What you see up there is the first sleeve of my quixotic sweater, that I have knitted and reknitted about 3 times now. (Well, not the colorwork, thank God – just the upper stockinette) Up til now, I’ve had the same problems with fit with pretty much every sweater, and I am aiming to fix them this time!
A) Things in general are too big. I always make swatches, and wash them, and measure them, and keep track of my gauge while knitting. Things end up at the right measurements. But for right or for wrong, I knit very loosely and I have a feeling that’s why my stitches have a tendency to grooooow as I wear something. Up until now, I’ve been content to go down 2-3 needle sizes to meet gauge, but I might need to go down one more needle size, have it end up a bit too small, and then trust it will grow to the right size.
B) I probably knit one or two sizes larger than I ought to be. I’d hate to have a sweater that’s tight around my midsection (I would NEVER wear such a thing), but a fear of negative ease is leading me to knit for a size larger than I am. I should make the measurements I need for positive ease only in the midsection, and aim for zero or negative ease everywhere else. It’s a knitted object – it will fit!
C) I’ve never looked at pattern measurements for upper arms or shoulders, but I should really be keeping track. My Snowflake sweater taught me that I really hate having positive ease in my upper arms and shoulders. Everything else about that sweater fits wonderfully, but there’s extra fabric around my upper arms and armpits that I just hate hate hate. I should have measured, and made more decreases sooner, or something.
So with this sleeve, I knitted it first as written and knew it was way too large. Before, I would have looked at that and thought, no big deal if it’s a little big. “It’s a Japanese pattern so it’s sized small.” But I won’t be tricked like that again (Japanese knitting patterns are oversized, if anything). If you look at the picture, the sweater has a ton of positive ease around her arms before the yoke starts. So I wanted to get rid of that. I ended up taking out a third of the decreases, knitted it again, but it still measured out to be too big. So I took out two-thirds of the decreases, and it’s fitting how I want.
I’m super nervous how this will end up at the yoke stage when I bring everything together. I’m adding some repeats on the body, especially since there’s color work on the belly (I KNOW, it probably won’t be flattering, but I want to try it…). I might add some waist-shaping, but then increase maybe a bit more than necessary so the yoke isn’t stretching across my bust. I’m aiming to get about as many stitches on the body as I decreased out of the arms.
At this point, it seems like it will work, but this is uncharted territory for me. I’m prepared to be reknitting a ton (of some crazy colorwork too) to make sure this sweater fits.
My gauge right now is a bit tighter than what the pattern calls for. This yarn goes all limp in water – the swatch grew a lot after blocking. But then it went back to its normal springiness and tiny gauge. Right now, with the sleeves, that’s working to my advantage, but I’ll probably have to go up a needle size for the body to get the right measurements. I’ve been manhandling the swatch in my purse but I have a feeling that only wearing it will unveil its secrets.