In case you haven’t read the first parts of this series, here are the links:
And now we come to the most unpopular part of this whole exercise: the gauge swatch. Sorry folks, there is no way around it, it is absolutely mandatory to knit a proper gauge swatch to get a well fitting sweater. Do NOT rely on the figures given by the yarn manufacturer or by figures from somebody else. You may knit with a totally different tension which will result in a totally different gauge and if you are working with other people’s figures you will not get a good fit.
But the good thing is: you don’t have to worry about meeting the gauge indicated in the pattern. This is, where my resizing method is different from most others you may find. You will have to the maths anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you hit the pattern’s gauge or not. Therefore you have to possibility to chose your yarn and needles in a way that you are pleased with the resulting fabric.
Recommendations for a proper gauge swatch
1. Cast on a sufficient number of stitches for a swatch of at least 4″ width. For most people the first and last few stitches of a row are not as homogenous as the fabric in the center of the knitting piece, so you do not want to include these stitches when counting out your gauge.
2. Knit a sufficient number of rows (see 1.)
3. Start and end your swatch with a few garter rows and start and end your rows with 3 garter stitches for a neat edge.
4. Work the swatch in the main stitch pattern of the garment you want to make.l
4. When you finished knitting your swatch wash and block it in the same way as you would wash and block your sweater. Let it dry completely before counting out the stitches and rows.
So let us have a look at the stitch pattern of the Victory Sweater. It is a very simple lace pattern with only 2 repeat rows and 9 repeat stitches – ideal for newbies to lace knitting.
1st row: * K. 2 tog., k. 2, wl.fwd., k. 1, wl.fwd., k. 2, slip 1, k. 1, p.s.s.o., rep. from * to end of row.
2nd row: Purl.
In modern knitting terms the pattern is
Row 1: (k2tog, k2, yo, k1,yo, k2, ssk) rep to end of row
Row 2: p all sts
If you are the visual type, you can also chart out the stitch pattern:
Since we have a 9 stitch repeat here, we need to cast on a multiple of 9 sts + 6 sts for the garter edges. I suggest 45 + 6 = 51 sts for a generously sized swatch.
Knitting the Swatch
So, cast on 51 sts.
Row 1 – 6: k all sts
Row 7: k3, (k2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, ssk) 5 times, k3
Row 8: p all sts
repeat Rows 7 and 8 until your work measures at least 4.5″
repeat Rows 1- 6 once
bind off loosely
Wash your swatch and block it gently – you do want the lace pattern to open up but you do not want to stretch the fabric too much. Let it dry completey (I recommend over night).
Counting out the swatch
Remove your swatch from the blocking board, but leave it lying on the board. Put 4 pins in at the edges of a 4″ x 4″ square and count the stitches and rows in betweeen. Note down the figures and divide them by 4 – these are your stitch and row gauge fo 1″.
And that’s it for today. See, the dreaded gauge swatch wasn’t so hard after all, was it?
In the next installment we will calculate the stitches and rows we need for our own sweater.
After our mathematical orgy yesterday we only have to take readings of a measuring tape today and make a few decisions, so this is not going to be quite as brain racking.
But first let’s recap the information we gathered yesterday in a table for better overview. Don’t enter anything into the empty columns yet, we’ll get there together.
Type of Measurement In Pattern My body measurement Desired ease My sweater measurement A. Width at bottom edge of body 14,4" B. Width at bust 17,33" C. Length from bottom edge to armhole 12,25" D. Armhole depth 7,86" E. Width across upper body 12,8" F. Shoulder width 3,64 " G. Length of front from armhole to neckline 4,75" H. Depth of neckline 3,55" I. Width of sleeve at bottom edge 9,6" J. Length of sleeve from bottom edge to armhole 5,5" K. Width at upper arm 11,7332"
Please note that the measurements we entered into the table are not body measurements but depict the finished garment. However, with the information given in the pattern text we can find out how much positive or negative ease the designer has intended for the sweater.
Pattern says: To fit a 33-34 in. bust.
Measurement B. is half of the bust circumference of the finished garment. This means that the finished garment will measure B x 2 = 17.33″ x 2 = 34.66″.
