Posts Tagged ‘design your own sweater’

There are some BEAUtiful pastel yarns in the baby color section.  I made this sweater using Caron Simply Soft in Baby Brights Ombre.  I’ve used this color before on an entrelac scarf and people always compliment it.

The color pattern varied with how many stitches I used per row, but seemed to mostly want to make stripes.


My mistake:  I learned something doing this.  It came out a bit short.  Not so short I can’t wear it, but shorter than it was when I held it up to myself and decided it was the right length from the hip to start the armholes.  This is why you see a bulge at the waist, that was supposed to be a bulge for the hip.  (It’s a little weirdly lumpy, but I’ll still wear it.)  What went wrong was that I overestimated how big I’d make the armholes, and made them pretty tight.  I shot for an 8″ armhole, (measured flat on one side from middle of the armpit to over the shoulder), and this turned out to fit, but it was small and effected the sweater length.  From now on I will not do armholes as small as that.


This picture is probably closer to representing the colors on this yarn.  Every pastel color of the rainbow except green.

How it was made:

I calculated my needed gauge for hips, waist and bust.  I’ve used this yarn before so I already had my # of stitches per inch.  I cast on in the round at the hip and worked upwards in a tube, increasing or decreasing as needed to reach my numbers.  I tried a knit/purl texture chart for the bottom edge, but didn’t wind up liking it.  The variation in color pretty much hid the textured pattern so you can’t even really see what it is, and it looks a bit messy.  Ribbing /garter /or seed stitch would have done the trick to prevent curling and probably looked nicer.

I divided front and back for the armholes and continued working upward (first the back piece then the front piece).  I bound off the correct # of stitches for the neck in the back and made it shallow, (just a couple of rows from the tops of the shoulders), and kept an equal # of stitches over each shoulder.  Write down how many so you don’t have figure out what that number was when you make the front to make the front shoulder stitch number equal the back number.  The front neck hole I bound off the same way, but made it a little deeper.  Then I did double crochet around the neck hole to make it look nice.  I did a pretty small opening to have the sweater up around the neck so it would be warm … and I almost messed this up!  I can fit my head through this neck hole, but just barely!  Make sure you don’t make your neck hole too small to fit your head through, or you can’t wear your sweater.

Sleeves with a shoulder cap:  I did something different this time.  I copied a pattern, but in the reverse direction.  I used the sleeve pattern of a sweater I made by calculating their number of inches they used for each part of the sleeve, then calculating my needed number of stitches to achieve this, then doing it all in reverse of the direction of the pattern, which was made from wrist to shoulder, (I do like to make things difficult, don’t I).  I did have a reason – I like to make mine from shoulder to wrist, because I can attach the sleeve after I’ve made a few inches of it, then accurately get a reading on length when I put on the sweater.

The shoulder cap part was about 6 and 3/4 inches high (from cast on to the widest part of the sleeve), and the widths had to be calculated with my gauge to come out like this.  Increase or decrease on both ends equally to make it come out a symmetrical piece.  To get the width in inches for the lower part of the sleeve, measure your arm around the elbow and around the wrist, (add room to the measuring tape for a less tight sleeve).

This is for a tightly fitted sleeve in size medium, not at all baggy.  SleeveKnittingSketchilovesocks

I see by this photo I did pretty thick seams over the shoulders.  I grabbed 2 strands of yarn from both pieces, the shoulder and the sleeve, making a 4 strand thick seam, (plus more for seaming yarn).  I probably could have grabbed only 1 piece of yarn from each piece to make it look better, but I like things bolted down and secure, so there it is.


Caron Simply Soft, Baby Brights Ombre.  Needles: size 8.  Gauge: 4.5 stitches =1 inch



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(Quick note for the weavers, I’ve updated my weaving post with pictures of new finished scarves:  https://ilovesocks.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/working-without-patterns-weaving-skirt-and-scarves/)

HomespunSweaterForestFront2This one is SO warm!  I love the Homespun. I’ve made several shawls out of it and they are my carry- everywhere warmth in the summer when the air conditioning in public places always freezes me.  And you can just throw them in the washing machine and not worry about felting.

