New Favorites: Grete

New Favorites: Grete (dickey knitting pattern)

Quick pause in my Spring 2018 Wardrobe Planning (my workload is requiring me to space it out a bit this time around) to tell you all I’ve fallen in love with a dickey. Or should I say another dickey. When Woolfolk was teasing the pattern above, now revealed as Grete, I instantly fell for the turtleneck sweater under the camel coat. The neck itself bothers me — turtlenecks that don’t hug the neck just look like wind funnels to me, counterproductive — but otherwise it struck me as perfectly proportioned. The scale of the cables, the width of the hem ribbing, the exact spot where the hemline hits the model. Love.

So I was momentarily stunned and disappointed when I learned that it’s actually a dickey! And then I stared at it, and stared some more. Imagined it walking down some painfully cool runway, like Céline or Stella McCartney, and could see myself wanting to copy it instantly. I mean, that model looks pretty chic wearing it with just that beautiful white shirt. Could it be cool to walk around in a dickey all day, as opposed to wearing it only with a coat? Maybe so! It’s certainly one way to deal with my want of all the wool sweaters and insufficient cold weather for them!

Plus as gorgeous as it is in Luft, which is actually a wool-cotton mix I’ve been eager to sample, it could also be a great match for that beautiful bulky OUR Yarn in the shop.

I might need to knit one and give it a go. If nothing else, I would love it under my coat.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Ply by Emily Greene

56 thoughts on “New Favorites: Grete

  1. Identifying myself as very old: back in the fifties, dickies were a “thing”. There were both dickies that were knitted, meant to keep you warm, and dickies made to look like a shirt, intended to be worn instead of real shirt, under a crew neck sweater. There was even a year when the style was a full skirted dress with a deep neck, meant to be worn with a dickie (you could wash the dickie and keep wearing the dress. They were all hateful to wear, every one of them!! The dickie itself was always moving, independently of what it was being worn with catching on clothing pulling itself out of whatever garment you were wearing it with, failing to provide adequate coverage of whatever it was meant to cover. Safety pins were often needed to hold it in place, and invariably when you thought you were looking great, a part of the safety pin would show. The model above is standing still, perhaps walking the runway, or involved in a totally artificial photo shoot. , but when she moves, like a real person, I guarantee she will be fidgiting with the thing to keep it in place. Perhaps she already has: she looks kind of sad in the lower picture!

    According to my mom, the dickie was a depression era thing: you could make one with a small amount of yarn, and perhaps that was all you could afford. Many homes were under heated, and an extra layer for warmth was the norm. She said that she wore one tucked into a buttoned blazer…and hated it. But she helped me make one when I thought I needed it…I hated it too!

    • I believe the root of them was the detachable tuxedo shirt front, but they’ve taken a zillion forms over time — all for some sake of thrift and/or expediency. I’ve always found it funny that they’re supposed to make things more comfortable (less bulk) — like the difference between having a faux shirt top under your sweater ostensibly being more comfortable than having a whole shirt jammed in there. But having suffered the discomforts of that as a child, I share your disdain for that variety!

      But this is more like a bib than anything else!

      • Thank you Ellen – other than making me laugh out loud you actually nailed it :) However, I am tempted to give it a(nother) try as Grete is so very beautiful.

  2. Ellen I totally agree! I hated dickies, always checking to make sure it was in the right place. Oh the things we did to be “in style”.

  3. Not a Nashville item…. only for colder climes!! I agree with Ellen and Kathryn.

  4. Make it 3xs as wide….same length front and back = perfect tunic! Love the scale of the cables.

  5. I agree that this is so chic, but also so impractical in the way the turtleneck gaps around the neck. A loose wrap around the neck looks stylish and makes sense in spring and fall or indoors in winter, and that’s when something like Purl Soho’s Bandanna Cowl is perfect. But when it’s really cold (I mean minus 40 degrees where Celsius and Fahrenheit converge) you definitely need something to keep the air away from your neck and chin. That’s when I want to wear my unglamorous Neck Thingum, fashion be damned!

    • I get that there are some people who can’t stand to have anything up around their necks — even though I’m the opposite — so can understand turtleneck avoidance in that case. But when it’s there but doing the opposite of its job, it confuses me.

    • I LOVE your Neck Thingum!!! So do my girls and girlfriends. Even my MIL wants one.