So the sweater is intended to have a slightly positive ease of approx. 0.5″ to 1.5″.
Please note that ease only applys to width measurements, NOT to length measurements.
Now it is up to you to decide what you want.
Do you want to go with the intended ease? Do you want it tighter or more loose? Whichever style you come up with, enter the value in the table. You can also chose a different ease for every measurement. For my version I decided to go with a negative ease of 1″ at the bust, 1″ positive ease at the waist and zero ease for the sleeves. I would also not recommend any ease for the upper body width or the shoulder width, because this will either result in a sweater with drooping shoulders (positive ease) or will pull in the sleeves awkwardly at the upper body (negative ease). My personal table now looks like this:
Type of Measurement In Pattern My body measurement Desired ease My sweater measurement A. Width at bottom edge of body 14,4" +1" B. Width at bust 17,33" -1" C. Length from bottom edge to armhole 12,25" not applicable D. Armhole depth 7,86" not applicable E. Width across upper body 12,8" 0 F. Shoulder width 3,64 " 0 G. Length of front from armhole to neckline 4,75" not applicable H. Depth of neckline 3,55" not applicable I. Width of sleeve at bottom edge 9,6" 0 J. Length of sleeve from bottom edge to armhole 5,5" not applicable K. Width at upper arm 11,7332" 0
2. Body Measurements
Now let’s get out our tapes and measure ourselves. For taking measurements wear the foundation garments you would normally wear under a sweater.
Please note that the body circumference measurements (not the sleeve!) have to be divided in half. Deduct or add you desired ease first. Example: My bust measurement is 45.3″. So the value for the last column is (45.3″ – 1″ ease) / 2 = 22.15″.
For the length measurements you can also make your own decisions. Do you want the sweater to end directly at the waist? Do you want it to be a little bit longer? How long do you want your sleeves? Enter the numbers you come up with.
Tip: if you have a sweater that fits you well you can skip the whole ease and lenght decision process. Simply measure the garment and enter the measured values in the last column of the table.
Type of Measurement In Pattern My body measurement Desired ease My sweater measurement
(for body circumference values
add or subtract
ease and divide in half)
A. Width at bottom edge of body (waist) 14.4" 39" +1" 20" B. Width at bust 17.33" 45.3" -1" 22.15" C. Length from bottom edge to armhole 12.25" 11.5" not applicable 11.5" D. Armhole depth 7.86" 9.8" not applicable 9.8" E. Width across upper body 12.8" 13.4" 0 13.4" F. Shoulder width 3.64 " 4.5" 0 4.5" G. Length of front from armhole to neckline 4.75" 5.9" not applicable 5.9" H. Depth of neckline 3.55" 3.15" not applicable 3.15" I. Width of sleeve at bottom edge 9.6" 10.25" 0 10.25" J. Length of sleeve from bottom edge to armhole 5.5" 6.3" not applicable 6.3" K. Width at upper arm 11.7332" 15.3" 0 15.3"
That’s it for today. The next step will be our gauge swatch.
Welcome to our little resize-along for vintage patterns. In case you haven’t already done so, read the introduction if you want learn what this is about.
The first step is to analyse the pattern. What information about gauge and sizing can we obtain from the pattern? Sometimes you get nice little schematic drawings with measurements on them – this is perfect and saves a lot of time. But most of the time we only have the text. In most cases there is an indication of gauge and I recommend to use only patterns which give you a gauge. This will make the analysis way easier.
1. Highlight all information in the pattern regarding sizing and measurements
2. Gauge and Conversion Formula
The most important information we find in the pattern is the gauge (tension):
7.5 sts x 9 rows = 1″ x 1″
We can use these numbers to calculate the measurements from stitch or row counts indicated in the pattern. To calculate inches from number of stitches or rows you have to divide said number by the gauge value.
Example formula to convert 100 stitches to inches:
3. Required measurements
Now let’s make a rough sketch of the sweater and mark all the required measurements:
4. Calculate Measurements
Now go through the list of measurements and match them to the indications in the pattern.
