This Blog include thoughtfully designed knitting patterns for accessories and sweaters in an extensive size range plus a curated selection of Ysolda's favourite yarns and books. A small knitting business based in Edinburgh, founded by designer Ysolda Teague, selling knitting pattern pdfs, books and a carefully selected range of yarns and accessories.
We’re thrilled to release the single pattern for Inverleith, the pattern from Ysolda’s first sweater club kit! The pattern is now available for purchase on its own, and we’re hosting a knitalong through the end of the summer to help you work through the pattern with lots of tutorials and tips.
I (Laura) will be posting regularly here throughout the summer on the blog with lots of tutorials and tips, and we’ve also started a thread in the ysolda group on Ravelry for more discussion, questions, and chat! We’d love to see your projects, so please use #ysoldainverleith or #inverleithKAL so we can find you on Instagram or Twitter. Tag your Ravelry project to be eligible for prizes too!
Schedule of Posts (subject to change!) July 19: Right and Left Lifted Increase Tutorial July 26: Dividing the Sleeves and Body August 2: Casting on for the neck and joining the body August 16: Working the split hem and starting the sleeves August 30: Binding off and finishing
September 16th: finished project deadline for prizes (winners will be randomly drawn from finished projects on Ravelry tagged inverleithkal)
Inverleith is a top down tee with beautiful drape and a simple construction - no short rows. It’s specifically designed to have similar proportions across the size range; with two options for cup sizing built in it’s a boxy shape that works with whatever curves you have. The shoulders are worked in one piece and then divided for front and back. The front and back are each worked flat and then joined in the round at the underarm. Folded cuffs are worked by picking up stitches around the armhole and the neck is finished with a simple edging worked by picking up stitches, knitting one round then binding off. There is no seaming and very minimal finishing.
Inverleith is written for 12 sizes and each size includes two bust shaping options. It is designed to be worn with 6–8" of positive ease at the full bust. The shoulders and chest have different proportions to each other in the smallest vs largest size, which allows for the sleeve bands to be in a similar position on the body across the size range. The result is that different sizes look different laid flat but closer in style when worn.
D+ sizes include additional bust shaping and are approximately 4" / 10cm larger at the bust than the corresponding A-C size. Choose a size closest to your full bust measurement plus desired amount of ease. If the difference between your high bust and full bust measurements is less than 4" or you do not have a bust make the closest A-C size and if it is larger than 4" make the D+ size.
An important thing to note: All sizes begin with the same shoulders and back. The A-C sizes have a front and back that are equal in width, whereas the D+ sizes have an additional 4" on the front side only. So no need to worry about a baggy back when working the bustier sizes!
My high bust is 38”, and my full bust is a little over 42”, so I’m definitely doing the D+ size. I’ve chosen the size 4, which gives me just about 7” of ease at the bust.
Our Inverleith sweater club samples were worked up in Ysolda’s Sedum yarn, hand dyed by Sarah in the studio. This lightweight blend of 40% merino, 30% linen, and 30% silk has a yardage of 600m/656 yds per 100g skein. This custom yarn isn’t available on its own yet, so here are some substitution ideas for yours! We held 2 strands of laceweight together for a lovely light fabric, but you could also use a single strand of heavy fingering weight or sport weight yarn. Plant fibre blends with good drape are ideal for warmer weather. The gauge in stockinette, after blocking, should be 23 sts & 30 rows in 4”.
I knit quite loosely, so I went down a couple of needle sizes for my first swatch. But I overcompensated, and it was too tight at 25 sts in 4”! I ended up on 3.75 mm for my main needle size, and I’ll probably use the suggested 3mm needles for the neckband.
On Monday my latest garment design, Inverleith, goes on sale as an individual pattern. Inverleith was initially launched as our first Ysolda Sweater Club pattern, and next week we’ll be launching a knitalong that’s open to everyone, whether you’re using the club yarn or substituting. Laura Chau, our wonderful tech editor, will be hosting the knitalong, and she’s making one for herself, but before she goes through the knitting step by step I thought I’d share a bit about my design process.
In some ways Inverleith is the simplest garment pattern I’ve ever designed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was easier to design. A simple design has to be just right to work, and it has to be written in a way that’s more accessible to newer knitters (the wording is always collaborative, between me, Bex, Laura and often other members of our team).
Inverleith is worked top-down, with wide shoulders that create a faux cap sleeve. It's basically a drop-shoulder construction with sloped shoulders, but a drop-shoulder presents some interesting grading challenges that I had to work around to create the size range I wanted Inverleith to have.
It’s been important to me, since I began designing, that the majority of people who wanted to make my garments could do so without having to re-grade the pattern for their size, even if they needed to make some alterations to fit their body shape. I’m always fine tuning how I grade sweaters so that the standard sizes are more likely to fit the majority of people who wear that size, and so that it’s easier for you to figure out which size to make and whether you need to make alterations.
How to grade a sweater is a subject for another post, but the basic principle boils down to:
measurements can’t be graded uniformly by the same amount across the size range.
