In knitting patterns, a fair amount of printer’s ink and pixels have been devoted to the phrase “block your swatch before measuring,” or words to that effect. Swatch-blocking is one of knitting’s Best Practices. I heartily approve of it. It is good common sense. I commend it to all.
Also: I generally disregard this advice. I trust to the designer to give me a fair rendering of Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large. I make the Medium, or the Large, depending on the shape and ease of the sweater. I know I’m a loose knitter, so I go down one needle size, automatically, from the prescribed size. And then I just trust to the universe that I’ll get a sweater that fits me pretty well. Over time, I’ve learned which sweater shapes I particularly like, and which ones are especially forgiving if the sweater comes out bigger than anticipated, as mine often do, due to my lax swatching and swatch-blocking practices.
The Hadley Pullover is a departure from my favorite sweater shapes, which tend to a boxy, square shape, and a tunic-style length that goes to the bottom of the hipular area, covering most of the bum. It’s a proportion thing. It’s also an “obscure the muffin-top” thing. It’s in there somewhere, no Spanx have been deployed or anything, but I like a sweater’s fit to keep a bit of mystery on that question.
Hadley is a different shape from my usual; it has some gentle hourglass shaping at the waist. I pondered omitting Hadley’s waist shaping altogether, but then I thought I should try something new, get outside my habitual shape zone, and see how it went. And it went fine, as I knit along. I just didn’t know if I’d like the fit of the sweater on me, or if perhaps it would end up on someone that it suited more.
Here’s Hadley, immediately after I joined up the underarms and wove in the (surprisingly few) ends:
It was good. I liked the sleeve length (and those deep cuffs: LOVE), and the non-hunchy shoulder appearance, thanks to Véronik Avery’s clever placement of the yoke colorwork; there is a flattering illusion of a wide neckline. On the other hand, I didn’t like the snuggish fit through the waist, and the way the hem pulled in.
(Also, the lighting is terrible, and the mirror selfie is inexcusable. If only Olive had opposable thumbs!)
I suspended judgment, though, because the almighty power of blocking had not yet been applied to this garment.
I soaked Hadley in tepid water and a blob of shampoo, and could see it growing before my eyes. I wasn’t surprised; this wasn’t my first encounter with Shelter. But who could predict how the fit would change? Would it get too big? Would it get bigger enough? Would it be Just Right?
Tick-tock, tick-tock, while Hadley dried on a towel, looking a bit huge. Laid flat, Hadley also looked a bit waist-forward, a little curvacious: Mae West’s ski sweater was a possible outcome. Still suspending judgment.
And finally, here it is, being admired by Olive, who loves welcoming new woolens, chiefly by lying on them:
- Muffin-top Situation: greatly ameliorated.
- Pully-inny ribbing: also greatly improved. Shelter does not have a lot of spring-back, which is a plus if you don’t like super-elastic ribbing.
- Skirt-like flare below the waist: less happy about this. I’m short-waisted. If the waist sat higher on me, the hip flare would be perfectly placed, where the hips flare. But my hips don’t actually flare that much in comparison to the waist. So it’s a little bit more of a peplum effect than I find ideal. This is not a problem with the design, which was intended to fit more closely than I knitted it. I purposely knit a larger size, with more ease, and more ease led to more flare at the bottom. I can’t complain.
- Final score: 8/10 Will Not Give Away. One other thing I’ve learned about handknits is that wearing them changes their shape to the wearer’s shape, in a wonderful way. This is my cold-weather, going to Vermont or maybe just Brooklyn, sweater now.