Sweater Sizing

I am about to knit a sweater for myself, my very first "big project"! I like Lucky from knitty.com, but the size small pattern calls for a 40" finished chest. That means I either need to gain 10" in my chest or resize the sweater. I'm thinking the latter would be easier and less work.

How do I alter the pattern so I don't make a sweater I can drown in? Additionally, how do I figure out how much yarn I'm going to need? I already bought the yarn (it was on sale for half-price and couldn't pass up the deal) and I'm not entirely convinced I have enough, even if I make the sweater smaller. Right now I have about 850 yards of Mission Falls 1824 Wool, color #18 (spruce) and another 170 yards of color #6 (oatmeal).

If I've been hitting the gym, my measurements are about 30" chest, 17" torso, 24-25" waist, and about 20" long arms. I knit a stockinette swatch and got about 18-19 st/4".

MMario's picture

holy shite! 24 inch waist?

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

First, go down to the all-you-can-eat buffet in your neighborhood.

Just kidding, though it's hard to picture such a slim adult male. Make sure you have accurate measurements, then check for a pattern that has multiple sizes and/or find a pattern that has sizes for big kids.

Congrats on having the enthusiaism to take on a sweater.


MMario's picture

Near as I can figure you are going to need about 1100 yds of appropriate yarn - maybe as low as 1000; but probably not any less.

You may want to swatch and wash the swatch in the mistake rib...

it appears you want to go down two sizes. Since they give the measurements and stitch counts for five sizes what you do is compare them and adjust. For example they go up 8 stitches in the cast on per size for the fronts and backs. Down two sizes means you would subtract 16 from the 83 for small and get 67 stitches cast on for front or back in the XXS you want.

sleeves are a bit more complicated - as you can see from the numbers they "jump" in discrete steps - you have to figure out if you need to maintain the "small" sizing or go down a step.

Good luck!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

YarnGuy716's picture

First off, you make all of us "robustly built" gentlemen hate you for being so skinny ;-) We will have to hold you down and force feed you carbs and high fat foods...LOL Now seriously, congradulations on wanting to start your first big knitting project. Come to this site when ever you need help or advice. There is plenty to be had here.

Starting out... with a 30" chest measurement you will not want to make a sweater that measured 30". It would fit skin tight, and while that might look good on you, the sweater would not look right and most likely not be comfortable to wear. You want to add what is called ease, which is additional inches to your actual body measurements. You can get information about sizing and fit standards at yarnstandards.com They have a downloadable PDF file of all the information they have.

The "standard fit" for a garment is an additional 2-4", so you would want a sweater with a chest measurement of 32-34". I highly recomend the book "The Knitter's Handy Book of Pattern" by Ann Budd. It gives basic designs in multiple sizes and gauges. You should even be able to find it at your public library.

With that book you can use the basic sweater design, you might even want to use the largest size of the child pattern which is for a 34" finished chest measurement. You would knit a gauge swatch in the pattern stitch from the Knitty.com pattern. Be sure to wash the swatch; just wet it and roll it in a towel, then lay it out to dry. You will meausre that to find your gauge/stitches per inch. Using that information you use the charts in the book to get the numbers for casting on and decreases. So all your math is done for you.

I do have to agree that you will need more yarn to make this. One or two more balls of it just to be on the safe side. You don't want to run out with 1/4 of a sleeve to go.

I cannot stress enough the importance of knitting a swatch. It will insure that your sweater will fit, rather than being tiny or enourmous! Also, it gives you a feel for the pattern stitch. I once found a pattern that I loved the sweater. So I knit up my gauge swatch and it felt like it was sapping my will to live. I would have never finished the sweater, so it would have been a waste of time and wool. Good luck on this project and keep us posted on your progress.

kiwiknitter's picture

Good grief! My son is 12, skinny as a rail and his waist is 25".

I would recommend purchasing the book "The Sweater Workshop" by Jacqueline Fee. There are other MWK members who use it and have knitted some beautiful garments that actually fit them. She uses the Elizabeth Zimmermann percentages method so the garment made fits the person. I use it all the time and have found it most satisfactory.

I also like the book by Ann Budd but her patterns are almost exclusively for flat, seamed knitting and I prefer the circular, seamless type.

My knitting is totally tubular!

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

Thanks everyone for your comments, suggestions, and encouragement! I think I'd better finish the baby sweater I'm knitting before I tackle the sweater for myself. Sadly, I realized today that one sleeve was 1" longer than the other. Since it's knit garter stitch side to side, I had to rip out the sleeves and start over on them.

I already have the Ann Budd book. My sister got it for me as a present two years ago when I started.

As for being a jealous "robust" guy, I wouldn't be. At least you can find adult clothes that fit you. I'm stuck with firetrucks and Spongebob!