How to Substitute Yarn Gauges in Sweater Patterns

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1 How to Substitute Yarn Gauges in Sweater Patterns 2011, Paula Ward

2 Substituting Yarn Gauges Introduction We ve all heard of the importance of getting and maintaining gauge in knitting garments. But sometimes you can t quite achieve the exact gauge called for in a pattern, or you want to use a different yarn. In these cases you need to know how to adapt the instructions. Even a! or " stitch per inch can significantly alter the fit of the final garment, so don t ignore these differences. I ve read a lot of articles and posts on knitting forums about this topic, and it seems that the simple answer leaves a few questions. So I ve put together a step-by-step explanation of how to adjust a knitting pattern for a different gauge. I ll explain this method for a simple, set-in sleeve sweater, including information on necklines, armholes and sleeves. One caveat: beware of making too big a change in the weight or character of the yarn. I don t recommend switching from DK to bulky, for example-- too many other things about a garment change with that big a change in yarn thickness: drape, weight of garment, etc. Likewise, a bamboo yarn will work up very differently than the wool yarn called for in a pattern. In these cases you re better off finding a pattern that calls for a yarn closer to the one you want to use. The following information is best used for using a slightly different weight yarn or in a pattern where you can t quite achieve the gauge called for in the given yarn. To Use A Different Stitch Gauge Very simply, you need to know the measurements (length, width, shape) of the finished pieces in the pattern and use your new stitch/row gauge to achieve those dimensions. There are two parts to this process: I. Know the dimensions of the finished pieces, including a few additional measurements I ll talk about in just a bit, and II.Know how to knit the sweater pieces to those dimensions using your new stitch gauge. 1! 2011, Paula J. Ward

3 Substituting Yarn Gauges A Short Arithmetic Lesson Don t hyperventilate--it will be over soon, and you need to know this. To Convert Inches in Width to Number of Stitches: Inches X Stitches Per Inch= Number Of Stitches So if we we want a piece to be 7 inches wide and have a stitch gauge of 5 stitches per inch, we would multiply 7 inches X 5 stitches per inch= 35 stitches To a Convert Number of Stitches to Inches: We ll take what we just learned and work backwards. Start with a final number of stitches, divide it by our stitch gauge, and get the number of inches wide that our piece will be. Stitches Stitches Per Inch= Number Of Inches Wide Using the example above, if I cast on 35 stitches and I know my stitch gauge is 5 stitches to the inch, then 35 sts 5 sts per inch = 7 inches So I know my 35-stitch row will be 7 inches wide. Note: I m using the notation sts to denote stitches, in. to denote inches, sts/in to denote stitches per inch, and rows/in to denote rows per inch. The same math applies to rows and row gauge: Conversely, Inches X Rows/inch = Number Of Rows Number Of Rows Rows Per Inch = Length Of Piece OK, Back To To The Steps I. Know the dimensions of your sweater pieces. The simplest way to do this is to start with the pattern schematic (or sketch). With a few additional measurements we can make the schematic the basis for our revised pattern. 2! 2011, Paula J. Ward

4 Substituting Yarn Gauges Here s a typical schematic for a simple sweater. This schematic only shows measurements in inches, not stitches and rows--many schematics are drawn this way. This sketch can be used for any stitch gauge. II. Know how to knit the sweater pieces to those dimensions using your new stitch gauge. To do this, we will: A. Convert the inches in width to stitches in our new gauge, but B. Use the lengths as written. E.g., if the body from hem to armhole is 12 inches, we ll just knit the body until it measures 12 inches--we don t need to convert to rows. This is usually where most explanations of this subject stop. But patterns also contain directions in rows, not just inches. If the directions refer to number of rows, we need to use the same process as in A) above, substituting row gauge for stitch gauge. And There s More Selvage stitches Most flat pieces are calculated adding two selvage stitches, one to each seam. If the finished width of your sweater front is 20 inches and your stitch gauge is 5 sts/in (20 in. x 5 sts/in = 100 sts), you would add 2 selvage stitches for a caston of 102 sts. Two stitches will disappear into the seam allowance. I m also a big fan of rounding the body stitches to an even number, as well as neckline stitches. It just makes life easier when you get to armholes and shoulders. Pattern Repeat 3! 2011, Paula J. Ward