For example, my basic sizing chart includes a 30” range of bust sizes, but the shoulders corresponding to those sizes vary by less than 4” (or 10cm).
Many simple, traditional, sweater construction types rely on the principle that one part of the body is proportional to another and therefore tend to work much better for some sizes than others.
In a traditional top-down raglan: The yoke depth, body circumference and sleeve circumference are proportional to each other. If the body needs to be wider then the yoke has to be deeper. The sleeves might end up too loose by the time enough increases have been worked for the body.
Specific grading challenges for drop shoulder garments:
I tend to design raglans with more complex shaping, often called a compound raglan, so that the fit isn’t constrained in this way.
Drop shoulder or dolman sleeve garments present a similar problem, and consequently I’ve tended to avoid them. A traditional drop shoulder sweater is essentially two rectangles, where the shoulder width is half of the chest circumference. In some sizes that results in a shoulder that gracefully drops to cover the rounded part of the shoulders, for either a faux cap sleeve, or so that a sleeve with a straight top edge can be joined.
In the very smallest sizes, and a significant proportion of the larger sizes the proportion of the shoulder width to the chest presents a problem:
At the smaller end the shoulder width ends up being too small, so that without sleeves the design becomes more of a tank top, and with sleeves there is uncomfortable pulling.
In the larger sizes the shoulder width ends up being too wide, and, at the same time, the lack of shaping around the underarm from front to back causes excess fabric to bunch uncomfortably.
How I dealt with those challenges in Inverleith:
For Inverleith I really wanted the garment to look like it was the same style across the size range: the solution I ended up with is that it looks quite different laid flat.
The smallest sizes have a shoulder width that’s more than half of the chest circumference. After joining the front and back at the underarm this is decreased with to create an underarm gusset.
The larger sizes have a shoulder width that’s less than half of the chest circumference. The additional width needed for the chest is added by increasing above the underarm and by casting on additional stitches between the front and back when joining.
Both shaping options create shoulders proportional to the body, and a built in cap sleeve that’s comfortable to wear.
Inverleith also has the option of working additional shaping, in any of the 12 base sizes, for larger cup sizes. This shaping is worked in the same way as the increases above the underarm that the larger base sizes have so that the front chest is wider than the back. I went back and forth on whether to remove this additional width lower down, but finally concluded that it draped better left in.
In the pattern photos I’m wearing size 3 A–C and Rachel is wearing size 7 D+. We have similar amounts of ease at the full bust, and you can see that although we’re different shapes and sizes that the garment looks like the same style. The sleeve cuff falls at a similar angle and location on our arms, because the shoulder width is a proportional amount wider than our actual shoulders. The shaping around the underarm is more or less hidden when worn.
If you want to knit Inverleith along with Laura the individual pattern will be available to purchase on Monday July 15th, and she’ll be posting here with more information on choosing your size, followed by a series of posts walking you through the project. If you haven’t ordered the club yarn and want to get a head start on choosing your yarn and swatching you can find all the info here.
Don’t forget to tag your projects on Ravelry and Instagram so we can see, and share them!
We recently started stocking cross stitch kits from Junebug and Darlin both because we love them and also because we recognise that in parts of the world that aren't Scotland, there are months when knitting is not that enjoyable and it is good to have other craft options.
Zoe was kind enough to record a brief overview of her crafting philosophy. We have shared that over on Ysolda's instagram, but we are putting the transcript here.
This is Zoe from Junebug and Darlin, I use she/her pronouns, live in Portland, Oregon and create modern cross stitch kits.
When I design a new pattern, I want to make sure it will be something that folks will want to make and display with pride. A lot of my phrases are inspired by radical activist movements and self-care affirmations, in addition to the subversion of traditional cross stitch designs like homo, sweet homo.
I try to design kits that inspire me in hopes that they will inspire others. One of the best parts about crafting these forever pieces is seeing which designs resonate with which individuals. For some the perfect kit is a rainbow safe space and for others its fierce and tender.
I love making crafts for queers and I’m glad my work can go beyond just my community. Seeing the variety of folks that purchase kits for themselves or their friends is really encouraging. I hope to keep designing kits that allow a diverse group of folks to participate in my craftivist agenda.
Help me celebrate my birthday with a sale! All of the products in our sale will be discounted by 20% on Monday July 1st. The sale will run from midnight to midnight BST and prices will be updated to the sale price when the sale begins. No coupon code required.
We have enjoyed seeing people's Joy mitts on Ravelry and Instagram and although the kits are nearly sold out now, it is a pattern that can be done in many different colours, depending on what flag/colour scheme you want to use.
Since we published the original 3 colourways, people have reached out to us and asked for specific Finull PT2 suggestions for other pride flags. We decided to make up additional charts with the colours we thought would work.
Receiving them might be a welcome acknowledgement of someone's identity (do be sensitive about outing someone at a family gathering though!), or perhaps you know someone in a position like healthcare or teaching where wearing them will be a subtle way to signal that everyone is welcome.
