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Tranquil Tank Top Knit-Along – Additional Sizes (Or How to Resize a Pattern)

May 6th, 2013

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Tranquil Tank Top Knit-Along - How to Resize a PatternWe’ve heard from several of you (thanks for asking, Karen, Kate, and Chelli!) who are looking to make the Tranquil Tank Top larger or smaller than the bust sizes in the pattern. Because of this, I wanted to write up a quick blog post about how you can resize a pattern WITHOUT rewriting the directions.

How? Most of you know that getting the correct gauge is how we make sure that the item we make ends up the size we expect based on the pattern. It’s the reference point that makes sure that you’re on the “same page” as the designer.

We’ve all had that experience at least once in our knitting/crochet lives, where we’ve skipped the gauge swatch and ended up with a project that’s just too small or big. Well, by harnessing our gauge, we can purposely make a project larger or smaller.

Calculating Our New Gauge

First, I read through the pattern for the Tranquil Tank Top, and I see that the cast-on amount is the same as the bust stitch count (this makes things easier, as you’ll want to base all the calculations on the bust size, which is the main sizing reference point for sweater patterns).

The sweater is made as a front and a back piece, so we know each piece is half of our bust measurement (which is the measurement around our bust/chest).

If you’re looking for a bust size of 34 inches, using the Small directions (with a 66 stitch cast-on), let’s do the math:

34 inches ÷ 2 pieces = 17 inches per piece (that’s the front and back pieces of our sweater)

66 stitches ÷ 17 inches = 3.88 stitches per inch (or approx 15.5 stitches per 4 inches)

That would be the gauge we’re looking for.

What Gauge Will YOU Need?

I’ve gone ahead and done the math so that YOU can simply use the gauge listed below for your project. Be sure and follow the right size directions, since that’s what I did my calculations based on.

Desired Bust Size Stitch Gauge Recommended Yarns Which Size Directions to
Follow
34 inches (86 cm) 15.5 stitches per 4 inches/10 cm (or 3.8
stitches per inch)
Recycled Cotton, Cotton-Ease, Vanna’s Choice S/M
36 inches (91 cm) 14.6 stitches per 4 inches/10 cm (or 3.66
stitches per inch)
Pattern’s bust sizes include: 38 inches, 42 inches, and 47 inches
50 inches (127 cm) 13 stitches per 4 inches/10 cm (or 3.25
stitches per inch)
Baby’s First, Wool-Ease Chunky, Tweed
Stripes
XL
52 inches (132 cm) 12.5 stitches per 4 inches/10 cm (or 3.125
stitches per inch)

You’ll also see that I’ve recommended some yarns, which should work up to the gauges below. That’s a consideration you may need to make when you upsize or downsize a pattern–find yarns that have a similar recommended gauge to the one you’re aiming for. I highly recommend Baby’s First as a great yarn to try for this garment–you can see here that I’ve even used it to resize another garment.

For the smaller sizes, the originally recommended yarns should work, but in all cases always use your judgement when seeing how your swatch works up. Switch yarns if it’s not working out. (Is it too holey? Too dense? Is it drapey enough?)

Other Considerations

These calculations will give you the new width, but as you’re working, be sure to keep an eye on the length of the pieces and see if you want to make adjustments as well. You may find that you want to add (or subtract) length to the ribbing or even the shoulder strap sections. Just be sure to write down any changes you make to the back, so that you make them for the front as well!

A great trick is to string your fabric onto waste yarn (a smooth cotton/cotton-blend yarn works well) and then take it off your needles and hold it against yourself (or if you’re far enough along, pinning the pieces together and trying it on.

I hope that these tips help you–and I hope that those of you who were on the fence about participating in the knit-along due to the size options will use this information to join in!

Join us again on Thursday for Heather’s regularly scheduled knit-along blog post. 

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  • Sevidra

    I’ve found that guage-swapping doesn’t always work for me. I have a large bust – not underbust, but actually just the cup. Others will have needs that likewise don’t work for just a guage-altering, like being pregnant.

    For me, this means that back piece should be the same size as the normal one. I commonly have to examine patterns carefuly and rather than using larger or smaller needles to increase and decrease, I actually have to use stitches. The pattern would look fairly wonky if I changed guage midway, and the stitchery is the only way to get the right shape.

    If the pattern doesn’t have a lot of lacey stitches in it, this is actually fairly easy. I check the guage, figure out how many extra inches I’ll need, do the math, and add the extra stitches in gradually – preferably along a line that makes sense.

    Increasing in the right place is a bit like making darts in cotton clothing in reverse. You want soft, diagonal lines around the curves to accentuate them, and that’s achieved by having the increases and decreases in the right place.

