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Archive for January 28th, 2014

One year ago today I was in the operating room having my mastectomy. Sleet fell the entire day, covering everything in ice. Today the sun is out and the Polar Vortex is back with its biting temperatures. Today I am knee-deep into a test knit of a Spring sweater and that is what I want to talk about.

Admittedly, I don’t often knit sweaters for me because of the Sweater Curse, but the times I do decided to try to get past the Curse I always approach the selected pattern the same way,with dread by reading through the entire thing before I select a size.

Selecting an appropriate size, they say, depends on bust size. It’s as if they think bust size is some magical number that automatically makes numbers for waist, armhole depth, cross back, sleeve length, neck width, and the length of the garment all fall into place for a nice fit. It doesn’t happen that way. In choosing a size I also need to consider how the garment is supposed to fit and how that differs from the way I want it to fit.

So I scanned the bust sizes and giggled. For my breast prosthesis I was fitted by an expert so I knew my size, but for the sheer amusement of it, I measured anyway. It’s exactly the same we fitted the prosthesis for, 40 inches. Then I scanned the pattern to see if the designer included the measurement for ease. She’s a good designer so she had. The ease was two inches. That means the sweater circumference at the bust line is 42 inches (107) cm.

The industry considers an ease of 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 )cm close-fitting. On the other hand, it calls the ease of 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10) cm roomy. So 2 inches is both a close fit and roomy. I pondered this for a minute. I didn’t want a close fit nor an overly roomy fit. I decided that since 2 inches fell into both categories it probably meant it was not too close, not too roomy, but just the right fit. Or something along the lines of the story about The Three Bears. I am going with the size 40 sweater.

Time to get the paper, pencil and calculator. Yes, if I want a sweater that fits me and my proportions, I need to work for it. The first set of numbers I write down at the top of the paper is gauge: 5 sts and 6.5 rows = 1″ (2.5) cm. The next numbers I need to know are the total length for the size I’ve chosen, the number of stitches cast on, the number of stitches increased or decreased for any waist shaping (a little giggle here too, what waist?), the number of stitches worked for the long haul up to the bust. This last number should be 21 inches (53.5) cm for the back. I got 21 by dividing the total circumference by 2.

I look at the schematic to find the length for my size is 22.25″ (57) cm. My favorite shirt that fits me perfectly is 23 inches (58.5) cm long. I consider this. 23 is my ideal length. Looking through the pattern I see it is knit in stockinette stitch and lace panels, both of which tend to grow in length and width. I decide to stay with the pattern length.

Next up, check the bust measurement to see that the stitches I need to work equals half the total circumference of the sweater. A small snafu, naturally. The cast on uses a smaller size needle than the needle size I used to get gauge. Do I really want to do the math to find the gauge and then more math to find the width of the cast on? No. So I read further hoping the pattern will solve this problem for me and it does. I need to change back to the needles I used for gauge, knit a little, then waist shaping occurs. At the end of this shaping I have 104 sts. 104 divided by my gauge of 5 = 21 inches (53.5) cm. Since I have the right amount of stitches needed after waist shaping I decided to not do the math to figure out the exact circumference of the cast on for the peplum.

Next up, rows and length, armholes and cross back measurements and why I don’t weave in ends until I am all finished.

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