How To Adapt A Pattern

Learn how to adapt a pattern with Claire Crompton and The Knitter’s Bible.  With over 150,000 copies sold, this complete handbook for creative knitters has inspiring ideas and will teach you essential techniques.


The Knitters BibleNot everyone is a standard size but knitting patterns assume they are and that by following the instructions slavishly the garment will fit perfectly. It is disappointing to spend time knitting a sweater which you never wear because the sleeves are too long or the body just that bit too short to be comfortable. Many patterns provide a diagram of the knitted pieces with measurements. Check these carefully against your own measurements to ensure a perfect fit. If the pattern doesn’t have a diagram you will need to draw your own. It is worth the effort for a sweater that fits.


Blue Sweater


Knit Perfect

? To work out the stitches and rows per inch (cm), divide the gauge (tension) by 4 (10). For example, 18 sts and 24 rows to 4in (10cm) = 4.5 sts and 6 rows to 1in (1.8 sts and 2.4 rows to 1cm).


? It is important to work in only imperial or metric measurements, do not use both together.


? If you find the maths too daunting, chart the garment on to graph paper. Chart the sleeve as per the instructions and then you will be able to see how many increases are made up each side. Chart any side shaping on the front or back. It is always easier to see the shape of the garment rather than try to visualize it from written instructions.


Sleeve length

The important measurement is from the centre of the back of your neck to your wrist (or where you want the cuff to end). Place one end of a tape measure on the bone at the back of your neck, extend your arm and measure to your wrist bone. On the garment diagram add the measurements for the back neck and both shoulders together and then divide this by two. This is the measurement from the centre back neck to the top of the sleeve. Take this measurement from your neck to wrist measurement and this will be the sleeve length. For example, the back neck plus shoulders = 18in (46cm), divide by 2 = 9in (23cm). Your neck to wrist measurement is 30in (76cm), so 30in (76cm) minus 9in (23cm) = 21in (53cm) sleeve length. Compare this to the sleeve length measurement given on the diagram.



To make the sleeve longer…
simply work more rows after the shaping until the sleeve measures the correct length.


To make the sleeve shorter…
is trickier. A sleeve is increased evenly up its length to get to the required width at the top to fit into the armhole. If you follow the instructions but stop when you reach your required sleeve length you may not have increased enough stitches and your sleeve will be too narrow to fit into the armhole.
Calculate the required increases as described below.



Charting a shorter sleeve
Chart your sleeve on graph paper to work out how to space the increases to fit them into your shorter length. On graph paper, one square represents one stitch. Draw a line centrally at the bottom of the sheet, the number of stitches after you have worked the cuff and any increase row. Mark the centre. To work out how many rows you have to work the increases over, take the length of the cuff from the sleeve length and multiply this by the number of rows per inch (cm). For example, if your sleeve length is 21in (53.5cm) with a cuff of 2in (5cm) the length of the sleeve without the cuff is 19in (48.5cm). Multiply this by the row tension, for example, 6 rows to 1in (2.4 rows to 1cm) = 114 rows (115.2 rows). Round any fractions down to an even number. Count 114 rows from the cuff line and draw a line for the top of the sleeve. Draw a vertical line from the centre of the cuff line to the top line. Count out half the number of stitches after all the increases each side from this central line.

Take the number of cuff stitches (56) from the sleeve top stitches (98) making 42 stitches which means 21 stitches have to be increased at each side of the sleeve. Divide the number of rows by the number of increases, 114 divided
by 21 = 5.4, rounded down to 5.

Mark the first increase on the fifth row and then on every following fifth row until the width is reached. Then draw a straight line from the last increase to the top. There should be at least 1in (2.5cm) straight after the last increase. Work from this chart to knit the new shorter sleeve length. Garment length

If there is no armhole shaping, just  work the length that you require to the shoulder shaping. For a garment with armhole shaping, you need to alter the length before reaching the armhole. The armhole length must remain as in the instructions as the sleeve shaping has been worked out to fit into that armhole. If the garment has shaping from the waist to the bust, draw a chart to work out the increases as described for working out a shorter sleeve.


