This excerpt from Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel is all about how to create perfect tops and sweaters for your body. Courtesy of North Light Books.
Adjusting a pattern to fit your measurements exactly is simple. Let’s walk through the process with Jane Q. Knitter. Ms. Knitter has a rather short torso with a high waist, and she has almost no hips to speak of. She knows, of course, the first thing she must do to knit a sweater that fits is take her measurements.
Here’s what she comes up with:
BUST: 32" (81CM)
WAIST: 28" (71CM)
HIPS: 32" (81CM)
She chooses to knit the 34" (86cm) bust size. The actual measurements of the sweater are:
BUST: 34" (86CM)
WAIST: 29" (74CM)
Because the final measurement of the sweater is close to our knitter’s actual bust measurement, she won’t have too much work to do in sizing the sweater for that section.
She should follow the pattern instructions as written for the 34" (86cm) size until she reaches the final yoke instruction.
For her size, the pattern reads: Purl 1 row. Rep Rows 3–4 25 times more—350 sts.
We see from the stitch count in the next pattern section that there are 184 total BODY stitches on the needle. Dividing that number by our gauge yields the actual garment measurement at that point. 184 ÷ 5½ = 33½" (85cm). Adding the button band will give an additional ½" (1cm), for a total of 34" (85cm).
The desired bust measurement is 32" (81cm), so the knitter simply needs to knit fewer raglan increases. Each round of increases adds four total body stitches, or ¾" (2cm). (There are 5½ sts in 1" [3cm].)
We know how many increase rounds it takes to get 33½" (85cm) (Row 1, Row 3, plus 25 more = 27), so we just need to calculate how many fewer increase rounds it takes to get approximately 31½" (80cm).
26 INC RNDS =
180 STS ÷ 5½ STS PER INCH = 32¾" (83CM)
25 INC RNDS =
176 STS ÷ 5½ STS PER INCH = 32" (81CM)
24 INC RNDS =
172 STS ÷ 5½ STS PER INCH = 31¼" (79CM)
Because our knitter desires a close fit, but not one that pulls across the bust, she will do 25 total increase rounds, repeating Rows 3–4 only 23 times more, for a total of 334 stitches, and 172 body stitches.
Now, she moves on to separate sleeves from the body. Because she worked two fewer increase rounds, she knows that each section will have two fewer stitches than the numbers given in the pattern.
Next comes the body section. If our knitter is short-waisted, she may wish to knit fewer than 17 rows here. She can measure her actual shoulder-to-waist length, and compare that to her garment. She knows that the row gauge is 30 rows = 4" (10cm), so there are 7½ rows in 1" (3cm). If she needs to shorten the sweater’s body length by one inch, she will work seven or eight fewer body rows.
The last section she has to worry about is the waist-shaping section. Our knitter currently has 172 stitches on the needle. The numbers given in the pattern are for 184 stitches. As when separating the sleeves, because she performed two fewer increase rounds, she knows that she has two fewer stitches in each section than the numbers given in the pattern.
So, she will work the waist-shaping set up row as follows: Knit 22, place marker, knit 42, place marker, knit 46, place marker, knit 42, place marker, knit 22. Row one of the waist-shaping section decreases two stitches at each marker, for a total of eight stitches decreased. Our knitter has a total of 164 stitches (164 ÷ 5½ = 30" [76cm]). Row 5 only decreases four stitches (160 stitches ÷ 5½ = 29" [74cm]). Row 9 decreases by eight stitches again (152 stitches ÷ 5½ = 28" [71cm]). With ½" (1cm) for the button band, this stitch count yields our knitter’s desired waist measurement.
At this point, she should stop working waist decreases. Because she stopped after row 9, and the pattern continues to row 13, she should actually work 11 rows even, rather than the 7 as given in the pattern.
When starting the peplum (flared section below the waist), our knitter should be careful because the final section of the sweater is worked in a pattern stitch, and she must be sure to have the same number of stitches in the final section as the 34" (86cm) size for the stitch pattern numbers to work out correctly. Before working the lace set-up row, she should work one row, increasing eight stitches evenly. Then she can continue the peplum as instructed for the smallest size.