5 Substituting Yarn Gauges If your pattern has a ribbing at the hem, you ll want to check for stitch repeat, and adjust to end up with an even number of pattern repeats when the pieces are sewn together. E.g., if your ribbing pattern is a 4-stitch pattern repeat (like a K2P2), you ll want to cast on a multiple of 4 stitches plus your two selvage stitches, or some number that will give you a whole number of pattern repeats when the garment is seamed. Shaping for necklines, armholes and sleeves use small numbers of stitches and rows --it gets confusing. That s why I ve included the additional measurements below. Additional Measurements: We need to combine steps I. and II. above to make some additions to our schematic: You ll read the pattern for armhole, neckline and sleeve shaping as follows: Armhole shaping--number of stitches bound off and number of decrease rows worked. Depth of neckline: add up all the rows worked in the neckline and convert to inches, then into new, even number of rows. Center neckline stitches to be bound off or placed on a holder--read your pattern (in round necklines, not V-necks). Use a percentage of center stitches to total neck opening stitches and apply it to arrive at the number of center stitches in the new gauge. 4! 2011, Paula J. Ward

6 Substituting Yarn Gauges Height of sleeve cap: add up the total number of rows in the sleeve cap shaping, starting from the sleeve bind off and translate into inches, then into new number of rows. Width and height of stair step bind offs at top of sleeve cap. Again, read your pattern. Start with the number of stitches on your needle before the last bind off rows at the top of the sleeve start, and translate to inches. Make a note of the number of rows worked in the stair steps and final bind off row. You will still follow the pattern instructions, just use the new numbers of stitches and rows to achieve the finished dimensions on the schematic. How To Use The Additional Measurements You will find it helpful to refer to the revised schematic above when reading about the additional measurements. Armholes Don t translate the number of armhole bind offs and decreases, but make note of the ratio of the two. Armhole shaping reduces the sweater body to the width of the shoulders --the piece of the sweater starting at the armhole is also called the yoke. Determine the number of yoke stitches (shoulder width inches x sts/in), subtract from the number of body stitches, divide by two, and this is the number of armhole shaping stitches you work. Body sts - yoke sts = armhole shaping sts Armhole shaping sts 2 = shaping sts per armhole The shaping sts will be divided between bound off stitches at the beginning of the row and armhole edge decreases. Use the ratio from your pattern to determine the number of bind offs vs. decreases. Neckline A neckline is created by binding off and/or decreasing stitches in the center of the body that equal the width of the neck opening. On a round neck there are typically a number of center stitches bound off or placed on a holder (often around half the neck opening stitches) and the rest are decreased in pairs, one on each side of the neckline, on following knit rows. These decreases can run right up to the shoulder seam, or the last bit of neck edge can be worked even. It s not critical and it gives you a fudge factor. On a V-neck, the neck opening stitches are evenly spread over the rows of the neckline. Using the new stitch and row gauge, determine number of stitches in the width of the neck opening and the number of rows in the depth. Follow the published 5! 2011, Paula J. Ward

7 Substituting Yarn Gauges pattern for the general mode of construction using your new number of stitches and rows. Shoulder Shaping Shoulders are shaped using either a series of short rows or a series of bind offs-- maintain the same number of steps, spreading the shoulder stitches as evenly as possible over the steps. The number of stitches in each shoulder will be the number of yoke sts minus the number of neckline sts, divided by two. Yoke sts - neckline sts = shoulder sts Shoulder sts 2 = sts per shoulder For more information on short rows, you can watch my youtube videos here, and my videos on shoulder shaping starting here. Sleeve Use the schematic to maintain finished measurements in: The cuff The upper sleeve (sleeve at the upper arm) The underarm sleeve length The width of the sleeve cap just before the final bind off rows are begun (upper sleeve) The height of the sleeve cap (add up all the rows in the sleeve cap shaping) The width of the top of the sleeve cap The cuff, the upper sleeve, and the underarm sleeve length are pretty straightforward. You ll spread increases evenly over the length of the sleeve seam from the cuff to achieve the upper sleeve width. Let s give special attention to the sleeve cap. You will have increased from cuff to underarm, achieving the upper sleeve width as shown in the schematic. 1. Next, mimic the armhole shaping--same number of bind offs and armhole edge decreases as worked on the armhole, as these two curves will be sewn together and need to match. Note the number of stitches remaining on the needles after this shaping. 2. Determine the total number of stitches worked in the stair step bind offs at the very top of the sleeve, and convert this to number of stitches in the new stitch gauge--we ll call these the sleeve top stitches. You ll work the same number of stair steps, but with a different number of stitches in each step. Subtract the number of sleeve top stitches from the number of stitches on the needles after step 1. The difference is the number of stitches to be decreased on the slope, divided evenly between the two edges. Next we ll determine how many rows to spread those decreases over. 3. Take the total number of rows in your sleeve cap height, subtract the number of rows worked in step 1, and subtract the number of rows you ll need for the stair steps. The answer is the number of rows over which you will spread the slope decreases determined in step 2. I spread the decreases by putting more decreases toward the top of the slope, so the slope starts a somewhat 6! 2011, Paula J. Ward

