I'm a Knitter. The capital K means every day, everywhere.
I'm co-owner of Cabin Fever with my sister Lyn. We have published over 100 patterns and 11 books. I'm also working on a new set of patterns for Gauge Free knitting. This blog is all about modifications you can use to knit garments the correct size and fit.
What is your favourite sweater shape? I believe that sweaters need a curve to make us look our best. If you knit from the Top Down you get to choose the curve you want to put in your sweater.
You can work this typical Waist Shaping. Decreases are worked to nip the waist in and then increases are worked back to your original number of body stitches.
You can add Hip Shaping. Work decreases to take the waist in, work increases back to the original number of body stitches and then work some more increases to add extra width to the hip for more wiggle room. This is my go-to for any fitted sweater.
This is one of my favourites for a casual sweater, Hip Only Shaping. Work straight down to the waist and then work increases for extra hip width. If you are hippy this is wonderful because, for once, your hips work for you and give this shaping a terrific curve with very little effort.
Have you worked an A-line? These are very flattering and create a great curve. They do have to be the correct length and width to be effective. A small amount of A-line shaping can be worked into a shorter hip length garment. A lot and I mean lots, of extra width can be worked into a tunic length sweater. They can really swing. Did I mention that they are wonderfully comfortable to wear?
Do you have a favourite? Is there one of these shapes you’d love to try?
I’ve been knitting Top Down for many years and I’m probably never going back to bottom up garments. OK, never say never because it could happen, sometime, maybe. Here are several reasons why I love knitting Top Down:
1. The Body length of the sweater is in your control. If your sweater is the correct length you might find that you wear it more often. Are you short like me or tall (I wish)? Do you find that your sweaters look best if they are a certain length? When you knit from the top, you get to choose. You can make your sweater the length you want whether the pattern was written for that particular length or not.
2. Sleeve Length is also yours to determine. I have worked with taller people who actually wanted the long sleeve of their sweater to be shorter than I would wear them. This totally shocked me. Apparently I like my sleeves quite long.
3. You can try your sweater on many, many times. Put half the stitches onto another long circular needle. The circular needle can be the same size you are knitting with or a smaller size. This gives you room to spread the stitches out around your body to give you an indication of the size. I often try my sweaters on about 6 times during the knitting. I want all the lengths to be right. Of course I’m sure every time that I have knit it to the correct length only to find that I still need to work a couple more rounds. How come they always look longer on the needles? I thought I was much further along on this sweater!
4. You can put all the shaping exactly where you need it. Not that you can’t when you knit from the bottom up but you have plan quite a bit ahead of time. A top down sweater can be shaped as you work. You can put it on after the Great Divide to check where the bust shaping should start. As you work down the body you can see where your waist is and where to begin the hip shaping. When you are past your elbow you can put your arm through the sleeve and measure how much further you have to knit to the exact sleeve length you desire.
Knitting to your unique figure is easier when you can alter the pattern as you work. Being able to try it is a huge plus.
Letting go of a project is sad. The BlueV seemed like such a great idea but it didn’t work out. Even trying over and over didn’t make it work. Although I think I know now, after some reflection, what went wrong it’s not the time to try again. Its time to put it down and allow some space for something new. New is exciting!
If I allow some space I get lots of ideas in the middle of the night. Not all of them are great ideas but they are worth listening to and playing with. You never know where they might lead. This time I was thinking about three events I have running in April: Lake Lauzon Knit Weekend, YarnOver SleepOver Retreat and the Knitters Frolic. I thought I would do some children’s sweaters to showcase at these events. Our Cotton Tweed yarn is terrific for children’s knits.
During the day I’m logical or at least I try to be. I thought that working with cables or lace stitches would add some new patterns to our Kid’s line. I did one. I like it.
But at night the sweaters I was thinking of did not have cables and lace. I soon realized that what I really wanted to do was explore some new constructions. The BlueV did not have me out for the count. I had put this exploration aside for other work and it was time to get back to it.
This is an idea I’ve had for many years but never actually knit into a sweater.
I can imagine this as an adult sweater with short sleeves. A terrific summer top in fingering maybe?
Today is not a good day. A good day is when my knitting is working out. Today it’s not. My BlueV, an attempt at a summer weight cardigan with eyelets is going to sit in the time-out corner. I tried once, twice, even three times.
The first time it was a knit forward, rip back project as you can see. But was I deterred? NO.
I checked it again and found math errors so I tried it with different wool and a brighter colour to encourage me.
This one seems to work so I turned back to the BlueV but it’s still no good.
Are there any tear stains visible? I’m done with this one for now. We are through!
The red one has a chance of a revival though. I do love red and it’s behaving and trying to please me. We haven’t come to the Great Divide where the truth lies so I’m not getting too excited yet. My optimism is a little dented.
I’m going to take some time-out myself and knit some hats. Hats are reliable. Hats want to fit. Hats and I get along great.
Hats, love them. How are your knitting projects going?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I am changing these short rows 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.
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.