18 October 2009

Talking Torsos

I can choose to phrase this as either I'm short waisted or as I have crazy long legs. Crazy long legs may be the sexier and ego boosting side of the house but it doesn't quite get to why this is a knit related issue.

So what's up with that? I've been knitting Lisa love-her-to-death Limber's Santorini from Knitting In the Sun and I'm doing it in long discontinued Classic Elite's Sand in what I consider an Aegean Blue.

It is a drop shoulder design and while I don't hate that design quite as much as many others do, there are some problems.

First, and this might just be me (aka a total quibble) but, gauge as given, is as blocked so it doesn't give me an idea of pre-block gauge. This matters to me in part because I am such a loose (to the point of sluttishness) knitter that I really need to have a good pre and post block vision even when working with the suggested yarn.

Sand is an Aran weight yarn that is supposed to knit up on 5mm needles at 4 spi. Euroflax is a sport weight whose native gauge is 6 spi on 3-3.25mm needles and lace gauge of 3.5-4 spi on 4-5mm needles.

The design specifies 4.5mm needles and a blocked gauge of 4.5 spi -- for me at least, that does not compute.

The Sand is not working up as a must block aggressively to get gauge fibre and it also doesn't seem to have the bloom factor that the Euroflax does. It is pretty much on target as an unblocked gauge as given with nice fabric and unless it scrunches down on laundering (and there seems to be enough air 'tween the stitches to make that unlikely).

Resulting fabric will have a bit more heft than the Euroflax but the gauge is quite close to the blocked version of the as written project.

Again on the loose knitter front, if I were knitting Euroflax on the needles suggested I would have fabric nearer fishnet or cheese cloth even before blocking.
So maybe, just maybe I'm knitting truer/closer to the yarn's suggested gauge -- that's a big change for me.

Note to self -- Louet's ball band info for gauge is closer to my knitting reality than most manufacturers' info.

Cut to the chase, if I knit the thing as written and at perfect/dead on gauge it still wouldn't really work for me.

I did, in my own obscure way (bottom up, in the round rather than pick up and bottom down flat), knit the sleeves using the fundamental increase/decrease formula before I admitted that my nagging inner voice was right about the sleeve just being very wrong for me.

Did I mention that I'm short waisted? On a footnote of the crazy long legs, I am 62.75 inches tall or thereabouts. From ground to low shoulder I'm about 53 inches with 31 inches of that devoted to legs and my natural waist is about 41 to 42 inches from the ground.

In theory, those crazy long legs suggest that I should be about 5' 10" and that was always the expectation when I was growing up -- well, up until I just stopped growing and everyone else (including some of the serious shrimps with short legs & long torsos) zoomed past me when I was about 12.

But I've digressed, do the math, my total torso is about 23 inches (yes that's 7 inches shorter than my inseam) and a low shoulder to waist measurement for me is maybe 11 inches.

The smallest size of the pattern specifies an armhole depth of 10.5 inches -- on me that's a dolman sleeve and I don't generally do dolmans. My comfort zone for arm hole depth is about 8 to 9 inches and I should always keep that in mind when working any pattern.

Fortunately, this is a drop sleeve design so changing the arm hole depth does not require a full rework of the sweater body. Since I hadn't worked the body in one piece from bottom to armhole, all I really needed to do to correct for the change was to take out the crochet chain that joined fronts to back.

So what's the take away?

Even the best designs that you so love may need a sanity check to match the design's finished size to your body.

If you're walking around in a fog thinking that you are a perfect size Insert variable here then, unless you are really lucky or totally delusional, you're wrong.

You're also probably wrong/delusional about your ready to wear and the only major difference here is that when you wake up from your fog with ready to wear you'll pay someone money to make the ready to wear actually fit you.

When it comes to the knitting (and days gone by home sewing) you'll need to take ownership of your project and make the corrections yourself. Man/woman up folks, only dish clothes and the like don't need adjustments to fit.

Just like fashion designers design for an ideal fit model that very few of us ever match, knitting designers do the same and your best success is going to come from figuring out your body, the design, your knitting and how to make the three come together for a triumphant trifecta.

I've long since figured out that my truncated torso means that all instructions that tell me how may inches to knit from either bottom to armhole or armhole to bottom will need some tweaks but some how I still fall into the "oh it will fit" viper pit.

I reknit the sleeves based on my reality and I am much happier with the result.

The whole project is on hold (oh like that never happens with me) as other projects (knitting and not) jumped priority queue. To date, the still to be done involves picking up stitches for the neckband and deciding how I will join body sides & sleeves to body -- minor stuff.

No photos this go 'round but if you're on Ravelry, you can see the WIP on my project page. If you actually know me IRL, you've also probably seen it or at least seen the bag I've been lugging it about in.

Bag BTW, (and yes, as we know I am a bag hag) is the Tiger tote from the Buddha's Barnyard series of Chinese brush work by the late Nancy Rupp.

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