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Crazy for Ewe

Do the right thing - swatch

I always encourage you to swatch before jumping into a project, and with the Custom Fit program, you have to swatch before you can get your pattern.  I know it seems like they're making you finish your vegetables before you can have ice cream, but it's not meant to be mean.  The truth is that it's impossible to generate a Custom Fit pattern without a swatch because the patterns are all generated specifically for your measurements and your swatch. 

But it's still important to work a swatch even if you're not doing a Custom Fit sweater.  In fact, I think it's important to swatch even if you're doing something besides.  Here's why

  1. Get to know your yarn.   A swatch is your first date with your yarn.  You have a chance to see how it behaves on the needles and whether you like knitting it as much as you liked looking at in the skein.  Give yourself enough time with the yarn to make an informed decision on it.  Do you like the feel of it as you knit it?  Do you like way the fabric feels and looks at the gauge you've knit it? 
  2. See how your yarn looks knit up. That sounds pretty obvious, but it's amazing how much different a yarn can look when it's knit up, which is pretty important since you won't be wearing the skein.  This point is particularly important with multicolored yarns or yarns with an unusual construction or texture.  More often than not, you'll be even more in love with the yarn as you knit it than before. 
  3. See how your fabric reacts to washing. Some yarns grow, some shrink a smidge.  If that's the case, better know that ahead of time and adjust accordingly.  Not all yarns change, but they are all better after a nice warm bath.  I mean, who isn't?  Give your swatch a chance to show you just how lovely it can be.
  4. Practice your stitch pattern. If you're making a shawl or even a scarf with a relatively large number of stitches cast on, it's a good idea to cast on a few repeats of the pattern and work through it several times.  This process allows you to develop the muscle memory so that your hands and your brain are helping each other.  It's much easier to learn and make mistakes on 30 stitches than on 200.    Trust me.
  5. See if you like the fabric at sweater scale.  If you've every painted a room based on a paint chip and been unhappy with it, you know just where I'm going with this one.  You might adore a busy, high contrast yarn in a small accessory, but you may not like it for an entire sweater. Or you might love it.  But you won't know until you see it in a generous swatch.  Same with a striking color.  Give yourself a chance to see that yarn at sweater scale before you commit to covering your entire torso in it. 

Since the swatch is such an essential part of the Custom Fit Program, I put together a swatch guide for a nice big swatch that's easy to measure.  Give it a try - I'd love to hear what you think.  

I look forward to seeing you swatching in the shop, and around the table - you are always welcome here!

Back to 8 September 2015 Newsletter

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Beautiful Sweaters

Last week I talked about the ugly sweater.  The link was wonky, so in case you missed that article, you can see it here.  This week I want to talk about beautiful sweaters.  Have you ever picked out a beautiful pattern to knit, worked it up perfectly, then when it was all done, it looked terrible and you never wore it?  Or maybe this is exactly the fear that's keeping you from knitting a sweater.  I totally get it.  A sweater is a big commitment of both time and money.  A failed sweater is not only a waste, it's a blow to our ego as well.  When a sweater doesn't look good on us, we look in the mirror and think, "What's wrong with my body that this sweater doesn't look good?"  But here's the truth.  There is NOTHING wrong with your body.  You need to look at that sweater and thing, "What's wrong with this sweater that it doesn't look good on me?" 

There are objective characteristics with which we can evaluate whether or not a sweater is inherently beautiful, but none of that matters here.  The only thing that matters is whether a sweater looks good on you.  I know, those images in the magazine or on Ravelry are so compelling.  They're not trying to mislead you, but they want to make the pattern look great.  Stylists get paid lots of money to find just the right outfit to show off a sweater.  They stage just the right setting that's ever so glamorous, and pull that sweater just the right way to fit the toothpick model wearing it.  So we come along all unsuspecting and fall head over heels with that perfect image.  We jump right into which yarn and what gauge without considering our shape and our preferences.  Sometimes it works, but lots of times it doesn't, and you're left with a beautifully knit sweater you never wear.  Ask me how I know this.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  We just need to take some time to consider the right factors.  Here's what I believe makes a beautiful for you sweater.

