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

Part 2: Freeing Yourself from a Pattern – Step 2: Analyze the Pattern and Modify It to Fit.

Written by: Lindy

In my last post, I went through all the necessary measurements you need to take in order to ensure that you can modify or create any sweater pattern you wish.
If you haven’t done so, you may want to go back and read this information and take your measurements.

Today I will discuss how to analyze a written pattern so that you can use it as a guideline to knit your own well-fitting garment. First, get your favorite sweater – you will be using it to help you analyze the pattern you have selected.

Now, let’s take a look at this sweater – you need to understand what it is about this sweater that makes it your favorite. Is it a pullover or a cardigan? Is it close-fitting or loose? How long is it? What type of sleeve does it have (Set-in, drop, raglan or other)? What type of neckline ( Round, V-neck, Boat Neck, Square, or other)? Now compare this information to the sweater pattern you want to knit. Just a word of caution, here, if the pattern you have chosen differs dramatically from your favorite sweater – you may not be happy with the end result. Then, again, if it is a conscious choice, you may.

Now let’s look at the sizing given in the pattern. Sizes are often stated as “Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large”, etc. Some patterns will give sizing using finished chest/bust circumference, while others will state the sizing in terms of actual body measurements. If the pattern sizing is in terms of finished measurements, it will have the ease incorporated into it. If in actual body measurements, you may have to determine how much ease is factored into the garment. The amount of ease is both a matter of personal preference and a property of the design of the sweater. To determine how much ease you prefer – pull out your favorite sweater, measure the chest and compare the measurement to your actual body measurement. The math is simple: Subtract your body measurement from the garment measurement – this will give you the amount of inches of ease.

Now – take a look at that pattern you are considering– is there a size that matches your actual chest measurement PLUS that amount of ease? If the answer is “Yes” – then, if your gauge with your yarn matches the pattern, you are good to go.

If you find that your size is not represented within the pattern, you will need to adjust the body width.

For a body width less than the smallest size given in the pattern, recalculate the number of stitches to cast on and then follow the directions for the smallest size.

For a body width greater than the largest size given in the pattern, recalculate the number of stitches to cast on and follow the directions for the largest size.

For a body width that is in between sizes, recalculate the number of stitches to cast on and then follow the directions for the closest size.

In all cases, the formula is: SPI (your gauge) X body width

There are some additional elements to consider and modify if you are adjusting body width:

If the sleeve is a drop sleeve design, be careful not to add too much body width or the shoulders will be too wide. If you need more width in the hip area than the shoulders – use an A-Line shape for the body – which means that you will need to factor in some decreases from the hip to the underarm.

If the sleeve is a set-in sleeve design, remember that as you change body width, you must also adjust the shoulder width because the top of the sleeve should hit the end of the shoulder.

The sleeve length must be adjusted when adding or subtracting body width. This is because if you add width or subtract width to the body, you have also done so to the shoulder width – and shoulder width contributes to the total sleeve length. Verify the length you need for your sweater and make adjustments accordingly.

Additional considerations in modifying a written pattern:

Does this pattern incorporate a textured or colored stitch pattern? If so, what is the base stitch pattern? To determine this, look at the instructions and the graph for the stitch patterning. Most stitch patterns are a multiple of a base number of stitches – i.e. 8 stitches over 24 rows. So, if you are reducing or increasing the number of stitches to cast on – you will need to adjust this number so that it divisible by your base stitch pattern. For example: You have determined that you need to cast on 214 stitches and your base stitch pattern is an 8 stitch repeat. If you divide 214 by 8, you get 26.75 – which is not a even number. You will need to increase the number of stitches you cast on to 216 – which is evenly divisible by 8.

Today, I have discussed how to use a written pattern as a guideline and modify it so that it will fit properly. This works best if your gauge matches the pattern, but your measurements do not.

Next post, I will discuss the notion of designing your own sweater from your choice of yarn, a basic design and the stitch pattern of your choice.

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