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Filtering by Tag: fit

Fit Clinic: If Your Colourwork Sweater Fits Funny...

LBHandknits

colourworkfit.jpg

Happily for all of us who enjoy stranded knitting, sweaters with circular colourwork yokes are extremely popular at the moment. And a number of new designers are infusing this traditional Scandinavian style with some much appreciated freshness and creativity. 

But of course creative freshness ushers in a fresh set of issues! And there are knitters who find themselves having some very specific fit problems with this popular style of sweater.

Namely:
1. that the colourwork section of the yoke feels too tight, even if the floats are kept appropriately loose and the section meets gauge, and
2. that the underams sit too low

The combination of these two issues can make the sweater feel constraining, to the point that it is difficult to move one's arms. Not exactly ideal! So how to avoid this?

Okay. So firstly, let me say that I have not actually seen any of the patterns I am referring to. My observations are based entirely on the sweaters people are knitting. And when I look at those sweaters, I notice two consistent themes, which I will address individually:

1. The depth of the colourwork motif exceeds what would normally be the wearer's yoke depth.

The way I see it, this is a manifestation of row gauge variability. In other words, the knitter's row gauge exceeds what the designer envisioned, and there is no way to alter that without also altering the knitter's stitch gauge, if that makes sense, since the two are connected. So instead, I can see two potential solutions. The easy but disappointing one, is to omit rounds from the bottom part of the colourwork section (we are assuming a top-down sweater construction here), allowing for the sleeve separation to happen earlier (i.e. higher up). The aesthetically nicer, but more difficult solution, is to place the colourwork higher up on the yoke. The reason this is more difficult, is that it involves making decisions regarding where to place the yoke increases, which would otherwise happen before the colourwork begins. Which brings me to the second theme...

2. The colourwork motif does not appear to incorporate increases (assuming the sweater is worked top-down), which are instead made only above and below the colourwork section. 

colourworkfit2.jpg

Now: Ideally, a top-down circular yoke construction will incorporate increases consistently throughout the yoke, as shown in the drawing on the left.But incorporating increases into a colourwork chart can be awkward, and disruptive to the motif's aesthetic, and so it is understandable that designers might want to avoid it - placing the increases before and after the colourwork instead, as shown in the drawing on the right.

And if the colourwork section is only a narrow band, it is fine to leave that part without shaping; the yoke will block out evenly. However, the deeper the colourwork chart, the more likely it is that the fabric will look (and feel) uneven if increases are not incorporated into that section. When it comes to the sweater designs in question, I suspect that the colourwork is borderline too deep to start with, and that the knitter's row gauge (which is deeper than the designer's) pushes it over the edge to being properly too deep. 

Am I being confusing here? I know this post is a bit more technical than previous Fit Clinic topics. So if you have any questions about what I am trying to say here please ask in the comments and I will try my best to explain better! 

So what is the general solution? If you are not confident in altering the colour section of an existing pattern - either by omitting the bottom rounds of the colourwork, by moving it higher up on the yoke, and/or by adding shaping to the colourwork chart, I suggest looking for a pattern where the colourwork section is shallower, sits higher up on the yoke, and/ or incorporates yoke shaping. 

For example, here is a (free!) top-down pattern which meets these criteria:
Iðunn, on Knitty

And a (free!) bottom-up pattern that meets them as well:
Ryðrauð, on ravelry 

Because the thing is, no matter how hard a designer might try, they cannot accommodate all body types (what I mean by this, is that your individual anatomy might require a shallower yoke depth than the designer planned for). And neither can the designer always anticipate inconsistencies in row gauge. So in the end, it is all about choosing the type of pattern that works for your body shape and for your knitting style... and, ideally, lets you move your arms!  

 

 

Fit Clinic: If Your Socks Sag, or Slide Off Your Feet...

LBHandknits

saggysocks.jpg

Oftentimes, when a knitter first has a go at making socks, their initial pair comes out too big. In seeking to address this, the impulse tends to be, to reduce the number of cast-on stitches. Because fewer stitches equals a smaller sock, right? It also makes for less knitting, faster knitting! Not to mention it is more economical on the yarn meterage. 

Unfortunately, reducing stitch count doesn't always solve the saggy sock problem. The smaller-sized sock might start out fine. But it will quickly get stretched out with wear, and again start to sag and slide off. 

This is because, more often than not, the real problem is the density of the sock's fabric - i.e. gauge. If a sock is too drapey, that drape - no matter how few stitches you cast on - will result in the fabric stretching and sagging.

In order to fit well - and, more importantly, to retain their fit with repeated wear - socks must be knitted densely; at a considerably tighter gauge than a garment. 

To give you some concrete figures in relation to my own knitting: 

For fingering-weight yarn (400m/100g), my typical garment gauge is 28-30 stitches per 10cm.  
My typical sock gauge is 35-37 stitches per 10cm.

As far as how many stitches to cast on, that translates to around 64 stitches for a typical adult female foot (assuming, again, fingering-weight yarn, and fairly 'vanilla' socks with no colourwork, chevron, slip stitch, cables, or other motifs that call for modifications to stitch count). 

