Ginny’s Cardigan KAL: Customize it!

I don’t like to follow directions. I don’t like to follow recipes, and I don’t like to follow knittingĀ patterns either. This is how I got started writing knitting patterns in the first place. Today I’d like to share some thoughts and ideas on how to customize Ginny’s Cardigan, because everyone is unique, so you should adapt your sweater accordingly so that you get YOUR perfect sweater.

photo credit: Interweave Press

1. Measure!
First, before you can know if, how, and where you want to customize your sweater you need to measure yourself and study the schematic. I also find it helpful to try on one of your favorite store bought sweaters, and measure it too.

In the sweater shown in the photo the sweater is worn with no ease (meaning the measurements of the sweater are the same measurements as the model). Sometimes it’s hard to know how you like your sweaters to fit, and you might prefer different sweaters to fit in different ways. Personally I prefer pullovers with 0 or negative ease, but I prefer cardigans with a little bit of positive ease. Figuring out how you’d like your sweater to fit is important, and measuring some of your other sweaters can help you figure this out! An example of negative ease: my bust measurement is 36.25″, and my sweater bust measurement is 34″, so I’d be wearing that sweater with about 2″ of negative ease.

2. Study the schematic
The next step is read your schematic! This sweater has very fitted sleeves, and they fall right at the wrist. I think I’d like my sleeves a little looser and longer, so I can look at the schematic, compare with my measurements, and choose a sleeve size that suits what I’m looking for. This may or may not match the bust size I’ll knit. You should compare all the measurements on the schematic to your own measurements, figuring out where you’ll need to make adjustments.

3. Figure out the changes you need to make, and write them down!
This part is crucial. Unless you have an excellent memory (which I do not) you should write down your calculations and how you plan on adapting the pattern to best suit your own needs. It’s really easy to have a great plan, and then forget to execute it! Or what if you make adaptations to one sleeve, and then you take a week off to finish another project, and when it’s time to make the second sleeve you can’t remember what you did to change the first sleeve. I like to write my changes on sticky notes, and then put them on the section of the pattern that I plan to change, so that I can’t knit that part without seeing/moving my sticky note. I also sometimes do this by making comments on PDFs, because I have a tendency to lose my printed patterns…

Next time I’ll be posting about considerations for customizing specific parts of the sweater. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what part of the sweater you’re thinking about customizing, and if you’d like my two cents on how to do it!

Photo credit: Interweave Press

8 Responses

  1. Becky
    | Reply

    I’d love more info on customizing the size of the armholes (where the sleeves attach).

    • Mari
      | Reply

      I actually wrote about that some in a previous post about row gauge. Is there a specific questions you had?

      • Becky
        | Reply

        Okay, I’d already read that post but it didn’t compute. (3 wild hooligans don’t help my brain work!) My concern is that with a lot of clothes (even T-shirts), the armhole fits the way most people would consider “normal” but I’m constantly yanking trying to make it bigger so my arms don’t go numb. Since this is my first sweater, I don’t want to go to all that work and be uncomfortable!

        • Becky
          | Reply

          If I need to increase rows to make a larger armhole, how do I make it work with the pattern on the back? Sorry, most of my experience has been with scarves and shawls … I just branching out.

          • Mari

            Becky, Thanks for the comments! I’ll go over how to adapt your armhole depth in the next blog post, but the pattern on the back repeats. It’s just 15 rows, so you would just keep working it, which is what the pattern already calls for. When you get a free moment from the hooligans I suggest reading through the whole pattern from start to finish, so you can understand the construction and the sequence of steps.

  2. Becky
    | Reply

    Thanks, Mari!

  3. Aimee
    | Reply

    Hi Mari!
    I’m pretty ruler-shaped (not much waist to hip differentiation), plus I’m also short-waisted. Should I skip the waist decreases and bust increases or will that make the pattern all wonky?
    Thanks for a gorgeous pattern and all your input!

    • Mari
      | Reply

      I would try measuring your waist and your hip, I’m guessing you have a little difference between the measurements, and a little waist shaping can help you give yourself a little shape. You can definitely skip the bust darts and waist shaping without messing up the pattern, but if your sweater is a total rectangle, it’ll make you look like one too.

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