Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Knit Diamond Pullover, Garment Ease and Schematics

It took me six weeks to knit this sweater.

In November, I wrote about starting the #07 Diamond Peplum Pullover pattern by Jill Wright from the the Holiday 2012 issue of Vogue Knitting. The yarn I chose is Plymouth Yarn Reserve Sport in the colorway 306 Mauve Mix. It’s incredibly soft and the colors are a mix of light to medium lavender, ivory, and beige.

Front View of Hand-Knit Diamond Peplum Pullover in Light Purple

This sweater highlights the struggle I have with garment patterns, for knitting as well as sewing. The instructions describe it as a “very close fitting pullover” but give no further information as far as how the pattern’s measurements should relate to the wearer’s body measurements.

If you’re familiar with making clothing, then you know about the concept of ease. Ease is the difference between your body measurements and the garment measurements. This is useful in not only achieving the look you want but also in making sure you can move in your clothes!

For some items of clothing, particularly those made with fabric that doesn’t stretch, you’ll want positive ease. That means the garment will measure larger than your body.

But for other items, made with fabrics that stretch, you may want zero ease or even negative ease. That means the garment measurements will be either the same as your body measurements or a bit smaller.

Back View of Hand-Knit Diamond Peplum Pullover in Light Purple

The amount of ease you include when creating a garment will depend, in part, on the type of garment. For example, a jacket will likely have more positive ease than a blouse because you need to allow space for wearing other clothes under the jacket. But ease will also depend on personal preference, both for a particular garment type — jeans versus dress slacks, for example — and for how you generally like clothes to fit on your body.

If a pattern doesn’t explicitly state how much ease is intended for the garment, we’re left to guess. There are, unfortunately, no industry standards that I can find to relate fit descriptions to ease.

But we’re not left completely in the dark when the pattern includes a schematic. This to-scale line drawing shows the measurements at each size for every piece of the garment. At the beginning of the pattern, the size information is typically given in relation to bust size alone. By referencing the schematic at the end of the pattern, you can check the rest of the measurements and decide whether any particular aspect of the pattern needs adjusting.

Back to the Diamond Peplum Pullover: my measurements are three inches (7.6 cm) larger than one size, and two inches (5 cm) smaller than the next size. My gauge on US-3 (3.25 mm) and US-6 (4.0 mm) needles measured tighter than the gauge needed for the pattern, which meant my finished garment would be smaller than whatever size I chose. More than three inches of negative ease sounded like it would be too close-fitting for me, but less than two inches of positive ease should result in a nice skimming fit. I set to work, adding an inch (2.5 cm) to the length.

The finished pullover fits me terribly. The top is so loose that the shoulders, three inches wider than the measurements given in the schematic, droop down my arms. Moving down two sizes, which would be a half inch (1 cm) smaller than my actual shoulder measurements according to the schematic, should make the pullover just a little too large at my shoulders. At that size, the ribbing at the bottom would be embarrassingly tight on me.

Action View of Hand-Knit Diamond Peplum Pullover in Light Purple

And, yes, I double-checked my gauge. After blocking, it’s consistently 23 stitches over four inches of stockinette stitch on the larger needles, while the pattern calls for 22 stitches under the same conditions.

What I did not check ahead of time was that the math works between the gauge, the number of stitches, and the schematic. I shouldn’t have to do that, but if I had I would have learned before casting on that the numbers don’t match up as they should.

Ultimately, there is more than one problem here. The pattern sizing is unclear at best as far as ease. The stitch count given for each size is not consistent with the schematic measurements. And I chose a garment style that doesn’t work well with my body shape and fit preferences — I would need to change the bust-to-waist proportions considerably in order for the pullover to fit me, and at that point the look of the garment would be completely different than what was intended.

It took me six weeks to knit this sweater, but only an evening to rip it all out.

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