    • I just looked up your Neck Thingum on Ravelry and I love it! I started a hat once, making it up as I went along. It wasn’t turning out very well so it turned into a neck thingum of sorts, but not nearly as nicely done as this. This would be a great stash buster and see many of them in my future!

  6. Loved it when I thought it was a sweater, but as a dickie it looks stupid when you take the coat off. But how about a vest? If you could make this as a loose vest with deep armholes it may do the trick and still look good without the coat!

    • I’ve been picturing that in my head. I’d put a back flap on it, so maybe just join the at the waist. I don’t know — fun to play mental games with, anyway.

  7. this one caught me off guard. i saw the first picture and went “oh what a pretty sweater” then i saw the second picture and chuckled. clever and interesting version of a dickie.

  8. I second Lyn’s idea. Or, check out the Balaclava on pg. 161 of Norah Gaughan’s knitted cable sourcebook. Cables flowing up and over your head.

  9. Hmmm… looks like I’m breaking from the crowd (and siding with you)… Although I don’t care much for dickeys as a rule, I see this one more like a scarf with a neck. I imagine popping it on as I walk out the door and taking off along with my coat when I get wherever it’s warm again. I can’t see the back though, but the pattern description sounds like it is bound off at the back neck. I think I would add more of the cabled section to hang down the back for extra warmth and to help balance it.

  10. Idaknow, I really like it. I think it’s got that effortless Parisian chic thing goin’ on. And if you want the neck closer, that would be so easy to modify. As for keeping it from “wandering”, I think as long as the top you wear it with isn’t in a slippery fabric and has a high enough neck itself for the the knitted fabric to “grab” onto, there would be minimal shifting. Besides, when we wear “normal” cowls and shawls, I think we do a bit of rearranging throughout the day anyway.

  11. This is making me laugh. For those who don’t have the patience to make a sweater or even a vest…make a giant swatch, add a turtleneck and voila. I do agree with Trish that this is not all that different from a scarf/cowl/shawl.

    I can see something like this in Scarf Style volume 3, which Interweave may never publish…

  12. It would make a great sweater, although I too dislike a turtle neck that stands away from the actual neck. So a nice crew neck would be lovely.

  13. Ok, I’m laughing at the comments about the actual experiences of wearing dickies. They brought back vague childhood memories and they were NOT positive. But I love the cable pattern – its so beautiful! What if there were two panels instead of three with that gorgeous long ribbing on both ends for a lovely big scarf and I could have the cables.

  14. As soon as I realized that sweater in the first picture was actually a dicky, I knew this post would have a lot of comments!

  15. It’s intriguing, but count me among those doubtful of the real life practicability… I think that much like a scarf, the front bib part would curl and ripple and shift, which wouldn’t look effortless and fascinating like the photo shoot. If you wanted it to look that way, I fear you’d be constantly smoothing it and spreading it flat. For someone with any significant bust line, I suspect it would try to nestle itself down snugly in the valley…

    Personally, I’d rather wrap a scarf around my neck than pull a turtleneck over my head every time I wanted to add/remove a layer. Much less hair mussing! The bulk of scarves at the back of the neck does bother me, though, so maybe that’s a point in this scarf-bib’s favor.

    Add a back flap and you’ve basically got a nice knitted tabard — which is also intriguing, if charmingly medieval!

    I agree about turtlenecks that stand away from the neck, they bother me as well! But I’ve been seeing a lot of them lately.

  16. I love this dickey. I love the way it looks and the whole statement of it. Who needs a whole, big, thick sweater when you can have a dickey? And, as far as the neck being loose that way….if you are a woman of a certain age, a tight turtleneck is just too dang hot no matter how cold the weather is. I would love to knit and wear this if you figure out a pattern for it!

  17. I have a thing ( that was called a dickey in the pattern, though I guess it’s kind of a collar, since it goes all the way round the back and doesn’t look like a false front. Anyway, I knitted it because it was fun and then never wore it because it’s kind of impractical in everyday urban life. But I got it out the other week for a skiing holiday, and OMG, perfection! Make a detachable turtleneck to add to a sweater that (poor thing) doesn’t have its own and boom, any sweater is a ski sweater :D

  18. another idea that is a variation on the vest. add the back section, and also a strap on each side. either make them long enough to tie at your sides (as loosely as you like) or else make them shorter, and button them. that anchors it to you, so that it isn’t dangling into the sink when you wash your hands, and should help keep it from twisting as well. and it’s still lighter for a warmer winter, since it isn’t closed at the sides.

