Happy Friday, lovely knitters!
Thanks so much for your overwhelmingly positive response to yesterday’s retreat registration. I’m really looking forward to September! (Registration update: As of right now, student spots are full but there are still wayfarer spots available – and you can definitely sign up as a wayfarer, and get on the student waiting list!)
But for the moment, let’s get back to talking sweaters. Because I definitely have some news to share!
You can read lots more detail on these individual A-line sweaters by clicking the photos above – but here & now, I’d like to talk about what the A-line option in CustomFit is, what it does, and some tips for using it.
A-line garments represent a sizable section of my personal wardrobe – I find them comfortable, stylish, and incredibly easy to wear. So while I adore my many lovely sweaters-with-waist-shaping, part of me has always wanted to re-create some of my favorite A-line tops in hand-knit fabric. And as hand-knitting yarns have gotten more and more luxurious over the past 15 years, that part of me has grown. Once I’d made CustomFit, I knew it was just a matter of time.
I started with Bourrasque, a recreation of my now-tattered, much-loved, most-favorite-top-ever. I knew that for me personally, a fingering-weight yarn with a good drape was needed – I strongly prefer wearing lightweight knits, and I wanted the fabric to flow and move smoothly with my own movement. Indigodragonfly’s Chameleon Sock, shown here in “Patina Fey”, was the perfect choice.
Shortly thereafter, I was using another Indigodragonfly yarn — the linen-silk Chaingeling — to design a special something for my make. wear. love. retreat. And once again, an A-line silhouette seemed the perfect way to highlight the incredible motion of this fabric. Enter another favorite, this time a summer-time linen tunic – and Sanderling was born.
I have found them both to be just like my favorite store-bought A-line pieces: Flowy, comfortable, unpretentious-and-yet-stylish. I’m madly in love with them.
But I do think there are a few things to keep in mind when you make your own A-line sweater – whether you’re knitting one of these designs, or making your own by choosing the A-line silhouette in CustomFit’s Build Your Own design wizard.
What is an A-line?
In CustomFit-speak, an A-line sweater is larger at the cast-on than at the bust/chest (by at least 3” (7.5 cm) on each of the front and back).
CustomFit will still do some magic in terms of letting your front-piece widths and back-piece widths differ from one another, but there is no dedicated waist or bust shaping in a CustomFit A-line pattern. Instead of using vertical darts in the interior of your sweater pieces, all shaping between cast-on and bust is spread (fairly evenly) along the entire length of the sweater below the arms — and that shaping is located at the side seams.
Right now, each design within CustomFit is tied to one specific shape, and there are only 2 pre-created A-line designs (Sanderling and Bourrasque). This will change, though, as I design for this shape – and of course, you can always create your own.
Tips for being happy with your A-line
By its nature, the A-line silhouette is not an extremely figure-conscious one, but that doesn’t mean these garments are boxy! Far from it, in fact. But I do think they’re more successful when you go into them with a few specific design principles:
Most people like A-line tops best when they’re longer. So at least for the first time you make an A-line sweater, try choosing either a “long” or “tunic” sweater length. What’s the difference? A “long” sweater typically does not clear the curve of your bum on the sweater’s back; a tunic typically does.
A-line garments require a large amount of positive ease in the hips. Look at the difference between Bourrasque on the top, with 5” (12.5 cm) of positive ease in the waist, and Sanderling, underneath, with 8” (20.5 cm). Neither looks excessively roomy through the hips! In fact, to get a noticeably-away-from-your-body A-line look, you’ll probably need at least 10” (25 cm) of positive ease through the hips, and a stiff fabric.
If you’d like to look more figure-conscious, choose a “close” fit. The garment will be fairly loose below the bust no matter what you do. So if you’d like to highlight a curvy figure, go for some negative ease in the bust, along with snugger shoulders. This helps differentiate your bust from the rest of you.
To see what I mean, check out the difference between me in the close-fit Bourrasque, and the average-fit Sanderling:
See how my bust kind of disappears in Sanderling, and there’s more of a prominent under-bust curve in Bourrasque? That’s entirely due to the difference in fit – in fact, Sanderling’s fabric is more likely than Bourrasque’s to let the figure show through.
Most A-line garments look best with fabric that has fluidity and heft. Unless you’re really going for a shorter swing-coat style, I think that the majority of A-line garments benefit from some fabric that has real motion and drape.
There’s a lot of square footage in an A-line sweater, though, so strong fabric is really important. The answer is to choose yarns with drapey fibers in the blend: Silk, linen, viscose/rayon/bamboo, alpaca, etc.
So there you have it!
I hope you like these additions to CustomFit – and I’d love to hear your thoughts either way.
Have a great weekend, and happy knitting!