Sweater Fit

Ever since taking the sweater fitness class last week, I’ve been thinking about the subject of fit in garments.  We all measured eachother and then took our measurements to a project we were contemplating.  What I learned in “Sweater Fitness” has changed the way I look at knitting and designing.

Now I am fairly small and trim.  It is easy for me to make sweaters that fit fairly well – knit a tube and slide into it!  But, in reality, my proportions are quite unique to me.  Often, a ready-made sweater will fit me around the bust but be way too narrow on the shoulders or too loose under the arms.  While I can shop around to find a sweater that will fit better, I’d like to prevent those fit problems before I invest the time to hand-knit one.  Knowing those proportions and how to apply them to knitting can make the difference between good and great.

The big takeaway from the class was that, in choosing a pattern size, use the shoulder width measurement, not the bust or chest measurement as the key number.  I have always used the bust measurement, but that has definitely gotten me in trouble, depending on the style of the garment in question.  In my case, my shoulders are wide relative to my bust.  Therefore, if I chose the size based on the bust measurement, the shoulders
might be a bit too narrow and tight.  That has certainly happened to me.

cardigan shoulders too narrow

My Laura’s Cardigan has shoulder seams that hit above the “points” of my shoulders.    From the schematic, I would choose two sizes larger to accomodate my back shoulder width of 14″.  This pattern’s allover ribbing complicates matters because of the stretchiness of the rib.  But, if I stick to the shoulder width, I bet I would end up with a better fitting sweater.

the unhappy vest

Another case in point is the vest I made for my husband last year.  Although it fits him around the middle, the vest literally falls off his shoulders.  I have to rip back to the underarms, and rework  to fit his shoulder width.  When I wrote the pattern, I measured his chest as 40″  and went with standard measurements after that.  But, Greg has a tall and narrow frame.  This was great for  modelling  clothing in TV commercials for the men’s clothing store at which he worked right after college.  But, it means that standard measurements for men’s sizes tend to be wide on him.  The pattern will have to set the shoulders in farther.

If I were to use the shoulder measurement, I can always make adjustments to the other parts of the garment.  When I think about it, it makes real sense.  The garment literally hangs on the shoulders.   In choosing my next project, I’m going to go with my shoulder width, modify the measurements below if need be, and see how I do.



Over the weekend, I attended two classes taught by Anne Hanson and sponsored by the North Coast Knitting Guild.  Saturday, we worked on lace knitting, using the Knitspot pattern Pine and Ivy.

a view from the teacher's perspective

Sunday’s class, Sweater Fitness, dealt with choosing sweater size, custom measurements, adjustments, and a host of other items to make our sweaters fit well, may I say, perfectly.

Whenever I spend time in a class or with knitters, I always learn something.  Seems that there is a never-ending supply of facts and tips and approaches.  In addition,  there are many generous knitters out there who are willing to help and to encourage and to compliment.  Oh, the compliments.

On the second day of class, I wore my Aran Cardigan, simply because it is the warmest thing I own and the  forecast was for temperatures in the teens.  Several folks in the class admired it and asked after the pattern.  Well, I have written it up, but haven’t edited the pattern to my satisfaction.  Their inquiries spurred me on to finish the writing.   So, that is on my desk right now.


How many knitters have sworn to destash as a New Year’s resolution?  Probably as many as there are stars in the sky.  I joined that constellation this year, by casting on for the Cabled Yoke Pullover with an unidentified stash yarn that had once been a sweater for my husband.  As with so many of the items knit for him, it was never worn, so I had unravelled it and stored it in the bottom on the wall unit in a plastic bag.

I do feel so virtuous.  Not only do I have a beautiful new sweater for my wardrobe, but I actually did reduce the size of my stash.  And, strangely enough, I identified the yarn by chance.  Last Saturday, I went to a knit-in.  Many of us were preparing for Anne Hanson’s Shawl Project class at Lake Farm Park.  One knitter was winding a fingering weight yarn.  I noticed it was awfully close in color to the yarn with which I was making this sweater.  In fact, they were the exact same heathered color.  That was when she told me that the yarn was Reynold’s Candide.  The name clicked but I still have no idea how old the yarn is.  It could be as much as 15 years old.  Kind of sad to realize that I have at least 15 years in my rearview knitting mirror.  Now, I wonder how old the fingering weight yarn was?