Wear What You Make: In Praise of the Cropped Sweater
I want to sing the praises of the cropped sweater. Think matador’s bolero. Olé! I know there will be some shaking of heads or even fingers twitching at the ready to close this tab. There are those among you who see cropped as an immediate disqualifier, design-wise. But read on, without fear. I won’t try and sell you what you don’t need, like some Professor Harold Hill.
Sonya is wearing: Cardigan (improvised pattern) in Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere; dress (own pattern); 100 acts of sewing Pants no. 1; and basic ribbed socks in Trailing Clouds Nimbus Sock in Mind the Gap.
The primary purpose of clothing is to cover our bodies, to protect and keep us warm. It’s natural to be resistant to the kind of exposure that the word cropped brings to mind. My own time of midriff-baring was an extremely short one. I have ample top to my muffin and those stretch marks from my first pregnancy, although faded, are still there. The idealized body of wasp waist and flat stomach acts as a stark contrast to the soft curves and bulges that are naturally part of female physiology. Photos of bikini-clad celebrities are hard to ignore, as is the messaging to diet and exercise your way to one. Is it any wonder that most women feel keenly self-conscious about their midsection?
Summer open Cardigan #294 from Knitting Pure & Simple in Ornaghi Filati Natural; Dress no. 2; and Pants no. 1.
I’m here to say, just because the hem of a sweater sits above the waist doesn’t mean you need to reveal parts you would rather not display. This is where layering comes to play, combining loose with tight, and short with long. Playing with proportion is a terrific way to add something extra to an outfit. Spice up that workaday, two-piece jeans-and-shirt ensemble by making the top longer, and popping on a cropped sweater or cardigan. Think of it as a way to introduce more color or sleeves to an outfit, without too much extra warmth.
Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig in Tahki Jeans; dress (own pattern); and Pants no. 1 with ruffle cuff modification from Sonya’s Creativebug class.
This is where making your own clothes really shines. You have the control over the technical specifics of length and fit. Even if the thought of cutting and sewing a garment gives you flashbacks to terrible experiences with junior high home economics, it’s easy enough to hop onto a sewing machine and adjust a hem. Lop off several inches and you turn a dress into a tunic. The ability to tailor your knitting and sewing to suit your particular needs cannot be overstated. With it comes the potential to take an item that’s just not right and with a few simple adjustments, make it wearable. All that separates a cropped sweater from a regular one is a handful of extra rows. Being able to take something you own and make it wearable is good for your wardrobe, your self-esteem and the environment.
I realize there will be unchanged hearts and minds, holding firm to never to cast on a single stitch for a cropped sweater. All that being said, from a purely technical perspective, less length of course means less knitting. Less time and less yarn, what could be better?