Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Shifting of Gears, a Question of Ease

Can I tell you how thrilled and astonished I am about the response to this knit-along? I haven't counted, but by eyeballing, it looks like we are already up to about 80 participants. There have already been more than 30 posts gearing up for our 9/23 start date! Very exciting!

My first project was to be a Fishtrap Cardigan for Chris, but alas, it's on hold. My niece, Lorin, has requested a sweater for her 7th birthday on October 15. Naturally, another EZ sweater is in the works! I'm either going to make the Icelandic Yoke Sweater (Leaflet #14) or the Fair Isle Yoke Sweater (Leaflet #1) from The Opinionated Knitter. Either of these will need to be modified with either a henley-type collar or buttons at the shoulder to accommodate the child's enormous (22"!) head. I imagine this will be accomplished with steeks, to which I am brand new.

As for yarn, Lorin professes that she doesn't like wool. I debated whether to try to disabuse her of this idea from across the continent, but decided against it. As a compromise, I picked up a ball of worsted Misti Alpaca in grey for the body whilst I plot the colors I want for the yoke. I've ogled this super soft stuff as long as I've been knitting. The gauge of the Misti (5st/1" on US 7) is between the original gauge from the two sweaters - Icelandic is 4st/1" and Fair Isle is 6st/1", but using the percentage system this should not pose too big a pattern problem. I'm just trying to decide whether it's too fine a yarn for the more rustic look of the Icelandic sweater - I do love that one. I see it in Lamb's Pride, actually. But I wonder whether that's the first wool sweater the child should have... in my experience, the mohair makes it a bit tickly. If you have any opinions I'd love to hear them!

But I do have one design question for you. I don't have much experience making children's clothes, and am wondering about ease. What do you think is the ideal amount of ease to be built into a worsted-weight sweater for a 7-year old? I normally make my own sweaters with zero ease, but of course that won't work for a kid. Any wisdom to share?


  • my best guess for ease would be 2-3 inches, especially if its a worsted. i prefer 3-4 inches of ease for myself with any weight worsted or thicker. for a kid, probably 2-3 is better. my instinct says a 7 year old would be anti form-fitting gear.

    and this is my personal opinion - but don't subject the child to lambs pride! (i have a serious mohair aversion... )

    good luck!

    By Blogger brooklyn tweed, at 9:05 AM  

  • I agree that Lamb's Pride is a little rough. Yarn like that is what made me hate the sweaters my grandmother knit me when I was a kid. I like rough stuff the best, now, of course.

    If you are going to cut your sweater, beware of stuff like alpaca, though. If the yarn is slippery, you might cry when you cut it and it unravels.

    Cascade 220? I love Cascade Eco Wool- it's bulky and soft when knit up, but it comes in gigantic skeins, which isn't good if you only need a little of several colors. Ooh- I just remembered my favorite- Blackberry Ridge worsted wool is soooo nice. It's rustic-looking, nice and sticky for steeks, and wonderfully soft while still being woolly. It comes dyed, too. The medium weight is worsted.

    As for ease, I have no idea, but kids look good in big sweaters, so I'd probably go that route, myself, hoping it would fit for a couple of winters.

    By Anonymous Adrian, at 9:10 AM  

  • no worries - lamb's pride is out.

    adrian, i think you may be right about the alpaca... too slippery for steeking. re: blackberry ridge. do you know what the gauge is on the bulky and medium weights? i didn't see it on their site.

    By Blogger Jessica / Fig & Plum, at 9:31 AM  

  • When knitting for my 3 year old I generally try to get 2 years out of a sweater, without it looking ridiculous/being hard for her to play and function the first year. So I generally build in 4-5" of chest ease (depending on the style, in a yoked sweater I'd go 5"), 1" to length and 1" to sleeve. a slightly short sweater doesn't bother anyone in year two, but a too-long sweater can restrict climbing and other vigorous movement the first year. I've found that the extra 1" of sleeve is fine, cuffed the first year, uncuffed the next.

    I knit for my daughter based on these measurments, though I always give a quick comparison to her actual measurements: http://www.yarnstandards.com/childsize.html

    she's a bit short for her age, but her chest has always been dead-on though length is not. she's about 2" shorter than standard for her age group. So the extra 1" I build in to sleeve and length might translate into 1.5" or 2" for a taller kid.

    I've knit for older kids and I generally follow the same formula. I've had no complaints, but I guess it boils down to what the kid and parent are interested in.

    By Blogger curlypurly, at 9:31 AM  

  • blackberry ridge medium weight gives me 5/in on 7s or 4.5/in on 8s.it's a very nice not-too-heavy worsted.

    By Blogger curlypurly, at 9:32 AM  

  • Gah, Jessica, I can't find the sweater I made from the Blackberry Ridge, but I'm almost sure I did 4+ sts. per inch. I have a ball left. Let me swatch and get back to you.

    By Anonymous Adrian, at 10:39 AM  

  • Oh! I found the sweater. I got 14.5 sts. over 4" and the fabric is very nice. So, between what curlypurly and I got, your options are pretty open with that yarn!

    By Anonymous Adrian, at 10:56 AM  

  • From my own experience with children, they do not like tight things, especially sweaters. I always give the 8 YO 3 inches of ease and then she will agree to at least try on the sweater before complaining she is too hot.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:05 AM  

  • wow, thanks adrian! you used medium weight, is that right? if so, that's great - i could definitely get 4st/1" out of it.

    By Blogger Jessica / Fig & Plum, at 11:13 AM  

  • Yep, I used medium weight. Here's. my post about the sweater I made.

    Wash your swatch! This stuff is so springy that it grows a lot after a good bath.

    By Anonymous Adrian, at 11:24 AM  

  • i second blackberry ridge! also, if you're really wanting to be anal, order one of their sample cards. you'll get a HUGE packet of yarn samples. i'm still trying to get them all straight.

    if your wanting something even softer, their wool/silk blend is wonderful and comes in some nice "autumn" (tweed-esque) shades. its not too much more price-wise and i love the silk addition. Comes in medium wieght as well, although I've only ever knit with the laceweight.

    By Blogger brooklyn tweed, at 11:44 AM  

  • Technically, you can steek with any fiber, but if it's slippery you've got to machine-stitch the living daylights out of it before you cut. I don't suggest it, and don't do it myself, but it is physically possible. Also, slippery fibers are harder to do stranded color with. (Not impossible. But you've gotta be really careful with the tension.) Dunno if you're DOING stranded color, but if you are, it's something to keep in mind. Just sayin'.

    As for ease, I suggest getting a sweatshirt from the kid and measuring it, and using it as your prototype to knit the sweater. Have her pick her favorite sweatshirt by fit alone, and take it home with you. If she's growing really fast, maybe add an inch or two for luck, but the sweatshirt deal works the best of anything I've ever tried. (It's how I fit sweaters to myself.)

    Good luck!

    By Blogger Julie, at 2:21 PM  

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