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Making It Fit: Waist Shaping for the Farmer's Market Cardi

Jan 7, 2010

Yes, that's a llama.
Her name is High Hope, and she likes humans. (I think she thinks we're funny looking.) She and her sisters kindly appear on my blog this week in order to amuse and distract you from the fact that no actual sweater was photographed in the creation of this blog. My camera battery is dead, and the charger and the spare battery are winging their way towards me as we speak. I left both at my parents' home over the holidays. (What can I say. Bad blogger. At least I have cute llama photos from my vacation to show you. Thank you to Topliff's Tara Bed & Breakfast & Llama Farm, where Nicholas took me for a holiday surprise.)

And Now, For The Knitting

I'm knitting the Farmer's Market Cardigan, and it's getting to the juicy bits. We did Intro to Steeking Sandi's Way last week; and as promised, it's time to Face The Waist this time.

I always worry that this part, the waist shaping part with numbers, is going to be boring for you folks. The truth is, I love crunching the numbers for myself; it feels like I'm being a Real Grownup Knitter and tailoring the sweater to fit myself instead of letting the sweater fit the generic table of standard measurements designers have to use. How do you feel about waist shaping? Love it? Hate it?

Adjusting the waist shaping to fit my own curves

Waist Shaping Math Is Fun!

How many rows/rnds do I have over which to work the shaping?

Row gauge: 6 rows/rnds = 1"

Length, hem to end of waist shaping: 12.5"

Total rnds from hem to waist:
12.5" multiplied by 6 rpi = 75 rows/rnds

Subtract rows/rnds already worked prior to
first decrease:

75 minus 17 rows already worked =
58 rnds over which to work waist shaping

How many stitches do I need to decrease overall?

From measuring the sweater-in-progress and comparing it to my own measurements, I know I need to decrease a total of 5" in order to fit my own measurements-plus-ease at the waist.

Stitch gauge: 4.5 spi (stitches per inch)

Total stitches to decrease:
5" multiplied by 4.5 spi = 22.5 sts

I need to decrease 22.5 sts evenly over 58 rounds.

How many decrease rounds do I work?

How many stitches are decreased in each decrease rnd?
According to the pattern, 4 sts.

Number of decrease rnds needed:
22.5 decrease sts needed divided by
4 decr sts per decr rnd = 5.6 decr rnds

Rounded up: I need 6 decrease rnds evenly distributed over 58 rnds total.

How often do I work the decrease rounds?

58 rnds total divided by 6 decr rnds needed =
Once every 9.6 rnds

I rounded the above result down to "once every 9 rnds." Why round down here? I'm short, therefore I need less length overall, not more.

Final Measurement Stats
as an accuracy check

Total cast-on circumference:

226 sts divided by 4.5 spi =
50.2" hip circumference

Total circumference to be decreased:
28 sts divided by 4.5 spi =
6.2" decreased overall

Final waist circumference:
226 minus 28 sts decreased = 198 sts

198 sts at waist divided by 4.5 spi = 44" waist circumference

Reality Check:
My waist is 41" (especially after the holidays, egads) so 44" gives me a perfect 3" positive ease. Hooray!

The story so far is here, in case you want to refresh your memory. Summary: As I completed 3" of 226 stitches at the bottom edge of the cardi, I discovered a flaw in my math that meant I now had 4" of ease rather than the 3" of ease I wanted. ("Bother," as Pooh would say. "Bother.")

After several deep breaths, I realized I did not have the spiritual fortitude required to rip out that much knitting. However, I did have the knitterly fortitude to do a little extra math. The sweater pattern has waist shaping–decreases and increases meant to create (at least the illusion of) curves. Calculator in hand, I found that my "whoopsie" could be pretty easily conquered via the simple trick of starting the decreases for the waist a little (No time like the present.)

This meant I had to go "off-road" in the instructions a bit. Instead of waiting until I had 6.5" of stockinette before beginning the waist shaping (as the instructions, uh, instruct), I jumped right in and did a decrease round just where I was, at 3".  Then, I went back and re-worked the math for my waist shaping "schedule," incorporating my gauge and the extra set of decreases.

Here are the three main questions I need answers to:

  • How many stitches do I need to decrease overall?
  • How many decrease rounds do I work?
  • How often do I work the decrease rounds?

I worked those numbers out (math is in the sidebar), wrote out the row-by-row decrease instructions in my notebook, put on my audiobooks, and started churning out rounds of steeked stockinette.

At Rnd 50, I put the entire shebang onto waste yarn and tried it on over my hips. (Who says that you can't try on sweaters knitted bottom up? Silly. Of course you can.) There still seemed to be a lot of extra ease, so I added another additional set of decreases.

I'm so glad there are no Knitting Police to frown over how I am altering this on the fly. Because if there were, all of you would all be visiting me in jail. (And bringing me nice brownies, I hope. With nice files baked in. Thank you, you are all so thoughtful.)

I'm well into the bust increases. And that means that the armholes and neck shaping are next. Will I steek the neck opening? How about the armholes?

Ah, but that would be telling. You'll have to check in next time.

Till then, I hope you find joy on the needles this cold winter afternoon.

– Sandi

Have a creative waist shaping tip? Don't be shy; leave a comment and share it with us!

Sandi Wiseheart
is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. You can find her blogging here on Knitting Daily every Thursday. Want more? Visit Sandi's personal blog, wiseheart knits. (There's more about my visit to the llama farm B&B there as well.)



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Kathy46 wrote
on Jan 17, 2010 11:33 AM

Fit is "the" most important quality in making a hand knit wearable.  Thank you for separating the commentary from the math side-by-side.  I pulled up the calculator from my keyboard and worked along with you, to see if I could come up with the same numbers.  I learn a lot from your blogs.  Thanks again.

sally@45 wrote
on Jan 7, 2010 11:27 AM

Thank you so much for adding all the math - I'm a math geek, and seeing it all written out makes it much easier to follow along!

I am wondering though, when you use your spi and rpi in the calculations, are you using the guage from the actual sweater (what's hanging off the needles) or referring back to the gauge swatch?  Ideally they would be the same, but they can be quite different (washed swatch, weight of the sweater, etc).  Does it matter which you use?

KnitNoir wrote
on Jan 7, 2010 8:59 AM

I agree! Thanks for this.

SevenOfNine wrote
on Jan 7, 2010 8:00 AM

You are an excellent writer.

KNITnGLO wrote
on Jan 7, 2010 7:40 AM

Sandi, thank you so much for this, both the story and your math. I'm going to study this carefully. I've copied and pasted it. ;)

DebbieR wrote
on Jan 7, 2010 7:27 AM

A trip to a Llama Bed & Breakfast! What a wonderful idea! (Did you get to buy

any fiber to spin/knit with?)  Ooooohh...I'm jealous!