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Sweater Weather: Top Ten Knitwear Designers to Know

Oh the weather outside...it's cold and getting colder. This time of year thick layers of wooly knits are your smartest sartorial companion, and we found the latest crop of knitwear names to know. From the slouchy Sunday go-tos to made-to-order designs to gallery-worthy creations, we crossed the globe -- and the Internet -- to find the top ten designers you'll want to cuddle up to this winter.

Amina Martucci
London-based designer Amina Martucci is bringing the easy going vibrancy of streetwear to knitwear design. Her degree collection from Ravesbourne college, entitled 'Strange Fruit', explored African culture and the physiological effects of slavery, resulting in tie-dyed prints inspired by the Rorschach inkblot test and over-sized knits for men and women.

annielarson.jpgALL Knitwear
As an upper Midwest native -- raised in Wisconsin and college in Minnesota -- Annie Larson knows the challenges of being well-dressed AND warm. After creating ALL Knitwear in 2010, Larson moved to Brooklyn in 2011, where she designs her brightly colored and extravagantly graphic made-to-order pieces that are sure to catch an eye on even the chilliest of days.

LT1.jpgLaura Theiss
Growing up in a household of crochet and knit-fanatics, Lithuanian-born designer Laura Theiss always knew her career path would involve a needle and yarn. Theiss' signature style blends sporty meets sexy structured silhouettes and a knack for knitted patterns. Splitting her time between London and Germany, The Central Saint Martins graduate recently designed costumes for a dance performance choreographed by  Marguerite Donlon at the Saarbrucken Opera House.

Starting with a small collection of six turtlenecks, Berlin-based designer Maike Dietrich has quickly grown her label Maiami into a full-fledged knitwear brand (with an interiors line included), making her one of Vogue Germany's top eight German designers to watch. With a '70s sensibility, Dietrich's designs are the kind of cozy-cool knits we've been looking for.

SandraB.jpgSandra Backlund
With her sculptural hand-made designs, Sandra Backlund explodes the humble heritage of 'knit one, purl two' into gallery-worthy creations. With a slew of exhibitions from Chicago to Tokyo under her belt, the Swedish designer was picked in 2008 to be the protege of Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani for the Protege Project in Florence. Continuing her foray in high fashion Backlund has created special knit pieces for Louis Vuitton and Emilio Pucci.

HannahFitz.jpgHonor Fitzsimons
After working for designers like Diane von Furstenberg and Louise Goldin and producing costumes for Robyn, Honor Fitzimons launched her own line of knitwear in 2012 with Monster Knit a colorful and cuddly collection fit for any '90s techno-teen (then, and now). The Central Saint Martins graduate toned down for her second collection, Par Avion, to focus on minimal shapes in strong shades of black and white.

Founded by brothers Matthew and Alex Orley, and Samantha Florence (Matthew's fiance), in 2012, Orley's menswear aesthetic pairs classic silhouettes with youthful design. This translates into of bold patterns in muted shades and elegant shapes. For the '70s man in you, their fall 2013 collection pulled from the minimalist abstract artwork of Frank Stella and E.A. Seguy's insect paintings.

Johan Ku
Taiwanese designer Johan Ku started his career as a graphic designer before establishing his own design studio in 2005. With a love for unique textiles -- hello, glow-in-the-dark -- and sculptural forms, extreme and chunky designs have become the Central Saint Martin graduate's signature. His fall 2013 collection caught the eye of Style.com at Tokyo Fashion Week.

IO.jpgXiao Li
Xiao Li's 2013 graduate collection for London's Royal College of Art caught the eye of fashion and design editors alike. Blending marshmallow volume and texture with pretty pastels and classic cable knit, Li takes the heavy-hand of knits into more of an effortless, fashion-forward wearability. A-men.

susannabc.jpgSusana Bettencourt
Growing up on the Azores Islands of Portugal, Susana Bettencourt developed her passion for knitwear and traditional lace techniques from an early age. After moving to London to study at Central Saint Martins (BA Fashion Knitwear) and London College of Fashion (MA in Digital Fashion), Bettencourt launch her own line in 2011. Boldly embellish and digitally aware, Bettencourt's kaleidoscopic knits are future-ready.

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