  19. I’ll say it—these delectable cables and turtleneck are goofy as a dickey, but would be so chic as a tabard or vest as others have suggested. I am of an age to have worn dickeys in the past. They always had an air of mishap and misfire about them.

  20. It’s hard not to laugh a little bit at her expressions here. In the first one, a gentle smile, ‘look at my nice sweater’. In the second ‘ Yeah alright, it’s just a kind of scarfy thing. Stop going on about it.’ I’m not sure she looks that convinced!

  21. Lengthen the cables into a scarf/wrap and maybe…otherwise it seems to have all the disadvantages of a sweater (getting it on and off, getting the neck to sit right) with none of the advantages (it keeps your arms and body warm/doesn’t look ridiculous when you take off your coat).

  22. Okay, here’s my opinion. It’s strangely compelling, but also reminds me of a fancy bib. Hmmm… But still, strangely compelling.

  23. I’m not usually one to have a strong negative to an item of clothing. Especially a knitted one. But having sampled dickies way back when- they’re fussy, and just not really attractive. I’d say- take tha cables ( which are gorgeous) and make a cowl. Which I also never thought much of til I made one and they are awesome! Way less fussy than a scarf and also a dickie,

  24. I am so claustrophobic, the very idea of a turtleneck actually hugging the neck gives me heebie-jeebies. Not sure if I would wear a dickey, but someone could doubtless pull it off, and the cables on that are great.

  25. My mother use to wear dickies all the times I was growing up, and I swore I would never ever be caught dead in one when I grew up. Ok, now that I am 50, I actually like this one & might have to make myself one or two….
    She really did know best!

  26. I loved dickies. I had a few turtleneck ones that I wore under my Peter Tork-esque calico or paisley shirts. I thought I was so cool. Now, as a woman of a certain age, I love the idea of the loose turtleneck, but I totally agree this needs to be a Tabard to keep it in place.

  27. I love this! It’s giving me ideas for all kinds of dickies/collars/tabards, etc, etc, that I could wear under all the cardigans I want to knit so I can wear them in my perpetually cold place of work. And there are some great ideas in the comments here… straps on the sides, separate t-necks to put with sweaters that don’t already have them…

    And, I am a woman of a certain age (if one wants to call themselves that) and my neck gets cold! Cowls and loose tnecks have never made sense to me.

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  29. I can actually kind of imagine this. A lot of the “dickey problems” mentioned above had to do with the fact that in those days, they were a bit short, came untucked, and added bulk under a shirt–and this one isn’t meant to be worn under a shirt. To my eye, in terms of line, this doesn’t look all that different from a long scarf secured with a pin at center front and allowed to drape. And we’ve certainly seem a lot of turtlenecked, shoulder-covering capelets over the past few years.

  30. OMG The dickey is a total work of genius! To those who doubt it’s practicability I have to say that for me it elegantly and efficiently solves all the problems I have with wearing sweaters and scarves in winter: 1) Bulk and Excessive Heat under the arms 2) annoying Bulk under the arms under a coat 3) having to peel off my sweater and carry it in my overstuffed bag together with my coat whenever I go inside because everyone seems to love cranking up the heating and wearing less to just putting on a damn sweater 4) always feeling the drafts on the front of my chest no matter how warm or voluminous my scarf, this combined with the boiling hot underarms makes me especially annoyed!

    I’m always looking for layering pieces that make Winter dressing more bearable and this could look so cool and sculptural in black and the right yarn. Layered with allblackerrrthiiiing of course so most people won’t even realise it’s a dickey, not that I care about that; I enjoy seeing brave people make bold style choices.

    However, the neck bothers me as well but I’m thinking Habu’s wool stainless in a matching shade carried along in the neck section would give just the right touch of architecturality to solve that problem. The neck would look infinitely better scrunched up or standing around the face than rolled down like that. I know, I’m weird and I’m ok with that ;o)

  31. Well colour me foolish, I conflated the Dickey with the Tabard, I concur with all others that a Tabard is preferable and much more practicable.

  32. Although now I’m enjoying the idea of having a leather harness back to the dickey so it would be fully reversible and not move around during wear so much, oh wow I can’t wait to make this thing!

  33. I figured out over the winter that I am better insulated with less bulk if I wear my beloved handknit sweaters with a rain jacket on top. The jacket keeps out the wind. It’s been a life changer. I hate feeling constricted in a coat.

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