Despite ever-milder winters, for many of us the allure of a cocooning new jumper never wanes. It’s my “embrace the autumn” ritual to buy at least one new knit in preparation for the darker months, and over the past couple of seasons I’ve been most drawn to those with a distinctly homespun spirit: from Chloé to Isabel Marant, these colourful, chunky, show-off pieces provide a stylish sort of comfort and consolation when the outlook is grey. And thanks to the current desirability and intrigue around all things craft-led, they get plenty of wear – I’ve found that they work just as well over a pretty silk dress during the working week as they do over jeans at the weekend.
My latest discovery is I Love Mr Mittens, a brand that specialises in full, fabulous, ridiculously cosy knitted pieces. Don’t be fooled by the offbeat name: this is serious knitwear. Stéphanie Caulier, the Antwerp-based designer behind the brand, rekindled her childhood passion for crafting after a trip to a knitting café in New York a decade ago, prompting her to start making pieces for herself and friends – and the label was born.
What I love is the way Caulier combines the chunky rawness of the hand-knit with a savvy eye for colour, including vivid “pop” pinks and soft pearl greys. She cuts these ambitiously knitted garments, which have a variety of cleverly executed, tactile pattern effects, in cocooning shapes with chic sleeves. Each garment is hand-knitted by a member of a network of independent crafters in Peru which, for me, gives the pieces an authentic feel and a heartwarming ethical spirit.
The core collection includes a balloon-sleeve wool cardigan (£418) with a voluptuous, slightly oversized silhouette in cream or camel, which is perfect for throwing on over anything yet will draw the eyes of every fashion magpie. A chunky-knit wool cardigan comes in two lengths: the shorter diamond knit style (£395) in rose-burgundy or pale blue, with cable-knit panels and purl stitching; the coat-style cardigan (£468), a heavyweight waffle knit with shawl collar and oversized lapels in charcoal or rose-burgundy; and there’s also an elegant, short-sleeve, ribbed-knit style (£285) in paradise pink.
But it’s the delicious wool Honey sweater (£395), with its wide rollneck and beautifully detailed sleeves, that I’m coveting next to wear with jeans or flares. The label also produces wool wraps and densely knitted scarves that I have yet to experience (they echo the colours of the main collection and I suspect they’ll be equally sumptuous and perfect for wearing over fine layers in lieu of a coat) but curiously, no mittens – yet.