How to Choose a Size

How do you pick a sweater size when you are going to do some Bust Shaping? Most knitting patterns are set up with the Front and Back the same width. That works great if you are not curvy. If you are curvy, you want to add extra width to the front only where you need it. You do not need it in your shoulders or neckline. But which size do you knit?

The knitting industry uses the measurement across your bust for choosing the finished size. Add some ease and choose the nearest size to knit.IMG_5843

If you are going to add inches for bust shaping you need to begin with a different size. The simple answer here is to make a smaller size and add the needed width across the bust so that your sweater fits just like you want it too.

If you are knitting Top Down, you can use one, or combine two, of the Bust Shaping Methods here:

Knit to Fit: Top Down Easy Bust Shaping

Knit to Fit: Bust Dart, Top Down

Bust Shaping with Twin Stitches

A more accurate way to measure for your size, might be to use your upper chest measurement. Add some ease to that measurement and choose your size.IMG_5846

My manikin, as you can see, does not have a big difference between her Upper Chest and Bust measurement. It must be a manikin thing.

Here is what I would do. I have a 3-4″/7.5-10cm difference between my Upper Chest measurement and my Bust. Usually sweater pattern sizes are set up in 3″/7.5cm increments. Ideally I would like an inch and a bit of ease added to this Upper Chest measurement. I would begin my Top Down sweater using the stitch counts for one size smaller than I really need according to my Bust measurement. I would work the neck down to just above the bottom of the yoke. The neckline and chest should fit nicely. Then I would decide which method I want to use for adding Bust width and continue to work, adding around 2″/5cm (and a little bit more usually) at the bust.

I then have the proper size according to my Bust measurement but more of the width is across the Front where I need it, for two obvious reasons.

Thanks for reading,


P.S. We do have two books where the Bust Shaping is included (built in to the finished sizes). In the Need A Plus Cardigan book the fronts are 3″/7.5cm wider than the back. In the Need A Circular Yoke the front is 2″/5cm wider.

ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever Patterns on ravelry

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Raglan Increases 5 ways

There are so many ways to work every possible technique in knitting that you could, if you are adventurous, view a knitting pattern as a guide rather than written in stone. The ability to substitute different techniques to get a slightly different look means that many more patterns are available for you to use to get the exact garment you had in mind. This also, by the way, could save you quite a bit of time when choosing patterns.

If you are knitting a raglan pullover or cardigan here are 5 ways to work the increases that make the distinctive raglan lines. Do you want decorative holes, small holes or no holes at all? Keep in mind that an increase that is easy for you to work also makes the sweater a happier knit.

Continue reading “Raglan Increases 5 ways”

Substitute in Twin Stitches

The pattern you have chosen to knit is a Top Down with a shaped neckline which you really like … Can you hear the “but” coming? But … it uses short rows that you don’t like. There are at least 5 ways to work short rows and they had to choose that one?! How could they do that knowing that you don’t like working them that way?

Or maybe you have a pattern you like a lot and would like to make a new one, the same but different. I really like the Take It From The Top sweater. I have two already that I wear a lot. Now I would like to change things up for a brand new sweater. This basic pattern is a great starting point. I’m planning on having some fun with this. Would like to join me and Knit A-Long?

Take It From The Top photo

Sometimes techniques that are awkward or unrewarding can stop you in your tracks. The pattern had so much potential and now that you’ve started you are less than impressed. You gaze over at the time-out corner and wonder if it will be headed that way.

But wait. You have more know-how than you realize. Since there are usually several ways to do every technique in knitting, you could find another method to substitute, one that you are more familiar with or learn a new way which is it’s own reward.

I’m going to change the short rows and add a stitch pattern down the front, add bust, waist and hip shaping and maybe do something weird along the imaginary side seam. I’ll be expanding on more modifications and answering questions on the Knit A-Long.

After working the neckband, consider the short rows. Short rows are used to lower the front of the neck which makes the sweater more comfortable to wear. We actually work more rows across the back of the neck, raising the back of the neck, to lower the front. No one every says that but that’s what is really going on.IMG_5759

NACY short row neckline
Neckline to show raised neck, from Need A Circular Yoke book

The Take It From The Top uses the most basic of short rows to shape the neck. *Knit around the short row as written, Turn to wrong side, slip the first stitch, purl around as specified and Turn to right side, and slip first stitch; repeat. This totally works and if you have never done short rows before this is as straight forward as it gets. These short rows  work best when the yarn has some distracting elements: texture or colour variation. They are not the most sophisticated of short row methods.IMG_5754


I am changing to Twin Stitch Short Rows (video) which we used in the Need A Circular Yoke book. They are one of my favourites. They are done by knitting into the row below, pulling the loop up and slipping it back onto the left needle. You then have 2 stitches coming out of the row below, twin stitches.

TWK insert needle 2 - Copy (640x632) (525x381)

TWK completed (640x585)

When you next come to them you knit the twin stitches together. Yes, it’s that simple. I love when techniques are simple and look great. Why complicate things?


Substitute in a Twin Stitch for the stitch before the Turn (K1, twin stitch, Turn). That’s my first change up.

Next add in a panel on the front with a stitch pattern. I’m looking forward to this. Thanks for reading. Join me on the KAL if you want to knit along with me.


ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb onInstagram

How many knitting books is too many?

Do you have enough knitting books yet? I have a huge stack even after I went through them and discarded quite a few. Heartbreaking but necessary. Some books served their purpose at one time but now I will not be going back to them so they got donated to my public library. Hopefully a knitter new to them will pick them up.


What are your favourite books?

Some excellent knitting books that survived:

Knitting Around by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Check out the Knitting Around patterns in the book. If you are looking for books where you will learn about the basics of knitting, you can’t go wrong with any of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books. I counted today and I have knit 11 different garments out of this one book alone (the Mystery Mittens are the best!). I would highly recommend the Moccasin Socks for something different and we all seem to be trying out new ways to knit socks.


It’s still mitten weather. I have knit all of the mittens in this book. The Norwegian Mittens are beautiful.


Knit to Flatter by Amy Herzog


This is not a book I own but I have read it a couple of times and can recommend it. I have also never knit anything out of it but lots of knitters have posted projects on Ravelry. I think she appeals to a younger crowd than I. The most important part of this book for me was the section on picking the correct style for your figure. Sweater success starts with picking the neckline and shape of sweater which will flatter your figure. She also points out that how you look in the mirror, head on, may not entirely tally with your measurements. I am much less hippy when looking in the mirror than is indicated by my measurements. Choose a style according to the mirror and then work with your measurements to make it fit. Great advice.

Knitting Lace Triangles by Evelyn A. Clark


This book is based on a workshop for knitting triangular shawls. I have knit from this book several times. It’s wonderful. What I love about it is the freedom of choosing different stitch patterns and the wonderful way she has set up transitioning from one stitch pattern to the next. Amazing. Mix and match the patterns, every shawl is different. Work them in stockinette stitch and then in garter stitch and see the difference the wrong side row makes.

Do you have some recommendations? I love to hear about books I haven’t seen yet.

Thanks for reading,


ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb onInstagram

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