How To Look At A Knitted Sweater

© Copyright 2021, Akosua Adasi, Ryerson University.

Image of yellow sweater hanging on the back of a white door
Fig. 1.1. Akosua Adasi. Yellow Turtleneck. 2021. Digital photograph.

A knitted sweater is most useful and practical in the winter; though one who works in a heavily air-conditioned office may find need for a chunky knit all year round. While the initial draw of a chunky knitted sweater may be for its utility, it also has a sentimental appeal: its characteristic oversized, knobbly shape offers a comfort equivalent to a mother’s embrace. Like most fashion items, a chunky knit can be a useful and subtle way of expressing yourself: the splashy fuchsia of your chosen knit can communicate that you have an effusive personality.

My favorite chunky knit sweater is a bright yellow turtleneck with cropped sleeves (see fig. 1.1). Along the right shoulder and up the right side of the neck, a short row of concealed buttons allows me to transform the sweater from a traditional turtleneck into an off-the shoulder sweater. The pattern of the sweater is relatively simple: single chunky rows alternate with wide, flat ones. The thickness of the narrow rows creates a ridgelike effect that adds a thicker texture to the sweater. In the center of the sweater, from the neck to the hem, purposefully created notches alter the dominant pattern and create a curved rhythm. The pattern follows what is known as a 1×1 rib stitch pattern, which is achieved by alternating between a knit stitch and a purl stitch. For the experienced knitter, identifying the knit stitch used for the narrower, chunky rows is fairly straightforward. Making such a distinction proves a little bit more challenging for the knitting novice, who will need to pay greater attention to the shape of the stitch. The distinction between the two stitch types is small but makes a noticeable difference in the appearance of the overall pattern. While the knit stitch creates the v-shaped pattern that is common in most popular knits, the purl stitch resembles a row of interlocked links. Depending on the project, a knitter will play with alternating various stitches in order to create an intricate pattern.

Close-up of yellow sweater pattern
Fig. 1.2. Akosua Adasi. “Yellow Turtleneck (close up).” 2021. Digital photograph.


A sweater like this is perfect for gathering around a fireplace during a winter storm. This is a sweater that you burrow your nose into to remind yourself of cobblestone streets and eagerness and the scent of crushed black pepper and vanilla. This sweater might have been manufactured in a distant clothing factory but there’s something personal about it, as if it was made especially for me. Yet, close observation reveals the mechanics of its construction. Where the parts of the sweater come together—under the arms, at the sides—you can see where the pieces of the sweater have been sown together with a thin yellow thread. This disjunction between the separate parts is emphasized by the interruption in the pattern’s linear movement: at these joints of the sweater, the last row of each section ribbons over the other, creating a sort of crisscross pattern (see fig. 1.2). Despite this interruption and the varying stitch styles of the sweater’s pattern, there is a definitive sense of something whole, something unified.

Works Cited

Adasi, Akosua. Yellow Turtleneck. 2021. Digital photograph.

Huggard-Noel, Ada. Text message to author. 9 Feb. 2021.

Lodinsky, Heather. “A Good Read: Identifying Your Stitches.” Lion Brand Notebook, Accessed 9 Feb. 2021.

McDonnell, Kristen. “50 Knit Stitch Patterns for Beginning Knitters.” Studio Knit, Accessed 9 Feb. 2021.

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.