In Real Life: Stonington

Our “In Real Life” series on Instagram highlights one of my designs and how several truly awesome knitters have made it their own.

This time, we’re highlighting the Stonington cardigan, which is built directly into CustomFit – which means that you can work it in any yarn, at any gauge. I used the gorgeous Harrisville Watershed in “Monarch” for my sample:


Check out these completely fantastic versions of this sweater! They make me want to knit another one. :) Sheepwell, rd97132, Nancy, and Eliza made for lovely versions of this super-versatile cardi. Take a peek!

And with that, we leave you for the long holiday weekend (here in the US). We hope that wherever you are, you’re surrounded by joy and those you love most.

Happy knitting!

In Real Life: Cushing Isle

We’re starting a new series over at my Instagram account today called “In Real Life”. Each month, we’ll highlight one particular design and how several truly awesome knitters have made it their own.

Today’s design is Cushing Isle, which is built directly into CustomFit (meaning you can work it in any yarn, at any gauge). Brenda, Melistocrat, Pam, and Rita made four different, and absolutely stunning, sweaters from this design.

Don’t you agree?

Fashion Friday: SSKAL Inspiration

Hello again! Lauren here.

We’re still knitting away on our summer sweaters. If you follow the hashtag on Instagram or the thread on Ravelry, you’ll see quite a few sweaters in progress. For my part, I’ve finished the long-languishing sweater I mentioned in my last post, but haven’t blocked or sewn on buttons yet. Isn’t blocking always the hardest part? That one last step before you can wear the sweater seems to take the longest.

After Amy posted her handy guide to CustomFit Mash-Ups this week, I decided to share some summer sweater inspiration. There are many summery sweater designs out there that work beautifully for CustomFit, so I’m highlighting some of my favorites.


Clockwise, from the top left:

  • Emelie by Elin Berglund is knit in sock yarn. Its cropped length and delicate lace front make it a cool choice for wearing over summer dresses. To CustomFit this pattern, choose a high-hip, 3/4 sleeve crew neck cardigan. Purchase the Emelie pattern, and use the lace chart included in the pattern on the fronts of your cardigan.
  • Reine by Alexis Winslow is the perfect long cardigan to throw on when the sun dips below the horizon this summer. To CustomFit this pattern, choose a low-hip, long sleeve, V neck cardigan. You want a neck depth below the fullest part of your bust — 2-3″ below your armhole should work. Purchase the Reine pattern, which will tell you the height of the welted edging stitch, and how to make the button band.
  • Saco Stripes by Pam Allen. I made a Saco Stripes last summer! The Quince and Co. Sparrow yarn makes a lovely, light fabric, and doesn’t feel hard on the hands at all. If you’ve never knit with linen (I had not, last year), it’s a great place to start. To CustomFit this pattern, choose a mid- or low-hip tank with a scoop neck about 1″ above your armholes. Purchase the Saco Stripes pattern for the stripe pattern and placement.
  • Spanish Bay by Amy Herzog. We talked about this sweater quite a bit on the blog already, and the team’s collective love of Rowan Purelife Revive is well-established! Plus, an open cardigan is easy to take on and off if you live somewhere with AC. CustomFitting Spanish Bay is easy it’s already built into the site. Just choose a swatch, body measurements, and a fit.

I’ve saved some more inspiration sweaters and pattern ideas — there’s so much more than can fit in a single blog post! — on our Pinterest board for spring and summer sweaters.

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What are your strategies for knitting in the summer heat?

Share here, or tweet us @makewearlove.


The best kind of Monday

I know that Mondays are some people’s least favorite day. But I love them – they always fill me with promise and excitement for the week ahead. This week, there’s a little more than usual to be excited about!


The handy knitting calculators app we’ve been writing is finally almost ready to submit for approval. So be looking for videos and more fun stuff in the weeks ahead – in addition to posting here about them, I’ll be updating this page with screenshots, details, and other fun stuff.

Tomorrow, at noon(ish) Eastern, something pretty spectacular is going to happen. It’s a great idea to be near a computer then.

Thursday, I’ll be sharing a bit about what’s at the bottom of that pile – and how I love it with all my fierce fashiony heart.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep knitting, finalizing retreat details, and preparing for all of the travel I have coming up later this month. Speaking of – there are actually a few spots open in a couple of my Vogue Knitting Live classes. I believe there’s still room in the short Knit to Flatter class, my Sweaters, Deconstructed class (which is an excellent class all about fabric, stitch patterning, style, and other sweater considerations), and my Modifications class. You can view all classes and sign up here – I hope to see you there!

