There is much misunderstanding about ease: is it included in the pattern? how much does a sweater need? Here is my answer to both of these.
- Ease is included in the pattern (and reflected in the finished measurements). BUT different designers like different amounts of ease, different styles require different amounts of ease, and the amount of ease we like changes over time (as styles and our bodies change). So there's lots more to understand and consider.
- How much ease a sweater needs is a function of the designer's preference plus the style of sweater plus the weight of yarn. What follows are guidelines that designers usually follow.
By fine yarns, I mean 21 or more stitches to 4"; by medium yarns, I mean 18–20 stitches to 4"; by heavy yarns, I mean 17 or fewer stitches to 4".
By fitted styles, I mean set-in sleeve or close-fitting raglan: for non-fitted styles, I mean loose raglan or drop-shoulder.
Each explanation is an and/or, meaning it could be one or all of the suggestions offered.
We say bust because that's usually the fullest part of the body being covered. But if the sweater is longer and your hips are fuller (which standard sizes say is the norm), then ease is added to hips. And if your tummy is bigger than your bust, then ease is added to that measurement.
The measurement should be taken at the fullest part of your bust or tummy or hips. (It is a common misunderstanding to think it is taken under the bust.)
- very close fit = bust + 0" or less for fine yarns, for fitted styles, for garments that won't be worn over another, for stretchy stitch patterns (This is also called negative ease.)
- close fit = bust + 0–2" for fine or medium weight yarns, for fitted styles, for garments that may not be worn over another
- standard ease = bust + 2–4" for fine or medium weight yarns, for fitted styles, for garments that may be worn over another
- loose fit = bust + 4–6" for medium weight or heavy yarns, for non-fitted styles, for garments that may be worn over another
- over-sized = bust + 6" or more for heavy yarns, for non-fitted styles, for garments that may be worn over another
Obviously, there is a lot of latitude for how much ease should be added. So designers work with their personal preferences. I, for example, prefer more ease rather than less: given a set-in sleeve in a fine yarn, I'd go with standard ease rather than close fit when either of these choices would be perfectly appropriate. Why? Because in high school I was a tiny thing with HUGE BOOBS that I wanted to hide. And I am now an older girl (over 60) who thinks close-fitting clothes not so age appropriate. If you are younger and never wanted to hide your body under a tent, then you may find my styles a little loose. What to do about this will also be discussed in tomorrow's post.
So for now, this is what ease means and how it is usually applied. Check in tomorrow to read how to work with it to ensure you knit a garment that fits the way you want.