Where I write about knitting, crocheting and lace, and, on occasion general comments on other topics

Part 1: Freeing Yourself from a Written Pattern or How to Use the Yarn of Your Choice

Written by: Lindy

In my last post, I discussed the issues related to trying to substitute one yarn for another and suggested at the end of my post that if you want to use a yarn of a different weight & gauge than what the pattern calls for – you can design your own custom sweater using the pattern as a guide.
Today, I will focus on the first of two approaches for doing just that. WARNING – you must be prepared to take measurements, do a proper gauge swatch and get out your calculator. Yes, we will be doing some math…

Approach #1 – Use EZ’s Percentage System.

Elizabeth Zimmerman published her “unvented” percentage system for designing sweaters in the Knitting Workshop and gave us many examples of how to use it in her other books. EZ was always someone who dealt with knitting in a pragmatic fashion and basically cut through all the fluff and gave clear explanations of basic concepts. I encourage you to read all of her books – but if you want the complete explanation of her percentage system — Knitting Workshop is the source.

I am describing EZ’s Percentage System for two basic sweater designs – the yoke sweater and the Raglan sleeve sweater. Both are knitted in the round. You need to take some basic body measurements:

Width around the chest (Chest Measurement) [CM] The Chest Measurement is the “Key Measurement” (100%) and the starting point.
Body length to Underarm (Underarm Measurement)
Sleeve length to Underarm (Sleeve Length)
You must know your stitch gauge or Stitches per Inch [SPI]

The math follows:
CM X SPI = # stitches needed for the body of the sweater.

For a Yoke Sweater the basic percentages of the above are:
Body = 100%
Wrist = 20%
Upper Arm = 33%
Underarm = 8%
Circumference of Shoulders = 133%
Neck = 40%

For a Raglan-Sleeve Style Sweater the basic percentages are:
Body = 100%
Wrist = 20%
Upper Arm = 33%
Neck = 40%

To calculate – multiply the total number of body stitches by the percentage.

I think you get the idea. If you want to try using EZ’s percentage system, I recommend you either borrow EZ’s Knitting Workshop from your library or a friend or purchase it.

Here’s a link that will take you to Amazon.com: Knitting Workshop

I have also created an Excel Spreadsheet that will make the calculations for you. You can download it here: EPS_Calculator Spreadsheet.

Next post, I will outline another approach to sweater design.

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