contrasting colour, working a couple of rows and then knitting the next row or two in alternating colours before switching to the main colour. This would be super effective using two similar shades of the same colour to create a gradient effect.


Don't be afraid to experiment

Even for those who feel uncomfortable with the idea of customising a knitting pattern, experimenting with trim ideas is a great, no-pressure way to start.

Are you a fan of a designer because of their attention to detail? Share it with our community in the comments section below! It's good to share the inspiration around.