A. Width at bottom edge of body
Pattern says: Cast on 108 sts ->
A = 108 sts / 7.5 sts per inch = 14.4″
B. Width at bust
This is the width before you start the armhole decreases.
Pattern says … until there are 130 sts on the needle ->
B = 130 / 2.5 sts per inch = 17.333 ”
C. Length from bottom edge to armhole
Pattern says: until front measures 12.25″ from the beginning
so conveniently we don’t have to calculate anything here ->
C = 12.25″
Instead of continuing with Measurement D it is easier to look at two other measurements first:
H. Depth of Neckline
For this measurement we have to count these rows from the pattern text (beginning with the first row of neck/shoulder shaping):
next row: Ptn. 39, turn. -> 1 row
Cont. in ptn. on these 39 sts., dec. 1 st, at neck edge on every row until 27 Sts. rem.
“at neck edge” means every other row
39 – 27 sts = 12 decreases every other row -> 24 rows
Work 3 rows without shaping
Next row: Cast off 9 sts., work to neck, Next row: Work to end of row. Rep, these 2 rows once. -> 4 Rows
Put it all together: 1 + 24 + 3 + 4 rows = 32 rows
D = 28 rows / 9 rows per inch = 3.55″
G: Length of front from armhole to neckline
This is where the division for neckline / shoulders begins.
Pattern says: … until work measures 17″ from the beginning ->
G = 17″ – 12.25″ (length up to armhole) = 4.75″
D. Armhole depth
This is the length from the beginning of the armhole shaping until the beginning of the shoulder shaping.
D = G + H minus the 4 rows for shoulder shaping. (4 Rows / 9 rows per inch = 0.444″)
D = 4.75″ + 3.55″ – 0.444″ = 7.86″
E. Width across upper body
This is the width after the armhole shaping.
Pattern says: ...until 96 sts remain ->
E = 96 sts / 7.5 sts per inch = 12.8 ”
F. Shoulder width
This is the width of one shoulder after separating for the shoulders and front neckline.
Pattern says: … until 27 sts remain ->
F = 27 sts / 7.5 sts per inch = 3.6 ”
I. Width of sleeve at bottom edge
Pattern says: … cast on 72 sts ->
I = 72 sts / 7.5 sts per inch = 9.6 ”
J. Length of sleeve from bottom edge to armhole
Pattern says: Cont, in ptn. until sleeve measures 5.5 ins. from the beg ->
J = 5.5″
K. Width at upper arm
This is the width before the shaping of the sleeve top begins.
Pattern says: … until there are 88 sts ->
K = 88 sts / 7.5 sts per inch = 11.733″
So, that wasn’t so hard up to now, was it? The next step will be to take your own measurements.
Who doesn’t love the knitted sweaters of the 1930ies and 1940ies? There are so many gorgeous original vintage patterns available on the web – for free or for small money – an endless source of possibilities. We want to knit them all, right? But … wait … what about the size?
Most of the really stunning vintage patterns are written for smaller bust sizes. 30″, 32″, 34″ bust are the most common sizes, unless you content yourself with the so-called “matron” patterns wich are … well … matronly (makes gagging noise).
So, if you’re a bigger girl like me and don’t want to be stuck with boring plain cardigans, you need to resize the smaller patterns and this is what many knitters fear and hate. In fact you have to put in some extra work and a little bit of math. But don’t panic, it’s not rocket science and it is well worth the effort because all those lovely patterns will finally be available to you.
Side note: Some knitters resort to using thicker yarn and larger needles to avoid the maths. I advise against this approach. If there is only half an inch missing you can do that, but for considerable resizing, like going up from 34″ to 42″ it is not feasible unless you want to have a really chunky odd looking garment.
So, how can you approach this magical mysterious resizing then? Let’s get to it in baby steps, ok? In this series I am going to explain every step in depth and you can do the re-sizing straight away using your individual measurements.
We will do our resizing with the famous “Victory Sweater” pattern which is available for free here at the website of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Scroll down a little bit until you reach the pattern. Download it, print it and you are ready for Step 1 tomorrow.