You will need the original pdf to make these versions - just use one of these charts for the double knitting section, instead of the charts in the original.
For the hand charts, the 3 colour versions (genderqueer, pansexual) should have 4 rounds of each colour and the 4 colour versions (non-binary, asexual) should have 3 rounds of each colour. The colours should follow the same order as in the flag.
Genderqueer flag - 494 green, 400 white, 4088 light purple
Asexual flag - 442 dark purple, 400 white, 414 grey, 436 black
Introducing the first in an ongoing series of guest posts. I'm honoured that we're beginning with this vital letter from Emi Ito.
I first met Emi through her instagram @littlekotoscloset, where she shares thoughtful and honest reflections on her own identity, her work as a mother and a public school teacher, and vocally supports all marginalised people. Emi has been outspoken about the cultural appropriation of the kimono in fashion and has helped many makers and designers find a less hurtful approach to naming their patterns and products. She founded and co-moderates the Instagram page, @buyfrombipoc, which celebrates Black, Indigenous, and other people of color who are makers and innovators in the sustainable, slow, and ethical fashion communities. Emi is the great granddaughter of a tea master, the granddaughter of a calligrapher, the daughter of a koto and shamisen player and has a deep personal and cultural connection to kimono. —Ysolda
My Japanese mother died when I was eight and I knew from the time I was a child, that I would wear one of her kimonos to my wedding in her honor so that she could walk with me down the aisle. My aunt taught me how to dress in kimono on my own, but for my big day she flew to San Francisco to celebrate with me and to dress me with her hands. She wrapped me in my mother’s red and white shibori kimono with green bamboo at the hem, and cinched the silver obi around my waist. I could feel my matrilineal line holding me, whispering encouragement to me, as I stepped into the next phase of my life.
Emi Ito's aunt dressing her in kimono for her wedding. Photo by Nirav Patel.
Emi's mother and grandmother in kimono and haori.
My kimono is my sacred connection to my mother and my female ancestors. I wear kimono to mark the most special moments in my life and to celebrate my heritage; a heritage that has been derided and marginalized even within my own interracial family. In this year, 2019, I have been told to go back to Japan and I always monitor where I am and who is around me, before I start speaking Japanese to my child.
You may be feeling defensive or upset that I am addressing you specifically and not all makers, regardless of their race and ethnicity. But there is a reason I am writing to you: You so often hold the power in our world where the violence of colonization is still felt by many and where racial categories such as “white” were created by white people to benefit white people. My writing to you does not mean people of color are exempt from cultural appropriation, it just means it is a separate, nuanced discussion.
My writing to you does not mean you have not suffered or are not suffering. It does not mean you have never experienced injustice. As Munroe Bergdorf said,
White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard; it means that your skin color isn’t one of the things making it harder.
Even as an AIDS orphan who has lived through my fair share of trauma, I, too, have light skin privilege as a person who is multiracial Japanese and white. My trauma and hardships do not mitigate my light skin privilege. As a white person, you have certain social advantages around the globe because of how concepts of race have been socially constructed to benefit white people.
When I discuss cultural appropriation, I typically start with the three P’s: power, profit, and people. Power first because there is almost always a power dynamic of a more dominant culture taking from another culture that has been historically oppressed and marginalized. Profit because someone is typically profiting in our capitalist society and often it is not the origin cultures and communities. And people because the people of the origin cultures almost always get erased.
Cultural Appropriation: Power
Because white people have systemic power, we have to start with white complicity in cultural appropriation first and foremost.
Cultural appropriation is a type of “veiled racism” i.e. socially acceptable form of perpetuating white supremacy (see below for The Pyramid of White Supremacy). I find the definition of white supremacy offered by the Conscious Kid to be helpful:
White supremacy is a system of structural or societal racism which privileges white people over others, regardless of the presence or the absence of racial hatred. White racial advantages occur at both a collective and an individual level.
Cultural appropriation is a form of white supremacy that perpetuates a colonial legacy because a dominant culture takes from a less dominant culture by cherry picking desirable or profitable aspects of the culture for personal gain, whether it be monetary, social, or both-- while members of the origin culture get marginalized and even discriminated against for the same cultural markers.
In her book, So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo writes, “Cultural appropriation is the product of a society that prefers its culture cloaked in whiteness. Cultural appropriation is the product of a society that only respects culture cloaked in whiteness… Until we do live in a society that equally respects all cultures, any attempts of the dominant culture to ‘borrow’ from marginalized cultures will run the risk of being exploitative and insulting.”When the kimono I have familial and spiritual ties to, gets “cloaked in whiteness” and is used to name a garment with box sleeves that does not resemble actual kimono sleeves, with a silhouette that is also far removed from the original -- there is not just insult, there is injury.
