Friends generally sum up my wardrobe in one word: vintage. Decades ago, when I first learned to sew and knit, I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer and costume designer. These dreams led me to deep dives into the history of fashion. Alas, my profound inability to draw derailed those career plans. But those nuggets of information stuck around and still influence my fashion choices and my knitting queue. If you, like me, enjoy making clothing with vintage flair, check out Jennifer Wood’s Directoire Top from Knitting Traditions 2018.
I love so many things about this pattern. First, Jennifer Wood, author of Refined Knits, designed it. Second, Jennifer drew inspiration from designer Paul Poiret, the “King of Fashion” (read about him in Knitting Traditions 2018) who, in the early 20th century, helped create the fashion world as we know it today. Poiret himself drew inspiration from the Empire period of the early 19th century (the era of Napoleon and Jane Austen). That’s a trifecta of homage, all in one knitting project!
Then there’s the top itself, with its distinctive and flattering silhouette of high waist, rounded hem, and deep V-neck. Jennifer combined all my favorite knitting elements, too: intricate cables, seamless top-down construction, and set-in sleeves made with short-row caps.
Finally, there’s the springy, shimmery, luxurious yarn. Jennifer used Valley Yarns Northfield, which comes in 19 solid colors, 19 hand-dyed colors (courtesy of the Kangaroo Dyer), and bare 100-gram hanks for dyeing. It’s tough for me to choose among all these color options, but right now I’m leaning toward Pine Green.
Need more persuasion? Your closet needs a striking layering piece that you can wear over dresses, camis, tees, and turtlenecks—the Directoire Top can take you through at least 3 seasons. Your brain loves an interesting knitting project. And your artistic heart wants this vintage silhouette drawn from fashion history (see what I did there?). You’ll get it all with one great pattern!
DESIGNER Jennifer Wood
FINISHED SIZE 29½ (33, 37½, 42, 45½, 50)" bust circumference. Pullover shown measures 33"; modeled with zero ease.
YARN Valley Yarns Northfield (70% Merino wool, 20% baby alpaca, 10% silk; 124 yd [113 m]/1¾ oz [50 g]): #11 balsam, 8 (9, 10, 12, 13, 14) balls. Yarn distributed by WEBS.
NEEDLES Size 5 (3.75 mm): 24" circular (cir) and set of double-pointed (dpn). Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.
NOTIONS Markers (m); removable m; cable needle (cn); stitch holders; tapestry needle.
GAUGE 20 sts and 28 rows = 4" in St st.