Fun fact about me: I love puzzles. Love ‘em. Sit a 1,000 piece puzzle down in front of me and I’ll be glued to the table until it’s complete! It turns out that jigsaw puzzles aren’t the only puzzles that I enjoy. I also love a good knitting puzzle, as I like to call them. Knitting patterns that I adjust to my liking are just a big ole puzzle with a fabulous prize of a finished garment at the end!
With this year’s goal being to bust through my yarn stash, I’ve had to do a lot of knitting puzzles to use up what I have before buying new yarns. For those that are looking to make a pattern in a different yarn gauge, this post is for you!
Here are some of my tips and tricks on what numbers I look to and maths that I do in order to adjust my knitting patterns to suite my fit or yarn needs!
** DISCLAIMER: Some of the tips in this post may seem a little vague. In order to protect the intellectual property of Jessie Mae’s pattern, I have not taken pictures of or given verbatim quotes from her pattern. If you would like to make this brallette-turned-tank, purchase her pattern and if you have any specific questions about adjusting the pattern you can contact me. I’d be happy to walk you through some steps!
Things You Need to Know Before Starting Your Knitting Puzzle:
Your Body Measurements - Make sure you have measured and noted all of the body measurements that your pattern lists as reference points for determining your pattern size. This is usually your bust, waist and hip measurements. I also measure the length from my neckline to what I want my intended hemline to be (squatty torso problems….).
The Yarn You Want to Use and Its Gauge - Yep, this means you need to swatch the yarn you want to use! Yeah, it’s my least favorite part too, but this is the most crucial step to get your math right!
Your Desired Fit - What fit are you going for? Are you trying to make your finished garment a little bit boxier, slimmer, longer, shorter? Decide your dream garment and take note of what you want to adjust.
To bring a visual to working through the knitting puzzle process, I’ll use my latest make as an example-- Jessie Mae’s Ripple Bralette that I hacked into a tank. This is a great pattern for my knitting puzzle beginners!
Things that I knew going into this puzzle was that I wanted a more loose fitting, longer top than what the bralette was originally designed for. I also had yarn at a larger gauge than what the pattern called for.
I first referred to the finished garment’s measurements to see if there was a size that most lined up with my fit needs. The fit that I wanted was more closely in line with a size 2XL. I found it helpful to go through my pattern instructions and highlight all numbers that referred to my chosen 2XL size. I’d be returning to these numbers later on.
Next, I compared the original knitting gauge of the pattern to the new knitting gauge that I had swatched. I was mainly looking for how many stitches were in an inch. This is the foundation of adjusting a pattern for yarn gauge and is why your swatch is so, so important.
For the yarn that I was using, I determined that my gauge was 4 st/inch and 5 st/row.
For the Ripple Bralette (and for all patterns you adjust for yarn gauge), the number that required the most significant change was the initial number of stitches to cast on. I had a larger gauge of yarn which meant that I needed to cast on less stitches than what the pattern said.
This is where I referred back to the finished measurements for a 2XL in the pattern and all of my need-to-know notes. This pattern is knit from the hem up. I wanted the hem to hit at my hip, not under my bust, so I knew that my initial number of cast on stitches needed to fit my hip measurement. For the 2XL, the hem circumference measurement was 39 inches which happened to be my hip measurement. Hooray! Time to break out those math skills!
39 (inches) x 4 (st/inch) = 156 cast on stitches
Before moving forward, I had to double check that my number of cast on stitches would fit with the knitted pattern.
This pattern is knit in a 3x3 rib, so my cast on stitch number needed to be a number that was divisible by 3 in order to keep the pattern seamless.
When knitting up a garment that has a specific knitted pattern, you must make sure that your adjustments still flow seamlessly with that pattern.
156 is divisible by 3 (phew!), so I was good to go! Everything flowed from there on out. Jessie’s pattern is so lovely to follow, with the instructions based on length measurements than specific number of rows (i.e. work in pattern established for 9” or desired length…). This made it easy to adjust measurements as I went along like the length of my torso or the length of my straps.
Another major part of the pattern that needed some significant adjusting was where to place the straps. I found it helpful to draw things out in order to understand where things should land.
Welp, those are my notes for how I hack my knitting patterns to fit my needs.
I hope this helps you along in your knitting puzzles! If you hit a bump in a pattern
you’re trying to adjust, don’t hesitate to reach out! I’d love to try and help!