Cultural Inspiration and Where the Line Is: Profit
If there is an element of profit by a white maker or designer who is inspired by Black, Indigenous, or other people of color (BIPOC) cultures, then there will always be an element of cultural appropriation because the maker who is from a dominant culture is profiting off of a culture that is not their own. Especially as a white maker, you cannot ignore the power dynamic or sweep it aside with declarations of cultural understanding and inspiration. As Oluo also writes:
Appreciation should benefit all cultures involved, and true appreciation does. But appropriation, more often than not, disproportionately benefits the dominant culture that is borrowing from marginalized cultures, and can even harm marginalized cultures.
Cultural Appreciation: People
My mother spent most of her adult life not only performing as a professional koto and shamisen player, but teaching several non-Japanese heritage students classical Japanese music. She believed wholeheartedly in cultural exchange and understanding being bridged through music. Her students were fully committed to learning the art of Japanese classical music, invested in purchasing instruments, practiced daily, and performed as a group on several occasions. She also recorded with jazz great, Pharoah Sanders, which is a point of great pride for my family.
I share this piece of my family legacy because it is what guides my own thinking: Cultural exchange and appreciation at its best, happens when there is a depth of commitment on both sides that is based in a relationship of mutual respect and even love.
If you respect and love Japanese culture then you must also honor the people who create and breathe the life into the culture. And that means all of us: The Japanese heritage people born in Japan and those of us born outside of Japan. You have a responsibility to consider the complex and painful histories of incarceration during WWII of Japanese Americans, Japanese Canadians, and Japanese Peruvians and what heritage garments mean in these communities. You must consider those of us who have been racially targeted and ostracized for being of Japanese heritage, for wearing our cultural garments, bearing our Japanese names, and eating our cultural foods-- you need to honor us as well. Respecting Japanese culture means respecting the contributions, histories, and voices of Japanese heritage people who live all over the world.
How to Appreciate and Not Appropriate: A Few Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I avoid cultural appropriation of Japanese culture?
Use terms like duster, robe, cardigan, wrap coat, and drop sleeve top rather than “kimono.” The kimono may not be considered a sacred garment to all Japanese heritage people, but it certainly is to many of us. Do not abuse our sacred, spiritual ties to our garments by appropriating the term.
Stop using any Japanese names or words to describe garments: Names such as haori jacket, origami pants, sakura sweater, Kyoto coat, wabi sabi collection, and so on. In the words of Japanese potter, Makiko Hastings,
If you do not have Japanese heritage, do not adopt a Japanese name for your brand, which is representing you as the maker. Borrowing an identity that is not connected to your own heritage is not only cultural appropriation, but disrespects those of us who live as Japanese heritage people day in and day out.
Listen to the lived experiences of Japanese heritage people who are speaking out about the cultural appropriation of the kimono and Japanese culture. Just because you may have Japanese heritage friends from Japan who think that cultural appropriation is not an important issue, does not mean that is the case for all Japanese heritage people. Japanese heritage people born and raised in Japan as an ethnic majority may not be as tuned-in to the kind of racism that Japanese heritage people outside of Japan contend with; or as aware of the traumatic history of incarceration during WWII experienced by Japanese heritage people in the US, Canada, and Peru. Ties to cultural garments and items will be very different based on these social and historical contexts. Our voices matter and our cultural ties are not less valid just because we may lack Japanese citizenship.
If your main reason for naming a garment “kimono” is because it is easier for people to find when they search using the tag or word, “kimono,” then that is a clear sign to change the name to “robe” or “drop sleeve or box sleeve.” You are not honoring Japanese culture, but focused on a marketing strategy.
2. Doesn’t Japan appropriate from other cultures?
Yes, it does and that does not make it right to culturally appropriate from Japan. (Please note that Japan does not appropriate from white European countries and cultures. Cultural appropriation is about power and an important piece of Japan’s history is how it was forced to open its doors under threat of violence by the United States, which is a colonial power. Two atomic bombs were also dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is the only use of atomic bombs in human history. Over 200,000 mostly civilians were killed. If that isn’t a power dynamic being exercised, I’m not sure what is.)
Japan also has a violent history of colonizing other Asian countries such as Korea and the Philippines, which should not be ignored or forgotten. Cultural appropriation within Japan is a serious issue just as it is a serious issue anywhere. It is important to stop the legacy of colonization by doing our best to interrupt and question cultural appropriation whenever and wherever it appears.
While many people focus on Japan itself, we need to remember that Japanese heritage people live and are born in countries all over the world, so while we may have a connection to Japan in one form or another, our historical and present day contexts span the globe.
3. I’m inspired by Japanese culture and want to acknowledge that inspiration, is it possible to do it respectfully?
Until we co-create a world where there is more equity between cultures, the cleanest answer would be to find another inspiration source that is connected to your own heritage, especially because there are Japanese heritage makers and designers who are innovating the kimono, haori, and other fashion-related art forms.
However, I also believe that there are people who have genuine care and connection to Japan without any Japanese heritage. People who are like some of my mother’s former music students, committed to studying and immersing themselves in a Japanese art form with dedication; people who are investing in building a relationship with a master teacher and learning from the source, whether it be in person or online.