So let's take a scenario where you've tried knitting a basic 64 stitch sock but the result is too big. Take a ruler to it and check: are you getting gauge (of at least 35 stitches per 10cm)? If not, next time keep the same stitch count but go down in needle size.

Now let's take another scenario, where your go-to stitch count for socks is 56. Your finished socks start out the correct size for you, but stretch out with wear. What you need to do here is go up in stitch count to 64, and at the same time go down in needle size to meet gauge. The result will be the same size as your current socks, without the sagging.

And of course as far as what size needles to use, that will depend on your individual tension. Being a loose knitter myself, I knit fingering-weight socks on 2.00mm needles. Others can get the proper gauge on 2.50mms, while others need to go sub-2.00mm! Remember that needle size is only a means to get the correct gauge, so use whatever size works for you to achieve that.

I receive a lot of questions about saggy socks, so hopefully this is helpful. Most basic sock patterns offer sizes in increments of 8 cast-on stitches, so finding patterns with a 64 stitch count (including, ahem, my own!) should not be a problem.

Knitting socks at a tight gauge will not only prevent them from growing saggy with wear; it will also make them last longer. But that is a topic for another post!

Fit Clinic: If Your Hat Is Too Loose at the Brim...

LBHandknits

HatFit.jpg

After my earlier post on raglan sleeve sweaters, I thought it might be useful to mention another problem area I often hear about from knitters: hats!

Hats, eh? Yes, they are quick and easy to knit. And yet so many seem to experience fit issues. The most common problem, seems to be that the hat is loose at the brim, and that it grows ever-looser with wear - to the point that it eventually it starts to slide, or fall, off the wearer's head!

As before, I have finally had a look at the patterns folks who mention this problem are using. And I've noticed a common theme: The instructions call for the brim of the hat to be knitted over the same number of stitches as the body, and/or on the same size needles.

This I found quite surprising, having myself been taught that the brim of a knitted hat must be considerably tighter than the body, in order for the hat to stay on the wearer's head. 

For example: For a typical beanie, as a rule of thumb, I would want the brim to be knitted over 75% of the body stitches, and on needles at least 1mm smaller in diameter than the needles used for the body.

So, let's say you are using a hat pattern (bottom-up, in the round), and it reads as follows:
. Cast on 100 stitches using 4mm needles; close round
. Work in ribbing until brim measures 1"
. Then work in pattern until hat measures as desired, before decreasing for the crown

If you want the hat to sit more snugly on your head, modify these instructions as follows:
. Cast on 75 stitches using 3mm needles; close round
. Work in ribbing until brim measures 1"
. Switch to 4mm needles
. Next Round: K all, and at the same time increase by 25 stitches evenly throughout the round
. Then work in pattern  until hat measures as desired, before decreasing for the crown

Note that even if you are going for a relaxed or slouchy beanie, the fit of the brim should still be tight if the hat is to stay on securely. So depending on how slouchy the design is meant to be, I would try knitting the brim over 65%, 60%, or maybe even 50% of the body stitches, and again on needles at least 1mm smaller in diameter.

Hopefully, the above makes sense and is helpful! 

{And one request here, dear readers: If you enjoy a post, or have further questions about the topic, please comment here rather than emailing me  - firstly, because I live in a rural area and my internet time is very limited; and second so that others can benefit from what you have to say or ask. I allow anonymous commenting, so there are no obstacles or privacy issues. Thanks in advance!}

 

Fit Clinic: If Your Raglans Bunch Up at the Underarms...

LBHandknits

raglanbunch.jpg

Sometimes when I wear a raglan-sleeve sweater or dress I have made, a fellow knitter will remark on the lack of bunching at the underarms. They will then go on to explain that, whenever they try the raglan construction, they are always plagued by this unsightly problem. Do I know why that is?

Without seeing the garment they'd made, I could not really say, other than perhaps a too-shallow yoke depth could be the culprit (this post from Fringe Association explains this pretty well). However, a recent encounter made me aware of another possibility.

A few days ago, I was chatting with a local knitter and she mentioned the raglan-bunch. Frustratingly, she's had this same issue with several sweaters now, and making the yoke deeper did not seem to help.

Curious, I asked to have a look at the patterns she was using. And in terms of the raglan shaping (top-down), the instructions in all of them read something like this:
. increase for the raglans every other round, until so-many body and sleeve stitches are attained
. then, work in pattern (no longer increasing) until the yoke is deep enough to separate the sleeves

I looked at the instructions, then looked at the knitter, and finally it dawned on me what the problem was.

These instructions, while perfectly typical of raglan construction, result in a yoke shape that favours broad or squarish shoulders - that is, shoulders which widen fairly rapidly.

Unfortunately, for those who have narrow, or sloping shoulders, this shaping will result in too much fabric being created too high in the yoke - leading to bunching.

If you suspect that this might be the problem for you, try re-writing the yoke instructions given in the pattern as follows:
. increase for the raglans every other round, until 75% of the suggested body and sleeve stitches are attained
. then, increase for the raglans every 4th round until the full suggested number of stitches are attained
. finally, work in pattern (no longer increasing) until the yoke is deep enough to separate the sleeves

This will result in a more gradual raglan increase, favouring those with sloping or narrow shoulders.