Up where they stay all day in the sun

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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