Sweater Season: A Few of Our Favorite Tips
[Pictured: Rory, from Autumn/Winter 2020, in Weld in Red Feather]
Okay, we admit it: we're both die-hard sweater knitters, and we think pretty much any time of the year is sweater season. But, both of us have a penchant for starting new projects in this after-holiday time, as a moment to reflect and start to focus on something a little longer-term after our frenzied needles knit gifts for friends and relatives. It's still deep enough in the winter that there's plenty of time to wear the FO, and we're able to imbue it with hopes, dreams, and plans for the year ahead. As we've been working on sweaters for our upcoming Deep Winter collection, we've been thinking about some of our favorite sweater knitting tips and tricks from now, well, a lot of years and a lot of sweaters. We'll be sharing them with you over the next few weeks, in the hopes that some of them may help your first sweater projects of 2021, whether they're your first sweaters or your hundredth. Here's our first one in this series. Looking for an H+W sweater to start your year off right? Find the full set here.
Sloane's Best Sizing Tip: Closet, Meet Tape Measure
One of the biggest ways sweater projects go awry is when we knit the wrong size. This happens for a huge variety of reasons (we don't have accurate body measurements, we have narratives we tell ourselves about particular body parts that may or may not be accurate, we made modifications we maybe shouldn't have, etc., etc.). But one of the most common reasons is the easiest to fix: we aren't sure quite how we'd like the kind of garment we're making to fit, and we don't have a great intuitive understanding of what a particular amount of ease means on our bodies.
Fortunately, this one's super easy to avoid. Most of the time, we're trying to knit a sweater that has something in common with something already in our wardrobe: it's the same silhouette, the same armhole construction, the same basic weight, etc. So, go find that thing (or combination of things, if need be -- maybe you've got something that's the right weight but not the same armhole style, or you've got something that's the right kind of armhole but it's cropped and you're making a longer sweater, or what have you).
Lay it out flat on a hard surface, and get out your tape measure and the schematic for the pattern you're planning on making. Compare the key dimensions of your example garment to the schematic dimensions for the pattern you're planning on making. Focus on the hardest things to alter -- bicep, armhole depth, and bust circumference, but check lengths, hip circumference, and any waist shaping as applicable.
Pick the size that's closest to the key dimensions of your sample garment. It won't be exactly the same (in part because even the lightest hand knits are always heavier than ready-to-wear garments), but it will give you an approximate sense of how your sweater will fit once it's finished, and reassure you that you're aiming for a garment that is close to how you like that kind of thing to fit. I like to keep a list of these sample garments in a note on my phone, so that I have something to refer back to when I'm ready to make something new.
We've got a whole bunch of our favorite sweater-knitting insights to share over the next few weeks, but we'd love to hear yours! Drop us a line at email@example.com or in the comments below with your favorite sweater-knitting tip.