Knit to Fit: Bust Dart, Top Down

Let’s get back to my first love, Top Down knitting. One of the things I like best about knitting from the top is that everything does not have to be planned ahead of time. I will decide that I am going to add bust shaping to widen the front of my sweater. As I approach the bottom of the Yoke I can think about how I might do the bust shaping since it can be done in several different ways.

One method to use is Easy Bust Shaping , working the bust shaping into the last couple of inches of the Yoke, above the underarm.

Here is a second method, a Bust Dart. The bust shaping occurs just where you need it, in the couple of inches between the underarm and the largest part of your bust.

NAPC Bust shaping (559x640)

I introduced this method in the Need A Plus Cardigan book where the Front of the cardigans are set up to be 3″ wider than the back. Two inches were added through the bust darts and the third inch in the buttonbands. The extra width is incorporated into the final sizing of all the cardigans.

NAPC Cover

Set up a Bust Marker on each side of the Front and work increases every other round.Bust shaping Top Down increases showing

bust shaping

Could you add more than 1″ worth of stitches? It depends on how much vertical room you have between the underarm and the largest part of your bust.Bust shaping Top Down vertical

Your bra matters here! Put on your best figure enhancing bra and measure. Since you are working an increase every other row you need to check the number of rows you can fit into this vertical distance. You may be able to sneak in a couple more increases. I usually do.

Me, wearing a Lace Panel cardigan from Need A Plus Cardigan book.

Could this method work for you?

Thanks for reading,


ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever books and patterns

Deb on Instagram

Knitting Boredom

I’m working on a new project made up of triangles that join together as you work. You’ll be seeing some of it soon but I have to tell you that I’m bored.

This is a good sign. To me it means that I have the fundamental parts of the construction figured out. Once I’ve figured things out I get bored.

When do you get bored? Maybe there is too much stockinette stitch in your pattern. I can hear my friend Jen saying “that’s what a knitting machine is good for, all that stockinette stitch”. You may or may not agree with her but it does free her up to do all the interesting bits. What do you do when you get bored?

I think boredom can improve your knitting. Let’s say you intend to knit a dozen hats for charity or for everyone on your Christmas list. You start with your favourite hat pattern. Now knit another, maybe in a different colour. Cast on for the next and the next. Are you bored yet? Where would this take you? You still have 9 hats to go. Would you buckle down and just get them knit, grinding your teeth? Would you cruise through ravelry and buy a new pattern for each hat? Would you buy variegated yarn to jazz things up so you have something pretty to look at? What are you going to do?

Now let’s pretend you only have one pattern. The desert island scenario. Your internet is not working, your car is in the shop, you are stranded with your yarn stash and one hat pattern. Now what do you do?

  1.  Work some colour blocks or stripes into the hat. Not too hard and kind of fun.
  2.  Introduce some cables, lace or textured stitches into your hat. More of a challenge. Remember that cables will pull your work in and make the hat a smaller size. Lace will stretch and make a larger size. You can adjust for this by working increases for the cables or decreases for the lace work above the brim treatment and then adjust back to the original number of stitches before working the crown.
  3.  Knit the hat in the opposite direction. You might have guessed that this is where I would go. I love playing with the construction of garments. Knit a standard brim-up hat from the top down. Read the directions for the cast off backwards to the beginning. Cast on the number of stitches you previously cast off. Increase for the crown instead of decreasing. Here is a stretchy bind off for the brim of your top down hat . It’s important that it is stretchy: Knit 2 sts, *insert your Left needle into the fronts of the 2 knit sts on the Right needle, from left to right, and knit these 2 sts together (just like an SSK), K1 so there are 2 sts on Right needle; repeat from *.
  4.  Knit the same pattern in a different weight of yarn. You do have your stash with you. This is a challenge and if you know my Cabin Fever books you know I’ve already done this in the Need A Hat book where all the hat patterns are written for all gauges. Here are two ways you can do it yourself. Decide on the size of hat you want, say a 21″ hat, and multiply it by your new gauge (#sts = 1″) for a new number of stitches to cast on, example: 21″ x 5 sts = 105 sts. Feel free to adjust to an even number if needed and knit your hat from there.  OR since your desert island hat pattern probably comes in several sizes, take the stitch count for each size and divide it by your new yarn gauge (#sts = 1″) for a new set of sizes. Follow the instructions and stitch count for the new size you need, examples: 104 sts in worsted weight yarn makes a 21″ hat (104 sts divided by 5 sts = 1″),  104 sts in DK weight yarn makes a 19″ hat (104 sts divided by 5.5 sts = 1″).

