Tops, Tanks & Tees Knit Along - Understanding Fit with Guest Jane Richmond!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

pattern: gemini by jane richmond yarn: knit picks cotlin in colorway clementine
it's kal day!  i heart kal day.  there is something so fun about following along with all of your projects and working away on mine knowing that i have people to share it with.  we all cheer each other on, help each other out and just have a good time knitting.  this kal has started off with a bang!  you guys have been doing me proud chatting amongst each other in the ravelry group - it's been so exciting to watch!  and truthfully it makes me want to knit more and knit a good way :)

i have been so addicted to my gemini.  jane's pattern is fun and boy does it knit up fast!  i have hardly had any time to work on mine this past week and it's growing along quite nicely! i hope to get some more time on it this weekend.  if any of you have been scared to work on lace before don't be.  there's something so mysterious and a tad exciting about knitting lacework. i get a kick out of it!

so amongst all the wonderful conversations in our ravelry group some of you requested we try a linky party so we can all link up our blog posts to show of four works in progress.  i'm willing to give it a go if you are.  i'm using a linky service that is a list only due to the fact that the pretty one that shows an image is no longer free :( bummer.  i hope you link up anyways. i'd love to be able to pop over and say hello!  simply enter in your info at the bottom of this post.  another topic that has been chatted about is fit.  so i thought who better to come and guest post about fit, ease and pattern choices than the lovely (and one of my besties) and oh so talented jane richmond herself!

Aren’t you excited for Tops, Tanks and Tees!? Shannon always hosts the best KALs and this one will be no exception. I’ve know Shannon a while now and I can honestly say that you guys are some of the most lively, positive, and enthusiastic readers I’ve ever seen and I can see why Shannon is so driven to deliver great posts for you!

Shannon gave me a little feedback on what makes some of you a little unsure when deciding to tackle a garment for yourself so I thought I would talk a little bit about setting yourself up for success...
There are a zillion factors that lead to a successful knitting project, but one that is extremely important to us ladies is fit. It can make or break a project. Here are a few things to consider once you’ve selected your pattern...

Understanding Measurements ::

If there is one topic I cover the most through pattern support its sizing and how to choose. Patterns offer many, many measurements to give you the best picture of how something will fit and to aid you in choosing which size to knit, the trouble is, if you don’t understand how these numbers relate to your own body, they aren’t very helpful and can be really confusing.

I’ve found that patterns normally fall under one of these two categories:

Garment Measurements Only

At the very least a pattern will include Finished Measurements, numbers representing the measurements of the finished garment. This type of pattern normally includes a note about the way it’s intended to fit, for example you might see something like “Sample shown measures 33 inches, with 1 inch of negative ease”. This means that the model is wearing a size that measures smaller than her actual bust size by 1 inch (ie. she is a 34 bust and the sweater measures 33). What does this mean to you? Well, if you’re after a garment that fits the way it’s shown on the model then you’ll need to chose your size based on 1 inch of negative ease. For example, if you are a 36 bust then you’ll need to knit the 35.

Sizes + Finished Measurements
Sometimes a pattern will include Sizes as well as Finished Measurements. Sizes are listed with the intended fit/ease already factored in. Sizes represent body measurements, and are based on the way the design is intended to fit. You might see something like this listed for sizes “To fit bust: 32(36, 40)in”, accompanied by garment measurements that look like this “Finished Measurements: 31(35, 39)in bust”. This example represents the same fit as my first example, you’ll see that the middle Size is intended to fit a lady with a 36in bust, and the Finished Measurement for her size is 35, which means that this garment was designed to fit her with 1 inch of negative ease.
Classic Raglan Pullover by Jane Richmond knit with zero ease.
Choosing your Size ::

Now that you have a better understanding of what all of those numbers mean you can make an informed decision on how you would like your garment to fit and choose a size that you will be happy with.

So we talked a little bit about ease and how it’s written into some patterns but what if you don’t want your garment to fit the same way it fits the model. What if you want it to be more fitted or looser perhaps? If you still don’t quite understand how ease relates to your own body try measuring some of your clothing. Do you have a fitted pullover or a nice comfy sweater? ...lay them flat and measure the chest, how do they relate to your own bust measurement? ...are they larger or smaller. Are you starting to understand how this ease thing works? There are a few other factors like weight and gauge of the fabric your garment is made of, also the type of garment (ie. I wouldn’t use the comfy sweater as a guide for how much ease I want in the fitted tank I’ve chosen to knit for the KAL), but you get the general idea.
Classic Raglan Pullover by Jane Richmond knit with 2 inches of negative ease.
 Choosing your yarn ::

If you are substituting yarns keep a few things in mind. Firstly, chose a yarn that has either the same fibre content as the recommended yarn or at least contains fibres that possess the same qualities as the yarn that was recommended. Secondly, match the yarn weight as closely as you can. Variations in yarn weight can result in very different fabric elasticity and density. Even if you are able to get the right gauge by changing your needle sizes doesn’t mean you’re garment will turn out anything like the sample in the photos. Why is this such a big deal? Well, if the pattern calls for negative ease and your fabric is too tight it might not even fit your body! Negative ease requires the fabric to stretch when worn.

