When Inspiration Strikes, and Some Sweater Knitting Tips
Does anyone know George who works at Theory at the Bloomingdales in Short Hills Mall? Besides that he is great figuring out someone’s aesthetic quickly and with charm, he also has super-mind-meld-powers to draw me over to Bloomingdale’s when there’s merchandise that screams my name. (Please just let me believe that this is what’s happening – it makes it much more fun for me!)
The other day George used his super-mind-meld-powers again, and he hurried me over to show me some goodies he knew I would love. Among other things, he showed me this fabulous and simple sweater in my favorite color (besides pink) – an olive green (which is apparently all the rage for fall). He was totally right, I absolutely loved the sweater (and everything else he showed me) but explained with much respect that “I COULD MAKE THAT.” Then my wheels started turning about how to execute.
For the pattern, the most obvious choice popped up immediately: Amy Herzog’s Custom Fit. If you’re not familiar with this program, Herzog has developed software that generates patterns just for you based on your measurements and gauge. It’s as simple as taking your measurements and knitting up a gauge swatch in your desired yarn. Plug in your numbers, click on some preferences and a pattern pops up for you. Herzog has tons of patterns that incorporate the Custom Fit software, but I already know I want the good-old, basic Tramontane pattern. I know I want it knit without waist shaping, with about 1.5″ to 2” of ease.
The Theory sweater (called Yulia, in case you’d rather go the easy route and buy it from my friend George) is made of a wool that has a bit of drape to it. While nothing came to mind immediately, the perfect yarn popped into my head on the way home: Juniper Moon’s Findley DK. This sumptuous blend of silk and wool has some sheen, so I may opt to throw in a strand of some lace-weight Cima (from Shibui) to add a bit of texture.
The Custom Fit process involves a very important step which I think so many of us overlook when we start to knit ourself a sweater: our measurements. I realize that most women are incredibly hard on themselves and would rather eat sand than take a thorough set of measurements, but it really is so important it you want a proper fitting sweater. The current issue of Vogue Knitting devotes articles to taking your measurements. Deborah Newton’s article discusses the basics and also the importance of taking a measurement around your shoulders (imagine running a measuring tape around your arms and chest with your arms by your side, the circumference of your body right at your arm pit). Herzog also stresses a similar measurement, around your chest right under your arm pits (no arms included this time) which is important especially for women gifted with a great bust. Herzog’s software requires several measurements which may be difficult to take on your own, so don’t be afraid to ask a friend (including your friends at Wool & Grace) for help.
Another tip I share with sweater knitters is to look at their own clothes they love to wear. If you have a sweater with a great fit, measure that! The bust measurement and length from the armhole to the hip are my favorite go-to measurements. Don’t forget sleeve length and the length of the armhole or yoke (depending if you’re making a raglan sleeve or a set-in sleeve). Picking a garment of similar weight to what you’ll be making always helps, but it’s not imperative.
I recently spoke to a friend about all these gorgeous and intricate knitting patterns, and she made the point that in the end the pieces we wear most are the ones that are simple silhouettes. There is so much truth to her point – we can put on these pieces without a second thought. This is all the more reason to take the time to make these staples yourself. Your hand knit sweater, made of gorgeous and high quality fibers, will last longer than almost anything you can buy in the store these days.