CustomFit by Amy Herzog – a review

The plasterers are plastering.

The kids are thankfully at a playscheme every day and grandparents for tea each evening (thank you grandparents…yet again I couldn’t do this without you!).

I am slowly losing the will with the mess, but have my eye on the prize and am going shopping for a new fireplace and possibly doors at the weekend.

All that aside, I finally have Aislinn blocking…I’m hoping she’ll be dry for the weekend, but it’s awfully soggy here at the moment, so it’s taking time. Whilst we wait for that I thought it might be a good idea to share my thoughts about the whole CustomFit experience.

customfit

 

I know that many folks have pondered whether the system works or not, and, in fact, HOW the whole thing works.  So here we go…I’ll try to explain.

What is CustomFit?

For those of you that haven’t come across CustomFit yet, Amy describes it as:

“CustomFit is a web application that will produce bottom-up sweater patterns tailored to your body’s measurements. That means: You put in your body measurements (just once) and knit a swatch (at least once). When you’re ready to create a sweater, decide what kind of fit you want (close, average, or relaxed), and either choose one of our “CustomFit Classics” or create an entirely new design. Select the body and swatch the design is for, and easy as that, you have a pattern!”

Sounds really straightforward, no? There has, however, been much confusion over some of the terminology. So, to clarify, here’s what you need to do:

How do I create my CustomFit version of one of Amy’s designs?

1) Decide which pattern you want to knit.  I’m assuming at this point it’s going to be one of Amy’s patterns.  If not, I’ll come back to that a wee bit later.

2) Log on to the CustomFit website and put in all the measurements listed.  Yes this takes a bit of time, but it’s most definitely worth it. And you only have to do it once!

3)  Next, you need to do the swatching.  I know, I know…but I’m totally converted to swatching after watching Amy’s Craftsy course.  I make bigger swatches and do different needle sizes to ensure that not only is the fabric coming up to the required tension (gauge), but also I like the fabric it’s creating.  Because if I don’t, now is the time to do something about it, not 3 months down the line when I’ve completed the garment.  Ask me how I know!

4) By now you’re ready to start building your customised knitting instructions for the design of your choice, so click on the design button on the home page.  Some of Amy’s patterns are already ready to go…you just need to follow the instructions on the page.  You’ll only need to add a few details and your customised pattern will be ready to print.

5) For the other patterns in the range you’ll need to buy the CustomFit recipe, which will give you all the information you need to complete the design process and produce your customised pattern.

Whichever way you go the process is really straightforward once you actually start popping numbers into the system.  I think the problem has been that this is a completely new way of purchasing knitting patterns, and as such has potentially confusing new terminology.

What if I want to use another designer’s design?

Good question!

My understanding is that Amy is hoping to encourage other designers to produce CustomFit recipes in the future.  Until then I would suppose that you can use the “Classic Silhouettes” or “Build Your Own From Scratch” functions to create a set of knitting instructions that would give you the basic shaping onto which you could superimpose the pattern from your chosen designer.

For example…

I’ve got my eye on Kate Davies’ Catkin sweater:

catkinthreequarter_medium2

I could make a CustomFit pattern using the Scoop Neck Pullover template

scoop-pulli

and then use Kate’s Pattern for the rib lengths and cable design.

Does that make sense?

Isn’t it an awfully bloody expensive way to buy a knitting pattern?

Another really good question…to which my answer is “yes” and “no”.

Yes…

Amy’s standard knitting patterns are $7.00 each.  A CustomFit pattern + CustomFit Recipe is $12.50.

That’s a 75% increase in the cost of the pattern, which is a pretty hefty number if you’re just looking at numbers.

However….

  1. You don’t have to do any knitting math.
  2. If you’re anything like me you’re going to spend quite a bit of your life knitting this garment…you want it to fit at the end of it.
  3. You don’t have to do the math…I’d sell my wallpaper scraping mother to avoid having to do knitting math!
  4. Even at $12.50 it’s comparable to an Indie sewing pattern, and you’d still have to do the fitting on the sewing pattern!
  5. Did I mention the math…or lack of it?

For me, that extra $5.50 (which, FYI, is roughly equivalent to one large Frappuccino Light) is money very, very well spent that saves me much head scratching and cussing, and let’s me get to the fun bit, the knitting, as quickly as possible.

Obviously, the key question is…

Did it work and does it fit?

Yes (bar two minor hiccups) and yes!

Minor hiccup number one was setting the lace pattern on the front.  It took full consultation of my knitterly friends over coffee and cake to resolve it, so I’m putting that one down to instructions that could have done with a little more clarity.  That said, it wasn’t an insurmountable problem, just potato/potahto!

Hiccup number two was entirely down to me.  I merrily input my measurements into the programme, cast on and knit away on the back of the cardigan, only to realise that I’d actually put two much length into the mix and the finished garment wouldn’t look how I wanted it to look in the end.

So I ripped it back a bit and made a quick adjustment (that even my math phobic brain could deal with because the CustomFit pattern not only gives you the length of the bit your currently knitting (eg back length…knit until work measures X”) but also the number of rows (eg back length….knit X rows).  I can most assuredly count rows and jot them down on a piece of paper!

