Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Fit It Twice

I made myself two well-fitting sweaters this winter. The first was Chickadee, and the second was Shibumi, by Vera Sanon.

With this sweater, I learned why I need to use both horizontal and vertical bust darts. For starters, this is another top down sweater. When deciding which size to knit, I used shoulder dimensions. To accommodate my bust, I put increases into the plain stockinette portion of the fronts, and cast on at the underarms for the larger bust size. These modifications took my sweater from a size 48 at the shoulder to a 56 at the bust. These increases happening up and down the fabric are the vertical darts.

Now here's a handy tip I learned to decide if you need horizontal darts, usually added through short rows. Take a tape measure and measure down your back, from the top of the shoulder to the waist. Now do the same on your front, starting with the tape measure at the same location and ending parallel to the first measurement on the waist.  If you notice a significant difference between these two measurements, you're going to need some horizontal darts. On a man's sweater, this may be on the back, to accommodate their shoulder blades. On some women, these may need to be distributed throughout the front of a sweater. For example, on a small busted woman who has a larger belly, the extra fabric may be required lower down.

Here's another way to see it. Ever had a shirt ride up in the front? I have. And it's because both the front and back of the shirt have the same length of fabric. The shirt looks great laying flat on the table, but I'm not flat. My body's dimensions aren't the same in the front as in the back. The fabric travels further at the front to cover my bust and so it rides up when I wear it

Again, working the sweater top down made it very easy for me to decide where to put the short rows and determine the fit. Here I am trying on the work in progress.

If you are looking to make a sweater that fits, the latest and greatest guru on the subject is Amy Herzog. I've got her Craftsy class and I highly recommend it. The only point we disagree on is top-down versus bottom-up construction. Amy strongly advocates for constructing sewn, bottom-up sweaters, claiming the fit and wear is much better. It may be true and the only way I'll know for sure is to try to knit a sweater that fits from the bottom up. It may just be my next sweater project...

Oh, one more farewell shot of Shibumi. Here's the pretty patterning on the back:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Sweater that Fits

My proudest knitting accomplishment since the last time I was writing here, was learning to knit a sweater that fits. Today, I want to discuss my first well-fitted sweater, Chickadee.

This lovely little pattern from Ysolda Teague is a top-down sweater that combines a yoke with raglan shaping. You can read the details of yarn, gauge and modifications on my Ravelry project page.
What I want to discuss here is what I learned from this knit.

For one thing, I loved the top-down construction. It seems to me that all the tricky bits of sweater knitting happen at the top. Getting that out of the way first was a huge stress reducer for me.

At the beginning of a project, I get all fired up with excitement and enthusiasm. I make plans and have ideas about how to create the perfect fit. But over the days and weeks of knitting the body and the sleeves, enthusiasm wanes, plans become foggy, and even though I may take detailed notes, often when I come back to those notes, I can't remember what I was thinking! So working a sweater top-down lets me work out the most complex details of the sweater while my enthusiasm, ideas and plans are still fresh.

And I can try it on as I go! I can verify if I'm on the right track and if I'm not, ripping back is not an emotional event because I'm not so invested in the work that's been done.

The other thing I learned was to knit a sweater that fits in the shoulders. I used to knit based on the bust measurement. Being well-endowed and plus sized to boot, my bust measurement is a much bigger portion than my shoulders. My Chickadee sweater incorporates the difference between my shoulders and my bust with increases right after the yoke. There's a ripple of fabric as a result, but I consider that a feature, and it's not very noticeable when I'm wearing it.

Finally, this sweater would not have been possible without the support of the gang at the Knitting At Large Ravelry forum. I needed their support through the initial set up and planning. A big hug and thanks to Julie for her work promoting sweater knitting by and for plus-sized people. She is an inspiration to many.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Well, hello there...

To jump right in to the deep end, I stopped blogging because I was so very busy with work. There was overtime, and weekends and stress. Something had to give, and this blog was just one of those things. Now here I am starting blogging again because I am not so busy. My position was terminated and I am now looking for work. Of course, I can't go into details. Suffice it to say that the termination was not performance related and that many of my co-workers were very sad to see me go.

Onwards and upwards! I'm seeing this as an opportunity for a career shift. I'm very lucky to have a versatile skill-set and a strong personality.

Jim and the kids are well. Luke's doing a co-op and Alex is hoping to get into the YMCA's Summer Work Student Exchange. They've both grown into men in the last year.

Startling isn't it? Just last week, Alex and I were out getting him a new spring jacket. He didn't like anything in the stores, and we decided to hit the Goodwill. You know the teenage stage, the one where you don't want to be trendy, but you still want to have style? Anyway, at the Goodwill we found him a light jacket he liked and also scored him a beautiful golden suede jacket at an incredible price.

We were just checking out, and I asked him what his vegan girlfriend would think of him wearing suede. He responded with the typical, "Mom, she's not my girlfriend..." When the sales lady piped up with "Oh, he's your son? I thought you two were a couple."

On the ride home we had a laugh and decided that it's because he's so tall and has a full beard. Once home, Alex shaved.