Inches do count. You can know the basic knit and purl stitches, but if a knitted
garment is to fit properly you must also know your inches — the inches in your
measurements. You can try on ready-to-wear to check the fit before you buy; with
your own knitting, you need to be sure of the fit before you start. It can be very
frustrating to put a lot of time and love into a project, only to find when it’s finished
that the size is all wrong. Once you learn to knit to fit, and it’s really quite simple,
you’ll never have that problem again. What you will have is great freedom to create
your own designs, to copy clothes seen in expensive shops or magazines, and to
make any written directions seem like they were written just for you.
Know Your Measurements
You need to take two sets of measurements: your actual body measurements and
the measurements of a similar-style sweater or skirt that fits the way you like.
Everything you make will have an allowance for ease which is added to your body
measurements; if you measure something that fits you well there will be no
guesswork involved, the ease will have been taken into consideration. The amount
of ease depends on the style and the way you like your clothes to fit.
How To Take Your Measurements
Accurate measurements are essential for knitting that really fits. Always measure
your knitting and compare the strategic measurements shown below. If you are knitting in the round, take the total measurement; if you are knitting flat pieces to be joined later, take the total
measurement and divide for front and back or left and right sides, then add no more than 1/2 inch for seams. In either case, be sure to add an allowance for wearing ease to actual body measurements
or measure a favorite pair of pants, sweater, dress or skirt.
When designing your own or changing the written directions for knitting with a color or stitch pattern, always consider the pattern repeat. If the number of stitches needed to make the change do
not equal the number of stitches in the repeat, adjust to the nearest number of complete pattern repeats, unless the repeat is very large or intricate. You can always take a larger or smaller seam
allowance or compensate when blocking.
Knit fabric is very flexible, but it is easier to make a piece larger by blocking than to try to make it smaller. If the pattern repeat is too large or intricate, it is simplest to choose another pattern with a
repeat that is adaptable to your size.
It’s a good idea to plan your sweater or other project ahead of time, using graph
paper, to avoid last minute mistakes and ripped stitches. Use one square to
represent one stitch and one line of squares for a row of stitches. Your drawing will
not be worked to scale or life-size—it will simply be a guide to indicate changes of
pattern, increases or decreases or other shaping, and changes of color. With such a
guide, you may not even need written directions; you will be able to work directly
from the plan.
A favorite sewing pattern that is designed for sweater knits can also be used as a
life-size guide for shaping your knitting. If you work on circular needles, eliminate
the seam allowances altogether; if you use straight needles and plan to have seams,
narrow the allowances to 1/4 inch.