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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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(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:

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

coves

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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.

FF: From Scratch, III

It’s been awhile since we’ve done a “From Scratch” post here on Fashion Fridays! Unintentionally so – things have gotten super out of hand lately, and we’re far, far behind in sharing all of the wonderful sweaters people have been making with CustomFit. (Want to see the first two posts? here’s Jackie’s sweater, and here’s Kim’s.)

CustomFit is aaaallllmost ready to be opened up to the great wide world, so I wanted to take this Fashion Friday to spotlight Keri’s wonderful, amazing, fabulous sweater.

I’ll start by talking about Keri’s most pressing fit issue, which is getting a sweater that fits all of her, all at the same time.

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Pattern: CustomFit. Average fit cardigan, 3/4 sleeves, mid hip length, V neck.
Yarn: Briar Rose Fibers Fourth of July. Colorway? Blue-green, and purchased at Rhinebeck. (I’m so honored when people use such special yarn for their CustomFit sweaters.)
Size: Keri’s. Everywhere.

Keri is the star of this story, because she’s lovely. But shaping is the star of her sweater, and I really want to talk about how important it is. It might not be clear from that beautiful front picture up there, but Keri has some fit challenges. In her words:

I’d honestly given up on knitting sweaters for myself, as I could never get the fit I wanted.

Why? Well, Keri is curvy, in the way that I typically mean that: her waist really scoops in beautifully on the sides.

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And she’s curvy, in the way others sometimes mean that, which is to say busty. Further, she has slimmer hips and small arms.

Larger bust + slimmer hips and shoulders + slimmer arms + curvy waist = substantial modifications when knitting patterns designed for “Ms. Average”.

Even if she chooses a size to fit her shoulders, the hips, waist, and bust would likely all require at least some modification. And is there anyone who really jumps for joy when they think about figuring out how to add bust darts to a pattern? Other than me, I mean?

(*crickets*)

But CustomFit knows how to fit all of you. So Keri’s sweater pattern didn’t need modifications. There was no scary “bust dart” piece, no “gotta change that waist shaping” section, no “will this work?” bit. She just knit the pattern, which had one set of numbers (hers), and got a great sweater.

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That fits perfectly, everywhere, without a single change. It was built, from scratch, for her body, instead of retrofitted.

It’s still so amazing to me that the best sweaters are also the easiest sweaters. I’m thrilled with the way Keri’s sweater turned out. And she is too. Here’s what she said:

This process has changed how I feel about knitting sweaters for myself. Thank you so much. This is my favourite sweater, and the only sweater I have that fits. Now I’m planning multiple sweaters, even fitting pullovers. CustomFit showed me how worthwhile it is to do the modifications, and it was so easy!

The other thing I found fascinating was when I was swatching, I was choosing the fabric I thought the yarn wanted to be, rather than trying to see if I could get it to match a pre-existing pattern. This meant I really got to show off some beautiful stash yarn that I’d been saving for the ‘right’ project.

We are so, so excited about sharing these sweaters with you. The CustomFit pattern is up on Ravelry, our preview users are making sweaters like mad, and we’re almost ready to share CustomFit with the world.

So stay tuned! And have a great and yarn-filled weekend!

Fashion Friday: Coastal Maine

I’ve said, before, that I think fashion should serve us, rather than the other way around. I think style should be something that we define for ourselves personally, shaped by our own needs and lifestyle. If something doesn’t work for you, don’t do it! If you love something, do it! Whether or not it “follows the rules”.

(I am so not the “what not to wear” lady.)

This Fashion Friday, I have some sweaters to share with you. But more importantly, they came from my own personal sense of style and I wanted to share a bit about that with you, too.

I grew up in Mid-Coast Maine, and spent nearly all of my childhood either exploring the woods, combing the beach for sand dollars, or scrambling around on a boat. There’s something very special about this place, and I never really appreciated it until I left. (Isn’t that always the way?)

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When I was ready to plan the first make. wear. love. retreat, I knew I wanted to share the small part of Maine where I come from with all of the retreat attendees. We chose the Sebasco Harbor Resort as our location, and I designed three special sweaters using some of my very favorite yarns.

These sweaters grew out of my own personal style, which was heavily influenced by the kinds of clothes I saw growing up. Clothing here can be stylish or not… but stylish or not, everything here is practical. Nothing too fussy, nothing too uncomfortable. You should be able to walk on the beach, or hike in the woods, or go out on a boat in it. We have a lot of sweaters, because it’s cold here for 9 months out of the year. (Some would say 12.)

