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).
Now measure around your Bust at the largest part.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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,
This is the excerpt for your very first post.
Here we are starting fresh with a different look at knitting in general and modifications in particular. I have watched many knitters working away only to have a project turn out the wrong size. I’ve done it myself. It’s amazing how denial can set in even though we know it’s not working out properly. That little voice that says “oh, no” can wake me up in the middle of the night since in the day I can ignore it. Maybe if we all know some methods of adapting as we go, that little voice can be heard, projects can be modified and we can sleep at night and knit with confidence in the day.
There are many ways to correct as you go, do a little work before hand or even reformat your project so that it will work. This may encourage you to take that leap to knit a sweater for yourself since we all know that it’s a time and money investment that you really want to fit when you’re done.
Ask questions, pass on info you’ve gathered, tell me about your experiences. I really want every knitter to knit something they can be proud of.
Join me and please share this with your knitting friends so we can all knit the garments we want to.
Here we are at a new location to start a new blog. I’m involved in a couple of design groups and would like to talk about all of them and let you in on new designs and techniques. I’ll still be talking about designs for Cabin Fever. More top down ideas are in the works.
I’m also part of the trio that makes up Knitacation. A new design team with Elizabeth Fallone (designer and owner of Eliza’s Buttons and Yarns in Barrie, ON), Annika Peloski (dyer & graphic designer, Dragon Strings) and me (designer and co-owner of Cabin Fever).
My new passion is working on Gauge Free designs. No swatching, no checking gauge. You can knit to fit without knowing how many stitches per inch you are getting. Great for stash busting and charity knitting. You can now use those odd balls of mystery yarn you’ve been given or end up in the bottom of your stash. These will be recipe patterns, a plan as opposed to a pattern with specific stitch counts. They will be easy to work and have lots of instructions.