NAH hat P1020855Snowshoe Hat in Aran & Fingering weight yarn, Need A Hat book

If you have done any of this, you are designing. Yes, you. Did you enjoy the excitement of experimenting?

There is always uncertainty about the results. Was that difficult?

I can’t wait to hear about your adventures and experiments. Thanks for reading,


ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb on Instagram

Knit to Fit: Vertical Darts II (for Bottom Up sweaters)

Let’s say you have a pattern for a sweater with a straight body. You’ve worked your sweater from the bottom up and to accommodate your figure, you have worked increases between your waist and your bust, making Vertical Darts to add extra width at the bust.

Now things get interesting. You have to work decreases to get back to the correct number of stitches for the upper chest and the shoulders on your pattern. How and where can you do this? Here are three ways.

OPTION 1:  You can continue the princess lines straight up to the shoulder.princess line blouse drawing

Keep the markers used in your Vertical Darts in place and work a decrease before the first marker and after the second marker as your work up to the shoulder.Vertical Darts body schematic II

If I was doing this option I might consider making the princess lines prominent. They would form strong vertical lines from the bottom edge to the top. A couple of stitches beside the markers could be worked with twisted stitches or with a purl stitch on either side to delineate them. This shaping could also be worked along the outside edges of a centre panel of textured or lace stitches. As a short person, I think any vertical line is a good design feature.

OPTION 2:  For a sportier model you can work the decreases quickly on an angle toward the body-sleeve edge.Vertical Darts body schematic II Sports look

You have seen this idea many times in sports clothes where the side panel is in a different colour, usually darker or brighter so your eye moves along the curved line adding visual shape to you and your garment.flaxey_team1280 curling morgan sports wear

Another benefit of this model is that the decreases are done quickly (every other row) making the upper chest smaller for a better fit.princess line blouse sporty look drawing

OPTION 3:  If you are working in pieces, you could decrease the extra bust stitches away as you work the shaping for the armhole.sweater schematic decr bust sts

Work the darts, adding extra width to the body at the bust and work straight up to the armhole. Work the armhole shaping as written and then continue to work the decrease shaping, extending the angled line until the number of stitches across the upper chest matches your pattern.

DONE. You will have a nicely shaped sweater which fits your unique figure.

Thanks for reading,


ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb on Instagram

Knit to Fit: Vertical Bust Darts I (for bottom up sweaters)

Do you have a blouse or shirt that you love but hesitate to wear? Is it that shirt where you need to contort yourself to place a safety pin at the bust line because it wants to gap there? If you wear it without the safety pin you have to hunch your shoulders forward every time you notice. In fact you can probably hardly move once it’s on but it’s the greatest blouse so here we go again with the d#%* safety pin.

Then there is that blouse which is not so great but is soooo comfortable to wear that you reach for it quite often. This blouse might have princess lines – those vertical lines that run from the bottom of the blouse, over your bust to the shoulder. They allow the front of the blouse to widen at the bust and then narrow back down at the shoulder. They fit really well for those of us who are somewhat busty. This style of blouse doesn’t gap at the bust line.princess line blouse

Can this be duplicated in knitting? Yes. Especially easy when working from the BOTTOM-UP.

