2022 is already shaping up to be a year full of transitions. As Allison P. Davis recently wrote, a vibe shift is coming. Davis is talking about shifts on a broader, cultural level, and we’ll be feeling some of the effects of this shift in the knitting world too.
Trends aren’t just about what’s literally being shown on the runway. They’re a temperature check on people’s feelings about the recent past and near future. Here are some of the big trends in knitwear to watch over the next year, and the ideas driving them forward.
Intimacy and Immediacy
Over the last few years, many people have adjusted to meeting in person less frequently and in smaller groups. With attention turned inward, personal tastes become front of mind. Unique, one-of-a-kind, and personalized items and services have become the ultimate prize. One size never truly fit all, it turns out.
Consumers are looking for uplifting messages and support that comes with a human touch. These attitudes are driving a renewed interest in DIY culture. Apparel and accessory brands aren’t taking as many risks with inventory, and fast-fashion is ruled by algorithms. There’s only one way to find true freedom: make it yourself!
After years of self denial, consumers are ready to embrace hedonism, in the philosophical sense. A motto for this year could be, “It’s nice to feel nice!” Think sensory pleasure through luxury fibers, the visual pleasure of a beautiful bouquet of flowers, or simply enjoying the pleasure of another’s company. This is not about debauchery, it’s about comfort.
When it comes to the retail environment, consumers have never had more options available for making a purchase. Creating a truly memorable experience is key to breaking through the noise. In a recent newsletter, fashion critic Rachel Tashjian explained “People are gravitating towards the special, unique and unusual. We want to feel something when we make a purchase, but we also believe that our outfits can be autobiography, or a kind of collage that reveals to the world that we have lots of interests and opinions and more than a few secrets.”
Bringing these ideas into hand knits
All of these ideas are perfectly aligned for those of us running a craft business. The general public is finally recognizing that knitting is cool. Knitters who began their journey during the pandemic will be looking to stretch their wings a little. They’ve worked through the basics and now they’re looking for projects with a higher visual payoff.
Hand dyed yarns have been popular with knitters for years, and now they’re getting some serious shine on the runway. Instead of mixing colors evenly, designers are letting them pool and shift with changes in stitch and circumference, creating a psychedelic effect. When used in heat-to-toe looks, they become even more dramatic.
Mixing yarn bases and stitches gives pieces more depth than ever before. Craft focused lines like Loewe are creating work that recalls the art sweaters of the 1980s. Designer Florence Spurling shows a more accessible version of this trend. Contrasting textures bring already impressive 3D stitches to the next level and create an excellent opportunity for stash diving.
When it comes to color, it’s all about extremes. There were plenty of examples of icy pastels, especially lavender, that recall the early 2000’s version of techno-futurism, but neon pink and super-saturated blues are equally present. Both are balanced against earthy brown and tan. There also seems to be an increase in knitters working with dark, even black, yarn.
Beads have been making an appearance on more needles lately. Looks can vary from quirky to ultra lux. They’re an easy way to elevate a relatively simple project into something spectacular. Use them all over, for a highly textured look, or mix them in sparingly for a hint of sparkle.
At the tail end of 2021, the balaclava became the must have accessory of the season. Balaclavas and hoods will continue to develop through Fall/Winter 2022/23. This trend has seen intense popularity with both knitters and crocheters. It’s a great canvas for using wild yarn colors and whimsical stitches.
Skirts and dresses have also seen increased presence on the runway and on knitter’s needles. Crocheters have been more ready to embrace dresses in the past, but now more knitters are getting in on the fun too. Indie knitwear designers have begun taking some of their more popular tops and repurposing them into dresses. We’ve seen cardigan and tank sets make a comeback in the last few years, and now more designers are conceptualizing sets as a fully knit look that incorporates a coordinating top and bottom.
Julie Robinson is a knitwear designer, consultant, and educator, living in Brooklyn, New York. She brings over a decade of fashion industry experience to her work in hand knitting. Her work has appeared in Pom Pom Quarterly, Making Magazine, Knitty.com, Business Insider, and more.