For this sweater, I knitted a small square and got my gauge, then calculated how many stitches I’d need for all my parts.  (See this post for help with that.)

Body: I cast on my hip amount, then worked upward going back and forth with some garter stitch at the bottom and edges to prevent curling. When I got to the armholes I split to a back and two fronts, and decreased to get my appropriate measurements for under the arm and over the shoulder.  On the fronts, I kept my decreases in the rows next to the garter so my garter border would stay the same width.  Then I bound off and seamed over the shoulders.  Sleeves: I picked up the appropriate amount of stitches at the arm holes and made my sleeves.  I just made tubes, no shoulder caps.  For example: If you make your armholes about 8″ tall for a medium size sweater, you will want to pick up about 15-16 inches worth of stitches.  Just past the shoulder, only a few inches in, I usually decrease a couple of inches to around 11-12 inches worth of stitches, then do most of the sleeve at around 11 inches.  (This measurement will of course vary person to person, so you should measure your arm and use an amount you would find comfortable). I did garter at the wrists to foil curling.  I did my sleeves back and forth on a short circular, so I made the seam at the bottom of the arm where it would be most hidden.  When sleeves were long enough and bound off, I stitched up the side of the arms by pulling yarn loops through with a crochet hook.

Then I added the clasp with a needle and thread.  I found the clasp pulled on the sweater too much, so I sewed a piece of felt on the back of the sweater behind both parts of the clasp to strengthen this area.  I attached the felt by sewing around the edges, and added more sewing around the clasp to attach it to the felt.  The piece of felt on the right is the most sturdy and doesn’t pull – I put rows of sewing throughout the area, and this seems to work best, so I will go back and do that to the piece on the left too.  You can see in the top picture it pulls a little, but I don’t feel like its going to pull the sweater loose or stretch it out now.


Finished!  It was a fairly quick sweater since I used a big yarn and such big needles.  Now I kind of want to make a similar crazy sweater in one of those fun color changing Homespuns.


Yarn: LionBrand Homespun in Forest, and size 10 needles.  My gauge: 3 stitches = 1″ on size 10 needles.  Clasp: La petite #1056.  If I remember right, I picked it up at Joann craft store.






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Finished another skinny yarn sweater!  I don’t know how long I’ve been working on this one, but I’m pretty sure at least two Christmases have passed since I started.

YellowSweaterSkinnyYarnDoneBackI followed a chart for the texture (reference below).  The idea here was to make an asymmetrical front, just to do something a little different, (though similar to what I did on the purple Knifty Knitter sweater).  I made one side wider than the other so the buttons would go down one side instead of down the middle, and I tried to make a flap that would hang over under the neck.  Its not really staying down now, but I haven’t done blocking yet, so I think I can get that part to work out.  This stitch chart was good for that since it looks nice on both sides.

I also made the bottom stripes different on one side of the front.  I would say this didn’t work out fabulously, as the different stripes at the bottom really just look more like a mistake happened.  In the future if I try that again, I’ll probably be sure to include many more stripes (or whatever is different), to make sure it is so obvious that it won’t look as much like a mistake.

Also, the fronts don’t seem to line up at the bottom as well, though I’m not sure why – there are the same number of rows on each piece below the stripe. Possibly an error in button placement?  When putting on buttons, its best to start at the bottom, and make sure your bottoms line up.  I did that, but still uneven, not sure why.  Not too bothered by it.  Close enough. Will wear it anyway.


There’s only one other thing I might do differently, and that’s to not use clear buttons.  (Hey, I was just so excited to find this many buttons that matched each other in my jar!)  Because you can see through the buttons, you can see the buttonholes.  Usually you don’t see buttonholes when something is buttoned, and knit sweater buttonholes can really kind of look like jagged holes.  I may try to do some hand stitching or machine sewing around the edges of the buttonholes to neaten those up since you can see them.  If it bugs me.  It doesn’t bug me enough to go that far yet.


