Newsletter Two: More on Fit
Hope you all had a lovely time celebrating Easter, Passover, or whatever you like to do to bring on the spring. Here in New York, Central Park is blooming with lovely trees and flowers, it's a real treat! Here are some photos I took today -- I'm lucky to live just a block away from the park. (Click on any photo to enlarge - much prettier!)
Happy to announce that Tammy of Connecticut was the winner of my book Custom Crocheted Sweaters! Congratulations Tammy!!
I read everyone's comments on their sweater fit problems with interest. They have given me renewed fervor to help beat back fit issues forever! Trust me people -- making crochet sweaters that fit is really not as difficult as you may think or fear. Let me start with a few general tips, and then address specific issues people mentioned in their posts.
Let's start with fabric, as this is so important in crochet. In order to make wearable fabric, I highly recommend using a yarn that is thinner than worsted weight. If the only patterns you are finding for sweaters are in worsted weight, you may not be looking in the right places. Now, I am not saying you cannot make a nice sweater with worsted, but it's hard -- the fabric will have a tendency to be too rigid and thick. Further, the weight of the whole sweater will be heavy, therefore probably uncomfortable to wear, and the sweater will pull down and stretch out over time. This is particularly an issue if you are a large person -- I urge folks to keep in mind the total weight of the yarn -- a sweater that weighs more than a pound may not be very wearable.
The thinner the yarn you use, the easier it can be to achieve drape. Lacy, open stitches will have more drape than closed stitch patterns. But, if you want a sweater with no holes in the fabric, consider using a sport or fingering weight yarn.
Different fibers have more or less drape: on the good drape list are silk, alpaca, certain acrylics (viscose), and bamboo. If you make a swatch using the same exact stitch and gauge in a silk/alpaca yarn, and compare it with a swatch in, say, cotton or wool, you will easily see the difference in fabric.
Another factor in fabric drape is the height of the stitches used. In general, don't use short stitches, like single crochet, for sweaters. The taller the stitch, the more drape it gives the fabric.
Beyond drape is the issue of your size and shape. Ladies, there is no way around it, in order for your sweaters to fit, you have to know your actual measurements. You can find great instrux on how to measure yourself here.
Next, please compare your measurements to those in the schematic for the sweater. Do you know what all those numbers stand for?
If you have compared your numbers to the schematic and they don't match, I recommend that you study how to alter patterns. That's why I wrote my book, to impart this knowledge. Most who posted had very specific issues that make them great candidates for sweater alteration.
Quite a few people mentioned fit problems with the upper arms and shoulders. The area of the upper arm that is crucial to measure is around the bicep - or whatever is the largest part of your arm. I recommend adding about 1 or 2 inches of ease to that measurement -- and that is the number that the upper part of your sleeve should measure.
Fit issues that involve shoulders in relation to bust are very very common -- and you're likely to encounter the same issue repeatedly when working patterns, because designers use "standard sizing." Many people are not standard, but keep this in mind: you're always going to depart from standard in the same way. That means, once you understand the alteration you have to make, you will be doing something similar each time you make a sweater.
Whether your shoulders are too small for most sweaters, or too large, you'll need to know your shoulder width measurement. Measure across the shoulders -- from the outside of the clavicle bone on one side across to the other. It will probably measure somewhere between 14" and 18". On this measurement, there should be NO EASE added. Your finished sweater should measure quite close to your actual shoulder width.
Now measure your bust circumference. I generally recommend anywhere from no ease to 1 or 2 inches of ease around the bustline. Crochet fabric that has drape will flow nicely around your curves and in most cases, more ease will not improve the look, just add bulk. Also, crochet fabric is stretchy, and will stretch out more over time with wear.
What to do after you've taken all these measurements? Compare your shoulder measurement to the schematic for the sweater -- do any of the sizes match yours? You should follow the instructions for that size when making the shoulder section of the sweater.
But, for the bust section of the sweater, you may have to use a different size than for the shoulders. The problem is, how to reconcile the two? Here is where you need to learn to modify the armhole of the sweater, because that's the part where the dimensions around the bustline are reduced to the dimension across the shoulders.
You can learn this from my book, and also in my Sweater Classes, which are running right now!
Are these tips helpful? If you have more questions to ask about these issues, please do post a comment, and I'll try my best to answer! Anyone who posts by midnight Monday, April 16 is eligible to win A FREE SCHOLARSHIP to Sweaters 101, Course One. Please state your interest in the class in your post. One winner will be selected randomly.