Positive Ease, Please! Knitting Sweaters with a Perfectly Loose Fit

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Positive ease: Sounds like a meditation app, but it's more like a top contender for Best Knitting Term Ever. If you knit, you'll need a solid grasp of positive ease if you want to nail the right fit for your garments. Once you knit up a piece, there's usually no going back (unless you rip it out, of course) so it definitely pays to know all about how fit works before you even get started.

What is Positive Ease?

It's those extra couple of inches that get added to the fit of a knitted garment. A sweater with positive ease fits more loosely since it's bigger than your actual body measurements — and it's designed that way on purpose.

To peep what that looks like, check out the dropped stitch pullover in the image above. See how loosely the pullover fits, especially in the shoulders and sleeves? That's positive ease. The relaxed look is built right into the pattern. Despite its name, positive ease is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It just depends on the style you're going for.

How Positive Ease Works in Knitting Patterns

If you're using a knitting pattern ( learn how to read a knitting pattern here! ), the instructions will let you know how much positive ease is built into the sizing. You won't have to make any adjustments to get that ease, since the designer already took care of that.

Example: If you're a size medium and the garment you're knitting has a lot of positive ease, you'll automatically end up with a baggy fit. You won't need to go up or down a size to get that look.

Ever see the term "boyfriend" in knitting? It's the same thing. The idea is that the garment fits you loosely, the way it would if you had a boyfriend and borrowed his clothes. "Boyfriend" sweaters are designed to have plenty of positive ease and be roomy, casual and comfortable (just like your boyfriend? You be the judge of that!).

Positive ease doesn't always have to be as baggy as boyfriend-style sweaters. If you've ever seen a Japanese-inspired Sashiko cardigan, you may have noticed that it has a ½-inch positive ease built into the pattern. That makes the cardigan just loose enough that it's not clinging to your skin, but not huge enough to cover your entire backpack and then some!

Positive ease can make for casually elegant knits that flatter you without looking like they're trying too hard, so get comfortable with the term — you may want to use it a lot.

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Positive Ease, Please! Knitting Sweaters with a Perfectly Loose Fit