What that would look like in fashion would be white designers and makers who are inspired by Japan, committing to learning from a Japanese heritage cultural garment maker. It would mean learning from kimono and sashiko makers by financially supporting their teachings and building a relationship. True cultural appreciation would also mean not creating Japanese-inspired items to make a profit because if profit is involved, it is cultural appropriation.
Emi wearing a haori made by her mother.
4. You asked some slow fashion brands and makers to use “haori” rather than “kimono,” and now you are changing your mind? Why?
For the past year I have asked many slow fashion ethical brands to change their “kimono jackets” or “kimono pattern” to other names such as cardigan, duster, and wrap coat. I believe that part of ethical making means being thoughtful about cultural appropriation. On more than one occasion I also suggested “haori” rather than “kimono jacket/kimono pattern.” While I will not be recommending the term “haori” from here on out, I do not regret making those requests and suggestions. At the time, I felt like it was more respectful toward my culture to name garments slightly more accurately as kimono was extremely inaccurate. Haori do function in the way a jacket or cardigan does, as outerwear over a kimono. I was following the lead of Japanese heritage makers who have started naming jackets inspired by haori, haori jacket Oil + Lumber, Atelier Delphine, and Prospective Flow). But the key element here is that they themselves are Japanese heritage makers and designers celebrating their own heritage.
The non-Japanese heritage makers I have been in touch with who renamed their garments to haori took a significant step in the right direction, which I want to acknowledge. I am grateful to people who are engaged in reflecting deeply on the harm caused by cultural appropriation. We can all continue to listen, learn, and grow.
For the past several months, I have had time to write out my thoughts and engage in discussions with more people since first writing about the cultural appropriation of the kimono, especially my friends Maiko and Makiko. I am very thankful for how they helped to shape my thinking and shared their stories with me. Listening to their lived experiences has been a gift and I am changed because of it.
Cultural Collaboration: An Example
While I believe that the best practice as a maker and designer is to completely avoid cultural inspiration that does not derive from one’s own culture, one experience continues to stand out as moving closer to cultural collaboration: working with Elizabeth Suzann to name her Asawa Tie Belt after the Japanese American sculptor, Ruth Asawa. We had a personal discussion, my contribution was acknowledged, a connection blossomed, and a Japanese American artist who has made our world more vibrant was honored. So far this is the closest experience I have had with a maker where I have felt the cultural appreciation that Ijeoma Oluo writes about and that my own mother modeled throughout her life.
Does this mean makers and designers should henceforth name their Japanese inspired garments after Japanese heritage people? No, it means this was one instance of an experience that felt like a genuine exchange of ideas.
White makers and designers, you need to do your own work to culturally appreciate, rather than appropriate; to find inspiration that is rooted within your own hearts and spirits. Being actively anti-racist is a daily living commitment to being in the world to help dismantle the pyramid of white supremacy. Embodying this kind of commitment helps to build a world where equity between cultures can become possible and a “cloak of whiteness” will never have to cover and oppress any community because mutual respect will be thriving. I want this kind of world for my child and I hope you do, too.
When I think of cultural appropriation and the responsibility of white makers and designers, I inevitably wonder what my own mother would think. I cannot ask her, but I have a feeling she might say what she often said to her students studying classical Japanese music: “Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to your best self.”
Are you being your best self when it comes to being a maker and the considerations of cultural appropriation?
We’ve just released DK gauge versions of my popular Stockbridge and Ravelston patterns, which were originally published for a fingering weight yarn. They’re essentially designed around the same basic construction and with a similar fit; Stockbridge is a cardigan and Ravelston a pullover.
Use the links below to purchase the patterns now, or read on to learn more about my design process and the nerdy details that make these simple patterns interesting.
My goal with both is that they’ll be staple patterns you can use to build your handknit wardrobe, the kind of basic patterns that work for lots of different looks.
I spent several years teaching sweater fitting at events around the world, and something that frequently came up is that there aren’t as many really good basic Stockinette garment patterns available as you’d think there might be. I designed Blank Canvas specifically as a class example, and Stockbridge and Ravelston continue my mission to create solid, well graded and inclusively sized patterns for classic garments that you can knit as written or make your own. The fact that so many knitters have made these their go to patterns, knitting them in multiple colours, made me think it would be helpful to do the work of re-gauging them for you — so you can spend more time knitting and less time doing maths.
The gauge of both patterns is 22 sts & 28 rows per 4” / 10cm, there are lots of yarns available that will make a great fabric at that gauge, at a wide range of price points. We knit ours in Petter, an affordable superwash wool that comes in a lots of colours. The standard sweater weight in the UK for good reason, it hits the sweet spot between “doesn’t take too long to knit” and “isn’t too warm or heavy to wear regularly.” You might also find that some lighter worsted weights or heavier sport yarns make a fabric you like at this gauge. Looking for yarn for your Ravelston or Stockbridge? We currently have a promo running — find all DK yarns here.
Just add the yarn and pattern for your project to your cart and the discount will be automatically applied — no coupon code necessary.
The shaping in the DK versions is more or less the same as in their lighter weight siblings. That means there’s a bit more fabric at the back than the front at the bottom of the garment, and more at the front at the chest. Most of the waist shaping is worked at the sides of the garment, with a centre back “dart” below the waist.
The shoulders fit closely, and this continues into the plus size range. I’ve found that shoulders being too wide in larger sizes is a very common issue, and a common complaint from knitters.
Ravelston includes two options for neck shaping, a v-neck and scoop.
How to choose a size
As for most patterns the sizing is based roughly on the proportions of someone with a B cup. Confusingly that might not correspond to bra size at all. If you have a bust I recommend taking 2 measurements to help you choose which size to make: the high bust and full bust.
If the difference between the two is 2” / 5cm or less choose the size closest to your full bust measurement.
If the difference between the two is larger choose a size closer to your high bust + approximately 2” / 5cm
If you’re between sizes size down for a more fitted look and size up for a bit more room.
If none of the sizes will fit you please do let us know.
There’s more information on taking measurements and choosing a size in this post, including a free printable chart that you can fill out with your measurements.
Cup sizes in Ravelston DK
Ravelston includes horizontal bust darts worked with short rows. Choose the base size based on the above guidance.
If the difference between your high bust and full bust is 2-4” work the C-D cup darts.
If it’s 4-6” work the E-F cup darts.
If it’s more than 6” work the G-H cup darts.
Choosing a size if you don’t have a bust
In this case I recommend choosing a size closest to the largest part of the chest + desired amount of ease. You may also want to change the waist shaping, at the minimum taking out the additional increases worked only at the front chest (I would then reduce the number of decreases worked at the front armhole by a corresponding amount). As always if you want to make a pattern designed for a different body shape than yours take as many measurements as possible and compare them to the schematic in the pattern to determine what you need to alter.
The sleeve cap and armhole shaping
If you’ve ever sewn a fitted garment you might have noticed that the sleeve cap wasn’t symmetrical and that the armholes on the front and back pieces were shaped differently. That’s less common in knitting, but it’s done for good reason and is definitely worth doing on a fitted garment.
The reason is simple: your arms don’t hang straight down from the sides of your body. Try raising yours above your head. Where are your armpits?
They’re not facing out to the sides, are they?
Your arms are rotated towards the front of your body, which means that if we scoop out a bit more fabric at the front of the armhole and sleeve cap the result will be a neater fit without extra bunching fabric there. At the same time, more fabric towards the back allows for comfortable movement without pulling.
Laid out flat the armhole (or armscye in technical pattern drafting terms) and sleeve cap look something like this.
A construction that balances the joy of seamless knitting with stability where you need it
These patterns use one of my favourite construction methods. The body is worked bottom up, seamlessly to the underarms and then split for the back and front(s).
The only seam is across the shoulders. The slope of the shoulders is created with short rows which makes seaming much easier than joining the jagged edges of a stepped bind-off and binding off then seaming makes for a strong, stable join where you don’t want the garment to stretch out of shape.
The sleeves are worked top-down from stitches picked up around the armhole. Make sure you follow the sleeve cap directions for the correct arm! The sleeve caps are shaped with short rows using a method I developed that allows the number of stitches picked up around the armhole to be independent of the stitch count around the top of the sleeve. That’s important because it allows me to design a perfectly shaped sleeve cap without being forced into proportions that don’t work for every size I’m grading. The most noticeable difference you’ll see in your knitting, if you’ve made short row sleeve caps before, is less stretching out around the join.
As written both weights of the Ravelston and Stockbridge patterns will give you a well fitting, classic pattern but they’re also ideal as a base for your own design ideas. How about using Norah Gaughan’s helpful stockinette equivalency system to add a cable panel from her book, The Knitted Cable Sourcebook, down the centre front of Ravelston?
Or maybe you’d rather make something with stripes or colour blocking? This gauge is also ideal for holding two light fingering or a fingering and laceweight yarn together for a marled effect.
I ride my bike to work every day, (almost) no matter what the weather. Most mornings I drop our daughter off at school and continue past the sea and along old railway paths to the studio. There’s a segment that follows a busy road, the dump and an out of use but still stinky sewage treatment plant, but it’s still a pretty idyllic commute, especially compared to the rush hour city centre traffic I was used to dealing with. In some ways this time of year is the hardest to dress for, I’m too lazy to change when I get to work, and it seems a bit ridiculous to need special clothing just to ride to work — I did buy really good waterproof trousers this winter and can’t believe how long I got by without them. In the winter I don’t need to worry about overheating and just layer up, but right now the weather is wildly changeable, and I find that even if I don’t need a sweater or coat while cycling my neck and hands still get cold.
I love knitting and designing shawls, but I don’t end up wearing them very much anymore. Much as I like the jaunty image of cycling along with my scarf fluttering behind me, the reality is that the wind is constantly changing direction, especially close to the sea. Wearing a shawl and a scarf is more likely to result in the ends getting dangerously caught up in my spokes or the wind snatching it out to sea before I have a chance to react.
Lightweight cowls are the perfect alternative to a shawl or scarf when you want to be able to toss something on quickly and know it will stay in place. I’ve really enjoyed designing them over the last few years and now have a few options to fit different styles. These are all one skein projects — I often find a single skein shawlette is kind of a pain to wear, so these are a really nice way to make the most of a special skein.
There are 3 of my cowl patterns that fall into this sweet spot; Poza, Thebe and Fraxinus.
Fraxinus is an elegantly shaped cowl worked in the round from the top down, the stitch patterns all feature the same, repeated ‘v’ shape formed from simple yarn overs, decreases and slipped stitch cables. By progressively working these further apart the fabric becomes less dense and the cowl widens to flow over the shoulders — without any change in stitch count. The repeated elements and lack of shaping make for a fun project that’s interesting without requiring too much concentration. Originally designed for our club, we reknit it in Callisto for EYF this year.
Poza makes the most of a single skein of a luxurious yarn. It is worked in the round from the bottom up with gentle shaping to taper it towards the neck. It’s long enough to drape in beautiful, soft folds or to pull up on the coldest days. Poza was designed as part of Knitworthy 5 last autumn and uses Floating from A Verb For Keeping Warm.
Thebe has the look of a top-down triangular point in front, kerchief style, but the fact that it’s a loop prevents it from slipping off. I love this style for cycling or walking on our windy beaches. It is also made in Callisto - we have it available in the original club colour as shown and if you go through the product page you can also see it in some of the other colours.
The difference between your body measurements and the finished measurements of the sweater is called ease. The amount of ease required will depend on the elasticity (or lack thereof) of the fabric, the thickness of the fabric, how many layers you plan to wear under the garment, personal preference and prevailing fashion trends. Some patterns will tell you what size the model is wearing and their chest measurement while others will give a suggested amount of ease to help you choose your size.
Negative, positive and zero ease
Negative ease is when the garment, measured flat, is smaller than the wearer but fits in a way they like.
Positive ease is when the garment, measured flat, is larger than the wearer but fits in a way they like.
minimal ease: 0-2”
moderate ease: 3-5”
significant ease: more than 5”
Zero ease is when both the garment and the wearer's body have the same measurement.
Different areas of a garment may have different amounts of ease - the body of a garment may have much more ease than the sleeves.
Wearing vs style ease
Wearing ease is the amount of ease you need to be able to move comfortably in the garment. Because knitted fabric is generally stretchy, a garment can have zero or negative ease and still be comfortable to wear for a fitted look. Some garment styles require more wearing ease than others.
Style ease is any additional ease added to create a particular look or silhouette, and can be used in conjunction with wearing ease. Different sections of a garment can have varying amounts of style ease for design effect - consider an oversized body with fitted sleeves, or a more form-fitting body with dramatic voluminous sleeves.
What does ease have to do with inclusive sizing?
The problem: just because finished measurements are getting larger, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting more inclusive.
It's becoming much more common for patterns to include information about how much ease the sample was photographed with and sometimes the size the model is wearing. This is a great step towards transparency in sizing, but it doesn’t address the sizes themselves.
A sweater that calls for 8” of ease but tops out at a finished measurement of 50” is telling knitters that it’s intended to fit a 42” bust. That just isn’t enough! People who wear larger sizes want to be able to choose whether their garments are draped and oversized, rather than being forced into knitting sizes with less ease than intended.
Can’t I just change the amount of ease?
Sure, there’s quite a bit of flexibility in choosing a size based on your style preferences!
But when it comes to re-creating a sweater based on a pattern and the promise of a particular look, a finished chest measurement of 50” written to fit a 42” won’t have the same silhouette on a person with a 50” body. Depending on the style, the shoulders, sleeves, and lengths will be sized for a 42”, leading to shoulders that aren’t wide enough, hiking the too-small sleeve further up the arm, and generally feeling like this wasn’t sized for you. In a garment meant to be worn with significant ease, suggesting that a knitter simply choose a size closest to their actual size regardless of ease will result in a different look.
Certain garment styles, such as drop shoulders, need at least 4-6” of ease in the body circumference in order to allow comfortable movement. If the chest is too tight, there won’t be enough extra fabric at the underarm to create a “hinge” for the arm to move up and down. Other garment styles, such as set-in sleeves, work better when fitted more closely to the contours of the body. Of course, there are way more styles than these two, and each has their own fit considerations.
The total number of sizes and the increments between sizes are also important to note. If the sizes are only 2-3” apart and there are lots of them, making one size up or down from your usual will fit a bit differently, but will be pretty close. But there are lots of reasons why a garment may have larger gaps between sizes, such as large design elements (a large stitch repeat or feature), or an unusual construction.
What Does Changing Ease Look Like?
This pullover raglan pattern is KBG 11 from Einrum First Book. Bex knit this sample in the largest size and we had fun trying it on different people — the results were sometimes surprising, but definitely proved that there are limits to how much changing the ease can make a sweater fit a wider range of sizes. We liked it best with either a significant amount of positive ease, so that it looked intentionally oversized, or with almost none.
We ultimately decided not to carry this print book alongside the yarn. Although the minimalist gender neutral designs are lovely, we felt like the size range was too limited. If it works for you it’s available to order direct from the yarn company. For a similar basic seamless raglan pullover, you can try this pattern generatorNo pattern generator is perfect, but this would give you a good starting point based on your actual measurements and gauge.
Bex also made the Great Love Cardigan by Anke Stricke in the size 54, in Einrum, and we photographed it on several people. We found the amount of positive ease (10-14”) was quite flexible, but as written it definitely looked better on the taller members of our team. It’s a great example of where you’d want to watch how shoulder width affects sleeve length. This is worked top-down so it would be easy to try on and knit to the length you want.
When considering ease in choosing a size to knit, it is worth looking at the information provided about arm sizing and length, not just ease at the torso. This will help avoid any surprises in your finished object. Don't hesitate to adjust lengths to suit how you want to wear the finished garment.
Of course, when assessing whether a size range actually includes your size you'll want to look at whether the finished measurements will give you the amount of style ease that either the design is intended to have or that you prefer. We hope that publishers and designers will take ease into account more when they make decisions on what sizes to include in a pattern.
On 3rd May we published a blog post titled ‘Gilliatt Sweater Roundup’. Our intention was to celebrate this new yarn line that’s just been added to the online store by showing designs offered in this yarn. We wanted to show the yarn knit up in garments so the drape and character of the fabric created could be seen. As a team we wanted to only include designs that were inclusively sized both in terms of measurement and the intended amount of ease the garment is to be worn with. However, in presenting this, we were insensitive to what was being highlighted: a lack of those sizes needed.
Expressing frustration when it was not ours to express meant we received a thoughtful and honest message saying that a reader and customer felt hurt. This was never our intention and yet we know all too well that intentions, however well meaning, can hurt. After some discussion as a team (and with this kind person), we would like to offer a post that celebrates inclusive patterns (and those designers) for garments that would easily work with Gilliatt and any similar worsted weight yarn.
If you click on the pictures, they link to each design's Ravelry pattern page allowing you to check out other people's projects and further details.
Antler Pullover (Jan 2019) Tin Can Knits
A pullover follow-up to the popular Antler Cardigan, this seamless sweater is worked from the bottom up with a yoke full of cables that’ll pop in Gilliatt. 28 sizes run from babies to adults. Finished chest measurement from 18.5” to 60.5”.
Leelanau Melynda Bernardi
Colour work sweaters for everybody! This two-colour pullover is knit in the round from the bottom up with raglan shaping, and is sized from babies to adults. Finished chest: 20” - 60”, 16 sizes, 1-3” ease for child’s sizes, 4-8” ease for adult sizes
Koppen Laura Chau
A seamless raglan cardigan with overlapping fronts and one button closure or optional I-cord ties. A subtle diagonal texture pattern is worked on the body, along with integrated I-cord and garter stitch edgings. Long sleeves feature deep garter stitch cuffs and a center garter stitch panel. Finished chest: 30.5” - 59”, shown with 2” negative ease
Hintermost Bristol Ivy (written for Jill Draper Kingston)
A gorgeous cardigan from the inimitable brain of Bristol Ivy, this detail-filled project features lots of couture techniques, including steeking, sewn-on button bands, and afterthought pockets. Finished chest measurements of 35” - 62.75”, 12 sizes, shown with 6” of ease.
Constance Anj Medhurst
This graphic pullover is worked seamlessly from the bottom up, with balloon sleeves and a slip-stitch mosaic yoke detail. To Fit Chest: 28-30” up to 60-62”, 9 sizes, 1-3.5” ease
Laurel Cardigan (free via Knitty) Amy Christoffers
A casual fit cardigan or jacket with an interesting side-to-side construction and a chunky horizontal cable. Free via Knitty. Finished chest: 36” - 60”, 7 sizes, 3-6” ease
South Bay Sweater Sam Lamb
A raglan pullover, worked seamlessly from the top down with an inset garter panel and three-quarter sleeves. There are 2 style options for finishing the neck. Finished chest: 31.5 - 61”, 9 sizes, 0-2” ease
Ifan Kat Riddell
A squishy moss stitch cardigan knit from the top down with extra-long seamless set-in sleeves, deep ribbing, and patch pockets. Finished chest: 33” - 66”, 12 sizes, 2-6” ease
Naturalist Benjamin Krudwig (from Twist Collective)
A textured chevron stitch adds interest and warmth to this bottom-up seamless raglan. Options for three-quarter or full length sleeves. Finished Chest: 31.5” - 58.25”, 7 sizes
Bodie Elizabeth Doherty
This sophisticated cardigan (with integrated pockets!) is worked from the top down in a variety of texture stitches to keep you interested. The lush shawl collar is worked in brioche stitch. Finished chest: 36.75” - 60”, 10 sizes, 3-6” ease