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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Real You in Measurements???

Over and over again, I have asked myself:

  • How do I know which adjustments to make?

  • How do I know which pattern size to choose?

  • How do I even know which sweaters might look good on my body type?

The answer lies in what is called The Four Knitting Truths, which are questions we all ask ourselves but raely are we truthful with the answers. And we are all guilty of not "wanting" to know the true answers.

These Four Knitting Truths are the main factors you have to take into account when planning a crocheted or knitted garment:

1. The truth about yourself. Your REAL measurements and body type (not the measurements you fear you have, or imagine you have!).
2. The truth about the pattern. Ease, style, construction, color.
3. The truth about the fabric. Qualities of the yarn, stitch pattern, and how these are affected by gauge.
4. The truth about your expectations and needs. What do you want your sweater to look like? What silhouettes do you prefer? Are you being realistic about what looks good on you and what doesn't?

Question: Are we crocehting or knitting for an imaginary "me", or for the REAL "me?" When was the last time you measured yourself? When was the last time you stood in front of a mirror and carefully (and KINDLY) evaulated the woman who stands before us? I mean I tend to stay away from the mirror, don't you? I am sure I am not the only one out there with a "mirror phobia?"

There's a great little page on How To Measure Yourself, with photos and instuctions on how to measure the basic width measurements of bust, waist, and hip. I absolutly love it. It has all the right places where we need to place the tape measure and know the truth about our own body measurements. And there is an extra two dimensions for those who have extra curves like me. :) They are called: Buddha Belly and High Tummy.

It's also good to start with a few basics, particularly since these are the ones that most patterns are based upon. Speaking of which, let's de-mystify three things: Finished Bust Measurement, Actual Bust Measurement, and Ease.

  • Finished Bust Measurement
    Why we care what it is: This is the main "base measurement" used in knitting patterns to denote the different sizes offered.
    What it IS: A measurement of the finished GARMENT, after it is knitted, blocked, and seamed (if needed).
    What it is NOT: A measurement of your exact bust size, unless you want it to be!
    How to find it: Lay the completely finished (again, knitted, blocked and seamed) garment on a flat surface, right side out, front up. Pat the garment flat, without overstretching it. Measure across the bustline from side to side at the widest point--generally just under the armholes. Multiply by two (front plus back), and this is the measurement of the finished sweater. Tricia finding her full bust measurement

  • Actual Bust Measurement
    Why we care: This is a measure of your body, which you add/subtract ease and styling factors to, and thus determine which finished bust size to make.
    What it IS: Your Full Bust Measurement, which is the circumference of your chest at its fullest/curviest/most voluptuous point.
    What it is NOT: This is NOT your bra band size! It is also not your underbust measurement, nor your high bust measurement.
    How to find it: Wearing the undergarments you would wear with a knitted top of the type you're intending to make, wrap a flexible tape measure around your bust. Make sure the tape lays flat, and goes only over your chest and shoulderblades, not over your arms or your cat or anything else. Wrap the tape around the biggest part of your bust. Breathe normally, and measure--do not hold your breath!

  • Ease Factor
    What is ease? Simply put: Ease is the extra fabric that allows space between you and your garments--space for things like moving, breathing, comfort, and extra layers of other clothing. The greater the ease in a pattern, the more fabric there is, and thus the more roomy space there is between you and your sweater. Negative ease means that there isn't any fabric to spare, that the fabric actually must stretch to cover your body. The more negative ease in a pattern, the more the fabric must stretch over a given curve.
    In other words: Positive ease: loose-fitting. Negative ease: curve-hugging and clingy.

  • There's lots more to getting to know the Real You: long waist, short arms, height, shape, and so forth.

Write down what you THINK your measurements are, before you break out the measuring tape. This information might be very enlightening after you've found out what the real you is--you might find out that you were knitting for an imaginary gal and not for your real self at all! Then check out the How To Measure Yourself page and see if you find you???

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