(Or at Yarnover, where I’m speaking and teaching.)

(Or in this gorgeous place, where I CANNOT WAIT TO BE, although the weather has been giving us a much-loved break here in New England lately.)

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What will your week hold?

Waist Shaping (yes, you need some)

Waist shaping is one of the single most important things you can do to get a fabulous-looking sweater. Whatever your shape.

Done the traditional way, decreases and increases are worked at the side edges of your body pieces, creating a garment with hourglass-shaped sides:


(Typical decrease row: Knit 1, ssk, knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, knit 1.)

This kind of sweater looks great on a table, and kind of works if you have a curvy-shaped waist (that is, you look hourglassy from the front). But for many of us, this kind of waist shaping is problematic: It removes fabric from a place where we don’t get smaller. (I’m quite straight in the waist, for example:)


But that doesn’t mean that we should skip the waist shaping! In fact, the opposite is true. Hand-knit fabric is thicker and more substantial than what we’re used to in the store, while at the same time it’s typically less dense for the size of the yarn. (After all, you’re generally not willing to knit as tightly as a machine can.) So while store-bought knits might move and float around you in a wonderfully figure-enhancing way, your hand-knits typically will not. In fact, your body takes on the shape of that sweater, not the other way around.

So if you don’t want to look like a box, you need waist shaping. The solution?

Take advantage of the fact that knitting is sculptural, and create a 3-d piece of fabric by working your waist shaping in the center of the piece. This kind of waist shaping is no harder to work – you’re working the same kinds of shaping, just in different locations:


(Typical decrease row: Knit to 2 stitches before first marker, ssk, slip marker, knit to next marker, slip marker, k2tog, knit to end.)

Voila! Shaping that removes fabric where you get smaller, resulting in a gorgeous and flattering fit. (Bonus: Since the decreases used slant inward towards those markers, the stitches in the center stay nice and straight, and you get lovely subtle hourglass lines on the sides. Very nice!)

Shaping this way comes with another big advantage, too:

Since the shaping is away from the side seams, the front and back of your sweater don’t need to match.

Need extra width for a bust? No problem! More increases on the front of your sweater than on the back. Have a bodaciously awesome backside? No problem! More decreases on the back of your sweater than the front. Carry more weight in your front? Shape the back, and leave the front straight to the armholes!

In fact, you could make your stitch counts at the hip, waist, and bust totally different on the front and the back, with no result other than a fabulous sweater.

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To give this method of waist shaping a try, you have a couple of different options:

  • If your pattern already has waist shaping written near the side seams, you can work it at the same rate as specified in the pattern, but in a different place:
    • On the back, place two markers each 1/3 of the way in from the sides (1/3 of the stitches in between the markers).
    • On the front, place two markers each 1/4 of the way in from the sides (1/2 of the stitches in between the markers).
    • Each time a shaping row is specified in your pattern, work it as written – except work the shaping at the markers, as above.
  • If your pattern is written with no waist shaping at all, the first thing to do is decide how many stitches you’d like to remove. You’ll work half as many decrease rows as you have stitches to remove.
    • Calculate the number of rows you have for shaping by taking the sweater length to your waist, removing the height of any trim, and multiplying by your row gauge.
    • Divide the total number of rows by the number of shaping rows. This is how often you’ll work your shaping.
  • Once you know your rate of shaping, place markers and shape as directed above.

Of course, CustomFit always uses this method of waist shaping, exactly the way you need it. So if you’re working from a CustomFit pattern, you don’t need to worry about any of this.

Regardless of what pattern you’re using for your next sweater, though, I hope you’ll give this method of shaping a shot! It’s super simple, and makes a world of difference.

Fashion Friday: Knitting Along, and Making Clothes

Are you playing along with the Making Clothes CustomFit KAL? Throughout the blurred travel extravaganza that has been the last month (one more trip this weekend and then I’m done!), the Pinterest board and the Ravelry thread have kept me in happy sweater dreams.

This week for Fashion Friday, I wanted to share where I am with my own sweater and talk a little bit about our hand-knits as fashion. Last time, we talked about listening to your swatch as fabric, and using that experience to identify what kind of sweater the swatch wanted to be. A long time ago now, I talked a little bit about wearing our hand-knits as clothes. Today, I want to put those things together and talk about using our wardrobes to help guide our sweater-making.

