Today’s post is the third in our four-part Designer Spotlight series and features Irina Anikeeva, the designer behind the Cayley Pullover. Read on to learn more about Irina’s approach to designing menswear, her love for cables, and her fun #mensweater_saturday Instagram hashtag.
If and how does your approach change when designing a men’s garment?
I think my approach to menswear design is oddly similar to my approach to womenswear. Every time I start working on one of my women’s pieces, I ask myself, “Would I wear this piece?” and the answer has to be “Yes!”—partly because it is me who usually ends up modeling it. In the case of my menswear designs, I always ask what my husband thinks about my ideas. My hubby has a good eye for a nice sweater. He likes them, he wears them, and I really treasure his opinion on my men’s sweater designs.
When it comes to men’s garments, I really like tailored pieces that look great and could be dressed up or down. And as a knitter, I am always looking for interesting construction, to challenge myself a little bit and to keep things interesting. I did both with the Cayley Pullover, which is worked in a few directions. First, the front and back of the yoke is worked sideways from one shoulder to the other at the same time. The stitches for the body are picked up along the longer side of the yoke and eventually joined and worked in stockinette stitch to the bottom edge. The sleeves’ stitches are picked up along the armholes and then worked in the round, using short rows to shape the caps.
You use a lot of cables in your designs, including the Cayley Pullover. What do you find so interesting about cabled stitches, and what else would you like to try with them?
Since I’ve started knitting (a long, long time ago), I have always been fond of cables. I have never truly tried to understand why, it has always been sort of… a given. Probably because back then (I’m talking late 80s and early 90s), most of the yarn around was in solid colors and cables were the easy way to add some texture to the plain knitted fabric. Cable knitting is always fun. Unlike knitting in stockinette or garter stitch, you never get bored with cables. Exhausted maybe, but never bored! And when I found myself designing knitwear, my very first design was, of course, a cabled cardigan.
Sometimes I feel like I put cables everywhere. You can find them on my hats (in abundance), sweaters, and mittens, but it looks like my neckwear is missing cable stitches, and that is definitely what I will focus on this upcoming fall.
Tell us the story behind #mensweater_saturday, a hashtag you feature weekly on your Instagram feed.
I really like how modern fashion combines utilitarian and casual garments with dress-up elements in one look, especially in menswear. A quality sweater that properly fits is one of the most flattering garments a man can wear—it adds weight to a skinny guy and streamlines a large figure—yet most people know little about men’s sweaters and how to style them. So I’ve decided to make a regular “column” on my Instagram to show how elegant and sometimes sexy men in sweaters look. That’s how #mensweater_saturday was born.
Thank you to Irina for taking time to answer our questions. You can find Irina online in the following places: