How to Adjust the Size of a Knitted Sweater

Written by jessica daniel
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How to Adjust the Size of a Knitted Sweater
Make the perfect fitting sweater every time. ( Images)

Adjusting the size of a knitted piece requires some simple math to complete. Once you learn the technique, you can adjust the size of patterns as well as the gauge of patterns for a lighter or heavier weight yarn. Pay attention to the ease on a pattern. Most patterns will include a diagram of the finished measurements for the size. When adjusting for your own size, figure in the ease allowed, if any, and add those stitches to the pattern.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Gauge swatch
  • Calculator
  • Measurements

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  1. 1

    Knit a gauge swatch. Use the yarn you will use for the pattern and work in the recommended stitch for the pattern swatch. Measure your swatch to determine the number of stitches per inch and the number of rows per inch.

  2. 2

    Check the ease recommended by the pattern. For example, if the pattern for a 36-inch bust has a finished measurement of 34 inches, the pattern has two inches of negative ease, so your finished sweater should be two inches less than your measurement.

  3. 3

    Take your measurements. Measure the bust, waist and hips and write the numbers down.

  4. 4

    Multiply the number of stitches per inch on your gauge swatch by the number of inches for your measurement. For a sweater worked from the bottom, the starting measurement is at the hips. This is your cast on number.

  5. 5

    Decrease stitches for the waist. Subtract the waist measurement from the hip measurement to determine the number of inches necessary to decrease for fit. Multiply the answer by the number of stitches per inch to determine how many stitches you need to decrease.

  6. 6

    Refer to the pattern decreases to determine how to decrease the stitches. Generally, a sweater pattern decreases two stitches per row on each side of the sweater. For a sweater worked in the round, you are decreasing four stitches on each decrease row. Determine how many decreases the pattern calls for compared to how many decreases you need. Add or subtract decreases over the same number of inches called for in the pattern. For example, if the pattern calls for a decrease row every fourth row for a total of five decreases and you need six decreases, you will do your decreases every third row, adding in a plain row on the first and last set of decreases to keep your decreases evenly spaced and the proper number of rows as called for by the pattern.

  7. 7

    Reverse the previous steps to increase for the bust. You can use this technique to add shaping to a pattern that has none or to change the pattern to custom fit your body shape.

  8. 8

    Alter the armholes as necessary. For example, if the pattern calls for an armhole depth of 6 inches, and you need 8, you will use the previous techniques to space the decreases out more to get the same number of decreases over the number of inches you need.

  9. 9

    Alter arms using the same techniques. The pattern will guide you in the number of inches for the sleeve length. A fitted sleeve will use only increases. Measure the top of your arm and the wrist to determine your measurements versus the pattern measurements. Use the same armhole shaping as you used for the sweater body so that the sleeve will fit in the sweater properly.

Tips and warnings

  • You can use these techniques for any pattern alteration, not just a sweater. Pattern alteration is always based on stitches and rows per inch. Once you master the technique, you can alter any pattern.

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