A Rhinebeck recap

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I’ve definitely had a lot to digest over the last week and a half since coming back to Life After Rhinebeck. The weekend of the New York Sheep & Wool Festival has always been this happy exhaustion, where I stay up way too late with friends I haven’t seen in a year, or have just met for the first time off Ravelry, and then spend my days pretending I’m not going to shop, but leaving the fairgrounds with bags that are way heavier than when I came in.

My Saturday started off as it did for many, many people, in the Jennie the Potter Line. I never actually intend to wait in the line, but usually end up doing it anyway. It is a really fantastic people-watching spot, and I did actually end up snagging one of the mini dinosaur cups, which later in the weekend I ended up leaving with a friend who I’m sure wanted it more than I did.

The dreamy Melissa Jean Design booth.

The dreamy Melissa Jean Design booth.

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My friend Meg unveiled this beautiful new FO.

My friend Meg unveiled this beautiful new FO.

I spotted Rochelle's handiwork in the wild.

I spotted Rochelle’s handiwork in the wild.

I admired all the fall-y sweaters.

I admired all the fall-y sweaters.

And I did a fashion shoot for my Rhinebeck sweater.

And I did a fashion shoot for my Rhinebeck sweater.

Did some more shopping with my Rhinebeck roomie, who ended up setting in the sleeves on that Stonecutter the night before.

Did some more shopping with my Rhinebeck roomie, who ended up setting in the sleeves on that Stonecutter the night before.

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Requisite apple cider doughnut pic.

Requisite apple cider doughnut pic.

I felt the soft wool.

I felt the soft wool.

And came home with plenty of it.

And came home with plenty of it.

I don’t think I could have asked for a more wonderful weekend, except if there was a way to get 8 hours of sleep and a Jennie the Potter mug…

Knitting indie: The perfect sweater with Custom Fit

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Enjoying my new Custom Fit sweater on the beach in Maine. #happysweaterface

Enjoying my new Custom Fit sweater on the beach in Maine. #happysweaterface

When I first started knitting sweaters a few years ago, I thought, Finally, here’s a way I can make clothes that fit me perfectly. Like pretty much every woman who has ever stood, frustrated, in a dressing room, I don’t always have an easy time buying things off the rack. I’m just barely 4’9”, with narrow shoulders and curves, and while I’ve found LOFT and Banana Republic to offer a decent range of petite styles that fit pretty well, there will often be things that are just… made for someone taller, or who doesn’t have hips.

But, as I started knitting garments, I realized that they also come in pre-determined sizes, and that altering them to fit me wasn’t quite as easy as a trip to the tailor. Then you throw gauge into the equation, and all bets are off.

Last summer, I started hearing about Amy Herzog’s Custom Fit software from some of my Ravelry friends who were testing out the beta version. Around the same time, I ended up deciding to re-knit my all-done-but-the-sleeves Pont Neuf because I had misjudged my gauge and should have used smaller needles, and also knit based on the pattern without making any mods. And it really needed some mods: the waist shaping was in the wrong place for my short torso and it was just a little too long. While it was a good learning experience, it wasn’t one that I wanted to repeat. A program that provided you a custom pattern based on your measurements seemed like a godsend.

Amy and her crew were at Rhinebeck last year, and they generously organized a session where they whipped out the tape measures and sized people up. While I was there, I also discovered the cool gradient boxes from Fiber Optic Yarns. I knew Custom Fit offered fairly standard sweater options, so knitting a gradient striped sleeveless top seemed like a good way to do a test drive with a basic design, while also spicing it up a little.

CF Gradient Tank

The way Custom Fit works is that you input an extensive list of measurements (which are best taken by someone else — check out whether your LYS has a partnership with Custom Fit and can help you with this, or try a local tailor if you don’t have a friend or loved one who you think can do it accurately) that go way beyond your bust size (have you checked out your inter-nipple distance lately?). Then you swatch. And maybe swatch again if you aren’t pleased with how the fabric feels. Of course, most knitters will groan, or say they never swatch, but a few hours of fairly mindless knitting is much better than spending weeks working on a sweater that you never wear.

This may have been my second swatch, but I liked the fabric on US3s much better.

This may have been my second swatch, but I liked the fabric on US3s much better.

Also, while Amy recommends knitting the sweater pieces separately and then seaming them together, the CF patterns do provide a mostly seamless option. I ended up taking that route for my gradient top, because I didn’t really want to match up the stripes, and my gauge is generally tighter when I’m knitting stockinette in the round. The knitting itself was fairly mindless, and I mainly had to pay attention to the stripes. When it was all done, it fit me perfectly, and the only real trauma came in weaving in all those ends…

CF Gradient before finishing

Custom Fit is the perfect option for when you impulse buy that sweater quantity in a beautiful hand-dyed colorway, but you just don’t know what to make with it. When I snagged some Tesseract at the Astral Bath open house a few months ago, I knew that with the silk content and my fairly loose tension that I would want something that I wouldn’t have to keep second guessing.

My next Custom Fit project in Astral Bath Tesseract.

My next Custom Fit project in Astral Bath Tesseract.

I decided to copy molliebatmit’s Moon River, a crew neck cardi with a lace edging and twisted rib at the hem, button band and sleeves. While the sweater has a bit more drape to it than Mollie’s does, because my gauge is much looser, the fit at this point, without sleeves and a button band, seems pretty spot on. So, if you’re planning to go to the pre-Rhinebeck trunk show, you will likely see me in my Conjured Cardi with a #happysweaterface.