Listening to your swatch will give you some parameters on your sweater. But as the finished CustomFit sweaters show, you are the one that really brings it to life. My swatch told me it wanted to be a sweatshirt.

But I needed to go a bit further, from there: I don’t wear a lot of sweatshirts. My style, my wardrobe, my daily clothes? They’re casual, and approachable… …but they’re not really informal. I dress more like this and this and this:

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So my first bit of advice: Listen to your wardrobe. What do you like to wear? Try to get three words that describe your favorite clothes. For me?

Clean. Tailored. Comfortable.

So my first task, in coming up with my own KAL design, was to merge what the yarn wanted to be (sweatshirt) with what I like to wear (clean, tailored, comfortable).

My second bit of advice: Curate your wardrobe. Now, we’re not used to thinking about our clothing in this way anymore. We think about clothing as more fluid, maybe more disposable. Most of our closets see high turnover. I urge you to think toward the other extreme, when you’re dreaming up this sweater. Start by thinking about your closet.

What piece are you missing? What color, texture, characteristics will cause the garment to slip into a lovely little niche in your daily wear?

For me, the answer to that question is something that could be worn with jeans or my favorite corduroy kilt. With a busy button-down, or a soft gray long-sleeved tee. Something interesting enough on its own, but not overpowering in case I want to wear it with something bolder.


So I opted for big blocks of Stockinette and Reverse Stockinette. CustomFit is warning me that I might be short on yarn, so I haven’t made any decisions about the sleeves yet. But I can’t wait to wear this.

The longer I’m away from my day job and its fashion constraints, the more I move to a (very exciting) place where my entire wardrobe is made up only of pieces that I love. That fit together in a coherent set of meaningful clothes that express who I am (and want to be). If that sounds emotional and hokey when all we’re talking about as clothes, then so be it. I’m not above being emotional and hokey about clothes, because they make a tremendous difference to the way I face the world.

I urge you, in this KAL, to imagine what it would be like if your own closet were that way. What if every piece you own says something about who you are, and want to be? What if every piece you put on reaffirms the awesomesauce that is you? If that’s your frame of mind, what sweater do you want to wear?

Fashion Friday: Morning Coffee

Thoughts are swirling around inside my head this weekend, and I’m excited to share them with you. But they’re being stubborn, and difficult to capture on the page. So this Fashion Friday, how about a sweater instead?


Buy your own full, standalone Morning Coffee pattern for $7.00 by clicking here: buy now

Or buy your own CustomFit recipe ONLY for Morning Coffee (also requires a CustomFit pattern purchase) for $2.50 by clicking here: buy now

Morning Coffee is a satisfying alternative to complicated sweater knitting. Instead of spending a lot of time figuring out charts, or unusual constructions, or multiple gauges, just… …knit. And come up with a wardrobe-staple of a sweater that you wear as faithfully as you drink that morning brew. It’s simple, it’s uncomplicated, and it’s the kind of sweater everyone needs.


Unpretentious moss stitch trims the edges of this ¾-sleeve, single-button cardigan. A cute and unexpected touch of moss stitch also adorns the back waist. Morning Coffee is knit in pieces from the bottom up and then seamed; the cardigan edges are worked inline with the front of the sweater. The neck trim stitches are continued past the shoulder bind-offs on the front, and then sewn to the back neckline.


A Verb for Keeping Warm’s Pioneer (click through on that link, it’s important stuff!) is the perfect choice for Morning Coffee-its tweedy texture provides a lovely depth to the fabric, its construction keeps the cardigan lightweight yet warm, and the soft merino is comfortable when worn against the skin. The fact that it’s 100% California Wool and supports local farmers and US mills means that your own Morning Coffee will be a garment that is truly worthy of you.


Morning Coffee may be purchased in one of two ways from my ravelry pattern store:

  • As a standard pattern for $7.00 (with CustomFit recipe included in addition to standalone pattern instructions). This is a pattern very much like any of my others; it includes complete instructions for all 12 sizes, plus modification advice and a detailed schematic. To purchase the standalone pattern for $7.00, click here: buy now
  • You may also purchase a CustomFit recipe (without standard pattern instructions) for $2.50. The CustomFit recipe provides full instructions on how to use CustomFit to make a Morning Coffee that will fit you perfectly from hem to neck and everywhere in between, including:
    • Which construction options to choose to get Morning Coffee in the fit and shape as shown above
    • Instructions for adjustments and additions to the “blank slate” CustomFit pattern to achieve the look shown
    • Finishing directions, including “all in one” neck edging instructions

    To purchase the CustomFit Recipe ONLY for $2.50, click here: buy now. Please note that the CustomFit recipe ONLY version also requires the purchase of a CustomFit pattern, for $9.99, to get a complete set of instructions.

