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An Expert Knitter's Manual to Sizing Up Patterns

Samantha Russo

4 min read

Jun 28

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Knitting is both a relaxing hobby and a practical skill, but what happens when you find the perfect pattern, and it's not in the size you need? Scaling up a knitting pattern can seem daunting, but with a few key tips and techniques, you can adjust patterns to fit any size. Whether you're sizing up for a larger garment or just want a looser fit, here's how to successfully increase the size of your knitting pattern.


Understanding the Basics of Knitting Pattern Sizing

Before you dive into altering your knitting pattern, it's important to understand the fundamentals of pattern scaling.


Gauge and Tension

Gauge, also known as tension, is the number of stitches and rows per inch or centimeter that a knitter gets using a specific yarn and needles. It's essential to match the pattern’s gauge if you want your project to turn out the correct size. If the gauge is off, even by a little, it can significantly affect the sizing of the finished product.


Stitch Patterns and Multiples

Knitting patterns are often created using stitch repeats or multiples. When scaling up, consider how altering the number of stitches will impact the overall stitch pattern. You'll need to add or subtract stitches in multiples that align with the pattern to maintain the design.


Step-by-Step Guide to Sizing Up a Knitting Pattern

Scaling a knitting pattern requires a bit of math, patience, and trial and error. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.


Step 1: Determine Your Gauge

Start by knitting a gauge swatch with the needles and yarn you plan to use. Measure your stitches and rows carefully. If your gauge matches the pattern's gauge, you're ready to start scaling. If it doesn't, adjust your needle size and try again.


Step 2: Calculate the New Stitch Count

Once you have the correct gauge, calculate the number of stitches you need for your desired size. If the original pattern has a chest measurement of 40 inches and your size is 50 inches, you'll need to increase the stitch count proportionally.


Step 3: Adjust Stitch Multiples


knit sweater on table with coffee and note books

by Giulia Bertelli (https://unsplash.com/@giulia_bertell)


Look at the stitch multiples in the pattern. If the pattern repeat is 8 stitches and you need to add 40 stitches, you'll add 5 pattern repeats. Always ensure that the added stitches maintain the integrity of the original design.


Step 4: Amend the Pattern Instructions

Go through the pattern and adjust the instructions to accommodate the new stitch count. This includes changes to increases, decreases, and any shaping within the pattern.


Step 5: Recalculate Shaping Intervals

For shaping parts of the pattern, such as armholes or necklines, you'll need to recalculate the intervals at which you increase or decrease stitches. This keeps the shaping proportional to the new size.


Step 6: Rewrite the Pattern

Rewrite the entire pattern with your new numbers. This will make it easier to follow and reduce the chances of making mistakes.


Tips for Successful Knitting Pattern Sizing.


desk with keyboard and swatch samples

by Nicola Styles (https://unsplash.com/@nicolastyles)


While the steps above provide a framework for scaling up your knitting pattern, here are some additional tips to ensure success.


Adjust Lengths and Proportions

Remember to adjust the lengths of sleeves, bodies, and other elements to maintain the pattern's proportions. Simply adding width won't always give you a well-fitting garment.


Factor in Stretch

Knitted fabric can stretch, especially in certain stitches or with certain yarns. Consider how the fabric will behave when worn and factor in any additional ease you might want.


Keep Detailed Notes

As you scale up your pattern, keep detailed notes of all the changes you make. This will be invaluable if you need to make the pattern again or if you need to troubleshoot any issues.


Swatch, Swatch, Swatch

It cannot be overstated how important swatching is. Swatches will tell you if your gauge is correct and give you an idea of how the fabric will drape and feel.


Common Challenges in Knitting Pattern Sizing

Scaling a knitting pattern isn't always straightforward. Here are a few challenges you might encounter and how to overcome them.


Complex Stitch Patterns

Complex stitch patterns can be difficult to scale. If you're new to scaling patterns, start with simpler designs before attempting to scale more intricate patterns.


Fit and Ease

When scaling up, consider the intended fit of the garment. If the pattern is designed to be form-fitting, you might need to add more ease for a comfortable fit.


Consistency

Maintaining consistency throughout the scaled-up pattern can be tricky. Double-check your calculations and rewritten pattern to ensure that all changes have been applied consistently.


Tools and Resources for Knitting Pattern Sizing

Fortunately, there are tools and resources available to help you scale up your knitting patterns.


Knitting Pattern Calculators

Online knitting pattern calculators can help automate some of the math involved in scaling. Enter your gauge and desired measurements, and these tools can provide you with the new stitch counts.


Knitting Books and Guides


many books layed out flat on large surface

by Patrick Tomasso (https://unsplash.com/@impatrickt)


There are many knitting books and guides that offer in-depth advice on altering patterns. These can be a great reference for learning different techniques for scaling.


Knitting Software

Knitting software can assist in redesigning and visualizing patterns in different sizes. Some software even allows you to input your measurements for a custom fit.


Takeaways

Sizing up a knitting pattern involves understanding the basics of gauge, stitch multiples, and the importance of maintaining the pattern's integrity. By following the step-by-step guide, keeping detailed notes, and swatching, you can successfully increase the size of your knitting pattern. Remember, patience is key. With practice, you'll become adept at customizing patterns to fit any size, and you'll have a world of knitting possibilities at your fingertips.


As you embark on your knitting pattern sizing journey, embrace the process and the opportunity to create something truly unique and perfectly sized for you or your loved ones. Happy knitting!





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