  1. It flatters your shape: For a sweater to be beautiful, it has to suit the wearer.  It has to look good on you.  A beautiful sweater flatters your body type and your body silhouette.  There are flattering styles out there for every body type and silhouette.  You just have to find them.  And you have to know what you're looking for.
  2. It feels like you. Are you a sporty natural?  Back away from the bell-sleeved lace bed jacket.  Are you an artistic free spirit?  That linen stitch Chanel-style jacket is probably not for you.  Remember that what you like to knit may or may not coincide with what you like to wear.  We're talking about sweaters that you want to wear.  Wild and funky may be fun to knit, but If you're a classic conservative type you'll just never wear it.  
  3. It fits your body - This is where the rubber meets the road on sweaters you love to wear. They have to fit your body correctly.  If it's too short or too long or too tight or too baggy, it won't flatter your shape.  Refer to item 1 above. 
  4. It stays in shape for a long time. A beautiful sweater that's a pilled mess after a couple of wearings is not a happy thing.  If the fabric of your beautiful sweater doesn't stand up to actually being worn, then what's the point. You might as well frame it.  A beautiful sweater is meant to be worn and enjoyed for a long time. 

In our Custom Fit Discovery Workshop we'll help you figure out all this stuff.  It's going to be fun - how often do you get to indulge in thinking about what your like and what you want?  Check out the details here, and sign up to get started knitting a beautiful sweater just for you.  

I look forward to seeing you at the workshop and around the table.  You are always welcome here.

Back to 21 July 2015 Newsletter

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My Custom Fit Tank

I've been talking so much about new Custom Fit program from Amy Herzog that we'll be offering - can you tell I'm excited about it?  Ginni and Mary and I have been busy running through the whole thing to get a feel for how to make it best work for you.  We've photographed and measured one another, analyzed our personal style preferences, and talked about our favorite sweaters and why we love them.  Armed with that information, we've each selected a solid sweater yarn and a Custom Fit Sweater design to knit for ourselves.  We've swatched and measured, washed and weighed (our swatch, that is).  We've input our measurements into the computer, and received our own custom fit pattern.  Pretty exciting stuff! It does seem like a lot of effort before the cast on, but it's really important to have a fabric you like, and know what's going to happen to it over time. And since you've done all that swatching ahead of time, when you get your patttern you can just cast on and get started.  

For my project, I've chosen Nantasket, Amy's simple scoop neck tank with a mesh lace trim.  (Photo courtesy of Amy Herzog Designs copyright 2013)

Nantasket tank

In her pattern photo, Amy's wearing this as a vest over a blouse, but I'm want it as a summer tank.  I've chosen beautiful Cotton Lustre from Rowan because it's a dream to knit and I love the feel of the fabric against my skin.  Since it is going to be an against-the-skin garment, I was really happy that my swatch came through the wash and dry absolutely perfectly.  My stockinette gauge is 4.36 stitches per inch, and the swatch didn't change a bit in the laundry.

 

It's been a very busy week at the shop, with lots of new yarns coming in, so it was Friday before I was finally able to cast on, but it goes really fast.  You start with some garter stitch and then  this pretty little mesh lace edge worked on a US size 9.  Even though this is a lace pattern, I'm using my Addi Turbo needles because Cotton Lustre is a tape yarn and knits best for me on a less pointy needle.  

 

I've just changed to a US size 10 for the body since the yarn is so stretchy. In this larger picture below you can see one of the things that makes Amy Herzog designs fit so well and look so nice:  There's waist shaping in every sweater, and the shaping happens under the bustline rather than at the sides.  Notice the stitch markers?  That 's where my waistline decreases happen.  This positioning of the shaping gives the garment a flattering line and creates a structure that conforms to your body. 

I'll be posting more about this process as I go along.  If you're interested in the Custom Fit program, be sure to register for one of our workshops.

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