Sweater Knitting Tip: How to Choose Your Size
Joji Locatelli has an amazing knack for designing sweaters that knitters love to knit and to wear. It’s no surprise that her Grace Notes Pullover flew to the top of Hot Right Now on Ravelry when MDK Field Guide No. 22: Grace launched. It’s a star, right out of the gate.
To our delight, lots of knitters want to make one, and several have written to us for help choosing which size to make.
Need a visual? Here is Grace Notes, in all its twisty, ribby, cable-y graciousness:
The yarn is Atlas, MDK’s own light-worsted weight Rambouillet, shown here in Pebble . . .
and here in Skyline.
Knitters in search of sizing help, rejoice! Here I am, with a quick, neat hack to help you choose the right size. And the best part: you don’t have to measure your actual self. You’re knitting a sweater, so you’re measuring another sweater. Makes sense, right?
How to Choose Your Size Using the Kay MethodTM
—A sweater or top that you already own and that has the fit you’d like to replicate. It can be a handknit or a storebought. This garment is your template. The closer it is to the basic shape of the sweater you’d like to knit, the better.
—The schematic drawing from the pattern for the sweater you’d like to knit. Here’s the schematic for the Grace Notes Pullover.
- Lay the template garment on a flat surface.
- Measure the width of the garment at the bottom of the underarm. Multiply by 2 to get the circumference measurement.
- Consult the schematic drawing and choose the size that is closest to this measurement.
Here’s a sweater I love to wear because it has the perfect amount of ease for me, the Shakerag Top by Amy Christoffers, from MDK Field Guide No. 6: Transparency.
Here’s my Shakerag Top.
From underarm to underarm, it measures 25 inches (63.5 cm) across; the circumference is 50 inches (127 cm).
Looking at the finished measurements on the schematic for the Grace Notes Pullover, that puts me smack at the midpoint between the third and fourth size.
I have a minute to think about it before I cast on, but now I’m in the ballpark. Well done, me!
While You’re At It
You can also measure the length of the body and sleeves on your template garment. Write them down on the pattern, and you can use them to adjust the length of the body and sleeves as you knit the Grace Notes Pullover. Tip: For both body and sleeves, measure the length from the bottom of the armhole on the template garment.
This method works like a charm. It avoids fumbling around to measure one’s actual body (never being quite sure you’re measuring accurately) and then trying to calculate how much ease to factor in.
Where’s the Catch?
There are a couple of caveats.
Gauge. This method only works if you knit to the gauge specified in the pattern. It is incumbent upon the responsible knitter to swatch, or take the consequences.
If your swatch gauge is a bit off, you can decide whether to keep trying to get gauge, or knit a different size to adjust for the discrepancy. This requires a bit of savoir-faire and derring-do, but I derring-do it all the time. For best results and least anxiety, though, it’s best to make sure you’re knitting to gauge.
Shaping. If there is much body shaping—darts, waist shaping—on either the template garment or the sweater you want to knit, this method is probably not precise enough. You’re probably better off measuring your body and going with the ease recommended by the pattern.
But for Grace Notes, if you have a boxy top you like to use as a template, you’re golden.
Let me know how it works for you! Our Knitalong for Joji’s Field Guide designs will launch on October 10! See Ann’s letter here for details.