Monday, June 24, 2013

Finding My Fit, Part 2

You can find Finding My Fit Part 1 here.

I've been hit over the head with a particular theme in my crafty endeavors lately: accurate measurements. It came up first in Sally Melville's book and again just a day later while watching a Craftsy class (Sizing Knitwear Patterns) with an entire session devoted to accurate measurement.

I think I've written before about the absolute requirement for a knitter to do the math regarding your gauge before you jump in to knitting for anything requiring accurate fit. I never swatch for certain things, either because they are a small enough item that I don't mind ripping out if necessary after a few inches if the gauge proves wonky or because they don't require a precise measurement- like a scarf. Being half a stitch off one way or the other is highly unlikely to devastate the size/look of a scarf.

Gauge was a hard-learned lesson for me. I'm absolutely NOT mathy and thought it would all work itself out if I used the "right" yarn and "right" needle size. And of course after bombing out on a few projects I now know that I tend to need 1 size up much of the time and to swatch for anything that I want to actually fit me. I'm usually in a hurry to get going on a project, but swatching is always worth the trouble- it saves me ripping out later on and basically ensures that I'll really love the finished item.

Another factor around fit is certainly being honest with myself about my size. It's so very easy to assume I'm larger than I am or proportioned differently. Going through and making an accurate measurement sheet for myself last week was eye-opening. After having 3 kids I have no delusions that my body is what it was back in college, but at the same time, I've worked hard to get back to a healthy weight. My body has not really "bounced back" after Ellie the way it did after having each of the boys so this time around it is taking a lot more commitment to keep myself a healthy size.

Recently I started swatching for a new sweater and I swatched, adjusted and swatched again. When I came up with a fabric I liked it looked like I would need to use the numbers 1 size up from the size I usually knit. The cast on number scared me a little- at first glance it appeared that doing so would make that sweater swallow me since I'd *never* had to cast on that many stitches to start a sweater at about this gauge. I did the math out a little further- and lo and behold because of my wonky 5.5 stitches to the inch, the half stitch changed things just enough to make this the right size for the real me, not the "but I always knit size ABC" me.

This is true in store-bought clothing as well and this is something I'm working on. I'm trying not to be stuck in the mindset that I'm "a size ABC" when we all know the truth about women's clothing- you're a 10 in one thing, a 12 in another and possibly a 6 in another line... I don't care about the number any more. I totally buy into the idea that wearing clothes that actually fit you will flatter you more than paying attention to that silly number on the tag. I never want to be one of those girls that smashes themselves into jeans two sizes too small because of that number, and on the flip side, I also don't want to lie to myself about my body and wear things super loose/baggy/too big in an attempt to cover imagined pounds. Neither path will flatter me and both scream "insecurity", most of all to myself.

What have you found to be important in fitting handmade clothing well?

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