Knit- Custom Fit Knitwear: Part 2 (altering)
Now, should you ever come across a "must knit" sweater, t-shirt or vest but you know that your proportions are not going to be standard, have no fear, customizing knitting patterns is no sweat (just numbers). Customizing an existing knitting pattern is similar to creating your own but it is sort of like taking the interstate as opposed to back roads. You will get to the same place, but it will be easier and the signs better.
We start the same: with a good sized knitted swatch in your intended yarn using the dominate stitch of the knitting pattern. Most often knitting pattern will give you the gauge which includes the stitch pattern and the size swatch to obtain the gauge. Start there but knit bigger if you think you should (tight knitters should go for an extra 2-3 in. each way). If the stitch pattern is unfamiliar, this is a good way to practice before the big show. Check your gauge against the pattern and change needles to meet gauge.
Next, take the measurement of the pattern at the neck, bust, arm and waist (most patterns include them but if not you can contact the designer) and do the same for yourself. You can find where you need to alter the pattern where there are differences. If you are smaller in the bust than the pattern but don't want to make a smaller size than reduce your increases around the bust area (vice versa if you are bigger). If you need more room in the hips, than increase more around this area (vice versa if you need a slimmer fit). To determine where to make these changes, carefully read and mark your pattern. Some patterns will tell you how they are knit and assembled (top down, bottom up, in pieces and seamed together). You can mark each area of increase and decrease and determine if changes need to be made and how much. You will use your gauge to determine how much. Example: If you see that the bust of the pattern in the size you like is 34 in. but you want 36 in and the gauge is 4 Sts per in. then you will want to increase 8 more Sts. Pay careful attention to the pattern to determine the method of increase or decrease. Most patterns increase or decrease evenly on both sides and front and back. You want your changes to blend in flawlessly.
Other modifications like length of arm or body are easy since you can add rows until you are satisfied. Just be sure you add a few extra balls of yarn to make sure you don't run out. You can determine how much yarn you will need by estimating that a stitch takes anywhere from 1- 1.5 in. of yarn and multiply that times your gauge and the additional length you want to add and compare it to the yardage on the ball band. This should tell you how many additional skeins of yarn you will need.