It's so easy to pick a pattern based on the picture without looking closely at the picture and the pattern.
Take this picture, for example. I loved the cable progression in this sweater the minute I saw it on the cover of the Winter 1999 Knitters. It wasn't until nine years later, after I had the yarn ordered, that I closely inspected the picture.
Some sweater patterns leave plenty of room for size variation. A little off with gauge, it still fits OK. Sweaters with set-in sleeves are much trickier to get a fabric that works and a correct fit.
It's clear this sweater does not fit the model. Both of the shoulder areas are bunched up and being held in place with hands.
Since this pattern is written by a respected designer, Barbara Venishnick, one can assume the sample sweater, knit in size M with a 43.5 inch underarm, is too big for the model. The whole story can be found in the pattern schematic.
Looking at the schematic, I see a personal sizing challenge. For a good fitting sweater I need between 40 and 42 inches in the bust. With set-in sleeves, 40 inches is better. Because I want this sweater to hang and not cling tight around my butt, I need 42 inches in the hips. Although with the nature of the ribbing pattern I'm not sure even that will help.
This pattern has a size S = 39.5 inch bust and a size M = 43.5 inch bust. Normally I would go with the 39.5, but the schematic shows the hips as three inches smaller than the bust. There is a change in gauge due to change in stitch pattern.
A moment of envy here for all who have a bust larger than their hips.
I cast on for the M, and started knitting and worrying. Is my shoulder section going to fit me like the model's? Will DH be willing to follow me around and hold up my shoulder seams each time I wear this sweater?
When in doubt, swatch. All intelligent knitting decisions are made from swatching. It's the only way one knows for sure.
I swatched the large diamonds that go across the front at the sleeve seams. With a size 5 needle the large diamonds will be 16 inches wide. I think it will fit.
After the swatch was dry and measured, I felt confident to carry on knitting the lower sweater. I'm using a size 5 needle and getting just a tad tighter gauge than the pattern.
I need to be careful about the placing of the graduated diamonds in the vertical measurements. It would be easy to have this sweater turn out too short for my liking.
Before casting on, I gave serious consideration to knitting this sweater top down. If I were to start over, I would get even more serious about knitting top down to better control the fit.
Pattern: She Said Aran by Barbara Venishnick
Yarn: Cascade 220, 100% wool worsted weight
Color: 8708 Violet
Needles: Options #5
Gauge: 28 stithces/29.5 rows in 4 inches on lower sweater. 26 stitches/33 rows in 4 inches for upper sweater.
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