    In the case of making a section only larger or smaller, a ‘dart’ is fairly easy to place if you look at it this way: Imagine a cube around the portion you’re fitting (baby belly, breast, etc), with the flat parts on top/bottom and front/back of the body part. Now find the corner in the top and back, furthest from the center of the body. Draw an imaginary diagonal line across the cube, to the part closest to the sternum. That’s pretty much where you want your ‘dart’ to be, so it will form nicely around the flesh it covers. The ‘extra’ stitches will follow the line, which forms the fabric into more of a curve.

    If the pattern in question has a lot of fancy stitches and patterning, this can be a _lot_ more complex, and I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. Since this is an Experienced knitters’ pattern, though, it should be workable. I’d recommend putting any increases under the less-visible line of eyelets (in my case, under the second line down, so to speak).

    The eyelet stripes will not be perfectly uniform anymore, unless I move them all over to compensate This does mean changing the pattern, moving the ‘stripes’ over each time you increase and back on the decrease. As I said, it gets a bit complicated, but it’s worth it for a good fit. A larger guage would leave the bottom hanging off me, and the normal one would leave the top stretched-to-bursting.

    If you knit with a passion, as so many of us do, graph paper and a calculator are your friends. Don’t be afraid to rework a pattern to fit your body – you’ll be all the more proud of the result, and it will look so much better on you. And never, EVER be afraid to experiment and fail – success is 90% past failures. You learned to walk by falling down, remember. :)

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Great tips, Sevidra! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sandy Stadelmann

    Thank you! This is very helpful. I ordered Cotton-Ease and will make the 34″ or 35″ measurement. Yarn should be here tomorrow. Can’t wait to get started!

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Glad to hear it!

  • Debbie

    Ok one quick question because I have only made home dec stuff, shawls or baby sweaters. My head says its ok that my rib pattern back looks so small while I’m knitting because I know it’s ribbing and will stretch out but I guess I just need reassurance!! Does everyone else’s look small too? I did a gauge swatch and went up a size needle so i should be good. :) This is fun!

    • Sarah

      Mine also looks small relative to the pattern’s photograph. I’m thinking of using a needle one size larger, and a garment size one size larger for the ribbing. The photograph shows there is very little stretch in the ribbing when worn. This is not the case with mine (I’m knitting the small 66 cast on, and I’m small). So I’m going to rip it and cast on for 72, and move to a larger needle. Or maybe the photo’s ribbing was k2, p1? I’m not getting the same look.

      • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

        Hi Sarah, if you haven’t already, be sure to check your gauge by making a test swatch–this will save you the time of ripping out and starting a whole new project without knowing what size it will come out. For more information, please check out Heather’s previous blog post: http://blog.lionbrand.com/2013/05/02/tranquil-tank-top-knit-along-part-1/

        • Sarah

          Hi Zontee, I’ve started the ribbing, and I like it much better. It seems to fit nicely. I know the top part will be too big with 72 stitches, so I was thinking right after the ribbing, I would of decrease in the first row every quarter of the stitches, at the first stitch, the 18th, the 36th, etc., to get back to 66 stiches after the ribbing. What do you think? Thanks for your help!

          • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

            Seems to make sense to me. Just keep an eye on how the fabric bunches after that decrease round and see if you like how it looks. There are certainly lots of commercial tops that have a little bit of ruching or tucking at the waist, so I think it should work nicely–think of it as a “design detail.”

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi Debbie, the ribbing will stretch out–check back on Thursday for Heather’s latest blog post to see what it looks like when she pins it out to measure.

      • Debbie

        Thanks that’s what I will do!

  • fantod

    People who can use the sizes as originally printed don’t need to “do the math,” read a lengthy explanation and use a special chart to make an untested version of the pattern. If you want people to join a KAL/CAL, use patterns that go from XS to 3X — or even S-2X. if I were making this (which I’m not, because I wear a 2X, although I like the top and would use the recommended yarn), I would have to study and plan carefully, while other knitters just read the pattern, cast on and keep following the printed, tested directions for my size. What’s done is done, but why not make more inclusive choices in future instead of penalizing knitters outside the size range with extra work? Most of your women’s garments have a more extensive size range than this one, so there would have been plenty of other tops to choose from.

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi fantod, as a friend of mine likes to say, we have to live in the world that is, not the world that should be–since this is the pattern that was chosen with thousands of votes and it comes in a more limited size range, I wanted to answer the questions of people who wanted to participate but while making other sizes! As I mention in the post, several people were interested specifically in this math.

      The point of this blog post is to explain how you could do this math for yourself in the future, if you so desire, but also to show that I’ve actually done the math for you so that you DON’T have to rewrite the pattern. The pattern doesn’t need to be retested just because it’s at a different gauge because the directions aren’t changing at all. You’re simply knitting the fabric at a different tension than that specified in the pattern.

