Taking Your Body Measurements
Knowing your measurements is crucial in helping you determine the size of sweater to make. As it is difficult to get accurate measurements of your own body, get a friend to help you out and make sure to write it down so you can keep it for future reference. You would want to get measurements for your full bust conference, upper body length and shoulder width, as well as your arm length and armhole depth; but other measurements such as your neck length and wrist circumference may also come in handy, so you can really make the sweater fit you perfectly in every aspect.
As your friend is taking the measurements, make sure to remind him or her to keep the measuring tape snug but not too loose. Just having your measurements slightly bit off can really make a whole lot of difference in your garments, so best to be honest about it, even if you’re not always too happy about the numbers you’re seeing.
Measuring Your Gauge
Many people undermine the importance of measuring their gauge, but in truth, this step is just as crucial in the entire process as taking your body measurements. Why? Gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows you do per inch, and it is an incredibly important factor in determining how big or small your sweater would be.
The most common mistake most crochet enthusiasts usually make is that they just rely completely on the pattern to tell them what size of hooks to use and how much yarn they would need. Reality is – gauge varies by person. Depending on how tight or loose you make your stitches, your gauge would vary. Measuring it is key and will truly go a long way in helping you achieve the fit you want for any handmade sweater you are making.
Knowing the Ease
Ease is a term used in crocheting and knitting to explain the difference between the garment’s measurements and your own measurements. Most often than not, garment patterns will tell you the recommended ease, so it’s not as if you need to do a lot of guesswork every single time.
Basically, a sweater with positive ease is bigger in circumference than the wearer, while a sweater with negative ease is smaller in circumference than the wearer. This doesn’t mean that a sweater with negative ease will not fit you at all. It only means that it is designed to have a snugger fit, which shouldn’t be a big deal for crocheted items, as they are definitely going to stretch over time.
If you’d like to know more about the ease you’re used to wearing, it is best to measure the sweaters you’ve bought from the store and compare them with your own measurements. So, if you like tighter sweaters, it is best to go with the size that suggests negative ease. Conversely, if you prefer more relaxed sweaters, then choose the size with zero or positive ease.
Studying the Schematic
Once you know what your preferred ease is, take some time to study the pattern schematic to determine what size would suit you best.
As all patterns can be made in different sizes, you either choose the ease that fits your preference best or you modify as necessary. This is where your measurements will come in handy, so use it for good reference. If you are really particular about the fit, you will very likely be making modifications to the pattern completely, so it is best to have all your measurements at hand, so you can adjust any aspect of the pattern to your liking.
Don’t make the common mistake of focusing only on your bust measurement. It’s not the only measurement that counts. For example, if you want the sweater to fit snugger, the cross shoulder measurement typically should closely match your own too. The armholes should be deeper than your own measurement, as well. The key to choosing the proper size is that you first ensure that all its measurements would work well for you before you commit to making it.
Take note that not all patterns indicate the recommended ease. Sometimes, instead of suggested ease, a pattern will give you measurements “to fit.” This convention can be really confusing especially for beginners, but what these numbers suggest are the measurements of the ideal wearer for each size. You just need to work backwards to figure out the ease.
Test Swatch to Get it Right
Many people simply skip this step because they don’t think its necessary. But unless you want a sweater that doesn’t meet the schematic measurements and doesn’t fit correctly, then you should definitely do it. Make sure to swatch at least 4” by 4” and do so in the stitch pattern you intend on making.
If you plan on using a different yarn than what is suggested in the pattern, it is best to find a substitute yarn that has similar attributes to the yarn that was used by the designer. If it doesn’t have the same weight classification and fiber content, chances are you’ll need to adjust the number of stitches and loops you have to make.
In the end, knitting a perfectly sized sweater is no piece of cake. You have to take the time to learn more about your ease and make accurate measurements of your gauge and your body, even before you can begin with the crocheting. By doing the necessary preparations beforehand, you will surely be able to make a beautiful sweater that fits you like a glove!