Our in-house knitting patterns are designed to cover a wide range of sizes but what if you are between sizes?
In this blog post, we will show you how simply adjusting your gauge can help you to achieve the correct size for your body. We will use the Galleny Force sweater, designed by Marie Greene for our Borrowdale collection, as an example.
Read on for a full explanation of how to do it!
How to Adjust a Knitting Pattern When You’re Between Sizes
Comparing the Pattern and your Body
All of our sweater patterns will tell you the bust measurements that they are designed to fit, e.g. in Galleny Force, it is designed to fit bust: 76-81 (86-91: 97-102: 107-112: 117-122: 127-132) cm / 30-32 (34-36: 38-40: 42-44: 46-48: 50-52) in.
You will notice that there are 2 inches between each size, so whilst you might find your size listed here, you may also find that you are between sizes.
For example, If you have a 49-inch bust, your measurements will fall between the fourth and the fifth size. Thankfully, you can easily fix small width differences like this by altering your tension/gauge.
Calculating your Desired Finished Bust Circumference
The pattern tells us that Galleny Force is designed to be worn with 3-5.5 inches of positive ease. 3 in of positive ease will give you a classic fit whilst 5.5 inches will give you a slightly more oversized fit. In this example, we would like to knit the sweater with more of an oversized fit, so we are opting for 5.5 inches of positive ease.
To calculate your desired finished bust circumference, add the amount of positive ease you want to your bust circumference.
E.g. 49 (bust circumference) + 5.5 (positive ease) = 54.5 (finished bust circumference)
According to our calculations, to get the fit we want, our finished bust circumference will need to be 54.5 inches.
Calculating your New Tension
At this stage, it’s worth checking the pattern schematic to double check that the finished bust circumference doesn’t match any of the sizes. The fourth size in Galleny Force has a finished bust circumference of 51.5 in and the fifth size has 56 in – we want our sweater to fall in the middle of those sizes.
Find the section of the pattern that tells you the number of stitches you will have on the needles at the bust. If you are knitting the pattern in the round, you will have the full number of bust stitches on the needles. If you are knitting the pattern in pieces and seaming it, you will only have half the number of stitches on the needles.
We will walk you through what to do for each situation below.
Calculating the New Tension when Knitting in the Round
Galleny Force is knitted in the round, so this is the process we would follow for adjusting the gauge.
We have already established that we are between the fourth and fifth size, so we have the option to either knit the smaller size at a looser gauge or knit the larger size at a tighter gauge. In this example, we will knit the larger size at a tighter gauge.
The fifth size has a total of 294 stitches on the needle at the bust, which is supposed to create a 56 inch finished bust circumference at the original tension of 21 sts per 4 in. We will now calculate a new gauge so that it comes out at 54.5 inches.
Divide the number of stitches at the bust by your desired finished bust measurement to get the new number of stitches we need per inch. Round the number to two decimal places.
E.g. 294 (number of sts at bust) / 54.5 (finished bust circumference) = 5.39 (new number of sts per in)
T=ension is given over 4 inches, so multiply this number by 4 to get the new tension.
E.g. 5.39 (new number of sts per in) * 4 (number of in for tension square) = 21.56 (new tension needed)
Our new tension should be approximately 21.56 stitches per 4 inches, rather than the pattern’s original tension of 21 stitches per 4 inches. With this new tension, the finished bust circumference will come out at 54.5 inches – our desired new measurement.
Calculating the New Tension When Knitting Flat
Calculating a new tension when knitting flat is similar, except you use the half bust width instead.
Find the section in your pattern where it tells you the number of back stitches at the bust. Subtract two to remove the selvedge stitches, used to sew up, to get the true number of stitches at the half bust.
E.g. 150 (back sts at bust) – 2 (selvedge sts) = 148 (half bust sts)
Divide the desired finished bust circumference by two to get the half bust width. Then, divide the number of stitches at the half bust by the half bust width to get the new number of stitches needed per inch. Remember to round the number to two decimal places.
E.g. 148 (half bust sts) / 27.25 (half bust width) = 5.43 (new number of sts per in)
Multiply the new number of stitches per inch to get the final tension needed.
What about row gauge?
Naturally, adjusting your stitch tension will affect your row gauge. It shouldn’t make a huge difference since it is often difficult to get the right row gauge anyway. However, keep an eye on the length of your sweater to be on the safe side.
When you’re knitting your sweater from the top down, check the length by trying it on. When it’s knitted in pieces, keep comparing your piece to the detailed schematic in the pattern. If your sweater is too short, add some extra rows to get the length you need.