Do you ever get a little confused trying to decide which size to go with when knitting a new pattern? There’s a lot of numbers that can get in the way, but then the designer or publisher throws in the term “ease,” too. Let’s see if I can make this part of knitting a little easier for you!
First, what is ease? There are two kinds:
- Positive Ease (what we are most used to): This means the sweater measures more, or bigger, than your actual bust/body size. So, if the size small in the pattern is listed as a 34″ bust, but the finished measurement of the size small is indicated at 36″, then you can know automatically that the pattern recommends approximately 2″ of ease. This extra fabric allows more movement, roominess, and comfort in all the right places.
- Negative Ease: This means the sweater measures smaller than your actual body size in order to create a more form-fitted shape. You’ll also find this in socks and hats, too, to ensure a snug fit. Using our size small example from above, if the finished measurement is listed at 33″, then we can solidly guess that the ease is about -1″.
What this means is that most of your knitted garments will fit one way or another, but it’s the type of fit that we want to determine!
A lot of patterns these days list the suggested ease, so there’s no need to worry about figuring it all out. For example, with Genia Pullover, the finished measurements state:
Bust Measurement: 32 (35 1/4, 38 1/2, 41 1/2, 44 3/4, 51 1/4, 54 1/2)”/ 81.5 (89.5, 98, 105.5, 113.5, 130, 138.5) cm. Garment is meant to be worn with 1 ¼”/3cm – 3”/7.5cm positive ease.
The actual bust measurements, or sizes, aren’t indicated because the ease is provided for you. You can take a quick glance and know that if your bust measures about, say, 36.75″, then you would choose the size 38.5″ for a nice fit. It’ll be 1.75″ of ease, well within the recommended parameters. The only other confirmation step you should make it is to head over to the schematics page. There, you’ll find all the measurements listed for your size and you can confirm whether the ease is decent enough for all the other areas of your smokin’ hawt bod (FYI: there will be an upcoming lesson on how to use schematics to their full, glorious potential. They aren’t just a pretty drawing, you know!)
But, what if the ease isn’t noted? What if you fall into a weird space between the sizes and don’t know which direction to go in? Go with the clues!
- Take a look at the photos. The models are “usually” in the size extra small or small category (I know, I know, but let’s not review the ramifications of THAT today. Grin), so knowing that, how is the fit on the model? Is it roomy or form fitting? With Genia, we can see that the fit is loose and comfortable, so we know there is definitely some positive ease there.
- Decide if the style of the sweater, based on the photos and the schematic, is suited for a lot of room or not. This is a judgment call here and it is definitely ok to go with what you PREFER!
- Take your photo knowledge and preferences and use this little guide to make your own determination:
- For a very close, form-fitting, svelte silhouette, choose the size that is 0 to -2 inches smaller than your actual bust measurement.
- For a close-fitting, smooth, almost form-fitting, aim for 1 to 2″ larger than your actual bust measurement.
- For standard, comfortable, light fit, add 2 to 3″ to your actual bust measurement.
- For roomy, relaxed, and boyfriend-sweater-like fit, go with something 4 to 6″ larger than your actual bust measurement.
What is your favorite style of sweater? Do you tend towards the roomy, layering sweaters or the form-fitting ones?