May 04, 2005


Felina Schwarz and I got together for a bite to eat before last month's Guild meeting. We had just settled in at our table, when Felina came right to the point: "So, how many times are you going to re-knit that sweater?!"

The sweater in question? Sandness, of course. I'm very fond of Felina, but she can be cranky! She does not mince words.

She was remembering, too, that I originally started Sandness with a size small, following the pattern directions. Felina is the one who convinced me that slavishly following the number of ribbing stitches as per the pattern and then increasing the number of stitches to the body was going to make a sweater that would blouse. So I had started over on the small, adding stitches to the ribbing so that the increase would be a good, EZ-approved, Felina Schwarz-approved 10 percent. Once I was about four inches into the sweater, Scott had a serious discussion with me about fit. He could tell, by eyeballing the sweater on the needles, that it was too small. So then I started over on the medium, and had worked it as far as this, when I got worried that the medium, too, would be too small.

"Well, Felina, I guess I'll keep re-knitting it until I get it right," I said.

I explained that I'm getting about 9 stitches to the inch. The pattern lists the gauge at 8 stitches to the inch -- which is the gauge I typically get with 2-ply Shetland yarn on size 3 needles. Why is Sandness coming out with more stitches to the inch? I explained to Felina the theory that Andrea at Feral Knitters had put forth: That Sandness pulls in more than a typical Fair Isle, because you are trading off the main color and contrast color at a fairly fast clip -- you have almost no spreads of four or more stitches that are all the same color within one row of a pattern repeat. No less an authority than Janine has echoed this, saying she's had the same experience. These kinds of stitch designs pull in more.

Before Felina could pepper me with any more questions, I saw June from our Feral Knitters group walking through the restaurant. I waved her over and we invited her to join us. She'd already eaten, but was happy to sit and talk knitting before Guild. June is no slouch as a knitter; she's knitted Sandness.

"So, we were just talking about my gauge issues on Sandness," I said.

"Oh, yeah -- mine didn't fit either," June said unhesitatingly.

"Too big or too small?" I was holding my breath to hear her answer.

"Too small," she said.

Since then, Sandness has been in a lump in my knitting bag while I've been mulling over what to do. Rip to the ribbing, make increases for the large size, and continue? Pick up from where I am now, but go up a needle size? Start over on a large? I don't come to decisions quickly. But I don't want this sweater to become a ghost in the closet, either.

Lately, I've been reading Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti. I am working again on my Level II submission for the Master Knitter program, and one element of what I must submit is a vest. I've always thought I would design my own vest (although a self-designed vest is not required, and one could work from a published pattern). I've owned my copy of Sweater Design in Plain English for years, but have only used it as a reference to get to particular information. (You know: looking up something in its index, reading the particular page of relevant information, then putting the book back on the shelf.) But now I am reading it cover to cover and I am finding it as compelling as a novel.

Measure, measure, measure your intended recipient, is Maggie Righetti's thesis. She emphasizes the importance of gauge, the importance of ease, but she always comes back to the ultimate importance of measuring the person.

Prior to this, I haven't actually measured Scott. I've just worked from sweaters that were in his closet. But I thought, Before I do anything drastic like rip back to the ribbing, let's just do a little Righettian measuring. Let's talk about fit and ease, with respect to those sweaters in the closet. And, I'll take the stitches off the needle, put them on a string, and have him try on Sandness-in-progress. So this time, I initiated the serious discussion about fit.

Sandness 001.jpg

The ribbing fits well.

Sandness 004.jpg

He's holding the sweater to keep the stockinette from rolling down -- the better for you to appreciate the beauty of the colors and stitch pattern. There's a big wrinkle in his shirt, too. So with the wrinkle and with him gripping the sweater, perhaps the sweater looks tighter in the photo than it really is in real life. (What the guy won't do for the sake of the blog! He offered to pose wearing fewer clothes, but I've spared you that.)

And here's Sandness in comparison to the sweater that Scott chose from his closet as the one he likes the fit of, the best:

Sandness 005.jpg

So -- I'm going to keep on knitting on this medium size, in faith that it's going to fit.

Posted by Karen at May 4, 2005 11:10 AM

yay! Scott definitely deserves a Sandness that fits. Good for you for keeping with the project and not having to start over again.

Posted by: Angela at May 4, 2005 08:53 PM

Looks good to me! And, the sweater looks fine, too. :)

Posted by: Anne at May 4, 2005 08:56 PM

What our spouses and SO's won't do to humor us blogaholics...

Posted by: Ryan at May 4, 2005 09:53 PM

Whew! The fit looks great! I'm so happy to hear that the medium will fit.

Posted by: Rebecca at May 4, 2005 11:17 PM

You are a clever gal--glad you set the project aside to consider it fully before ripripripping. It looks good on Scott (I dunno, how far was he willing to strip, anyway?) and, more importantly, it looks like the size matches the size of a sweater he likes. No matter how well you match the designer's pattern, doesn't matter if the guy won't wear it!

Posted by: Janine at May 5, 2005 03:05 PM

Thanks, everybody -- I'm really happy to be able to pick up where I left off.

Posted by: Karen at May 5, 2005 03:25 PM

I have always been told its best to measure a favorite sweater, and pretty much go from there,,
( read a lot of E.Z,,,)

IS measuring ( a lot,) better?

I am learning as I go along here,,
I lay down my current work on top of a favorite( so far so good) ,but I havent done a LOT of fair isle yet, ( just hats and things, but its a coming soon,,,,,,real soon,,)
It does not have the same give as a non stranded sweater,,so how much should one compensate for this in size?
thanks for any help,,,I need all the help I can get !
happy knitting to all,,,

Posted by: pam at May 7, 2005 04:26 AM

Pam, I don't have a lot of wisdom to pass along, on the topic of measuring the person versus taking measurements from a favorite knitted garment. Perhaps someone else can chime in here? Which is better?

You're right that Fair Isle won't have as much give as a stockinette sweater . . . but Fair Isles in Shetland 2-ply are surprisingly drapey! You'll need more ease for FI than plain stockinette, but not as much as for a cabled garment. Cables just don't look good when stretched out; they look better when allowed to be compact.

Posted by: Karen at May 8, 2005 04:28 AM