      Our newer patterns do have a wider variety of sizes, but since we try to choose a range of patterns in different styles that are seasonally appropriate, an older pattern like this one may be chosen. We hope you’ll check back in the future for other knit- and crochet-alongs that may suit your needs better.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chelli.wilson Chelli Wilson

      I totally agree. Which is way I mostly knit toys and scarves and such. Still, I like the top and I was going to change it anyway and add sleeves because I have such fat arms so…I guess it just depends on how much work a person is willing to go to for what they want. I can’t usually get anything cute at Walmart, Kmart, Sears etc because of my size and since top looks easy enough, I am going to use it as a learning experience so that in the future I can make some clothes for myself and the women I know (none would fit into this top as the pattern is). With a majority of the U.S. population obese or overweight I would think that manufacturers and pattern writers would want to please us, but it just aint so.

  • Cindy

    I read your response to Fantod, and frankly I am disappointed. She made an excellent point, you need to choose patterns that fit today’s women. Sorry, but many women are plus size. If you choose a pattern that doesn’t fit half the women in your customer base, you won’t make the sales. REWRITE AND UPDATE THE PATTERN. Don’t throw complicated math and charts at us and say, “Good luck!” I’ve been knitting for over 50 years, but I am not going to bother with a pattern that doesn’t have clear instructions. I already have to adjust for the fact that I am 6′ 2″ and nothing is long enough!

  • Ingrid

    Hi. I’m making the 1X size. I know I’ll have to adapt the pattern, because I always have to do so for fitted garments. As a real-size swatch, I made the back. The width is perfect, but the original pattern is not long enough above the armholes. So I added a few rows, and redistributed the decreases for the neck shape.

    For the front, I always need to make it at least 5 cm longer than the back, mainly in the center front. As I don’t want to make patterns more difficult, I usually find a quick trick to adapt the patterns. This time, I think my solution to the problem will be to simply make the center decrease every 4 rows instead of every 2 rows for the first half of the charts. This should keep the right width and just add the missing length without making some long straight straps for the shoulders.

    • Marian

      Thank you, Ingrid,
      I added a few extra rows in the stocking stitch in the back and I just started the ribbing for the front and was wondering how to incorporate this and you gave me the answer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chelli.wilson Chelli Wilson

    Thanks so much. I’m gonna be WAY behind everyone else because we are moving and I can’t even start for something like 3 more weeks, but I am definitely going to make this top!

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Yay! So glad to hear it–and don’t worry–we encourage you to work at your own pace :-)

  • Pingback: Knitting the Tranquil Tank Top KAL Part Three: Ribbing & Armhole Shaping | Lion Brand Notebook()

  • http://www.facebook.com/chelli.wilson Chelli Wilson

    Umm… in the instructions for up sizing the top the yarn suggested is wool. Wool for a summer top? What about using the cotton yarn and doubling it? Would that work? Wool seems like it would be too hot, especially for us larger gals as we tend to already be hot and sweaty because of our extra “insulation”.

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi Chelli, my first recommended yarn is Baby’s First, which is a cotton-blend yarn in bulky weight (similar to our Cotton-Ease). It has some great spring-friendly colors that aren’t “baby”–you can also definitely double up a yarn–try our LB Collection Cotton Bamboo as one option. Hope that helps!

  • http://www.facebook.com/chelli.wilson Chelli Wilson

    Sorry thought of something else. This is probably stupid, but how, or more correctly where, do you measure bust size? For example my bra size is 46 C (good luck trying to find a bra in that size!) I know the 46 part is around my back under my breasts and the C is the cup size, but how does that translate into bust size? I hate to have to ask, but my grandmother who taught me everything I know about just about everything I know passed away a couple of years ago.
    Just want you all to know that being able to ask questions here about this stuff makes me miss her a bit less. Thanks everyone!!!

    • Bobbi

      Measure at the fullest part of your breasts. After all that is the biggest part and you don’t want to not fit there.

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi Chelli, I’d recommend that you ask someone to help you (it’s hard to measure ourselves accurately!) straight around the widest part of your bust and around your back–that measurement in inches will be your bust measurement.

  • Bobbi

    So you saying that we should go out and buy fifty-eleven skeins of yarn to experiment with??? Not practical.

    • http://www.lionbrand.com/ Zontee

      Hi Bobbi, the recommended yarns should work up at the gauges listed for the vast majority of people. However, over the years, I’ve seen that from experience I know that people sometimes find that a particular gauge just isn’t happening for them on a particular yarn. They might swatch and swatch, and they’re just not happy with it.

      If that’s the case, rather than giving up on the project, I always recommend that they swatch with another yarn–just pick up one ball of a yarn that you like (that’s slightly thicker or thinner depending on what you’re looking for) and try a swatch. It doesn’t even have to be the same color as the yarn that you’re eventually going to buy, just the same yarn. This is what many designers that I work with will do to find the right yarn for a particular project.

      Hope this helps, and hope you’ll join us for this knit-along!

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