You can add vertical darts. Widening the fabric at the bust area on the front only means the sweater will not be overly tight across the bust and pull the front of the sweater up at the bottom. The extra width relaxes the front so that it can fall properly at the bottom edge.Vertical Darts body schematic


Starting above the waist, place a marker 1/4 of the width in from each side seam. As you knit up the front, work an increase before the first marker and after the second marker, creating two lines of increases which will widen the front.

I tried to find some clear photos of vertical darts on sweaters but had very little luck. Guess what? They don’t show that well. So no worries about adding the increases since you’ll have to look really closely at this photo to see them. They are there, I checked.Amy Herzog petrea-final-front waist shaping

This is Amy Herzog’s Petrea pattern. If you knit from the bottom up and are looking for expert advice on bust shaping, she is your go-to person. I would recommend her Fit to Flatter book for more information.

Now back to the nitty gritty details. How many extra stitches do you need? That depends on how much extra width (in inches) you want on the front. See Do I Need Bust Darts?

How often do you work the increases? That depends on how many increases you need to work and how much vertical room you have between your waist and your underbust.Body schematic waist to bust


You want to work the increases starting 1-2″/2.5-5cm above your waist to 2-3″/5-7.5cm below the largest part of your bust. Use a measuring tape to check. I barely have 4″/10cm of room but I am very, very short. You may have more room than that.

Let’s say you want to add 3″ to the width of your front and you are working in worsted weight yarn with a gauge of 5 sts = 1″/2.5m. You want to add 16 sts and since you are working them in pairs (2 increases worked on every increase row) you need 8 Increase Rows to achieve this.

Work an Increase Row, then [3 Straight Rows & then an Increase Row] 7 times = 29 rows.

For worsted weight yarn your row gauge is 7 rows = 1″/2.5cm  so 29 rows is going to take approximately 4″/10cm vertically to work.

Do you have at least 4″/10cm of room between 1-2″/2.5-5cm above your waist and 2″/5cm below the largest point of your bust? If you have more room you could work 5 straight rows between increase rows and see how much room that needs. (1 Increase Row + [5 Straight Rows + Increase Row] 7 times = 43 rows = approx. 6″/15cm)

Would this be easy enough to add to your next bottom up sweater? I think with a couple of measurements and a few calculations you could be making a better fitting sweater.

The next question is how do we reduce these stitches above the bust line? The sweater front needs to fit at the shoulder according to the original pattern. There are several ways to do this and I will tackle that next week in Vertical Darts II.

Thanks for reading,


ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb on Instagram


Getting Gauge: You are Not Alone

You’re sitting in your favourite knitting chair, frowning. This is supposed to be relaxing. This is supposed to be fun but … your project is not quite right. It’s bigger or smaller than it should be. You measure, knit a bit and measure again because this time it will miraculously be the correct size! What is the matter? Everyone else is knitting this and it’s working fine. Not True.

Lots of those “everyone else” knitters struggle to get their projects to work out to the correct size too. We can’t talk about knitting to size and dimensions, without talking about the G word. Yes, that one. If you struggle with getting gauge you are not alone.

What matters?

  1. How you knit. Which method you use and how you hold your yarn.
  2. The yarn you are knitting with: fine yarn to heavy yarns.
  3. How crucial the dimensions of the project are. Sometime they just aren’t that important or only in one spot. Gotta’ love those projects.

Know who you are:

When I comment to knitters that they are a loose or tight they seem insulted. I am not making a judgement on their moral character. This is information you need to know. If you don’t know how can you work on accommodating it. Working with how you knit is what we all need to do.

Do Not Change how you knit.

Knit using the method you learned and are comfortable with. If you decide you are going to knit tighter or looser for a project, you know it’s going to last about 5 minutes until you relax, watch TV or speak to anyone.

Who are you?

