Modeled Bust Ease and the Painted Pullover

I’ve only recently started dabbling in knitted sweater design. I’ve knit a bunch of them and I’ve studied them in my career with Interweave, but my Green Apple Tank from Knitscene Summer 2015 was the first garment I’ve designed. My second design, Painted Pullover, was recently published in knit.purl Fall/Winter 2015.

Painted-Pullover knit.purl Fall/Winter 2015 photo by Harper Point Photography

I knit this sample to fit me—I’d talked with Lisa Shroyer about sizing and we agreed that it would be modeled on a lady with a smaller size for the photo shoot (and isn’t she lovely?!), so the magazine would show it with a lot of ease (17″ of ease in the end).

On me, the same sweater has about 2″ of ease. My personal preference is to not wear things with a lot of ease—I feel like I’m swimming in my clothes when they’re too loose. But a little bit of extra give is much more comfortable and generally flattering, especially when you’re a larger size like me.

painted pullover

I know a lot of people can be thrown off when a pattern calls for a lot of ease, but guess what. You don’t have knit a size with the modeled bust ease. It’s true—when we list the modeled bust ease in the magazine, it’s really so that knitters have a baseline. If I flipped through the magazine and hadn’t designed this sweater, I’d think to myself “Oh that’s a nice design, but I would want less ease because that’s my personal preference.”

Good Folk Photo

Less ease, as modeled on me, shows off the purl channel in the middle of the sweater a bit more; more ease looks nice and drapey, a nice layering piece for autumn days.

painted pullover 1

To best choose a sweater size to fit you, there are a couple of quick checks you can make to ensure that you get the fit you want, not something that’s “instructed” by a magazine.

1. Pull your favorite sweater out of the closet. It doesn’t matter if it’s one you knit or one you purchased, just find a sweater that you love to wear and makes you feel good when you wear it.

2. Lay the sweater on a flat surface and grab a measuring tape. Measure the width at the bust, shoulders, and hips of the sweater.

3. Double your flat sweater measurements to get the general circumference of the sweater, and then compare the circumference of the sweater to your own body circumference (if you haven’t measured yourself recently, it can be very helpful to have someone else measure you to ensure the tape is straight and not twisted in a way that yields false measurements). Does your sweater have 2″ of ease? Four inches? Negative ease? Keep in mind that amount of ease.

4. Look at the schematic for the pattern in question. Do your favorite-sweater measurements line up with any of the schematic measurements? You may need to refer to your flat sweater measurements if a sweater is knit flat and then seamed. Sweaters worked in the round, such as Painted Pullover, should give schematic measurements for the circumference. If your bust measures 40″, and your favorite sweater has 6″ of ease, choose the 46″ size for Painted Pullover. If your bust measures 40″ and your favorite sweater has 4″ of ease, think critically about the finished result you want. Knitting this sweater in a light DK weight yarn results in a drapey fabric that flows around the body and could look just as good with 2″ of ease as with 6″ of ease for a 40″ bust circumference—the question is, which would make you feel more comfortable and happy to wear this sweater at every opportunity?

4a. Usually, the most important number is your shoulder width. Sweaters hang from our shoulders, so a sweater that fits in the shoulders will result in the best fit overall. Sweaters with drop shoulders or modified dolmans, such as Painted Pullover, have less defined shoulders, so if your shoulder width doesn’t match exactly, it’s not as vital to the overall fit of the sweater.

It requires a tiny, tiny amount of math and a little homework, but choosing the right size to knit a sweater starts with you and your preferences.

There are so many other amazing patterns in this issue of knit.purl to which you could apply these same principles and get your best-fitting sweater. The Beaded Ski Cardigan is meant to be a little closer fitting; the One Month Sweater sweater is also designed to have more ease; Skinny Pop Pullover is modeled with just a smidgen of negative ease.



Grab your copy of knit.purl Fall/Winter 2015 today!

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