8 Substituting Yarn Gauges steep and then flattens out a bit as the stair step bind offs get closer. (Confession: I find the quickest way to do this is to draw a sketch.) Whew! I know that sounds complicated, but sleeve caps intimidate knitters, and I wanted to give you the full story. if you use your schematic to follow these steps, it will make more sense. Finishing Your Sweater Follow the pattern as written, blocking pieces to final measurements as directed. To convert the pattern neckline ribbing, a good general rule is to use a needle one size smaller and pick up stitches 2 for 3 (2 stitches to every 3 rows) on vertical and diagonal edges, and stitch for stitch on horizontal edges. In order to illustrate the steps I ve described in this report, I ve added an Appendix that contains A basic sweater pattern with a round-neck and set-in sleeve, and A step-by-step illustration of how to alter this pattern using a different stitch gauge I hope you ve found this report helpful. I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Please contact me at Happy Knitting! Paula Ward P.S. Want to design a sweater that really fits? Learn about my e-book, Easy Knitting Design: The Basic Sweater. 7! 2011, Paula J. Ward

9 2011, Paula Ward!

10 Simple Sweater Pattern Gauge over stockinette stitch: 5 sts/ in 7 rows/in For the purposes of this example, numbers shown below are for size Medium FRONT Ribbing Cast on 96 sts Work K1P1 ribbing for 2 in. Switch to stockinette stitch and work even for 10 in. Armholes BO 4 sts next 2 rows. Work 1 dec st. each edge on knit rows 3 times (82 sts). Work even until length from underarm bind off equals 4 in. A.1! 2011, Paula J. Ward

11 Neckline On knit row, K31, BO 20, K31 Attach 2nd ball of yarn to neck edge of other shoulder Work 1 dec st. at each neck edge on knit rows 10 times. Work even until neck depth is 3 inches, ending with a purl row Shoulder Shaping Beginning with a knit row on left shoulder, work short row shaping as follows: K across, turn. P 15, wrap and turn, knit back to neck edge. P 10, wrap and turn, knit back to neck edge. P 5, wrap and turn, knit back to neck edge. Work even until length from start of underarm off is 8 in, ending at the neck edge. Bind off. Repeat on left shoulder, reversing shaping and ending at the neck edge. BACK Repeat as for front until length from armhole bind off is 6 inches. Back neckline K26, BO 30, K26 Attach 2nd ball of yarn to neck edge of other shoulder Work 1 dec st. at each neck edge on knit rows 5 times, ending with a purl row. After 2nd row of decreases, begin shoulder shaping as for front, working final neckline decreases and short rows at the same time. SLEEVE Cuff CO 42. Work K1P1 ribbing for 2 inches. Upper Sleeve Switch to stockinette st. Working increases on knit rows, increase 1 st at beg and end of every 4th row 8 times, then every 6th row 2 times (62 sts). Work even until sleeve length 9 inches, ending with a purl row. A.2! 2011, Paula J. Ward

12 Sleeve Cap Bind off 4 sts next 2 rows. Work 1 dec st. each edge on knit rows 3 times, ending with purl row (48 sts). Work even for 2 rows. Work 1 dec st at beg and end of following knit rows 9 times (30 sts). Bind off 5 sts at beg of row 4 times, bind off 10 sts. Cut yarn. Repeat on other sleeve. A.3! 2011, Paula J. Ward