  1. Are you a loose knitter (not in the moral sense) or a tight knitter (not in the monetary sense)? If, when using the needle recommended on the ball band, everything you knit turns out large, your fabric is drapey and open and your stitches are loose or uneven, you are a loose knitter. If your stitches squeak when you move them on the needle, your fabric is very firm then you are a tight knitter. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH HOW YOU KNIT. You just need to know where you are on the continuum between loose and tight.
  2. Notice the details. First of all, observe. Take a look at, or remember, some of your previous projects where the size turned out to be different from expected. What weight of yarn was each of these projects worked in? We are not necessarily consistent. I am a loose knitter but when I knit socks with sock yarn I’m right on target. I’m also pretty good with DK weight yarn. The break appears when I reach worsted weight yarn. I’m loose with all the heavier weights of yarn which I love to work with. I also struggle to get gauge the stiffer the yarn is. My ultimate frustration is that I simply cannot get gauge at all with boucle cotton (bumpy cotton aran weight yarn). No way, no how, even using 4 sizes smaller needles, not even close.

That’s what I know about how I knit. How about you? Are fine yarns trouble? Heavy yarn is a problem? Are there projects you just don’t tackle because of gauge?

Thanks for reading. Any questions?


ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb oninstagram

Knit to Fit: How Do You Want Your Sweater to Fit?

In your closet you might have casual clothes, fitted clothes and fancy dress clothes. Or you might be like me. In my closet I have casual clothes, old shabby clothes and more casual clothes. I’m assuming you might be a little more upscale than I am.

Casual clothes fit differently than fitted or dressy clothes. You also have a very personal way you like your clothes to fit you: close fitting, relaxed fit, over-sized fit (they still fit even though the fit is looser).

How you want your sweaters to fit?

A close fitting sweater is meant to hug your curves. At the bust this sweater will probably have negative ease (the sweater is slightly smaller than your measurement around your bust). It will have an inch or two of ease at the waist and will be shaped to the hips with minimal ease. This requires that you work both waist and hip shaping and if you are on the busty side, bust darts.Body schematic close fit

I have one of these fitted sweaters and wear it sometimes (read that to means only in a class demonstration to show this kind of fit). If you can wear close fitting sweaters go for it. They are beautiful sweaters.

I wear relaxed fit clothes which have a little more ease but still have a curve in them to represent the waist and have lots of wiggle room in the hips. They still follow the shape of the body, just a little distance from it. Generally the amount of ease is that same over all your curves, with possibly a little less ease at the bust.Body schematic relaxed fit

Then there is A-line shaping or over-sized sweaters. These are comfy, easy to wear garments. They can still look fantastic, especially if the bust fits closer to the body. To finesse them you can decrease a little bit under the bust before you begin working increases for the A-line shaping.  This gives this style of sweater a nice curve.Body schematic oversize fit A-lineI especially love this style of sweater.

Thanks for reading,


ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patternsby Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb on Instagram

Knit to Fit: 7 Reasons to Double Up the Increases for Bust Shaping

One of the easiest ways to work some extra width on the front of your Top Down Raglan sweater is to work an extra increase beside the regular Raglan increase on both sides of the Front. In the last couple of inches at the bottom of the yoke you can work the EASY BUST SHAPING .Bust shaping Yoke increases Body schematic working EASY

You can add up to about 3″/8cm to the Front this way. Bust shaping Yoke increases Body schematic direction of knitting

I was asked if there were specific circumstances where you would use this method.

  1.  It’s a very straight forward way to add width to the front of your sweater without affecting the upper yoke and neckline.
  2. It’s easy to add these extra increases into any Top Down Raglan sweater pattern that doesn’t have extra width already written in.
  3. A couple of extra inches on the front really helps to alleviate button gap on your cardigan. If you wear your cardigans buttoned up, positive ease at the bust is a necessity. I cringe every time I see button gaping on a cardigan in a magazine.
  4. Nothing shows. No one can see the extra increases since they are almost in your armpit.
  5. Working the increases above the underarm works really well for a bust that is high. More traditional bust darts may be too low when they begin below the underarm.
  6. One of the best reasons is for the well endowed. The Doubling Up of Increases method can be used in conjunction with more traditional styles of bust darts. A couple of inches added at the bottom of the yoke (just above the underarm) plus bust darts in the bust area itself can add 4-6″ extra width at the bust if needed.
  7. If you have a stitch pattern on your sweater, bust darts may interfere. This method can be added where you are already working the raglan lines so they are less likely to interfere.