Together, these three sweaters form The Sebasco Collection, which you can purchase for $15.00 from my Ravelry store. You can also purchase each design individually for $7.00.

Here’s my inspiration for each.

Birch Bark is the “fanciest” of the three sweaters, and is inspired by the fact that here, you can walk through the woods even “in town”. (Translation for those ‘from away': “In town” is when you leave where you live, and go somewhere with a store.)

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It’s comfortable, functional, and pretty. The yarn (Woolen Rabbit Frolic, in color “Autumn Aster”) is the same: gorgeous color depth, but a nice solid hand that will wear well, and that takes to cabling beautifully.

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Cushman is my pick for those beach evenings in Maine, when the sun is setting in a riot of pink and you’re frantically racing for that last sand dollar.

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As Jackie can attest, I’ll run barefoot on the beach even in late September… but bare arms is a different story. Even in July, things can get a bit chilly and you need a layer!

I love how the gorgeous String Theory Blue Faced Sport works with the easy, unpretentious texture pattern of this cardigan. The yarn is a dream, and the cardigan is pure Maine. Classic, interesting, and clean all at the same time.

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Shore Ledges is special to me, because it’s what I dreamed up while remembering all of the sunny days I spent out in a boat on the water, as a kid. All of my mom’s many brothers and her father were fishermen, and I spent a lot of time on the water. I love being on the water, and miss it tremendously.

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It’s usually 5 – 10 degrees colder out there, and breezier. You want something to snuggle up in, something cozy and soft and warm. Between the long, slightly-belled sleeves, and the incredible fabric, this sweater is the next best thing to feeling the waves beneath your feet. (That fabric is thanks to the incredible Merino Silk DK from Indigodragonfly. The drape, the softness, the strength, and the color are exquisite.)

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I was so thrilled by the reception to these sweaters at the retreat. The samples got lots of love, and I can’t wait to see my own little stamp of Maine out in the sweater wild.

I tried something different with this pattern release, as well. Since CustomFit is almost out in the wild, I decided to include a “CustomFit recipe” in each of the patterns. These instructions will give you your own version of these three sweaters, but in your size, gauge, and yarn. (With no math!)

I miss living in Maine, and come back here every chance I get. I’ve been wearing the sweaters at home, though, and they give me a wonderful reminder of the place I love most.

FF: Practical Applications

I have to say, I look forward to Fashion Fridays all week long. I just love doing them. But sometimes, I think using only the materials at hand (a.k.a. me) must get a little monotonous for all of you. (What if you aren’t a proportional, straight, athletic sort of figure?)

Enter the lovely Linda, who wrote to me some time ago offering herself up as a Fashion Friday contributor. (I’d love to make an occasional series of these posts, by the way, so please let me know if you’d be interested in participating.) Linda is based in London, where she’s just opened a shop focusing on hand-glazed, ethically sourced British yarns. And this week, she shares her own experience in creating a version of Relax that works perfectly for her.

A while back Amy sent out a call for people to take part in her Fashion Fridays posts and I realised this would be a great way to get myself thinking more critically about what I knit and possible modifications to flatter, so got in touch.

(Linda’s comments will be in quotes throughout.)

Linda wanted to knit Relax for herself:

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I love this sweater, it looks comfortable and cozy (and I’ll admit that I’m a huge fan of Dolman sleeves). Linda, approaching it with a thoughtful eye, knew she’d have to make some changes:

I think most of us have a fairly decent idea of what looks good on us… and we definitely know when something doesn’t! From past experience I instinctively knew that if I knit my Relax to the specified length it would be unflattering but couldn’t really say why.

Here’s Linda in her final selected length (left), and the original (right):

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I love the shorter length on her. Linda does too – here’s what she has to say about it:

It wasn’t until I was mocking the photo up for this post and I started putting my ‘Knit to Flatter’ hat on that I realised the longer length not only emphasised my, shall we say ‘curvesome’, butt and gave no indication of the waist above, but the line across the hips at that point also made it seem wider AND a bit dowdy!

I didn’t think “dowdy” when I looked at the pictures, but I do think Linda’s curves shine through more readily with the shorter length. I notice the dolman sleeve line (which, flatteringly, lands at Linda’s waist) a lot more with the shorter length, which draws the eye up. On the right, my eye is drawn down toward the leg rather than up toward the neck. It’s a little more apparent when Linda raises her arms to the side:

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I think Linda’s Relax looks great on her, and I love the thought she put into creating something she loves. (The difference between the two sweaters really highlights how large a difference sweater length can make, too!) There’s one more ingredient to Linda achieving the perfect sweater for her: The fabric.

