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.
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.
Sweater sizing is a topic that has come up again recently on social media, and I thought it would be a good time to address the way I recommend choosing your sweater size for my designs. Generally in my sweater designs I recommend choosing the size with a certain amount of ease in the upper chest – this is measured around your chest just under the armpits and above the bust (if you have one). Because the armhole and shoulders of a sweater are the most difficult to alter, you want to choose a size that will fit best in that area and make any needed alterations elsewhere. And, since people with the same shoulder size will vary in the size of their full bust, it makes sense to fit the shoulder area according to the upper chest measurement.*
Now, you’re probably wondering how this will work if you, like me, have a small frame and a large bust. My measurements are as follows: upper chest – 34, underbust (this is the measurement generally taken for a bra band) – 30, full bust – 38. In the photo at the top of this post, I am wearing the Composure Cardigan in the 40 inch/ 113 cm size , which gives me 6 inches of positive ease in the upper chest, and just 2 inches of ease in the full bust. This gives me a nice relaxed, slightly oversized fit.
As a rule of thumb, the size you choose can have up to around 2 inches/ 5cm of negative ease in the full bust – knitted fabric will stretch to accommodate it without making any adjustments in the length or width of the fabric. With the oversized styles that are currently popular, most people will have enough room to fit their full bust. If you’re working with a more fitted style, you may need to add bust darts to get the best fit.
There are a couple of other measurements you can use to help choose your size. One is the cross-back measurement, which on a drop-shoulder sweater like the Composure Cardigan or the Suora Tee, is simply half the chest circumference minus any stitches bound off at the underarm (for a modified drop-shoulder). This is measurement C on the example schematic above. You can measure across your shoulders where you want the shoulder seam to fall, and compare that to the measurements given on the pattern schematic. It’s also a good idea to check the neck width on your pattern to make sure it’s a comfortable width for the size you’re considering.
If you are working with a pattern that specifies ease in the full bust, or you’re not sure which it specifies, a good trick is to take your upper chest measurement plus 2 inches/ 5 cm. That’s because ‘average’ sizing in the women’s clothing industry has generally been based on a 2-inch difference between the upper chest and the full bust, or about a B-cup. In the example above, I would choose my size based on a 36 inch bust, so if I wanted 4-6 inches of ease for a relaxed fit, I would again choose the 40 inch size.
I hope this answers some questions you may have about choosing a size. Drop your other questions about sizing in the comments, and maybe I’ll answer them in a future post.
The March Flowers Mitts pattern uses an afterthought thumb – similar to an afterthought heel on a sock – to avoid interrupting the colorwork on the mitt and provide an easy, neat finish. The downside of this, of course, is that it doesn’t fit as well as a mitt with a thumb gusset. However, I envisioned these mitts as a perfect quick knit to throw on during those chilly spring morning and then tuck in your pocket when it warms up. The afterthought thumb suits my purposes perfectly.
It can be a bit tricky to pick up the stitches neatly once you’ve removed the waste yarn, so I prefer to do it while the waste yarn is still in place. In the photo below I’ve placed the stitches on the two tips of my circular needle. You can see the blue waste yarn in between.
Picking Up the Stitches
When you pick up the stitches, you need to pay attention to three rows of stitches: on the bottom you have a row of stitches where the top of the ‘v’ meets the waste yarn; in the middle the row made by the waste yarn, which will be removed in the next step; and on top a row of stitches where the bottom of the ‘v’ meets the waste yarn. To pick up the stitches, keep the mitt facing up, and insert a needle tip into the right leg of the ‘v’ in the row above and below the waste yarn. You can then safely unravel the waste yarn (if you are using a long circular needle shifting the stitches onto the cable will make this easier), and you will be left with live stitches on the needles.
The other tricky thing about the thumb is picking up the stitch in the gap on either side so that you get a neat finish. Since I’m working the thumb in the main color, I created my stitch by picking up a bar of the main color along the edge of the gap and knitting through the back loop. Here you can see the tip of the needle has been inserted into the green bar that will be picked up.
I hope this tip helps, and please tag your projects #MarchFlowersMitts and #BullockOzkanDesigns. I love to see your creations!
This past weekend I had a chance to listen to a panel on ‘Sustainability in the Crafting Community’ during the virtual NY Sheep and Wool Festival. The panel was presented by Merritt Bookstore and included Kathy Hattori, Clara Parkes, Sonya Philip, Katrina Rodabaugh, Adrienne Rodriguez, Hannah Thiessen, and Kristine Vejar. A wide range of approaches was discussed, and I thought this would be a good time to reflect further on my thoughts around this topic, which is one of my core values as a crafter and business owner.
Topics on the panel ranged from mending to mindful use of materials to thrifting and natural dyeing. Here are some ways I personally try to be more sustainable in both my crafting and my design work:
Being mindful about what I make and how much material I purchase and use. I love to make (and design) sweaters, but honestly I’m not sure how many sweaters I personally need right now. So maybe this year I will make other things that I need or that I can gift. I also don’t stash a lot of yarn, and I try to buy a project quantity of yarn so that I don’t have all those odd single skeins no one knows what to do with. I generally have at least an idea whether I might actually make socks with that yarn I’m eyeing or whether I will need a sweater or shawl quantity, and I purchase accordingly.
Designing and knitting things I will wear for a long time. This means being less trendy and more timeless in my style choices, and choosing details and finishing techniques that will help a garment to wear well. For me it also often means knitting with finer yarn on smaller needles. Not everyone enjoys knitting sweaters with fingering weight yarn on US #3 needles, but it has the added benefits of giving me more hours of knitting enjoyment per project and is often more economical as well, since finer yarns contain more yardage per skein.
Using (mostly) good quality, natural fiber materials. This is probably one of the first aspects most people think about when they think about sustainability. Not only do these materials last a long time, but when they’ve reached the end of their life they can be more easily broken down. That doesn’t mean I never use sock yarn that contains nylon, or superwash yarn for a gift meant for someone who throws everything in the wash. (My sister-in-law is notorious for shrinking sweaters.) And I won’t judge you for using acrylic yarn if it’s what you’re going to wear for a long time. If there was one main takeaway from the panel, it’s that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sustainability. It’s about making mindful choices. I personally happen to love wool and linen especially, so that is what I use.
Using local and breed-specific yarn. This is something I am really passionate about – there is an astonishing variety of wool textures and natural colors available if you look beyond large scale commercial processors, and as a designer it keeps me endlessly inspired. I can find some really nice yarn from farms that are local to me, and buying yarn from different sheep breeds helps keep those breeds from dying out, maintaining genetic diversity. It also means I can find wools that are suited to a variety of purposes! There are definitely supply chain issues with producing these yarns affordably, as was discussed in the panel, and and I encourage you to read Clara Parkes’ book Vanishing Fleece to learn more. It can be a challenge to design with yarns that aren’t widely distributed and may vary from year to year, but despite these issues I am hoping to design more with local yarns in the near future.
What are your favorite tips for being more sustainable with your crafting?
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