Could you do a little bust shaping on your next Top Down using the Easy Bust Shaping method?

Thanks for reading,


ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb on instagram

Knit to Fit: Top Down Easy Bust Shaping

Would you like the front of your sweater to be wider than the back? There are two obvious reasons why you might need that. Knit to Fit: Do I Need Bust Darts?

If you are working a casual Raglan sweater from the Top Down here is an easy way to get some extra width across the Front just where you need it: not over the entire front of the sweater and expecially not around the top of the shoulders and neckline, just at the bust.Body schematic bust shaping Top Down

As you work down your yoke, you are working increases at the raglan lines.Top Down pullover schematic

As you approach the bottom of the yoke, what would happen if you doubled up the increases on the Front only? Wouldn’t there be more width on the Front?

In the bottom couple of inches of the yoke, on the Front only, you could work an additional M1 increase beside the raglan increases you are already working, separated by a stitch or two. This could easily add an extra 2″- 3″ to the Front.Bust shaping Yoke increases Body schematicWould the extra increases show? Not really. You can put them in just before the underarm. Can you see them?Everyday Cardigan close up bust shaping yoke

They’re right there.Everyday Cardigan close up bust shaping yoke showing

At my gauge of 5 sts = 1″,  5 extra increases on each side of my front (yes I did work 5 extra  increases but I can’t find the 5th one) for a total of 10 extra stitches, which gives me 2″ of extra width across the front, above my bust. Great for my casual cardigan.Everyday Cardigan Yoke shaping

Now for the nitty gritty details. Here is an example of how it works for a cardigan:

Double Increases on Fronts for Bust Shaping

Increase Row: (RS) Work across the Front to 2 stitches before Marker#1, M1L (extra increase for bust), K1, work your regular raglan increase, K1, slip Marker#1, K1, work raglan increase, work across Sleeve to 1 stitch before Marker#2, work raglan increase, K1, slip Marker, K1, work raglan increase, knit across Back to 1 stitch before Marker#3, work raglan increase, K1, slip Marker#3, K1, work raglan increase, work across Sleeve to 1 stitch before Marker#4, work raglan increase, K1, slip Marker#4, on the Front work K1, work raglan increase, K1, M1R (extra increase for bust), knit across remaining stitches of Front to end of row. – increase of 10 sts, 8 raglan increases + 2 extra bust increases on Fronts only.

You can use this in addition to other bust shaping techniques for more width or shaping. You can add this shaping to any Top Down Raglan sweater pattern where the front and back are the same width.

You can decrease these extra bust stitches away as you work towards your waist or leave them there. It’s a casual cardigan so I just left them there. It helps to prevent button gap.

There it is. One easy way to make some extra width for your bust.

Thanks for reading,


M1L: Work before the Raglan line:  With Left needle, lift the running thread between the stitch just worked and the next stitch, from front to back, and knit into the back of the resulting loop.

M1R: Work after the Raglan line:  With Left needle, lift running thread between the stitch just worked and the next stitch, from back to front, and knit into the front of the resulting loop (this is tight to work).

ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb on instagram


Knit to Fit: Do I Need Bust Darts?

The knitting pattern industry is mainly set up for women with a bra cup of A – B. If you are also 5’6″ or slightly taller you are an excellent fit for most patterns. Lucky you. If you are like me and not anywhere close to this figure profile you might have wondered if the reason the sweaters you’ve knit don’t fit is because of your knitting or your yarn or your figure. Maybe it’s the knitting industry itself.

Do You Need Bust Darts?

Why are the fronts of women’s sweaters the same size as the back? There are two obvious reasons why that should not be so.

Strip down to your skivvies and let’s check this out.

