Yay for February!

January was inordinately cold and damp around here.

I realize most of the world is usually cold and damp in winter, but we live in South Texas where hot summers (9-plus months of the year) and mild winters prevail.

I do not mind the cold. It is a nice change of pace, and we have central heating. I even have a fair number of wool sweaters (that I never seem to pull out to wear).

In the same vein, the wet does not really bother me, either, aside from the dogs tracking mud in the house.

It is the combination of pervasive cold and dampness that seems to settle into the joints, and I have actually gone days without ever really warming up. The hands and feet were perpetually frosty and I was forced to continue adding layers. I did not find that experience pleasant. As such, I have a profound respect for those of you in the frozen northern climes who deal with this for very long winters.

Bless you.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the big loom is down and the little loom has not yet been shipped, much less arrived.

That means only one thing: There has been quite a bit of knitting going on.

In addition to two pairs of socks being knit two-at-a-time for the faithful husband and love of my life (I realized the last pair I knit him was in 2012!), I have a Fair Isle sweater underway. There are actually a good (or ungodly, depending on how sensitive one is) number of works in progress, but I have not touched those in ages, the most I can honestly say is that I have other things "on the needles."

Thus, two pairs of socks and one sweater did not seem like an unreasonable number of projects to have active at one time.

Rationalize with me, please.

One of the things I enjoy when I finally sit down in the evening, before I prepare for bed, is my Instragram feed. I follow knitters, weavers, foodies, water colorists, and dogs, particularly Havanese and Rhodesian Ridgebacks, although there are a few wolves, too.

What can I say? My interests are wide and varied.

As I settled into my little love seat, I tried to shrug off a chill. The dogs and I had just returned from the last late night constitutional. CoalBear (the Havanese) was curled into the side of my thigh and Bane (the 112# Rhodesian was thankfully lying on my feet) when my scrolling discovered this lovely piece of work:

Quince & Co. was promoting a new book of patterns called "Plain and Simple Collection" by Pam Allen. Larch is the name of this design. 

My first thought was: "I would have lived in that thing for the last month."

The book did not go live until February 1st. 

As soon as I woke this morning, I bought it immediately.

It is worked in worsted weight wool. I actually adore the color, but would love a black or brown one, I am boring in my wardrobe colors that way; however, I have a stash. In that stash are no less than two dozen carefully preserved bags of worsted weight yarns in sweater quantities. 

In other words, I have enough worsted weight yarn to make, at least, twenty-four adult sweaters.

In other, other words, there will be no yarn purchased for this endeavor.

In fact, one particular yarn sprang to mind as I sat studying the photo:  Madelinetosh Vintage in Nightbloom. 

I have learned over the years that solid yarns look best on me over tonal or variegated ones, but I just love this color, and I already own it. My plan is to alternate skeins every two rows, a trickier prospect, as this one is knit in-the-round, but no less doable. 

I shall swatch tonight.

I even plan to follow my own advice. 

In the past, when I have taught a series in Sweater Knitting, I have encouraged my students to look to their closets to determine what fit (i.e., ease) they prefer in their clothing. It is one thing to simply take bust, waist, and hip measurements and something else to take a garment that fits well and comfortably to determine what size to make a sweater.

Positive ease is my friend, and my most comfortable outfits are usually about 4 to 6 inches wider at the largest part of my bust than my actual bust measurement.

This is determined by standing in my bra and measuring the fullest point of my bust and writing that number down. That is measurement Z.  

Then I find a top that I really enjoy wearing that has a similar drape and fabric to the sweater I wish to knit. T-Shirts are fine, but they usually do not have the weight and drape of knitted fabric. 

In this instance, I chose an acrylic (gasp!) sweater I picked up at TJMaxx three-plus years ago for all of $21. I have actually worn the snot out of this thing, as it is wash and wear, even if I occasionally forget and throw it in the dryer.  Oops!

I put the sweater on and used tape to mark the fullest part of my breasts. This made it easier for me to measure the width of the sweater at my widest part when I took it off and laid it flat.  I took that measurement (from the flat garment), and multiplied it times two to get the circumference. I named this measurement X. Unless the sweater is worn like a leotard or catsuit, X should be greater than Z. 

If X is less than Z, subtract the lesser number from the greater and you will have NEGATIVE ease.

As I avoid catsuits, I simply subtract Z from X. On the sweater above, this number was 6. This means I am most comfortable is over-sized sweaters that have 6-inches of positive ease. Stated another way, this sweater, at the fullest part of my bust, is 6-inches larger than my actual bust circumference.

Coincidentally, I also did this with the very comfortable, light-weight tee I am wearing. The difference with the tee is only 4-inches of positive ease.

Both the tee and sweater are comfortable to me, but as the tee is much lighter and thinner, there is less drape, and I do not feel the need for extra fabric. This illustrates how important it is to find something that is very similar in weight and drape of the knitted fabric.

Which reminds me: Of course, I could pull out a knitted sweater and see what that tells me...

I made this one last year: 

It is knit in dk weight yarn, slightly lighter than the worsted for the present project. It is also heavier than the TJMaxx sweater. It has 6.5-inches of positive ease.

Thus, it is a safe bet for the Larch design that I should choose a size 6-7 inches larger than my actual bust size.

As I have relayed this exercise, I had a fleeting moment of panic. I could not remember what size I had selected for the current sweater underway and seriously doubted that I had actually "taken my own advice" and made these measurements. However, a quick glance at the pattern shows I had selected the correct size. Whew.

Please note that ease is based on personal preference and what is comfortable for the wearer. My ease numbers are specific to me and no one else.  I am also 50-years-old and routinely select comfort over beauty daily, if the TJMaxx sweater were not already a huge clue. Ha!

I hope someone finds this helpful. If anyone has any questions...


Popular Posts