Friday, February 27, 2009

How Do I Figure Out How to Shorten the Knitting Pattern?

I thought I would do a quick post to answer a question that Monica left for me in regards to my two-tone tunic sweater:

" Monica said...
WOW! You did an amazing job and it fits you perfectly. It is beautiful! I'm new to knitting also, and a little intimidated by sweaters but you are inspiring me. I'm also petite like you, so how did you figure out how to shorten everything when the patterns doesn't give any finished length measures? Love your blog by the way."

Monica, you are correct. I've run into patterns that may not have any line drawings or diagrams to show what the finish knitted pieces would look like. I end up relying on the pattern instructions to help me draw my own line drawings or something close to what I think I interpreted.

All the patterns that I have come across starts their instructions with the back piece of the knitted garment. You will more than likely have to start with a border (e.g. ribbing, seed stitch, or garter stitch) and the instructions will tell you to do this for 1 inch. Then you switch to larger needles and start a pattern for the base of the sweater (e.g. garter, stockinette, etc). The instructions should tell you how much to knit until you get to the armhole area. Usually, they will tell you how many inches from the bottom you should knit (this will include the edging). This is my first clue to write down this number.

The next area of the pattern should be armhole. Here it will tell you to bind off (BO) so many stitches for the next two rows and then continue knitting or do a decrease over several rows. The pattern will tell you how many inches of the armhole area you need to knit. This is my second clue to write down this number.

I then take the two numbers I wrote down and add them together. That gives me an idea of how long the backside of my knitted project will be.

I do the same with the front piece to see if the same length comes close to the backside measurement.

You can also figure out the sleeve length as the pattern will tell you how many inches from the beginning you need to knit.

From my own sewing experience, I pretty much know how long I like my finished garments to be. I tend to look for short jackets that are around 19 inches (back of my neck down to an area above my rear end). So, I may want my tunic sweater to hit 2 inches below that. My total backside would then be 21 inches. I believe the sweater pattern came in around 26-1/2 inches in length.

For my sweater, I ended up doing less rows in the black yarn.

For the sleeves, I knew that 20 inches in sleeve length was way too long. I also knew from looking at this pattern that the shoulder area is dropped. Meaning the shoulder line of the knitted garment drops further past my natural shoulder line. I initially guessed that my sleeve length would be around 18 inches. I just knitted the sleeve doing the required increases the pattern calls for. Once I was done with the increases, I took the sleeve and put it up against my arm to see how long it was. It turned out that after the last required increase, I only needed to knit one or two more rows to finish the sleeve. My sleeve ended up being around 17 inches in the finished length.

I will double-check my measurements and update this post on how many rows I removed to give you a better idea.

I am also working on another beginner sweater from BHG. I think this one is a bit easier especially with the neckline area. You might want to check that one out as well. Here's the link for the BHG Beginner Sweater.

Please feel free to add or leave any comments or experiences. Happy Knitting!


Monica said...

Thank you for this great explanation. It makes perfect sense to me now. I think I will be brave and try the BHG sweater you referenced--Thanks! By the way, I meant to say love YOUR blog--I really should proofread before hitting the send button ;-)

2BSewing: said...

Hey're welcome. Glad to help. :)