Like many of us, Linda was substituting yarn for her Relax. Here’s what she has to say about that process:

A big consideration was also what yarn blend to use, as how a yarn drapes and moves can make a huge difference in boxier designs like this one. I decided to follow Ririko’s lead and chose my BFL/Silk mix, Islington, as the high silk content gives ample drape and therefore hugs into the waist a bit, keeping it from looking too boxy and adding weight to my frame.

So there you have it! Two very small, thoughtful changes (length and fiber) result in an utterly and completely wearable wardrobe staple.

Which is sweater knitting at its finest, basically. Many, many heartfelt thanks to Linda for so generously sharing her own experience; I hope to hear from more of you! (And for those of you who are fans of her yarn, pssst! She’s offering 10% off to folks who join her newsletter.)

I’d love to hear from all of you, too: Have you ever had the experience of making yourself a sweater and just knowing, instinctively, that you wanted to make a tweak? What was it?

Happy Friday!

FF: From Scratch, II

Happy Friday! You all responded so very well to our first CustomFit sweater post, and the beta-tester sweaters popping up everywhere are so amazing, that I thought I’d make something of a regular series of these “From Scratch” profiles.

So this week for Fashion Friday, let’s look at Kim and her CustomFit sweater. I asked Kim to tell me a little bit about her style desires, fit issues, and her sweater. Her comments are in quotes throughout this post.

Kim’s style desires, in her words, are:

  • “I want to look longer and more balanced. Less round and squat.”
  • “I have a shape. I want to enhance the curves I have.” (Amy here, going on record as saying that Kim actually has a gorgeous shape, rather than just “a” shape!)
  • “I like and look best in simple shapes with something special and a little different. Touches of ornamentation that highlight the piece.”
  • “If it’s not comfortable, I won’t wear it. I need fabrics and shapes that can be dressed up for professional events and teaching, but that I can wear in my small town.”
  • “And I want sweaters that make others want to knit sweaters! When it looks right on me, others believe it’s possible for them too.” (Amy here again: I love this. Kim is such a wonderful sweater ambassador, and it feels so amazing to wear a sweater you love.)

Given those desires, Kim’s fit issues are:

  • Her shoulders are “…relatively narrow compared to width of [my] bust. The whole width of my torso at bust level is visually significantly wider than the rest of my torso.”
  • [I have a] “…long torso, short legs and short arms.”
  • [I’m] “…plus sized AND petite, requiring rapid and drastic shaping in order to show any shape at all.”

Kim went on to add that “it’s really the alternating and extreme narrow/wide/narrow/wide/narrow curvature of my body. It’s curvy, but not smoothly and they aren’t easy curves to knit for.”

Now, Kim is another case of “modifications really help“. She’s got a whole whack of sweaters that look great. And yet…

And yet…

This sweater is better.

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Pattern: CustomFit. Relaxed fit, 3/4 sleeves, mid hip length, V neck.
Yarn: Indigodragonfly Merino Sock. Colorway? Special, one of a kind, as fabulous as Kim.
Size: Kim’s. Everywhere.

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So let’s start by talking about shaping, which is Kim’s most challenging issue. Working waist and bust shaping independently on the front and the back of the sweater go a really long way toward sweater nirvana…

…but as it turns out, when you need to shape more than ~every 4th row in one place? The fabric starts to bias and look a little strange.

CustomFit handles this by placing additional dart lines whenever shaping every 4th row isn’t enough. For Kim’s sweater, she needed double lines of darts for the shaping. So CustomFit figured that out, and put them in.

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It handles bust, shoulders, armholes, and biceps independently. So Kim gets a great fit everywhere.

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Again, CustomFit knows how to fit all of you. So Kim’s sweater fits perfectly, everywhere, without Kim ever having to take a single note or make a single calculation or change a single thing. It was built, from scratch, for her body, instead of retrofitted.

It’s still so amazing to me that the best sweaters are also the easiest sweaters. I’m thrilled with the way Kim’s sweater turned out.

  • I love that even though the fit is relaxed and it’s clearly not tight anywhere, Kim’s curves shine through.
  • I love that Kim looks comfortable in all of these pictures. She glows.
  • I love that Kim didn’t need to change anything, or fiddle, or stress about everything working. She just knit.

