Intro and Knit to Fit – Part 1

The prospect of knitting your own sweater should be filled with potential and the anticipation of adding a beautiful knitted garment to your wardrobe.

However, the reality of this endeavor doesn’t always match dream. In spite of following instructions to the letter, even experienced knitters end up with common fit difficulties that can burst that bubble of promise.

Without knowing how to identify the problems, there is no clear way to fix or head them off .

With that, I would like to address that what I’ve seen over my years in teaching fitting classes are the five most common fitting problems when knitting a sweater.


Fit problem #1.- Large gaping neckline/ Drooping shoulders.

Though these seem like two problems, they very often boil down to one thing. The measurement of the cross shoulder in the back of the garment is too large for the wearer.

This can cause the neckline to gape and the shoulder seams to droop below where they should sit and now the sleeves seem too long when they actually may not be.  See how it snowballs?


Knit to Fit 1-Cross shoulder

Knit to Fit 1-Cross shoulder

To correct this, begin by measuring across the width of the shoulders in back as shown in my illustration. That measurement should be anywhere between 12” to 18” in an adult woman.

From your chosen pattern and size take the number of stitches that remain after binding off and decreasing for your armholes and divide by your stitch gauge to reveal the shoulder width of the pattern. If your upper shoulder measurement does not match this, continue the decreases at the armholes until the measurement does match yours.  Important: There should be no ease added to this measurement!

Also, some patterns will  have you put your back neck stitches on a holder, only to have you put them back on the needle when working your neckband. It’s a good idea in theory, but in reality this often causes a loose, stretchy back neck that can affect fit negatively. To correct, bind off your back neck, then pick up for the band to get a nice, firm line.

Next time: What to do when your hemline is on the rise.

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4 Comments on “Intro and Knit to Fit – Part 1”

  1. Carol Didier Says:

    Yay! I’m glad to know that I did the right thing on the sweater I just ripped out and reknit. Can’t wait to see your further design posts.

    Carol in Idaho – who knit a thong with you on the Alaska cruise… (It’s my favorite knitting story)

  2. Thanks for the fitting details. Your information is great.

  3. anotheryarn Says:

    I knew about the back measurement but never put together to effect on neckline gaping. How does measuring work when dealing with a raglan sweater?

  4. […] I also have a pretty good blog. I’m running a fitting series which started last Monday (UC comment: on January 14, 2013), so anyone can go to my blog and check […]

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