Take it ease-y with the Counterpoise Cardigan

When I was asked to write about a project in Wool Studio Vol. VII, I thought, no problem—there are so many great projects to choose from.

Well it turned out to be a problem! Every single one of these projects is fabulous. I mean it, each of them appeals to me in one way or another. This issue is that good. When it came down to it, though, I choose the Kirsten Joel’s Counterpoise Cardigan. It’s a relaxed dolman sleeve sweater with rows of neatly textured waffle stitch.

I love a cardigan (I’m in that “personal summer” part of my life), and Counterpoise is especially chic. It’s important to note that one of the things that makes this garment so flattering, and I think it’s universally so, is the recommended ease in the pattern.

Counterpoise Cardigan

Counterpoise Cardigan by Kirsten Joel

What Is Ease?

Simply stated, ease is how closely or loosely a garment fits. Let’s use sweaters for this explanation.

Negative Ease

When a designer wants a sweater to fit closely, negative ease is used in the design. When knitting a sweater with negative ease, you would choose a bust size that’s SMALLER than your bust measurement. Usually negative ease is one to three inches (but there are no rules).

The finished project will hug your curves, as the designer intended. I encourage you to try a sweater with negative ease. You might be surprised at how great it looks on you (I know I was!).

Positive Ease

Garments designed with positive ease are designed to include extra inches, allowing the sweater to fit loosely. In this case, you knit a size LARGER than your bust size.

I just finished a garment that called for 20″ of positive ease (Joji Locatelli’s Understated). I didn’t do all 20″; I’m very short and it would have been overwhelming. I decided to choose a size that would give me about 13″ of positive ease, and I’m so happy with the result!

How to Tell How Much Ease Is Needed

The designer will tell you in the pattern, but some patterns are more straightforward than others. If the sweater looks particularly loose or slim-fitting, check the pattern details for clues. Some patterns will say right upfront that a sweater includes X inches of ease. But in some designs, you need to dig a little deeper.

In the Counterpoint Cardigan, the ease information appears in a common place, with the size that the model is wearing: “Cardigan shown measures 23¼” on model with 35″ bust.” Wait, what? The model’s bust is measuring more than the size of the cardigan, but the sweater is obviously worn very loose-fitting!

This conundrum should lead you to the pattern schematic. Here’s the one for the Counterpoint.

counterpoise cardigan

The pattern sizes are based on measurement A, which is the bottom of the cardigan. This is half of the circumference (because the sweater is knit in four pieces and not in the round), so the total circumference for the smaller size is 42″.

So, the modeled piece is 46½” around and the model’s bust is 35″. Do the math (pattern size minus model’s bust size), and the cardigan has 11½” of positive ease. Ah, now it makes sense!

As you can see, the positive ease Kirsten used in the Counterpoise Cardigan adds so much to the overall look of the sweater.

I hope this ease business is a little easier to understand now. Let me know in the comments!



counterpoise cardigan

The Counterpoise Cardigan from Wool Studio Vol. VII

Pattern Details

FINISHED SIZE 21 (23¼, 25¾, 28, 30¼, 32½)” back width at lower edge. Cardigan shown measures 23¼” on model with 35″ bust.

YARN Sugar Bush Yarns Bliss (70% extrafine superwash Merino wool, 20% mulberry silk, 10% cashmere; 105 yd [96 m]/1¾ oz [50 g]): #4010 Autumn Leaves, 14 (16, 17, 18, 19, 20) balls.

NEEDLES Size 3 (3.25 mm): 32″ circular (cir) and set of double-pointed (dpn). Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.

NOTIONS Marker (m); removable markers (m); waste yarn for provisional CO; tapestry needle.

GAUGE 23 sts and 35 rows = 4″ in Waffle st.

Want to learn more? Check out these resources:

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