Sunday, May 25, 2014

Picea and the Beauty of Modified Drop Shoulder Construction

You may have heard that drop shoulder construction (and it's close cousin, modified drop shoulder) tend to make a sweater that looks sloppy and has too much fabric at the upper arm and underarms. While that's true of the classic giant eighties sweater, it doesn't have to be. Drop shoulder construction offers a very relaxed fit that can be perfect for active pursuits (anything that might make you sweat) and for lounging. The construction allows a lot of movement at the upper arm (movement can sometimes be restricted by a set in sleeve cap), as well as extra room at the underarm to allow some air flow.

The key to making a beautifully-fitting drop shoulder sweater is to work the body with a whole lot of positive ease and work the sleeves with just a standard amount. (Ease is how big the garment is in relation to your body - positive ease, as in this sweater, is bigger than your body, while negative ease would be smaller than your body and have to stretch to fit.) Picea, for example, is designed to be worn with 7-9 inches of ease at the bust, but just 2-3 inches of ease at the upper arms. This combination makes a sweater that doesn't bind at the underarms and looks casual but chic. I've got a 30 inch bust and 8.5 inch upper arms and I'm wearing the size 38" with an upper arm of 10.75" in the pictures, just so can get an idea of how it works. The sweater has 8 inches of ease at the bust on me!

Photo copyright Anna Dianich 2014

Beware that this won't work if you knit a size smaller than the recommended ease. You're likely to end up with sleeves that are too short and too tight at the top. That's because part of the sleeve length is created by fabric dropping down far below that little bone on your shoulder where a set-in sleeve would stop. (See the top photo in this post for a good view of this.) The sketch below shows the intended fit - a lot of positive ease on the body, and a slender sleeve that ends well below the shoulder.

This sketch shows the potential problems with making a size smaller than the recommended body ease - sleeves that are too short and too tight at the top, as well as a neckline that doesn't quite fit right.

All that is to say, I encourage you to try something new! Knit a sweater with modified drop shoulder construction and a ton of positive ease at the body! I think you may love it as much as I do.

Photo copyright Anna Dianich 2014
I think carefully about the details in my designs, especially for sweaters. Picea is a cardigan that's all about the details - from the ease at bust and sleeves, to the seamed, modified drop shoulder construction, to the big, functional pockets and snap closures. All of these elements combine to make a sweater that looks effortless and feels wonderful.
I have to mention the stunning yarn I used in this sample - it's Anzula Oasis, a hand dyed blend of silk and camel! It is every bit as luxurious as it sounds. It has shine and drape, but also a lovely wooly-ness and a very soft halo that makes it feel like a incredibly special garment. Thanks so much to the folks at Anzula for creating such a unique and gorgeous yarn.

If you'd like to get a closer look at/feel of the sample and/or ask me questions about sweater construction, I'll have this cardigan and a bunch of other samples with me at a trunk show and meet & greet at Penelope Craft in Amsterdam on Sunday, June 1, 1-4pm (or as they say in the Netherlands, 13:00-16:00). The samples will be at the shop for most of the month of June while I'm on my cycle tour, so even if you can't make it that day, I encourage you to stop by at some point!

If you're not likely to be in Amsterdam this June, but would like to see this sample, tell your local yarn shop to contact me! I'm accepting trunk show requests and I'd love to send some beautiful knits to your town.

Photo copyright Anna Dianich 2014

It's been really fun to see Picea on Ravelry's Hot Right Now list, so as long as it's in the top 20, the pattern will be on sale for 15% off when you buy it on Ravelry! No coupon code is necessary to get the sale price. Please share the pattern with your friends to extend the sale!

Sale Update: Thanks so much to those of you who took advantage of the HRN sale! I really appreciate so much enthusiasm for the pattern! The sale has now concluded.

I'm grateful to Julie Hoover, whose brilliant work inspired me to design with this kind of construction, and to Anna Dianich of Tolt Yarn and Wool, who took all of these lovely photographs.

Got questions about this sweater? Please post them in the comments below! I'd also love to hear about your favorite sweater construction and why you love it.




1 comment:

  1. Andrea,

    Thanks so much for your blog post on Picea and drop shoulder shaping. I especially relate to the section on too-tight sleeves, having just made a sweater, top down, with too-tight sleeves. (Here's the project page on Ravelry http://www.ravelry.com/projects/danielsj/moroccan-nights) Ruined the entire neckline. I'm wondering if I rip out the sleeves and enlarge them, how the neckline will change. At present the sweater is almost unwearable.


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