A few years ago, when the yarn companies came out with printed, aka as self patterning sock yarns they were all the rage. Like most knitters I was also fascinated. They are so colorful and fun to work with – seeing the pattern develop as your project grow, how could one resist them? Well, I couldn’t. Especially not, when I saw them in the yarn store and most especially not when they were on sale. So I accumulated quite a stash.
But as with many things, once the novelty wore out, they lost a bit of thier attraction. Everybody was knitting all kinds of things with print yarns and I grew tired of seeing them, somehow. I still like them for socks, but I really, really, really do not need the amount of socks I could knit from all the print yarn I have on stash. But bigger projects like shawl or garments made from self patterning yarn look strange to me, so I was looking for a solution that would work for me and I decided to soften the effect by adding a solid color.
So I made a few swatches and started a few projects which I am going to present you over the next few days. Lets start with the easiest version today:
Alternating Garter Rows
Shown from the front and from the back. I used one skein of self-patterning yarn and one skein of solid pastel pink. I can easily see this as a simple assymmetrical triangle shawl – maybe spruced up with fringes or tassels at the corners.
Knitting this simple stashbusting shawl is easy:
With C1: co 3 sts
Row 1: kfb, k2 (4 sts)
Row 2: k1 with both yarns held together, k3
Row 3: With C2 kfb, k to end. (+ 1 st)
Row 4: k1 with both yarns held together, k to end.
Row 5: With C1 kfb, k to end (+ 1 st)
Row 6: k1 with both yarns held together, k to end.
Repeat Rows 3 to 6 until your shawl has the desired size.
C1, C2: color 1, color 2
co: cast on
kfb: knit into front and back (1 stitch increased)
In the next installment we will tackle the Moss Stich, but meanwhile you can start your stashbusting garter triangle.
Live. Knit. Love.
This year I take the pledge not to buy any new textiles. The world is full of perfectly wearable and useable stuff, so I want to abstain from buying Fast Fashion and new clothing in general – at least for 2020. But now shopping is no fun, so I am browsing second hand stores an swap shops every now and then.
At the end of this month I go to a knitting retreat by the Baltic Sea and it will be a long train ride to get there – lots of quality knitting time, yay. I wanted to sew myself a little project bag so I have my knitting gear ready at hand during the journey.
But this morning I found this little grey bag in a second hand store. It is a perfect color match for my handbag, so it went home with me for 1 Euro. At home I found that it really needs some TLC – it is homemade by a person who obviously was no genius at sewing and had some serious technical problems with their sewing machine.
So I took it apart almost completely, fixed all crooked and loose seams, redid the loop and added a button. And while I was at it and it was in pieces anyway, I embroidered my claim on the backside.
And here she is: 1 Euro, 2 hours of work, 1 shiny new project bag and I am all set for my long train ride. :D.
Live. Knit. Love.
When browsing through the patterns of the most popular designers on Ravelry, it becomes evident that most of them favour luxurious handdied yarns. And admittedly, these are nice yarns. Very nice. Gorgeous colors, pleasing textures, eco-friedly, low impact … but expensive. Not everybody can pay 150 Euro or more for the material for a shawl or a garment. I have read peoples posts that they do not dare to apply for a test knit because they think that they are required to use expensive yarn and I am reading a lot of rants against “cheap” yarn.
I must admit that I am ambiguous with regard to this topic. On the one hand I do not want to support low quality mass production – on the other hand I just cannot condemn people who buy budget priced yarns because they just can’t afford expensive brands. And – shame on me – I also like bargains and if I find a nice looking yarn at a low price I often succumb to temptation.
The picture above shows my current project – Myrcella – the third installment in my Game of Throne shawl series – knitted with a very low budget yarn which is suprisingly pleasing to work with and looks very classy. Not too bad for 2.99 € / skein, eh? It is a blend of 95% cotton and 5% polyester with a yardage of 630 m (689 yd) per 150 g cake. I am really happy with the look and feel of the material, it will be a nice lightweight summer shawl and I am curious about the durability, but since it is mostly cotton, I assume it will be wearable for a long time.