The key thing is that pre-blocking, I tried the Aislinn cardigan on and she fits like a dream.

Assuming I’ve not buggered that up with the blocking, you’ll be able to see the finished thing very soon and judge for yourself?

Would you use CustomFit again?

Absolutely!  I’m of too Yarndale in September and am planning to purchase yarn for a couple of Amy’s designs, yet to be decided, to keep me in stitches over the winter months.

Things to bear in mind

At the moment CustomFit only does women’s patterns and designs that are knit flat and seamed.  It’s my understanding that at some point an option to create men’s patterns will be introduced, and also designs knitted in the round…but I don’t have any more information on that at the moment.  It’s just a case of “watch this space”, I think.

Cue another “thank you”…this time to Liz who whipped my knitted pieces away and in the blink of an eye had them seamed up into a cardigan with the most beautiful and invisible mattress stitch.

Unexpected upside!

Astonishingly, and unexpectedly, the success of this pattern has made me even more keen to get to grips with fitting knits (which dovetails nicely with the work I’m currently doing on upping my sewing fitting skills).  Whilst my next couple of knits will definitely be Amy’s designs, I’ve ordered a pile of books from the library to check out which I want to spend my cash on…all on the topic of fitting and altering knits.

Fitting is my new obsession, and I’m not remotely sorry! 😉

I do hope this all makes some sort of sense to you, and that it’s made the CustomFit offering a little more accessible, because I do think it’s a really great option to have available to us knitters. Please do leave a comment with any questions you might have.  I’m by no means an expert in this but I’ll do my best to answer.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t received any recompense or reward from Amy Herzog or her team in return for this review. In fact I actually bought the CustomFit recipe, CustomFit pattern, AND the standard pattern, thus paying completely over the odds, mainly because I’m an idiot!.  All opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own.

Images used throughout are shamelessly borrowed from Kate Davies Designs and CustomFit with much gratitude.


7 Responses to CustomFit by Amy Herzog – a review

  1. K-Line says:

    I love this post- and I’m really keen to see your finished sweater once it’s done blocking. I’m still intending to do this – I just need to find the right project. I’m not willing to do a modified sweater from another designer – I want the full shebang – but I’m not super into Amy’s designs. I mean, I like them, but none of them really calls to me more than similar sweaters I’ve already made (and done the math for) or those by other designers (for which there are no Custom Fit recipes). BTW, I’ve heard a number of people say that the length of their sweaters has been too long (so they’ve backtracked). It could be how she suggests you take the measurements. For my own part, when I added my measurements into the system, I ensured I went shorter and tighter than the system suggests. That’s cuz I know how I want things to fit – from years of doing the freakin’ math!

    I’m starting to realize that the reason I haven’t done Custom Fit is because I don’t quite trust a computer to do the detailed work I’ve learned how to do for myself. Once I give up control, I will not want to do a whit of the mathy thinking, and when and if I do need to be considered, I’m afraid I’ll abdicate responsibility and end up disappointed. Hmmm, I think I need some therapy.

    • It’s interesting that other folk have had an issue with the length calculation. 9 time out of 10 I’ll automatically assume a problem with a pattern (whether knit or sewn) is one of my own creating, simply because I don’t have enough faith in my skills. It will be interesting to see if I have a problem with this next time, when I actually put in the length I want it to be correctly. Time will tell.
      Your mathy prowess is borderline scary…it makes my head hurt reading the alterations you come up with, and your knowledge of your fit requirements is stellar. I think this is due to the amount of work you’ve put in rather than any need for therapeutic intervention. When I grow up I want to be able to fit stuff like you do!

  2. It sounds such a great idea to me because you never really know how something is going to fit after doing all that work. PS. I’ll bid for your wallpaper stripping mother and PPS. You get used to eating food with dust in it for a while – it’ll be worth it!!

    • Hahahah! I swear my mother could start a business with her wallpaper stripping! The plasterers are finished (for now!) and tomorrow I’m determined to suck up some of the dust and make the place more habitable.
      I am determined to learn more about fitting knits…but I’m loving CustomFit and learning some lessons along the way. Watch this space for a little related giveaway when I finally get photos of the cardi!

  3. This looks like a great idea. My Mum has loads of fabulous vintage knitting patterns but they only normally go up to the stupendously not my size of 38″. I wish that there was a resource that could size up ALL patterns for you and actually while it is on my wishlist do the same with vintage sewing patterns. Your decorating sounds really exciting. Do you want to hire out your Mum to come and do my house too ? 😉 xx

    • I hear you….I don’t think I’d get my shoulders into a 38″ bust…nevermind the actual bust itself.
      The great thing about vintage patterns is that they are often a very simple shape, but it’s all about the stitches used, which is where CF would be perfect!
      Ma could make a fortune, no?
      The fun starts now with the decorating…as soon as the kids are back at school I can start painting. 😀

  4. Pingback: Aislinn – the finished garment and a giveaway! | Pendle Stitches

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