How to Alter a Sweater Design

Disclaimer: Family & Non-Knitting friends, you will most likely find this post tedious & boring. I’m very sorry. I promise to have a ‘lighter’ post soon for you!

Sweater design amazes me. All the stitches & rows & increases & decreases & amazingly enough, you end up with a sweater. And truthfully, many times a BAD sweater. This causes great pain. Really, for all the time that is devoted to the sweater, you want it to come out perfect! The gap between knitting the pattern written & wearing something magnificant on me has always been a wide black hole. Until last fall that is.

Knit a Go Go sponsored a workshop given by Stefanie Japel. Stefanie taught us how to design a sweater for our bodies! It was great & I learned so much! (If you EVER have the opportunity to take a class from Stefanie- DO IT! You will NOT regret this! Your knitting career almost DEPENDS on this!)

Now fast forward almost 1 year & have I used any of the wonderful tips I learned in the workshop. Of course. I’ve spent the better part of the year only making 3 sweaters & a lotta socks & other non-gauge requiring items. So I decided to challenge myself & adapt a published pattern into something for me. I decided on Stefanie’s Cropped Cardigan with Leaf Ties. This however was only after seeing Percy’s adaptation. Here’s how I began the adaptation!

1. Swatch: And not the measly, tiny, I’m-tired-of-swatching-already-i-just-want-to-knit-the-sweater swatch either. This was a nice size, over 5″x5″. After washing & blocking, I measured my gauge to be: 5.75 stitches per inch! Now I look at the pattern & check to see what Stefanie says the gauge should be. Oh. 4.5 sts per inch. I check the needles- yup, size 7 needles like she recommended. I weighed my options. I could reswatch in size 8 needles. Don’t know about that as I do like the fabric that is created with the 7’s. I could change the yarn, but I don’t think the stash had anything appropriate & I didn’t want to buy more (only to still not make gauge.) But it’s all good. I’m going to use these create math skills I have & create a pattern for me! That’s what Stefanie taught after all!

2. Read the pattern & check for errata: Looked everywhere & saw no signs of errata. Read the pattern all the way through- fairly simple raglan design- set up row, increase for sleeves, separate for sleeves, shape the neckline, knit to length desired, do sleeves, then some icord. Oh, icord. Tried that once. Wasn’t good. Oh well, this is all a learning experience. I know there are videos of it online. I’ll just get help.

3. Find my size: This is always the fun part! Put on a cami & measured (since that’s what I will be wearing under the cardigan). Tape measure says my bust is 33″ around. Hmmm, now everything I’ve read in ravelry says people wished they’d made it smaller. I can see that. It’s a form fitting cardigan so too much ease makes you look dumpy. I decide on 2″ of negative ease. Pull back that gauge from step 1, multiply 31″ x 5.75= 178.25. This means that after all my increases, I’ll need 178 sts after all the increases.

4. Start Knitting- Oops, no- Analyze schematic: The knitty version of the pattern doesn’t include a schematic, but there’s one in Stefanie’s book: Fitted Knits. She starts with 7.5″ across the neck, but wait, I got extremely different gauge that her. I’d better figure how many stitches MY gauge needs to get 7.5″. Doing some cross multiplication (yes I know there’s an easier way, but my brain can’t wrap around that. I get cross multiplication) I see that I need about 43 sts for 7.5″.

5. Write down set-up row: With so much going through my head, I write down the set-up row. 1 (for the left front side), 14 (this is for the top of the arm. I figure out how many inches Stefanie means by this- 3″, ok, do the math to figure 3″ in my gauge & I get 17! whew!)

6. Rewrite set-up row: 1 (left front), 17 (arm), 43 (back), 17 (the other arm), 1 (right front)

Whew! Look’s like I’m going to start the actually knitting portion in the next entry! Hope you enjoyed the tutorial so far!

One thought on “How to Alter a Sweater Design

  1. ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz I’d expect you to use this information to knit me up a sweatervest at the very least..

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