Up where they stay all day in the sun


Pattern: Braided Hood Tunic by Carol Feller (Interweave Knits Spring 2010)
Yarn: Moda Dea Washable Wool (100% superwash wool, discontinued), colorway Lake Blue
Needles: U.S. 6 & 7 36″ Harmony wood interchangeable circulars

Becoming a knitter has changed the way I think about clothes. If you have been around me over the last four years, maybe you’ve noticed it. The insight has a name: negative ease.


Ask most women my age (mid-forties) whether they want their clothes to cling, and they’re likely to recoil in horror. My biggest fear when I started knitting sweaters was that they would be too tight — either unwearable, or unflattering to my bulgy, middle-aged body. But knitting stretches. Knitting can be shaped to stretch in the places where curves are appropriate, and streamline the places where they aren’t. I still tremble a bit when I begin to knit something designed to come out an inch or two smaller than my measurements, but I forge ahead. And look what happens: Perfect fit, perfect shape, perfect length, and there’s nothing “relaxed” or “roomy” or any of those other clothing retailer euphemisms about it.


The secret is in the design. Cables draw knitting in naturally; stitches are subtracted in between them gradually to form a lengthy concave silhouette at the waist. Throw in the knitted fabric’s inherent give and stretch, and the garment flows over the bustline as if custom tailored.


Once you see that clingy is not necessarily a bad word — that negative ease can be your friend, can make you a bold knitter, less fearful about fit, and can reacquaint you with the figure you long ago resigned yourself to fight — your whole attitude toward clothes can change. It’s not just the clothes I knit for myself that prove the point. The evidence of the lesson appears in my wardrobe every day.

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One Comment on “Up where they stay all day in the sun”

  1. Coralee Says:

    Donna, what an awesome post! I have never considered knitting in that way because I have never knit anything for myself (except dishcloths)always for others. Reading your post makes me want to leave work, go home find a pattern and start something for my past middle age (mid 50’s) body and test your findings. I like the Braided Hood Tunic, did you find it enjoyable to knit? Thanks for sharing!

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