With Christmas and Boxing Day behind us, and a few days to go before I have to deal with a Zoom birthday for James, I chose to spend most of my morning working on matters of fitting. Probably the biggest mistake I encounter when knitters aren't satisfied with one of my designs is the failure to take time to deal with issues of fit. For instance, never assume that the armhole depth prescribed by a pattern is going to work for you (hear that, all you Buttonbox knitters?) Same goes for body and arm lengths, not to mention foot and hand lengths. In general, designers work with industry standard measurements, because that's what magazines and yarn companies want. Unfortunately, a lot of us aren't average. So, always take time to check out a pattern's finished measurements and compare them to your own. And fitting doesn't end there. Take my advice about wet blocking work in progress, and you'll be much happier with your knitting outcomes, trust me.
First up this morning, my Penelope Mittens. These are really just "utility mitts", the kind you wear to put the garbage out and shovel the mound of snow the plough has piled at the entrance to your driveway before it turns to concrete. In other words, they're not fancy, they're easy to make, and they're thick enough that they don't always need a second layer underneath (especially if you're engaged in a vigorous physical activity). These jobs are not the ones you do wearing your precious Diamanda or Vinland mittens. Mittens are an example of an item that demands a proper fit. It's tough to get your house key in the front door or pick it up when it falls into the snow if there's an extra half inch of hand and/or thumb in the way. So, when possible, try mittens on their intended victim (in this case, that's me).
The advantage to mittens made in the round is that you have the opportunity to try them on as you approach the endpoints of the hand and thumb. When the hand reaches the tip of your pinkie (see above), it's time to start decreasing for the tip. This is similar to the rule about when to start decreasing for the toes of socks.
The bulk of my morning was spent on re-configuring the Wiksten Shift Dress into a version with a gathered skirt and inseam pockets. Wiksten's designer has a gathered skirt hack on her website. I loved the look immediately (it reminds me of these gorgeous dresses from Egg) and wanted to try it out, although I had concerns about the scale on someone of my petite size. I started off following the instructions as given, knowing that adjustments would be required. I used Size 0, the same size I made for the shift version, because I really like the way it fits in the neck, shoulders, and arms. However, I was right to anticipate that the overall width would be overwhelming. Good thing I cut the skirt to only 1.5 times the bodice width. 1.75 would have had me drowning in fabric. Even so, the width was stupidly ginormous on my 5'1" frame. My goal became to maintain the looseness and boho feel whilst reining in some of the width. The solution? Darts. I decided to treat my work as a muslin and fitted the darts while wearing the dress. Then I hand sewed them to double check for fit. I also decided to raise the waistline by half an inch to get a better looking proportion. Finally, after pulling the dress on and off more times than I could count, auditioning a multitude of lengths, I concluded that lower calf length was NOT A GOOD LOOK. I would have looked like someone masquerading in her big sister's clothes. A just-below-the-knee length was perfect. To be sure, I tried the sample on with Victoria (not yet published) and Ellerbeck, and really loved the look. I'm thinking about making the final version in black linen for a go-everywhere, dress-it-up-or-down garment (assuming we ever get to go anywhere again).
The moral of this story: take time to get fit right. Just right. A half inch can mean the difference between a piece you love to wear, or one that sits unworn on a shelf for the rest of its life.