With your measuring tape, measure around your UNDERBUST.

Measure around your UPPER CHEST (right under your armpits).

Body schematic underbust & upper chest

Now measure around your Bust at the largest part.Body schematic Bust


My measurements are :  Underbust:  36″       Upper Chest: 36 1/2″   Add these two measurements together and divide by two. That will give you your Torso measurement which does not include your bust.  My TORSO measurement is 36 1/4″.  I’ll round it off to 36″.  My Torso BACK is 18″ and my Torso FRONT (without bust included) is 18″.

To find the measurement of my Body Front with my bust included:

Bust measurement: 40″

Subtract the Torso Back from the Bust measurement (bust measurement – Torso Back):  40″ – 18″ . That gives me a Body Front measurement of 22″ when including my bust.  My Back is 18″ across, my Front is 22″ across at my bust.

I usually aim to knit a 42″ sweater with 2″ of ease.(EASE is the difference between the size of the sweater and the size of the body underneath it.)  A 42″ standard sweater will have a 21″ BACK and a 21″ FRONT.

Here is how my sweater fits.

Double circle Body & Sweater

On the Back I have 3″ of ease. On the Front I have -1″ of ease. Too much ease across the back. One inch of negative ease is OK on the Front but the sweater does not fit as I would like.

My figure needs less width on the Back and more width on the Front. How about you? How does the standard sweater with the same sized Front and Back work for you?


P.S. This can be fixed. The person who has to make the necessary modifications is the knitter. Stay tuned. I’ve not leaving you without the necessary info to make this happen.

Thanks for reading,


Any Gauge and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb on instagram

Getting Gauge: Swatches Lie

This is how I make a swatch. I sit in my chair and cast stitches for 4”/10cm. I knit and purl carefully, watching every stitch. I’m impatient because all I really want to do is cast on for my project. I look at it after every single row, asking if this is big enough yet and usually stop too soon. I get out my ruler and measure my gauge. Close enough yet? Do I need to change needles and try some more? Nah, I’ll just change needles and cast on my project. It will be close enough.


This is how I knit the project. I knit while watching TV, waiting in line with the yarn jammed awkwardly in my bag, in the car when I’m not driving of course, while listening to audio books or talking to knitting friends. I can knit without looking at every stitch so I don’t. I use markers to tell me where to pay attention because quite often I’m thinking of something else.

I wonder why swatches don’t work for me.

  1. Obviously we all need to knit swatches while sitting in the car, talking to the driver about the last very exciting audio story where, in order to make our point, we have to keep putting our knitting down to wave our hands around.
  2. We need to knit a swatch so big that you can’t hide how you are really going to knit this sweater after the first 3” where you’re paying careful attention. The more you knit, the truer your gauge will be. Swatches could turn into hats, wristers, cowls, pillow covers or a square for an afghan. Extra cost is involved but an amazingly reliable swatch results.
  1. Start your sweater/project with a part you can live with if it’s not quite the perfect size. Use the sleeve as a swatch and change needles as you go. Does your sweater have a pocket? Well maybe it needs one now that you think of it. I’m a loose knitter so starting at the bottom where a sweater might end up bigger is no problem. More wiggle room is needed there anyway.
  1. Knit as big a swatch as you can stand to get in the ball park. Learn to modify as you go. This is my solution. That’s why I knit Top Down. This may seem like winging it and maybe it is but it works.

The true worth of a swatch is in the washing. This is a Gauge-Free Triangle hat in 100% wool (not superwash) and uses the first of two triangles for sizing. My swatch is part of the garment and is big. Garter Stitch is a stretchy fabric so I’m thinking it’s going to relax. I threw it in a bath. Yes, needle and all.

20170923_095046 - Copy

After washing the triangle is 1” wider so now I can adjust for the right size and carry on. A good sized swatch, check, knit while watching TV, check,  washed as it’s going to be when finished, check. Good to go.

Thanks for reading,


Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns

Deb oninstagram


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