Book Review: Knits That Breathe, by Julie Turjoman

Call this one perfect timing: if you despair of finding interesting, fun-to-knit garments that are appropriate for warmer weather, or if you’re like me, and find pure wool sweaters are often too warm, you’re going to love Knits That Breathe: 12 Breezy Projects To Keep You Cool, by my pal Julie Turjoman.

Julie’s goal was simple: to create a collection of elegant women’s sweaters that are suitable for warm weather, tropical climates, and women who rarely get chilly enough to require turtlenecks and long sleeves. That means that you’ll find garments knit in plant-based fibers, like cotton and bamboo; plenty of shorter sleeve lengths; and drapey rather than closely-fitted silhouettes.


turj cover


Knits That Breathe is one of those self-published books that doesn’t look anything like the stereotype of a self-published book. It’s beautifully designed, photographed and laid out, and I can tell you that production quality like this is not cheap. If you think you can turn out a book of this quality with your old digital camera and a 2008 copy of Illustrator, you are sadly mistaken, my friend — it’s a myth that self-publishing doesn’t cost money. And it’s well worth it to end up with a book this beautiful. [Rant over.]

Now it’s time to take a look at the patterns.

Julie does a great job of mixing up patterns that contain some interesting stitchwork with some patterns that are primarily stockinette, allowing the book to appeal to a wide cross-section of knitters. Flutterbye, for example, is knit in an exquisite silk yarn, with two strands used for the body of the garment and a single strand for the handkerchief hem panels to make them extra fluttery.

turj flutter

This garment relies on simple stockinette to let the yarn and its drape be the focus, with lots of soft movement to give it style.

Haven is a short-sleeved top with an easy fit that features an off-center lace panel (love the use of the zigzag eyelets).

turj haven

A cotton-linen blend does the honors, making this a great choice for hot weather.

If you’re looking for a bit more in the way of stitch pattern, check out Iced Frappucino (and the pretty yarn, from Kollage, is a blend of milk and soy fiber):

turj iced frap

The garment is knit in the round to the armholes, then back and front are knit separately and flat through the armholes, and finally the yoke is knitted circularly. Pretty!

Pochette is a slightly fitted tunic, with curved pockets seamed to the bottom edge in a brightly contrasting color.

turj pochette

The cool, flowing appeal of Still Waters

turj still wat

is created by the combination of lace borders and soft handpainted linen yarn. For those who want no sleeves but some coverage in the body area, there’s Breezy:

turj lace hem tunic

Zephyr, knit in a dreamy colorway of Lorna’s Laces Pearl with interesting stitch pattern accents, is also striking:

turj zephyur

And there’s a gently flowing shrug:

turj shurg

a classic cardigan,

turj sorbet cardi

and the lace-front beauty Splash to add to your summer wardrobe. Lots of lovely choices!

turj splash

The details: 12 patterns for women, all designed to be cool and, yes, breathable, knit in plant-derived fibers like linen, cotton and bamboo, in a generous size range (generally XS to XXL, with finished bust ranging from around 32 inches to 58 inches, depending on the pattern). Lots of lovely photographs; charts (and it looks like the pattern stitches are also written out for those who are verbal rather than visual); schematics; and helpful pattern notes. I especially like the chart which lists various plant fibers and their characteristics, for those who aren’t as familiar with them. Gauges are in the worsted to sportweight category.

Knits That Breathe is available via the link above for $17.12 ($24.99 MSRP) at the time of this writing, or via Julie’s website here (in both e-book and print form), or via Ravelry download.

Well done, Turj!

One Thought

  1. 7/3/2014 says:

    […] and the next from Carol Sulcoski’s Black Bunny Fibers blog. […]

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