The part of my brain allotted to dissertation mode is fully on vacation till at least January 6th. It feels good. I have the hand portion of one Wending wrister to finish tonight, then they’ll get a light blocking. I have the Latte Baby Coat to show soon. Z was getting over a cold, so it didn’t seem like the best time to photograph her. Pictures coming soon!

When it comes to deciding on sweater sizes, I think of ease constantly and I deliberate about sweater sizes over and over until I just pick one. Then sometimes I still keep pondering it while I’m knitting, checking Ravelry project notes for the sweater, while comparing my body to the pictured project wearers. Do you all think about it that much?

Firstly, if you’re not familiar with the term “ease” it generally describes how the sweater will fit compared to your body measurements. When something says it has “negative ease” that means it’s slightly smaller than your chest circumference (or whatever point used to measure). For instance, if you have a 36″ bust (at the fullest measurement) and a sweater is meant to be worn with 1-2″ of negative ease, that means it will be fairly clingy and form fitting and will have a finished measurement of about 34-35″. If the same sweater is meant to be worn with 1-2″ of positive ease, it is meant to be 1-2″ larger than your bust circumference (about 37-38″ in this case), meaning that it will have some extra fabric in that area. A sweater with “zero ease” would fit your exact bust measurement.

In my time as a knitter, I have made many more sweaters with negative ease than positive ease. I like the way that fits, and until post-pregnancy, I didn’t really have much bust to contend with, so I’d opt for a 34″ or the closest to that in most sweater sizes. Right now my under bust (at rib cage under breasts) is a 34″, and my  high bust is about 35″ (right under the armpits) while my full bust (fullest part of my bust) is about 37″. Before casting on two of my teal sweaters: Antrorse and Blank Canvas, my greatest deliberation was about the sizing (obviously I had no trouble choosing teal).

See how different these colors are?!

See how different these colors are?!

One thing you should definitely consider in the described sweater size is whether they build the ease into the sizing, or they expect you to choose the finished size that gets you the intended ease. For instance, in Blank Canvas the size you choose gives you that same size as the finished item.  A choice of 36″ bust gives you a garment measuring 36″ at the end.  Though the author of that pattern (Ysolda Teauge) suggests a little amount of positive ease (1″), it’s up to you as the reader to choose the size that will give you that.  In Antrorse, Shannon Cook builds the ease into the sizing. She suggests 2″ of positive ease, so when you choose a 34″ bust size, you end up with a sweater that measures 35.75″ in this case.

Antrorse: Worked from the top down Blank Canvas: Worked from the bottom up

Antrorse: Worked from the top down
Blank Canvas: Worked from the bottom up

I decided to go with a 36″ bust on Blank Canvas, giving me just a wee bit of negative ease in the bust area, with a little positive ease in the waist and about zero ease in the hips if I follow the pattern exactly. I might do one extra decrease in the waist to give it a tad more shaping, but maybe not. I went with the 36″ size on Antrorse, but in this case that will give me a finished garment measuring 38.25″. I will probably add some waist shaping into Antrorse in this case. When it comes to sizing, negative ease is a little more flattering in lighter weight garments, but not as much in bulky ones, so I didn’t want Antrorse to be super clingy in the bust area. Let’s hope this experiment works out well!

A great resource for learning about sizing is Ysolda Teague’s Little Red in the City. The book has some great patterns, but I was most interested in the wealth of information about sizing and swatching, as well as customizing a sweater to best fit your measurements. Amy Herzog is doing a lot of great work in this area too. She has a program called Custom Fit that helps wearers adapt her patterns to the exact measurements they want.

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