Wear Your Knits: the Rule of Thirds

In a couple of recent posts (here and here) I shared examples of how I create outfits with my handknit garments. In this post I want to share a tip I often use when putting together outfits with handknits: the rule of thirds. This rule of thumb is based in a concept called the golden ratio.

The golden ratio, is a concept that is used frequently in art, architecture, design, and photography. Here is an illustration, using what is known as a golden rectangle. The golden ratio occurs when the ratio of side a to side b equals the ratio of the total length a+b to side a. (In case you’re interested, the golden ratio is also closely related to the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, which converges toward the golden ratio.)

A rectangle with a square and smaller rectangle inside. The square has side length a and the smaller rectangle has short side length b.

Numerically, the ratio is equal to approximately 1.618. So proportions of 1/3 to 2/3 are close to this ideal ratio, but so are proportions of 2/5 to 3/5. This means you can also break an outfit into fifths (even though we call it the rule of thirds). Any proportion that is near the golden ratio will appear harmonious to the eye, and the asymmetry creates more movement for the eye than an outfit that is divided in halves.

Using the Rule of Thirds in Outfits

Here is an example of how I use the rule of thirds in my outfits, using the Suora tee. The top is about 1/3 the total length, and the pants about 2/3.

An outfit that illustrates the rule of thirds. The top is approximately 1/3 the lenght of the outfit and the wide leg pants 2/3.

The rule of thirds doesn’t have to apply to every garment in an outfit. If I were to add a cardigan or jacket to this outfit, which I frequently do on cooler mornings, it could be longer than the top and your eye would still register the underlying top-to-pants proportion. You can play with this proportion by tucking in your top, or wearing a cropped sweater over a longer layer underneath. If you’d like to see some other outfit examples, check out this post.

I also use the rule of thirds in designing garments. Below is a photo of my Campus Cardigan sample. As the arrows show, the length of the lower dark gray section of the body is approximately 2/3 the length of the upper medium gray section, or 2/5 of the overall length. The sleeves are the reverse – the dark gray section is approximately 2/3 the length of the sleeve. (The medium gray section is the same length as the medium gray section from the armhole to the top of the stripe on the body, so that the stripes line up when the sweater is worn. But I digress.)

Flatlay of a colorblock sweater illustrating the rule of thirds. The dark gray lower portion of the sweater body is approximataly 2/3 the length of the upper lighter gray portion.
The rule of thirds applied to sweater design. The lower dark gray section of the sweater body is approximately 2/3 the length of the upper medium gray section.

It goes without saying there are no hard and fast rules. Wear whatever looks good to you. But if your knits are stuck in your closet because you can’t figure out how to pair them up with your other garments, the rule of thirds can be a handy trick to help you create outfits you’ll be confident wearing.


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Wear Your Knits – the Suora Tee

This is the second post in my series on how I style my handknit garments. In the first post I wrote about styling my Composure Cardigan. Today, I’ll show you how I wear my Suora tee.

Suora is knit in 100% linen yarn, and makes a versatile T-shirt type wardrobe piece. It can also be worn with a variety of ease, depending on your preference. In the photos I am wearing the sample size (98 cm / 39 inches), which is about 4 inches of ease in my upper chest and 0 inches of ease in the full bust. One of these days I plan to knit myself a larger version to wear more oversized.

How I Wear the Suora Tee

My favorite way to wear Suora is with wide-leg linen or linen-blend pants.

Another favorite outfit is Suora with a midi-length skirt.

A middle-aged white woman stands in the foreground wearing a calf-length chambray skirt and a handknit striped peach and white linen tee with sandals.

Choosing Colors

If you’ve been following this series you may have noticed that I have a lot of denim and chambray in my wardrobe. They make a perfect neutral to wear with many different pieces. I tend to prefer wearing neutrals with a single piece in a bright or rich color or print. One trick I use is to keep a pretty consistent color palette, so that I can easily mix and match pieces. I have just a few pieces in other statement colors to make it interesting.

Stay tuned next week for some tips on how to put together an outfit using your handknits. I hope to continue adding to this series in the future. In the meantime, I’ve started a Pinterest board with handknit outfit ideas.

Purchase Suora Pattern


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Photo shows a knitted swatch with a textured pattern in light gray yarn.

Wear Your Handknits: The Composure Cardigan

A friend recently suggested I do a post on how I style my knits. Since I talk a lot about designing and making projects that really fit into your wardrobe, I thought such a post was was long overdue!

We’ve had a lot of back and forth this spring between warm and cool weather, and open cardigans like the Composure Cardigan are a go-to layer for me when it turns chilly again. It’s perfect as a casual layer with jeans and a tee or buttondown:

I also like to wear it over a dress, for a bit more elegance. I throw on a cowl if it’s particularly chilly or windy in the morning, which I can easily remove as the day warms up.

A middle-aged woman stands outdoors wearing a handknit light gray textured cardigan with a chambray shirtdress, ankle boots, and a textured gray handknit cowl.

Buy the Pattern

I’m already planning another post on styling warmer-weather knits. What patterns would you like to see me wear?


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A black model is shown from the side wearing a handknit colorwork hat in shades of cream, red, blue and green.

New Pattern Release – Laura’s Beanie

Laura’s Beanie, oringinally published in Cast On, the magazine of The Knitting Guild Association, is now available as an individual pattern download.

Named for a character in the PBS show Home Fires, this hat was inspired by the motifs and colors of vintage Fair Isle sweaters and vests from the 1940s. The pattern uses just four colors, and no decreasing is done in the patterned section, making it a good beginner Fair Isle project. It’s also a great way to use up those little bits of stash yarn, and with three sizes from Youth to Adult large, you can knit one for everyone you know!

Laura’s Beanie is available now on Ravelry, Payhip, and Etsy.

Buy Now


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Kerry is standing outside wearing a handknit teal pullover sweater with jeans and a handknit hat.

Choosing a Sweater Size Part 2 – An Example

A few months ago I wrote in this post about choosing your sweater size based on your upper chest measurement, and I thought I’d give an example of how I used this method to select my size in another designer’s pattern.

The sweater I’m wearing in this photo is the Gingerbread Sweater from Espace Tricot. It’s a boxy raglan pullover with a suggested ease of 10 inches/ 25.5 cm. My upper chest is around 34 inches; as of this writing my full bust measures 39 inches, a 5-inch difference. The first size listed is a finished chest of 43 inches, which would give me about 9 inches of ease in the upper chest, and 4 inches of ease in the full bust. The next size up is 46.75 inches, which would give me 12.75 inches of ease. Since the first size is closer to the recommended ease, I chose that size. This is also the chest circumference of a favorite boxy top of mine, so I knew I would be happy with that amount of ease. I also compared my upper arm measurement and armhole depth to the schematic to make sure my chosen size would fit in those areas.

The only modification I made, other than adding a bit of length to the body, was to cast on the number of neck stitches for the next size up, and eliminate one increase round for the raglan. I would have been fine with the neck cast on for my size, but I prefer a slightly wider neckline, and I’m very happy with the neckline on the finished sweater.

As you can see in the photo, the sweater fits me perfectly. You’ll notice that it fits similarly to the sweater in the pattern photos. If I had chosen the size that had 10 inches of positive ease in the full bust, I think the sweater would not have fit correctly in the shoulder and neck area, and I know I wouldn’t have been happy with the oversized fit.


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