Make it your Own ::

The best way to ensure a garment fits you well is to not follow the pattern blindly. Use what you’ve learned about Body Measurements, Garment Measurements, and Ease and determine before even casting on, how your project will fit you when it’s done. If you discover areas you aren’t happy with take the time to read over the pattern, study the schematic, and decide if you are comfortable making a few changes to get a better fit. Most shaping can easily be moved up or down to accommodate a high waist or low hips, and adding overall length is probably one of the easiest things to do. Planning ahead is the key. If you are working a garment top-down you can easily change things like chest or sleeve circumference simply by doing more or less increases for that section of the yoke. And waist shaping is a breeze when you can try on as you go, you may even decide to add more shaping depending on how it’s fitting. The sky is the limit!

Just remember, if you decide to make any changes, even minor ones... TAKE NOTES! Because trust me, you won’t remember ;)

Thanks so much for having me as your guest Shannon! You know I could go on forever with this stuff! I’m really looking forward to watching the WIPs develop, this is going to be such a fun knit along.

you can find all things jane richmond here:

website  |  blog  |  shop  ravelry  |  facebook  twitter

thanks so much jane! love ya hun! i'm going to be referring to this post lots! so let's see those projects!  show me your cast ons...your yarns...your patterns...and let's get knitting those tops, tanks & tees together!  join in the's never to late to sign up for the knit along! 

here's the rest of the knit along info:

start date:  april 11th, 2012
end date:  may 23rd, 2012 (the prize winners will be announced the following week)

*both knitting and/or crocheting is accepted and encouraged :)

enter the tops, tanks & tees knit along here:

*you must be entered & have started a project to be eligible for the giveaway at the end of the knit along.

you can follow along with all things tops, tanks & tees kal here:

please take a moment to check out our fabulous kal sponsors! thanks everyone!!!


  1. What a great tutorial! I have always wondered how to use all those sizing numbers to my advantage (instead of using eenie-meenie-mynie-moe to pick a size, which has been my prefered method until now). Now I know! Thanks : )

  2. Great summary Jane! I have a question for either you or Shannon that will affect my sizing eventually. I'm knitting Lacie Lynnae's Bernadette Lace Blouse ( I am a 32 bust so I'm downsizing the pattern to make up an XS size. The problem I'm having is that I've never knit lace before (I'm relatively a new knitter) and so I haven't found the need to block a swatch yet. The pattern calls for 6 st per inch in the lace pattern. Without blocking I got about 5 st per inch on my first swatch with US 4s.

    In both your experiences, is it best to aim for something like 7.5 to 8 st per inch before blocking to get 6 st per inch after blocking? What's the best pre-blocking gauge to aim for? Thanks for any input!

    1. The types of knitting projects I choose don't normally need blocking either so blocking swatches hasn't really been necessary in my knitting either. Lace is not something I knit often either but I would highly recommend blocking your swatch because depending on the lace pattern it can really change the gauge your getting.

    2. Thanks for the reply! I do plan on blocking the swatch out. You're definitely right on that one. I guess what I was really wondering is whether there is a general rule of thumb for how far you should block something out. Aka is there a range of "safe" stretching when blocking? I assume this is something I just have to get a feel for but thought I'd ask and see if anyone had tips!

    3. Wool will block out a lot heavier than say, cotton or bamboo. Silk is some where in between, and you will have to get a feel for the different blends. Do you really mean that you are trying to get less sts per inch after blocking? In my experience you can only block bigger... ?

    4. Hahaha this is so hard to convey via comments-- miscommunication big time! I should have thought to ask you Annie from the beginning since I know I've seen you blocking on your blog. :) Bottom line: my gauge was way off to start with (with less sts/in) so I didn't even bother to try blocking that one. I've got KP Stroll Fingering (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon). I'm going to find needles that get me to about 7 sts/in and then block to see how it reacts. Sound like a good plan? (Or would you go with something greater than that, 8+ sts/in, to try out first?) ¡Gracias!

    5. This is the video I was referencing when estimating.

      Before blocking she had 7 sts/in. After blocking it was about 5.5 sts/in.

  3. Wow, Jane. Amazing. I'm pinning this sucker so I can use it in the future.
    As this is my first top for myself I just dove right in. But I know I'm usually an XS needing to make the bottom longer than the pattern. Having said that I did pick a different yarn but had someone at my LYS help me find a suitable one. I didn't want to use nylon, nor is her yarn choice available anymore. Fingers crossed!

    Shannon, love how your Gemini is coming along. Nice lace! And super colour. This is so fun! I feel like I have a pep squad behind me and I need it.

  4. Thank you for the tutorial! I'm going to lurk through the linky party even though I don't have a project going right now.

    Too bad I didn't gather my courage to attempt something right now. With our kitchen renovations going on right now my sewing machines are unplugged and I'm not making anything. It would have been nice to have something to knit instead. Oh well! Next time ^_^ Lace is something I definitely want to try soon.

  5. How wonderfully interesting, thanks for that, definitely helped me a lot. When you talk about fibre content, are you talking about the ply of the wool? Sorry *blushing* still a novice! I noticed that in S.A. we worked with ply, but here in Switzerland they tend to look at the size of needle necessary to find the general thickness, if that makes sense? Or do I have to consider what the wool is made up of? Thanks for clearing that up.

    Love the KAL, first one and already enjoying myself!


  6. Looking good! I love that orange!

  7. this is so helpful! i'm printing it out and keeping with my knitting books. thank you! xoxo


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