Knit For Your Shape: Waist Q & A

Lots of interesting questions in your comments this week, so I pulled out a few to answer in the hopes that together we can clarify some of this! In the end, though, remember that the important part is to know your body's shape and be able to transfer that knowledge to your knitting. The terminology is just there to help describe certain things. If the fancy terms don't help you, then…don't use them! Find another way to document and work with your own shapely self.

Sarah L:
I always thought being long-waisted or short-waisted was related to the proportion of your torso to your legs. I am tall, and have more torso than the average tall girl, so I have to adjust my tops and dresses accordingly. If that's not being long-waisted, what would you call it?

I would call that "having a long torso." Realize that "body shape" terminology can be used very inconsistently from one "expert" to another! (Welcome to the wacky world of fashion.) As for "long-waisted" being related to your height: I would argue that the length of your legs has very little effect on how your sweaters fit the curves of your torso! If you are in a wheelchair, the proportions of your torso remain the same as if you were standing; if your legs lengthen due to some sort of bone condition, your waist stays in the same place. If you are long-legged, you might wish to add a bit of length to your hems, but you wouldn't have to adjust the waist shaping because of your leg length. I like Katie's comment on this point best:

Katie H:
You can have a long torso and be short-waisted, or the other way around. The short- or long-waisted measurements only have to do with where *your* waist falls on *your* torso, no matter its overall length.

Stef M:
This gives me one (neck-to-waist) measurement in front and an entirely different one in back. As well as long waisted and short waisted I guess some of us also need front waisted and back waisted? And do I measure following the contour of my belly? Or straight up and down?

In this exercise, we were strictly looking at proportions rather than actual measurements; the tape measure was just an aid to helping you visualize. Again: Look at yourself in the mirror. Is your waist closer to your neck (short-waisted) or closer to your crotch (long-waisted)? You will need to know more exact measurements for fitting your sweaters once we get to that part of the Knit For Your Shape series—and yes, there, it is very possible that you will have a different front waist measurement than back waist.

Marisa L:
I'm also confused about where my official "waist" is.

Instructions on finding your waist and how-to-measure photos are here.

Bertha: Long waist, short midriff

Kelley D:
Okay, so I understood that the length of waist was the measurement from hip bone to rib bone….only an inch or less on me, but as much as 6 inches on other girls. So I am short waisted, but the other girls would be long waisted.

This is one of those "experts using the same terms for different things and making us all wacky from confusion" thingies. In truth, there really isn't an official term for this. I call it the "midriff length" but that's just my little terminology. So take a look at Bertha: She has a long waist, but a short midriff length. I, on the other hand, have a long waist and a long midriff length.

Laurie R:
You don't need to be totally bare, but if you're going to wear something, they need to be close fitting. As for the drawing…why not do what we did as kids? Grab a roll of newsprint or butcher paper, tape it to a wall (using as many sheets as you need to since those of us more generously endowed might need the wider width), and have a friend draw you. I guess you could lie down on the paper, but I don't know how accurate it would be since our bodies change depending on whether we're standing, sitting, or lying down.

I love it! And no, you do not have to be in your birthday suit. It is actually preferable (and easier) to do this in your bra and underpants, as these give you the actual shape that you "wear" under your sweaters. Just be careful you do not use a purple crayon on a painted white wall 😉


Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. She is now the author of the popular Knitting Daily blog: What's on Sandi's Needles.


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