5 Best Practices for the Best Knitted Coat
So you wanna knit a coat. If you’ve ever knitted a sweater, you can knit a coat. Coats, after all, are essentially sweaters with certain attributes that turn them into outerwear. There are myriad elements to consider and plan for when you embark on a sweater knitting project in order to end up with exactly what you want, and coat projects are no different. The considerations are just specific to what goes into a high quality, hardworking coat. Here are the five main things you should consider when planning your best knitted coat.
The main difference between a cardigan for everyday wear and a knitted coat is body length. For maximum warmth, it’s ideal to knit a body that ends at your mid-thigh or lower. The Winter Wonderland Coat from Inspired to Knit (Interweave, 2008) is nice and long, keeping those stems toasty.
2. Yarn Fiber Content
Simply put, wool and wool blends are your best bet here. You’ll get the most bang for your buck in terms of budget, since you’ll need a lot more yarn than for a typical sweater, and wool is less expensive than extra-warm luxury fibers. Alpaca is super-warm and scrumptious on the skin, but since it tends to stretch a lot over time, if you’re going to use alpaca, aim for an alpaca-wool blend for sturdiness. Long-fiber wools will keep you super warm, and workhorse wools will help the garment last a long time and stand up to daily wear. The Clásica Coat uses Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica, an Aran-weight 100% Corriedale wool that is warm, sturdy, and soft.
3. Yarn Weight
There are a couple of arguments for knitting a coat using a thicker-gauge yarn rather than with something thinner. First, thicker fabric created with an Aran-weight or larger wool or wool-blend is going to give you the warmest result. Second, it’s going to knit up faster, which saves you time and is more conducive to actually finishing the project. You’ve got more to knit, but you’ll see faster results with a thicker gauge and large needles, motivating you to go all the way. The Cardiff Coat uses Blue Sky Fibers Bulky, a bulky-weight wool-alpaca blend that knits up super-quickly on size 15 needles.
4. Shawl Collar or Hood
Keeping your neck and head warm is a huge part of staying warm through the cold and windy seasons. Heck, isn’t that one of the biggest reasons we knit scarves and hats in the first place? For an all-in-one insulated garment that doesn’t require additional accessories, knit a coat that has a substantial shawl collar, or a functional hood. The Gloucester Coat has a beautiful, wide, cabled shawl collar that—Surprise!—flips up into a hood with cables on the other side! Keepin’ that noggin warm since 2010!
Ah, cables. The stuff of great knitting. Not only are cables beautiful centerpieces for knitted garments—not to mention super fun and interesting to knit—they are also functional. They trap more warmth than, say, stockinette stitch because of the added surface area the texture creates. Using cables also creates an extra-thick fabric. Check out the Aran Duffle Coat, which you can just tell is super warm thanks to all those amazing, scrumptious cables. (Also, if you love Aran-sweater knitting, check out this awesome Aran sweater collection!)
There you have it—those are my tips for the most important elements to plan for in order to create your best, warmest knitted coat. What elements do you consider when you start planning a sweater or coat project?
Posted March 16 2016; updated March 1, 2018.