Kim loves it too. She wanted me to add her thoughts on the sweater, so I’ll share them with you here:

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[Here’s] what I noticed when I first tried on the finished sweater that has NEVER happened before:

The fronts fall straight down, exactly where they’re supposed to fall. Even with modifications, there’s always a bit more of a “split” at the widest part of my hip (high hip). Not here.

The front shaping exactly follows the curve of my body. It’s looser fitting, but you can see the curves! It gives me a waist from all angles. Not just the back.

Sleeves: I finally understand how sleeves are supposed to fit. These follow the shape of my arm, but aren’t too tight and aren’t too loose. The shoulder sits at my shoulder.

I’m not sure it’s possible to be more thrilled with a sweater, but I bet Kim will try. Like many of the beta-testers, she’s already cast on for her next CustomFit sweater.

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We are so, so excited about sharing these sweaters with you. Until the next installment in the “From Scratch” series, which will be 2 weeks from now, keep an eye out on Rav for the customfit pattern (which we expect to be adding soon), and don’t forget that if you want be among the first users, you should join the newsletter.

Have a great and yarn-filled weekend!

Fashion Friday: The Easy Win.

It seems as though sweater weather is just about upon us here in New England. The house is chilly when I wake up in the morning, and the air has that wonderfully crisp, clean quality of fall. It makes me want to pull out my hand knits.

For the past… well, forever, I’ve been talking a lot (a lot) about how to get a sweater that’s 100% perfect for you in every way. I’m passionate about it. Passionate enough, even, to essentially do the work for you.

But I don’t think I’ve talked enough about how easy sweater knitting can be. Sure, perfection takes thought, and has a lovely result. But I think I’ve let perfection be the enemy of the good, for some knitters.

It’s not necessary for the sweater to be perfect for it to be great. Sometimes, you just want to knit. So let’s talk about that.

There is one single, utterly easy step to getting a sweater that is great: Choose a size to fit your shoulders. Or at least to get close to it. This is tremendously important for all of us. I don’t think I’ve ever shown you, here, what happens when I choose a sweater size based on my full bust?

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It’s a nice sweater, and gloriously soft, but it’s a bit big, eh? (Details: Delish, from the book.)

This sweater has just one inch of positive ease in my bust. I know! I know.

The first sweater I ever knit, which I immediately gave away, looked like this. The second sweater I ever knit, I chose to make a size that fit my shoulders. I made no other modifications. I still wear it today.

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Let me say that again: No modifications. I knit the pattern as written. I just chose a better size for my shoulders. Would I tweak this, if I were doing it again today? Sure. I’d fiddle with the shaping, make it longer… …my standard set of mods for every sweater, now. But that’s not really necessary.

As is, this sweater is really really great. (Details: Isla, by Kim Hargreaves.)

Let me show you a few more sweaters knit as written, okay? The first is Eunny Jang’s Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I chose an even smaller size on this one, to better fit my shoulders. But again: No modifications.

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It looks great, right? I still wear it today. The perfect should not be the enemy of the good.

However.

If I can get you to do two things, I’d urge you to: (a) Pick a good size, and (b) Choose a pattern with waist shaping in the body of the sweater, rather at the side seam. That’s it! Just choose a slightly different pattern. Here’s why:

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This is Trimmings, in the same size as the Tangled Yoke. The only difference is the way the shaping is worked into the sweater. See the little flare I’m getting on the tangled yoke, above? And the extra fabric in the small of my back? Not a problem here.

Waist shaping done in the body of your sweater pieces removes the fabric where you get smaller, resulting in a more flattering fit. This sweater looks pretty great on me. And you know what? No modifications.

One more, and then I’ll urge you to get started on your next (first?) sweater: I want to show you a direct comparison to the Delish cardigan, above, following these two guidelines. This is New Towne, which is similar to Delish in many ways, chosen in an appropriate size for me. The pattern is written with waist shaping the way I prefer it. And it’s knit with no modifications.

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Here’s a side-by-side with Delish:


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It’s utterly amazing what very small choices can do for the wearability of your hand-knits, even if you don’t want to think about a single mod. Are modifications great? Sure, I think so. Are they strictly necessary for a great, wearable sweater?

Not always, by a long shot.

So whether you want an easy and great win, or to work for perfection: Get knitting! Sweater weather is almost here.