 How it was done:  I did my self-measuring, knit a swatch to get my gauge and did my stitch math. Then started at the hip and worked up on the back piece.  I used decreases on the edges to get my size right for hips, waist and bust, then bound off a few and decreased a couple to make arm holes.  To make a shallow neck hole, bind off neck stitches and attach another yarn to one shoulder to keep working both shoulders at the same time on two needles.

I started one side, working up from the hip, back and forth on straight needles.  I attached it partway at the hip to allow me to get it exactly the same size as the back piece (as to where decreases for the waist go and where arm holes start.  I left buttonholes in  this piece.  Then I made the other front piece the same way, without buttonholes.  Then stitches were picked up at the arm hole and sleeves were worked in the round.  I didn’t bother with shoulder caps on this one, the sleeves are just tubes with decreases on the underarm side.


I wanted sleeves narrower at the wrist than my circular needle allowed, so I started working back and forth at a point below the elbow when it started to get too tight to work in the round.    The ends of the sleeves were seamed when finished.  This texture chart was a great one for no curling, so no need for fancy edges.  Work in ends, sew on buttons, and all done!


Yarn: Colombine 99 183 0 – 50% acrylic/50% nylon.  Size 5 needles

Stitch charts followed: The New Knitting Stitch Library. Lesley Stanfield. Quarto Publishing, 1992.  Stripes at the hip are chart #13, pg. 28.  The rest of the sweater is chart #41, pg. 36.


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How do you get the right size when knitting without a pattern if you are using a “new to you” yarn?

It’s easy to get the right size when you crochet, you just chain, wrap the chain around you, then stop when it’s long enough to fit.  You can create a knit garment that fits perfectly too, all you need is a tape measure, a calculator, and the time to do a small swatch in stockinette stitch.


Stitches per inch (or centimeter), horizontal counting:  Your swatch can be fairly small, so it doesn’t really need to take up much time.   At the minimum, you can knit a square just over 2 inches by 2 inches (or ~5 cm. x 5 cm.) using the needles and yarn you’ll want for your project.  The goal is to get the number of stitches per one inch.   You want a little extra room around your counting space, because you want to count in the middle of the swatch.  The top and bottom rows can pull differently, and the side ends can just be confusing looking.  Make sure not to stretch the fabric at all when measuring, just let it lie in its natural state.  (*See note below on margin of error and knitting more inches.)

For centimeter users:  1 centimeter is really too small a space to get an accurate stitch count, so it may be helpful to knit more centimeters, count the number of stitches in 2 or 4 cm., then divide that number by 2 or 4 (whichever you used), to get the number of stitches per centimeter.   (*See note below on margin of error and using more centimeters.)

Stitches per inch (cm.) in the vertical:  The swatch doesn’t need to be very tall, about 2 inches will do it, so you can count the height in the middle if you need it, also getting a number for vertical stitches per inch.  If you’re knitting for someone else and have their measurements, this number is useful.  If you’re knitting for yourself, you probably don’t need this number, except that it is a way to double-check your decisions.  When knitting for yourself, you can generally just hold the garment up to yourself and see if it’s long enough, so in that case you don’t really need a count in the vertical.  Most garments are knit top down, or bottom up, not usually sideways, so the horizontal number is the one you really need. (Though, of course, it could come up if you decide to knit sideways).  If you are following a pattern using a different yarn, such that you need to recalculate all of your stitch numbers, this vertical number can be useful as using a different gauge can throw off the sleeve and garment length.