Adding colour motifs

Using the instructions for the plain sweater, chart the main pieces of the garment on graph paper. Use the same outline for both the back and front, with the neck shaping drawn in for the front, and chart one sleeve. It is now easy to draw in any colour motifs or Fair Isle patterns that you want to add.

Adding a cable panel

Measure the cable panel and the reverse stockinette (stocking) stitch each side.
Measure the cable panel and the reverse stockinette (stocking) stitch each side.


You can add a cable panel to the plain sweater pattern on page 144. To be in proportion, a cable panel should measure about one third of the width of the front. Any smaller than this and it will look lost and have no impact. Any bigger and it will dominate and become an all-over fabric instead of a panel.


Designing the panel

To design your panel choose cables from the Stitch library (see pages 108–16). Start with a central feature cable, something bold or intricate, and then add complimentary but smaller cables each side. For example, the centre cable may have three stitches in each of the strands and uses C6F and C6B to cross the strands so it would look better with six stitch cables each side rather than thinner four stitch cables.

Chart the cables on graph paper with two stitches of reverse stockinette (stocking) stitch each side of the cables.

For example, the sweater shown here is a size 38in (96.5cm) with an actual chest measurement of 44in (112cm). The front measures 22in (56cm) therefore the panel should be about 7in (18cm).


Knitting the garment

Knit the back of the garment. Using the same needles you used to get the stockinette (stocking) stitch tension, cast on the required number of stitches for the cable panel you have designed plus at least three stitches each side for stockinette (stocking) stitch. Knit a gauge (tension) square of the cable panel. Lay it out flat and measure the cables and the reverse stockinette (stocking) stitch each side. Do not include the stockinette (stocking) stitch. If it is over a third of the width of the back, use fewer stitches between the cables, but no less than two because each cable should have room to lie against reverse stockinette (stocking) stitch. If it is too narrow, add another smaller cable on each side.

When you were knitting the cable panel gauge (tension) piece you will have noticed that you need more stitches to get a panel which is the same width of stockinette (stocking) stitch. Cables pull the knitted fabric together and the reverse stockinette (stocking) stitch acts a bit like a rib, rolling under the edges of the cables.

Lay the back of the garment flat on a table with the right side towards you. Using a ruler, measure the width of the cable panel in the middle of the fabric along one row and place a pin at each side. Count the number of stitches across the row between the pins. This is the number of stitches of stockinette (stocking) stitch that will be replaced by the stitches of the cable panel.

For this example, the cable panel measures 71?2in (19cm) and has 58 stitches (see sample below). The same width of stockinette (stocking) stitch has 33 stitches.

To calculate the number of stitches needed for the front of the sweater, subtract the number of stockinette (stocking) stitches and add on the number of cable panel stitches. Take away the number of stitches cast on for the rib (this must stay the same as the

back) to work out how many stitches to increase evenly on the last rib row.

For example, the back of the sweater has 99 stitches; to place the panel in the middle, 99 sts minus 33 sts to be removed = 66 sts, so there will be 33 sts  of stockinette (stocking) stitch each side of the cable panel of 58 sts. For the front, there needs to be a total of 66 sts + 58 sts = 124 sts. The rib of the sweater is worked on 99 sts. The number of increase stitches from the rib to the front stitches is 124 sts minus 99 sts = 25 sts. These increase sts are usually worked into the last row of the rib.

To place increases (M1) evenly in a row, calculate as follows: divide the number of increases minus one, into the number of stitches in the row for the number of stitches between increases.

In this example, 25 incs minus 1 = 24 incs, then 99 sts divided by 24 incs = 4.125 sts, round down to 4 sts, which will leave 3 sts to be worked at the sides. The increase row is rib 2, M1, (rib 4, M1)


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