Which should you choose? It depends on whether you’re typically comfortable knitting (and modifying) a pattern as written, or whether you’d really like to get instructions that fit you well with no modification required.

(And for those of you who haven’t decided what they’re going to be knitting in the CustomFit KAL, I think this would be a fantastic choice for your first use of CustomFit.)

Fashion Friday: Worthy

I’m having so much fun keeping up with the CustomFit Knit-A-Long. (Have you seen the Pinterest board yet? It’s looking so inspiring!)

As I make my way to lovely College Station Texas today, I wanted to talk a little about my own swatch, and the process from swatch to design. My process goes something like this:

  • Start by spending some quality time with your swatch. After you’ve washed it, take a few minutes just holding on to it. Move it in your hands, close your eyes. Pick three words that describe the way it feels. What do those words say about the sweater your swatch wants to be?

    My swatch is: Thick, soft, and a little heavy. It wants to be warm, close to the skin, and given structure. The color is warm and comfy rather than dressy or sophisticated.

  • Try to translate those words into a sweater. Think about your favorite sweater that incorporates those words, or imagine one if you don’t have one. Sometimes, the answer slides into place instantly and you know exactly what to knit. Sometimes, less so – and you need to spend more time thinking.

    Here, I struggled. Because the sweater that came to my mind was actually a sweatshirt. Thick and structured, but infinitely soft and comfortable. Relaxed. It took me awhile to think about a sweatshirt as something that could be special… …but I got there eventually.

    I want my sweater to be the best sweatshirt that has ever existed. Something cozy, and a bit slouchy, but still flattering and stylish. Something plain. Something you throw on with everything, day after day, because it just keeps getting better against your skin. Comfort, in sweater form.

  • If you find yourself struggling, imagine your swatch bigger, about two feet square. What would it feel like, on your body? What would you want to wear it with?

    After imagining my swatch at scale, I added a small touch of subtle interest, and chose an average fit for the structure of a closer garment.

I cast on on the plane this week and have been happily knitting on it (bit by bit, around other projects).


I can’t devote single-minded attention to my sweatshirt, but that’s okay. It’s going to be with me for a long, long time. Because it’s going to be clothing that’s worthy, of me and my craft. I can be patient for that.

What is your swatch saying to you?

Fashion Friday: Your body is right.

We get an unimaginable number of messages about our bodies being wrong, or flawed. There’s the media, of course…

…but there’s also getting dressed in the morning. Ready-to-wear clothes (and hand-knit sweater patterns, too) are created for table of numbers I like to call “Miss Average”. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily; automatic and mass production of clothing make it necessary. But there’s one big down side, and that’s that anyone who isn’t exactly like Miss Average (which means everyone) is told, every day, by their clothing, that their body is wrong.

I say this, in my classes, and it seems to resonate? But this Fashion Friday I want to give you a stark visual example.

Here’s what happens when I get dressed in the morning, if I’m not careful.


I need to be clear here: This is a regular, long-sleeved sweater, and mid-rise, regular-length pants. Both in “my size”. This is what happens if I don’t tug them into place. The sweater, though it looks like I might be raising it for effect? Goes this way when I breathe. These clothes tell me that my arms are too long. That my legs are too short. That my torso is too long. I wore clothes like them nearly every day for far, far too long.

What are your clothes telling you?

Whatever they’re telling you, I say: There’s nothing wrong with your body. The clothes are defective.

Here’s me again, in a store bought tunic-length top and capri jeans. In the same size as the clothes above.


This outfit might be more plain than I’d typically wear, most days. But at least things fit, you know?

Custom-made clothing makes you feel amazing. And not just because of the skill required to craft it. It sends a message, every time you move without tugging, that your body is right. That your body deserves clothing that honors it. That respects it. That tells it it’s beautiful. I urge you to wear clothes that are truly worthy of you.

Because you’re perfect, just as you are.

