Factoring in ease

Even though patterns are written for a person with a certain chest size, you'll notice that there's a lot of variability in the size of the actual finished garment — even for things that are the "same size." At first, this may seem confusing, and it can lead people to knit their garments in the wrong sizes. But the variability has to do with what designers call ease, or the amount of space between you and your garment. Consider these ease facts:

1 Standard ease is 2 to 4 inches. This means that if your chest measures 40 inches, your garment would measure 42 to 44 inches (that's the chest circumference) for a standard fit.

1 A loose fit can measure 6 inches or more over the body measurement.

1 Something that's meant to fit tightly may be the same as your body measurement or even smaller, which is called negative ease. Something with negative ease has to stretch to fit you and will be very form fitting.

Generally, thinner yarns need less ease than bulky yarns — think of the fit of a fitted T-shirt versus a big, bulky sweater. Here's a tip if you're unsure of how much ease to incorporate: Look at the photograph of the finished garment that you want to knit and see how it fits the model. Is it tight? Loose? Close to the body? Billowing? By looking at the finished garment, you should be able to decide how much ease you need. Add that ease number to your chest measurement from Table 3-2, and then choose the finished size that most closely matches that total chest circumference.

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