Introduction to Darts: Vertical and Short-Row

The now-infamous Bust Darts
Today we continue our adventures into the Land of Bust Darts…

What exactly are Darts?
Darts are ways of adding (or subtracting) fabric in a small area in order to create more (or less) room in a very small, very specific area. The darts are placed so that they give more room for your curves–belly, bust, and booty all can be helped with the judicious addition of dartage.

In knitting, as in sewing, if you work a decreasing dart, you are taking away fabric: decreasing the number of stitches takes away fabric. To illustrate this with ordinary fabric: take a fold of your shirt between your fingers and pinch it closed. This makes the area around the dart smaller.

In knitting, again as in sewing, if you work an increasing dart, you are adding fabric: increasing the number of stitches adds more fabric. To illustrate this with ordinary fabric: Imagine if you were to cut up along the seam line of your pants legs, and then sew in fabric triangles between the seams of each leg. You'd end up with roomier pants legs (bell-bottoms, actually).

How do you work a dart?
There are as many different ways to work darts in knitting as there are clever knitters to invent them. But basically, more or less, you can break them up into Short-Row Darts and Vertical Darts. (Now that I have said that, you folks will come up with sixteen other kinds of darts that I don't know about.)

Differences Between Short-Row Darts and Vertical Darts

Short-row darts are formed by working partial rows to "build up" one small portion of your fabric. Thus: You can work an insert using short-row darts on the armhole side of your bust, and this will give your sweater some room for The Girls. (You may also be familiar with using short-rows to build up the back neck of a sweater, or to make sock heels. In fact…sock heels. Think about the shape of those for a minute. Little miniature bust cups, right? Exactly.) Worked horizontally, these darts add height to a small section of your sweater's bust area.

Vertical darts are worked, well, vertically. They are very similar to tailor's darts that run up and down the front of some blouses–they nip in where you need less room, and increase to give you more room where you need it. Worked vertically, these darts add/subtract width across the front (back) of the garment. In fact, they are the same idea as waist shaping, only used more dramatically. The increases and decreases in waist shaping are worked once every several rows, to make gentle curves; the increases and decreases in darts can be worked every other row (or every row) to quickly add or subtract fabric. Generally, most of us do not have very much vertical distance between bustline and underbust, so the decreases/increases have to be worked very close together–every other row/round, if not every row/round. A line of decreases/increases worked so closely together in a vertical line forms a dart.

Me and my hot Tomato in progress

Where Can You Use Darts?

 Anyplace that needs extra room or extra shaping. My home-economics teacher in middle school used to say, "Girls, you are not refrigerators. Mark those darts and use them!"

Bellies: If you have a round little belly, you can work vertical increases in a top-down garment from the narrowest part of your waist down to the widest part of your belly in order to create more belly room. (For bottom up: Work decreases from the widest part of your belly up to your waist area. Note that you would want to adjust the hem cast-on stitches accordingly.)

Bottoms: If you have a voluptuous backside, work your darts as vertical increases in a top-down garment from the waist down to the widest part of your booty on the back of the sweater to create more booty room. (For bottom up: Work decreases from the widest part of your booty up to your waist. And you would want to adjust the hem cast-on stitches accordingly.)

Anywhere: If you have unusual body curves of any type, a strategically-placed dart might be just the thing to help your sweaters fit better. A rather odd example: My dog, Buddy, had to have his left foreleg amputated due to injuries sustained in Hurricane Katrina. (We're not from there, we got him as a rescue dog months after the storm.) He has a pronounced "bump" where his leg used to be. If I wanted to make him a sweater, the bump isn't big enough to be a stump (thus warranting a sleeve), but it is big enough to make a regular sweater rather ill-fitting. I could use darts to shape the Bump region, thus giving him the best custom-fitted tripod dog sweater from here to Baton Rouge. (Told you it was going to be an odd example!)

Coming up: How to figure out Where The Darts Go; Dart Math.

— Sandi

P.S. I'm still out of the office, but I am reading comments from my Secret Location. So leave a comment and let me know if you have any questions or nifty things to say!

Past Adventures of the Hot Tomato

You Asked For A Top, We Gave You A Tomato

On The Third Day, I Ripped

My Surreal Knitting Life and That Stripe

In Which The Commenters Chant: Bust Darts, Bust Darts, Bust Darts!

A Hot Tomato

Questions, Questions: The Darts and More

Increases and Decreases for Sweater Knitting

Sandi Wiseheart
is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? Remember: It's the Week of Knitting For Your Heart. Knit what you yearn to knit, instead of what you should knit, just for this one week. (I promise, the world won't end.)

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