This past year started with an invitation extended to my niece, Zahra, to collaborate with me on a collection of sweaters and accessories. She is a knitwear designer creating as many as 300 designs a year for brands including Guess, Max Azria, BCGC and the major department stores across America.
She accepted and we had a great time sharing design concepts and offering each other helpful suggestions to refine them. We approached our first collection just like the fashion houses do. Starting with research into what is trending on the couture runways, in the retail outlets and out on the street. We wanted to know what people are wearing and how they're wearing it.
The ideas that we focused on were deep v-necks, very loose slouchy sweaters, sleeveless designs and turtlenecks. Detailing included cabled ribbing, side vents, exposed seams and subtle openwork. We also decided to pair sweaters with matching accessories in ways that encouraged knitters to express their own personal style.
Next we looked to the world of fibers to see what yarns were being developed and the seasonal color palettes. The ones we felt would be best for realizing our ideas were ultra soft cashmere and alpaca blends that provided warmth in ultra light, feathery weights.
After selecting a few yarns and building a color theme we began swatching to define gauge, test stitches, fabric drape and detailing ideas. Then we wrote patterns and started test knitting, most of which we did ourselves. But we also asked a couple very special knitters to join in.
With knitted samples completed it was time to edit and refine. The patterns came together. Grading for size followed and our special row checkers were created.
After photographing everything on our friends, our first collaboration was ready for knitters like you. We hope you'll be inspired to find ways to add new pieces from our Surrender to Softness Collection to your personal wardrobe collection.
James and Zahra
To view our Surrender to Softness collection click here.