13 In the following table, the original pattern instructions for the Simple Sweater are in boldface in the left column. Notes and explanations are in italics. In the right column I explain how to calculate changes using the new gauge--the revised numbers are in red boldface. You can follow along step by step as the pattern is revised. Original Pattern Pattern Stitch Gauge: 5 sts/in, 7 rows/in Pattern with New Gauge New stitch gauge: 4 sts/in, 6 rows/in Sweater Front We want to maintain the finished body measurement of 19 in. 19 in. X 4 sts/in = 76 sts selvage sts = 78 sts Cast on 96 sts. Ribbing: work K1P1 ribbing for 2 in. Switch to stockinette st and work straight for 10 in. Cast on 78 sts. Work the pattern as written. Ribbing: work K1P1 ribbing for 2 in. Switch to stockinette st and work straight for 10 in. Armhole Shaping The shoulder width is 16 in, or 16 in. x 4 sts/in = 64 sts., plus 2 selvage sts = 66 sts Reduce the body width of 78 sts to the yoke width of 66 sts by decreasing 12 stitches (78-66=12), 6 per armhole. Divide the 6 between underarm bind offs and decrease rows. BO 4 sts next 2 rows. Work 1 dec st. each edge on knit rows 3 times. Work even until length from underarm bind off equals 4 in. BO 3 sts next 2 rows. Work 1 dec st. each edge on knit rows 3 times. Work pattern as written: Work even until length from underarm bind off equals 4 in. A , Paula J. Ward

14 Original Pattern Pattern with New Gauge Neckline The neckline is 8 in. wide, or 8 in x 5 sts/in = 40 sts. There are are 82 sts in the yoke (96 body - 14 armhole decreases). We will bind off the center 20 sts. Note this is half the total neck opening of 40 sts. On knit row, K31, BO 20, K31. Turn, purl back to neck edge. Attach 2nd ball of yarn to neck edge of other shoulder. The remaining 20 sts for the neck opening are decreased over the following rows of the neckline. The neckline is 8 in. wide--in our new gauge that is or 8 in x 4 sts/in = 32 sts. Binding off half in the center means we will bind off 16 sts. After our armhole shaping, we have 78 sts (body) - 12 sts (armholes) = 66 sts in the yoke. Tip: to figure how many sts to knit before the center sts are bound off, subtract the number of bind offs from the total sts on the needle and divide by 2: = 50, divided by 2 = 25 sts. On knit row, K25, BO 16 sts, K25 Follow the pattern as written: Turn, purl back to neck edge. Attach 2nd ball of yarn to neck edge of other shoulder. The remaining 16 sts for the neck opening are decreased over the following rows of the neckline. Work 1 dec st. at each neck edge on knit rows 10 times. Work even until length from neckline bind off equals 3 in, ending with a purl row. Work 1 dec st. at each neck edge on knit rows 8 times. Follow pattern as written: Work even until length from neckline bind off equals 3 in, ending with a purl row. A , Paula J. Ward

15 Original Pattern Pattern with New Gauge Shoulder Shaping If you re not familiar with short rows, see my youtube video here, and my series of youtube videos on shoulder shaping starting here. Shoulder sts =82 yoke sts - 40 neckline dec s = 42 shoulder sts, 21 per shoulder, divided roughly evenly across 4 sections--6 sts, 5 sts,5 sts, 5 sts. Beginning on a knit row on left shoulder, work short row shaping as follows: K across, turn. P 15, wrap and turn, knit back to neck edge. P 10, wrap and turn, knit back to neck edge. P 5, wrap and turn, knit back to neck edge. Work even until length from armhole is 7 in., ending at the neck edge. Bind off. Repeat on left shoulder, reversing shaping and ending at the neck edge. Work the same number of short rows as in the pattern, only with a different number of stitches in each section of short rows. Shoulder stitches = 66 yoke - 32 neckline sts = 34 shoulder sts, divided by 2 = 17 sts per shoulder, divided roughly equally over 4 sections. 17 sts divided roughly equally over 4 steps is 5 sts, 4 sts, 4 sts, 4 sts. Beginning on a knit row on left shoulder, work short row shaping as follows: K across, turn. P 12, wrap and turn, knit back to neck edge. P 8, wrap and turn, knit back to neck edge. P 4, wrap and turn, knit back to neck edge. Work even until length from armhole is 7 in., ending at the neck edge. Bind off. Repeat on left shoulder, reversing shaping and ending at the neck edge. Repeat the same process for the sweater back. A , Paula J. Ward