Once you have your numbers, (number of stitches in an inch horizontally, and number of stitches in an inch vertically if you need it), you just measure yourself or the body in question.  Multiply your number of bodily inches by the number of stitches in an inch, and that’s how many stitches you cast on.  Use the photo below, it shows where you need to measure, and you will have to increase or decrease in various places as you go to get to each new number of stitches.  If you’re making a cardigan that you will wear over a bra and a long sleeve shirt, make sure to wear these items when taking your measurements, and keep notes on what you were wearing when you took the measurements so that you know if you use these measurements again later to make something else.  Don’t pull the tape measure too tightly – we want good honest numbers that will give us good fit.

When casting on, be sure to leave yourself some room.  I always add a few extra stitches to make sure my garment has some give.  If it’s a little too big, you can still wear it, but clothes that are too tight can be annoying or unwearable.   You know now how many stitches are in one inch, so you can decide if you want less than an inch of give, or a couple of inches of extra room

*Margin of error:  You can just count the stitches (or number of rows) in one inch (or 2 or 3 cm.) somewhere in the middle of the small swatch, but you may end up with 3 and a half stitches, or 6 and a quarter stitches. (And that’s fine, your calculator can still do it for you.)  But it can be hard to measure fractions of a stitch with surety.  If you do a bigger swatch, then count the stitches in 2 inches, then half it to get your number of stitches per inch, you can get a more accurate count.  (Same for centimeters, if you knit a bigger swatch, say 8 cm., then count the number of stitches in 4 cm., then divide by 4 to get your number of stitches in 1 cm., it is more accurate than just counting the stitches in 1 cm.)  Knitting more stitches to count will decrease your margin of error, but of course takes more time, so you have to choose, time vs. the potential for error!

Here is an example of how to do it, with some bad art and some made up numbers for measurements:measurementsThe gray lines show where people tend to be the biggest or the littlest, so these give us good places to know about in the horizontal.  Hips, waist, bust or chest, shoulders, and neck. (You only really need “neck” for items that have high, tiny necks such as turtlenecks or mock turtlenecks.  Remember the head still has to fit through it.)

The green lines show you where to measure in the vertical.  Hips (or wherever you want the bottom of the sweater to be) to armpits, hips to neck, and length of the arm from the shoulder seam to where you want the sleeve to end.

The blue lines show you the circumference of the arm, which lets you know how big to make the armhole, and the width of the sleeves.  Remember to leave some wiggle room inside, as tight armholes are very uncomfortable, and that the hand has to be able to pass through the wrist space.

The math, and casting on:  If you plan to make a sweater from the hip upwards, and the hip line measures 40 inches around the person, you need 40 inches if you knit in the round.   If you’re going to make a front and back piece, each piece needs to be cast-on at 20 inches.

If you knit a swatch with your chosen yarn and needles, and you get 6 stitches per inch, 6 st. x 40 inches = 240 stitches to cast on in the round; or for front and back 6 st. x 20 inches = 120 stitches to cast on.  Remember to add a few extra stitches for your chosen amount of extra room.

Following a pattern using a different gauge:  On a related subject, lets say you want to knit following a pattern, but using a different yarn, or on different needles. Then you may need to recalculate your number of stitches for every single thing you do, and as mentioned above, it may also effect the vertical.  I did this recently, I made the Tilted Duster from Interweave Knits magazine (Fall 2007) using Caron Simply Soft yarn in Victorian Rose on size 8 needles.  Their gauge was 4.25 stitches in 1 inch.  Mine was 4.5 stitches in an inch.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it did change the numbers.  I went through and got the number of inches for the number of stitches they told me to do every single place in the pattern, then calculated how many stitches that would be in my gauge.  A lot of calculating, but it came out nice!  (I made a non-gauge related mistake, it said make the collar 5 inches but I kept thinking they said 6 inches for some reason instead, so mine is high, but I like it.)  Here is an example:  They said cast on 78 stitches.  78 stitches divided by 4.25 stitches per inch = 18.35 inches.  (That’s their gauge).  Mine is 4.5 stitches per inch, so 18.35 inches x 4.5 stitches per inch =82.57 (or 83) stitches to cast on.


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