So what's with us? Why are we "afraid" to deviate?
I think it has a lot to do with global economics. Here's my reading of the situation.
50 or so years ago, if someone bought a sweater, someone might say "Why would you buy that when you could knit it?" NOW if someone knits a sweater, someone might say "Why would you knit that when you could buy it?!?!?
What transpired in those intervening years? Globalization. What did globalization bring? Cheap sweaters! So if we needed a sweater, we bought it. (And we can assume we didn't buy it if it didn't fit.)
At the same time, the price of yarn went up. Why? Simply because it could? Yarn certainly became a "luxury" item--something that people with time and disposable income could indulge in, people who could easily buy the sweaters they'd wear. But having said that, the yarn we can buy is infinitely nicer than the yarn of those store-bought sweaters. Even really really expensive sweaters are made with yarn I think inferior to what's in my local yarn shop!
So really nice yarn was now in the hands of people with enough time and disposable income to knit. And what did we look to knit? Pieces in which the knitting itself was exciting!!!!! (Remember, we could buy what we wear, so why not knit something way more interesting?!) Hence all the brilliantly innovative patterns offered over the past many years. But some were so innovative that there was no room to modify fit: consider all those one-piece modular item without instructions (or places) to shorten, lengthen, etc.
And so we are a generation who follows patterns because the sweater might be too complex to change. Or the yarn might be too expensive to risk. And through those years we lost the sense that patterns are a guideline. At the same time, patterns weren't particularly invitational in that regard.
But it is definitely time to take back our power! And how do we do that? By doing what our grandparents did--by re-establishing the connection between our knitting and our closet.
How do we do this? Here's my list--including things some of you already do and probably missing things some of you do that I haven't thought of. (If you have suggestions to add to this list, please let me know!)
- By contacting yarn companies, magazines, and book publishers asking that they please write patterns more appropriately--with invitations to adjust for fit, with proportions of pick-up-and-knit for front bands.
- By not being afraid to knit a garment.
- By knitting simpler garments that look like what fills our closets and in which we can work out fit issues.
- By not being afraid to rip out and re-knit until we see what it takes to get it right.
- By checking measurements for whatever we make against something we own that fits! (This thing does not have to be a sweater. I've check measurements for sweaters against blouses, T-shirts, dresses, jackets.)
- By checking measurements for whatever we make against something we own that doesn't fit! (That's right! Even if it doesn't fit, we can see what we'd need to do to make it so!)