Yikes! The Back of My Sweater is the Wrong Width!

Gray Vest with AnenomesHi There

This week I’m going to share a trick that has saved me from ripping and re-knitting.

Every knitter has had the experience of happily knitting along and then looking closely at a knitted piece to find that their gauge is off and the piece is too wide or two narrow.  At least every knitter I know.

Before I get to the trick to avoid ripping, let’s talk prevention.

Swatching:  The best prevention is a large swatch that is washed and blocked before measuring.  But you already knew that and like most of us (at least once or twice), you’ve knit a little swatch and held it on your knee to measure the gauge.  Amy Herzog’s blog this week has an engaging piece on why you want to swatch.

Knit a Sleeve First:  Patterns usually start with the back of the sweater but since the back is the widest piece it takes the most time to knit and re-knit if your gauge is off.  I prefer to start with a sleeve, which is narrow particularly at the beginning. It takes lots less time to knit 4 -6 inches of the sleeve and see if the gauge is the same as your swatch.

Ok, but what if you’ve done all that and the back is still too wide or too narrow.  Or you’ve done none of that and you are hoping for a solution anyway.

The Trick: Moving the Side Seam

If your knitted back is the wrong width, consider moving the side seam.  The picture of the inside of my husband’s vest shows you what I mean.  The back is on the left in the picture.

Gray Aran Vest Close Up

I had knit the back of this vest much of the way to the armhole before I figured out that it was about 2 inches too narrow.  (What can I say?  There wasn’t a sleeve to knit first?  It happens to us all?)

Most sweater and vest patterns call for casting off about an inch of stitches in the first step of the armhole shaping.  I moved the side seam of the vest so that the armhole shaping on the back began after the first cast off.  I then added an inch to each side of the front, and doubled the number of stitches I cast off in the first step of armhole shaping on the front.  So, instead of the seam being in the middle of the armhole, it is about an inch closer to the back.  Another way to say this is the shape of the garment was the same; the pieces to create that shape were different.

Side Deam Trick 002

And it looks just fine on the outside. NO RIPPING.  NO TEARS!

Martha Side Seam Lighter

This trick can also be used to support a design element.  When I modified Kim Hargreaves’s Martha sweater for my daughter, the side seam was going to be right in the middle of a cable.  Rather than eliminating the cable, I moved the seam to one side of the cable. Again, all of the initial casting off occurred on one piece, the one with the cable. I think it worked well.

What do you think?

Thanks for dropping by. I’m off to more KnitKnot Adventures.



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