That Little Voice

There I was, plugging away at the hem ribbing of my stockinette sweater . I had just a few more rows to go before I’d switch over to larger needles and launch into miles and miles of stockinette, with some waist shaping in there to liven things up.

I’ve been working on this sweater for too long now. I decided that I’d really like to have this ready to wear for the coming sweater season, so I made it my social knitting project. Really, once I recalculated the sweater sleeves to fit my short arms (keeping the sleeve cap as written, for changing sleeve cap shaping is an excellent ticket to madness), it’s been a great take-along project. Both sleeves are done, and it’s time to work the body.

Capretta ribbing

Yarn: Knit Picks Capretta

Colorway: Celestial

I wish I had one of those bodies where I could just choose a sweater pattern and knit away. I can do that for accessories. I can sometimes do that for sweaters for others. For me? It’s always math, math, and more math. Having a cozy sit-down with Principles of Knitting, gauge swatches, a tape measure, and calculator is the price I pay for a well-fitting sweater.

So, I was knitting up the ribbing, considering the next phase of the sweater, when That Little Voice started poking at me:

            Is the sweater going to be too long?

I shifted in my chair. The photo of the model wearing the sweater showed it hitting right where I wanted it. The sweater would be fine, I told the Voice.

            What about the waist shaping? said the Voice gently. Is that going to fall at       your actual waist? Is it enough? Too much?

Hmph. Over-active Voice, I thought. I’m going to The Loopy Ewe’s Fall Fling later this week and will be taking Marly Bird’s Curvy Knits class. I had to take a lot of measurements to prepare for the class. I’ve just got measurements on the brain, that’s all, I thought to myself, as I kept ribbing.

I considered all the beautiful photos of the sweater in the pattern book. It fit the model perfectly, and I wanted and expected that my sweater would also fit me just as perfectly. That’s when the Voice became more insistent.

Remember how you recalculated the sleeves so they’d fit? You’re not just short in           the arms, you’re short other places, too. The sweater fits that model because she has measurements that fit the sweater. Your measurements differ in a number of places. Oh, the Voice added, and remember your row gauge is off slightly. You corrected for stitch gauge, but did you consider your row gauge?

At that, I sighed and set my knitting back in its bag. The Voice would not let me knit in peace until I’d sanity checked a few things.

I pulled out my notes. Hmm. At my row gauge, the sweater would be 27 1/2 inches long. On me, that’s sort of tunic-length, which wasn’t what I was going for. I went to try on a turtleneck that was similar to what I’m knitting. My ideal sweater length? Just 23 inches to cover this short bod. Oh boy. Now I definitely had to re-work the math. I placed pins on that turtleneck to indicate my waist, fullest part of my bust, and where I wanted the hem to lie, and got to work.

I’d nip in the waist a grand total of 2 inches and then increase to the bustline. It’s a good thing that I checked my measurements, because the given pattern had the bustline about the same as the high hip measurement, and my bustline is bigger than that. I pulled out Principles of Knitting and turned to the slope calculations section and figured out the decreases to the waistline and corresponding increases to the bustline.

With all those facts and figures done, I settled back into my chair. The Voice was finally quiet. Although it’s a huge pain to recalculate sweater patterns to fit me, it’s far more painful when I try on a new sweater — the moment of truth! — only to find out that it’s too small here, too large there. Better to listen to that Voice.

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