However, I am more and more pondering about things like sustainabilty and fair production, so what should I do? Pay attention to responsible facts like mulesing free wool and as little synthetic material as possible? These are surely the “right” criteria, yes? Some of my friends are vegans and they would answer in the negative. Ok, to please them, I only use synthetic fibres or cotton. Other friends are environmental activists and they criticize the danger of microplastic and the exessive use of water in cotton production. Who is wrong, who is right? In the end probably no one is and the best thing to do is the happy medium.
First of all we have to realize that we ALL live in abundance, even though some of us may not be able to afford the most expensive luxury yarns. Assuming that most knitters live in first world countries I think we all can admit that we are quite well off compared to the rest of the world and that knitting is a hobby for us. We have no necessity to produce clothing lest we freeze to death, we do not really need our knitted object to survive. So, in the broadest sense – like with all consumer goods – our knitting has an unneccesary impact, no matter what kind of material we buy. This is a fact we have to accept or we have to abstain from all consumption including out lovely knitting hobby. But – honestly speaking – I am not prepared to do that.
For the moment I am compromising with myself – I buy considerably less yarn than I used to a few years ago. After a few years I realised that most of the stuff in my stash didn’t attract me anymore and I donated a good deal of it so now I (try to) buy only material for a specific project and I pay more attention to the fibre composition and the origin of the yarn and I try to keep the impact as low as possible. But nevertheless, I am not completely denying myself the occasional pleasure of making a bargain and until I find a great yarn company who will sponsor my designs with free yarn, I also have to buy some budget priced stuff. So please do not feel embarrassed or guilty if you are using budget friendly yarn; whatever you do is “wrong” in somebodys eyes and whatever you do will have an impact on something. Just make sure that you make conscious decisions that you can live with.
By the way: I accept test knitters using all kinds of yarn unless explicitly specified otherwise and I specifically encourage my knitters to use the yarn that best suits their taste, needs and budget. This is why my patterns always list all the details on the yarns I used for my sample pieces. Especially yardage and material composition give you a good idea about the type of yarn that has been used and will help you to find a suitable alternative.
Are you struggling with the second section of the Margaery Shawl pattern? Do you hate using cable needles? – Well, I do. Using cable needles to cross the slip stitches of the section 2 pattern is awkward and time consuming so I came up with another method. Follow this detailed video tutorial and you will make your way through section 2 in a breeze.
There is an unusual feature in section 3: casting on stitches in the middle of a row. The method that works best is the single cast on (or back loop cast on) method, where you are simply using the working thread to make new stitches.
In the following video you can see how I do it:
Please feel free to post any additional questions you might have about the pattern in the comment section.
If you are anything like me, you have your favorite cast-on method. For me it is the long tail cast on (LTCO), since this is the one I learned from my mum. Unless otherwise specified in instructions I use the long tail method by default.
Since I am knitting very tightly, I do my LTCO with both needles held togetherle. It is a stretchy cast on method per se, but I have some problems to insert the needle when knitting the first row if I do it with a single needle. I acutally learned the method over two needles first and it never occurred to me that you could use just one single needle as well until I started to read a lot about knitting on the internet some 15 years ago. I was also unaware that there are OTHER cast on methods – duh.
In the meantime I know better, of course. Some time ago I purchased the excellent reference book “Cast on, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-step Methods” by Leslie Ann Bestor and have used many of the described methods, depending on the project.
But still the LTCO is close to my heart and I use it often, especially for garments. The one problem that many knitters, including myself, have with this method is, how to estimate the length of the tail needed and many of you will have experienced at least once the desaster of casting on one hundred plus stitches only to find out that you do not have enough yarn for the last 10 stitches and have to start from the beginning. If you’ve been there, you know how it feels.
You can avoid this if you use two strands of yarn for casting on. Either take the second one from a second skein or from the other end of your skein and you will never run out of yarn. Granted, you have to weave in two more ends, but IMHO it’s totally worth it and saves you the frustration of having to rip out your work before you even properly started.
Another thing I do when casting on (or picking up) a large number of stitches: I’m a poor counter and always loose track of my stitch count. So I put stitch markers or loops of scrap yarn in regular intervals – say, every 10, 20 or even 50 stitches which makes counting SO much easier. Take out the markers when you knit the first row – it’s as easy as that.
Happy knitting and love from