FF: From Scratch, IV

I kind of miss doing the wardrobe style Fashion Fridays, but I didn’t want to pause the CustomFit profiles until I’d shared at least one more of our beta testers with you. This week on Fashion Friday, we see the three (!) sweaters the lovely Mollie has created with CustomFit’s help.

I talked a bit yesterday about how rewarding it is to hear CustomFitters talk about their sweaters as favorite pieces of clothing. We knit for lots of reasons, of course, all of them good: The feel of the yarn through your hands, the soothing rhythm of stitches moving after a stressful days, the challenge of making a thing so intricate that our skill is obvious to all. We knit just because it’s fun to knit.

But we also sometimes knit because we’re makers, and we can produce functional, beautiful clothing with our needles. The fact that the clothing we produce can fit better and be more flattering than anything we’ve ever bought in a store is incredible.

I wanted to share Mollie’s sweaters with you, because Mollie shares my passion for making clothing that fits really well. She describes herself in her Ravelry page as a product knitter. And her sweaters show it.


This is Corticogenesis, Mollie’s “alpha” CustomFit sweater. (Mollie was one of the very first outside testers of the software, which is why she’s had time to knit a few of them.) It was one of her annual (you read that right) lace-weight sweaters, and her comment on it?

“Finally, a sweater with no mods!”


This is a big deal, actually, because like all of us, Mollie differs from Miss Average. She’s got narrow shoulders, a larger bust, and a curvier figure than Miss Average. So her previous sweater life was full to the brim with modifications.

One mod-free success down, she moved on to knit more – because she knits a ton of sweaters:

I wear sweaters pretty much non-stop from October through March or so (which is to say that I need a lot of sweaters), and my style preferences are pretty well-defined. I love preppy cabled pullovers, and my preferences are so concrete that my Ravelry friends regularly identify at first glance the sweater patterns that I will knit. If it’s a cabled pullover, especially if it has a shawl collar, odds are good that it’s in my favorites. But I’m pretty hourglassy and need waist shaping, so a lot of classic all-over cabled patterns are right out.

Her second CustomFit sweater is my personal favorite: Doppler. This sweater is everything I love about fall shopping, except in a quality of yarn and color you can almost never find commercially.


(I snapped this quick photo of Mollie in her Doppler at Rhinebeck. Doesn’t it look great?)

You can find yarn and full CustomFit choices on her project pages, but it’s worth noting here that all of Mollie’s sweaters are done with CustomFit’s “close fit” choice. A close fit will produce a garment with a small amount of negative ease in the hips and bust, positive ease in the waist, and a shoulder fit that allows for just one thin layer.

Pre-CustomFit, Mollie achieved the shoulder fit she liked by knitting sweaters with a pretty substantial amount of negative ease in the bust.

Prior to Custom Fit, my typical sweater M.O. was to pick a cabled pullover, add waist shaping, and lengthen it by several inches. Length is a big issue for me, because I usually wear my sweaters with low-rise jeans, and I prefer to keep my unmentionables unmentionable, you know? I was making sweaters with about three inches negative ease at full bust, partly because I was in denial about my actual full bust measurement, and partly because I have narrow shoulders for my bust size, and the ~3 in. negative ease sweaters fit better in the shoulders and back than zero ease or positive ease sweaters. (I’m lying. I don’t think I’ve ever made a sweater with positive ease.) I had kind of a lightbulb moment when I knit my first CF sweater: if I make sweaters with less negative ease, but that fit in the shoulders, I don’t actually have to make them so long, because they don’t shrink up when I put them on.

The not shrinking up thing is huge for heavily-patterned sweaters. It means the fabric isn’t distorting itself over tighter areas. Notice how her cables are all the same length, when worn here:


Here’s Mollie’s third sweater, in which you can see the same great fit and detailing:



A well-fitting sweater means that the fabric quality is consistent throughout the sweater, when worn – which looks great. And being able to get these great results without worrying about gauge or modifications or math is a little addictive. It makes sweater knitting easy.

CF has also been a godsend for me because I’m a tight knitter, and I almost never get gauge. So I was used to doing math for every single sweater I knit, which gets wearying after a while. It’s also hard to keep track of various spreadsheets and knit on the subway, which is what I mostly do. So CF has made knitting sweaters much easier for me, and also more fun. (As evidenced by the fact that I’ve just finished the body of my fourth CF sweater.)

I’m incredibly humbled and excited the response CustomFit has gotten so far. And I can’t wait to see even more beautiful sweaters.