16 Original Pattern Pattern with New Gauge Sleeve The cuff is 8 in. 8 in. X 5 sts/in = 40 sts., plus 2 selvage sts = 42 sts. Cuff Cast on 42 sts. Work K1P1 ribbing for 2 inches. The last 2 inches of the upper sleeve are worked even, so increases are spread over the length of the sleeve seam minus 2 in. 9 in - 2 in. = 7 in. 7 in x 7 rows/in = 49 rows, round to an even 50. Upper sleeve width = 12 in. X 5 sts/in = 60 sts, + 2 selvage = 62 The cuff width is 8 in. 8 in. X 4 sts/in = 32 sts., plus 2 selvage sts = 34 sts. Cast on 34 sts. Work K1P1 ribbing for 2 inches. We want to work even the last 2 inches of the upper sleeve, so we ll spread our increases over the length of the sleeve seam minus 2 in. 9 in - 2 in. = 7 in. We ll convert the 7 in. to rows: 7 in. x 6 rows/in = 42 rows. Upper sleeve width = 12 in. X 4 sts/in = 48 sts. + 2 selvage = 50 sts. 50 upper sleeve sts - 34 cuff sts = 16 sts to inc. 8 sts per side, over 42 rows, or 21 knit rows. 62 upper sleeve sts - 42 cuff sts = 20 sts to incr, 10 sts per edge, over 50 rows. Upper Sleeve Switch to stockinette st. Increase 1 st at beg and end of every 4th row 8 times, then every 6th row 2 times. Work even until sleeve length 9 inches, ending with a purl row. Switch to stockinette st. Working increases on knit rows, increase 1 st at beg and end of row on next knit row, then on following 4th row; then on following 6th row 6 times. Work even until sleeve length is 9 in, ending with a purl row. A , Paula J. Ward

17 Original Pattern Sleeve Cap Pattern with New Gauge There are now 50 sts. on my needles. Reading through my pattern I see that my armhole height is 7 in. 7 in. x 6 rows/in = 42 rows I need to work 42 rows in my new gauge to maintain my sleeve cap height of 7 in. Bind off 4 sts next 2 rows. Work 1 dec st. each edge on knit rows 3 times. Copy the armhole shaping on the body. Bind off 3 sts next 2 rows. Work 1 dec st. each edge on knit rows 3 times. I have just decreased 12 stitches, leaving 38 sts on my needles. Reading the pattern, I see that at the top of the sleeve cap 5 rows will be worked in the stair step bind offs. I ve worked 8 rows copying my armhole shaping. 42 rows (total sleeve cap) - 8 rows (armhole shaping) - 5 rows (top of sleeve cap) = 29 rows left in sleeve slope, which we ll round to 30 rows. I ll skip ahead two steps and come back--my sleeve cap top has 24 sts, and I have 38 sts. on my needles, so I need to decrease 14 sts on the slope, 7 decreases per side, over 30 rows or 15 knit rows. Spreading the 7 decrease rows over 15 rows, I ll work the slope with the more vertical part first, then go more horizontal: Work 1 dec st. each edge on 6th row, then every 4th row 8 times, ending with a purl row. Work 1 dec st. each edge on next knit row and 4th row following, then every knit row (every other row) 5 times, ending with a purl row.** ** I draw a picture to figure out how to spread the decreases. I think it s quickest. A , Paula J. Ward

18 Original Pattern There are 5 rows in the stair step bind offs of the top of the sleeve cap. In the pattern there are 30 stitches in the sleeve top, or 30 sts / 5 sts /in = 6 in. of width in the sleeve top. Bind off 5 sts at beg of row 4 times, bind off 10 sts. Cut yarn. Repeat for other sleeve. Pattern with New Gauge I will maintain the 5 stair step bind offs at the top, using 5 rows. In the new stitch gauge the sleeve top will be: 6 in. X 4 sts/in = 24 sts. I use the proportions from the pattern--! of the bind offs are spread over four rows, then the last " in the final step. Bind off 4 sts at the beg of the row 4 times, then bind off 8 sts. Cut yarn. Repeat for other sleeve. A , Paula J. Ward

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