It was so much fun to participate in designer Marie Greene's annual 4-Day Sweater KAL. Although the name of the KAL invites knitters to challenge themselves, participants had from July 4 - August 1 to complete their sweaters. Laura completed her sweater, made from Green Mountain Spinnery Sylvan Spirit yarn, in 12 days!
Laura included notes about her knitting process and pattern modifications on her Ravelry project page for her Soundtrack. Here are two of her favorite tips!
Choosing a Size Based On Your Swatch Gauge
First, she chose a size based on the gauge she got in her own swatch, not the pattern gauge. After knitting a 6" square swatch, Laura's gauge using Sylvan Spirit was 19.5 sts and 33.5 rows per 4". The pattern gauge is 21 sts and 31 rows per 4". Laura's fabric is more loosely knit than the pattern gauge. Marie recommends 2" to 4" inches of positive ease for this sweater. Laura's bust is 36", and she choose to knit a sweater with two inches of positive ease. Looking at the number of stitches at the bust for each size in the sweater pattern, she calculated that knitting a Size 2 (a 36" bust in the pattern gauge) would yield about a 38" bust at her own, looser gauge. So, Laura knit a Size 2, but her finished garment ended up being a 38" bust. Don't be scared to do a little math to come up with your own, custom size based on your gauge swatch!
The Armholes Are (Probably) Going To Be OK
Second, Laura, along with may other KAL participants, was concerned while knitting the sweater that the armholes might be too tight. One of the benefits of top-down sweaters is that you can try them on as you go, and many knitters like to try their sweaters on right after finishing the yoke and separating the sleeves from the body. At this point, it seemed like the armholes might not be deep enough, especially since the pattern does not instruct knitters to pick up any stitches under the armholes when knitting the body, as many sweater patterns do.
Knowing that Marie is a wonderful designer, Laura took a deep breath and decided to trust the pattern (and her gauge swatch!). For many sizes in the Soundtrack pattern, a large number of stitches are added right around the bust. This additional ease in the body of the sweater helps the armholes fit nicely, but this is difficult to see until the body of the sweater is finished. Laura's sweater fit just as she wanted it to without any pattern modifications around the armholes once it was complete and blocked.
If you'd like to learn some of Marie's tips and tricks for great sweater fit, grab a copy of her book, Seamless Knit Sweaters in 2 Weeks!