Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Waltham game plan

Most ample knitters interested in making the Waltham Cabled Cardigan will open their books, make their swatches, get gauge, and start knitting.

I'm not so lucky. If I want this beautiful sweater to fit me, I need to make some modifications. The following lays out my Waltham game plan. (Note that the graphics aren't to scale - I'm wider than this - but you can at least see what I'm planning to do. And the neckline isn't right either; it should be V-necked, but I don't have time to change all the graphics.) So here goes:

Make the hips significantly wider. The pattern's largest bust measurement, 60.5 inches, is perfect for me, but I need more room in the hips. So one way or the other, I need to have a 72-inch hip measurement.

Convert the body to hour-glass shaping that matches my own form. I'm doing this shaping with my Early Bird Special cardigan and from what I can tell, it will be a big improvement over the boxy and A-line shaping I've done previously. I won't have any trouble with this mod because the sides are done in a ribbing. I'll adapt my Early Bird shaping directly to the Waltham. Note that the actual waist shaping will curve; it will not be pointy like shown in this graphic.

Reduce the crossback to 18 inches. The pattern calls for a 23.5-inch crossback measurement, way too large for me. I need an 18-inch crossback. To make the upper back narrower, I will bind off 8 additional stitches at the underarms on the two front pieces and both sides of the back. The math:
  • Crossback modification: 23.5 -18 = 5.5 inches
  • Amount I need to reduce on both fronts and the back underarms:  5.5 / 4 = 1.375 inches
  • Number of stitches to be reduced on both fronts and the back underarms: 1.375 * 6 spi = 8.25. Rounded down to 8.

Expand the sleeve cap to accommodate the crossback mod. Because I am moving the crossback in a total of 5.5 inches, or 2.75 inches on each side, I need to add that back amount back into the top of the sleeve, otherwise the sleeve won't fit the armhole and the sleeves will be 2.75 inches too short.

Add 1 inch to the sleeve width. The pattern's sleeve width is 20 inches; I need 21 inches. This means I need to increase by 1 inch the sleeve depth on the body and the sleeve width at the top of the sleeve. For the body, I will knit the back and fronts a half inch longer under the armholes, adding an additional 4 rows before binding off for the sleeves. For the upper sleeve width, I will fit in an additional three rounds of increases, two stitches on each side of the sleeve each time, giving me an additional inch of width (this totals six additional stitches or 1 inch of width). Note that I don't want to make the sleeves longer so I'm not going to do an additional three rows; I'm going to do an additional three rounds of increases instead.

These modifications result in a sweater that is custom-made to my particular lumpiness. To sum up, the original sweater is on the left; the sweater revised for me is on the right.

Sorry to show you my mighty ass again, but doesn't this schematic look like it would fit me pretty well??

That picture of my might ass brings up another issue: sweater length. I've always wanted my sweaters really long to cover as much of myself as humanly possible. However, when I went to Amy Herzog's Fit to Flatter class last fall, her biggest suggestion (no pun intended) was that I make my sweaters shorter so that they stop above my widest part. She said I was making all of my sweaters six inches too long - and given this photo, I think she might be right.

So, I think I'll try this shorter length on the Waltham. The only way to know if to try. I discussed this issue with my long-suffering boyfriend who is (God bless him) willing to spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon discussing whether my sweaters should cover my mighty ass or not. His bottom line (again, no pun intended): Amy is right. Make the damn thing shorter. Now can I watch TV?

Just a two more things about my Waltham game plan. First, I'm starting with the sleeves, as Kathy Zimmerman suggests. Second, I got my buttons today from an Etsy vendor in China. If you want to spend hours of your life looking for the perfect button, go to Etsy. You'll find more buttons than you ever knew existed, including some really cool antique ones. I selected these metal buttons to echo the points in the cables, plus I like the tarnished silver finish next to the bright blue. I think buttons these will work well. And if they don't, I can spend another three hours on Etsy looking for new ones. :-)

CAVEAT READER! These are mods that I need to make for my weirdo body. You don't need to do these. I've been knitting for over 40 years and I've spent the past five years doing nothing but making sweaters in an increasingly less vain attempt to make one that actually fits. Don't let these mods scare you. You can make the Waltham according to the pattern and it will be fine.

I am warning you: if you use my game plan to scare the beejeebies out of yourself, I'm going to hunt you down and shake you senseless. Now is the time for all intrepid knitters to start making their Walthams!


  1. hunt them down and take the sweater, cause it'll fit YOU!!! LOL (Dottie)

  2. Since I haven't gotten the book yet, I haven't decided what will need to be altered. My bust is only an inch larger than my waistline and my hips are ten inches larger than that, so.....I'm going to have to start with around a 60 inch bottom and taper up as far as my waist (53 inches), then straight up to the underarm. Don't know how the across the back will work yet.
    This should be interesting!
    I don't get scared, I just rip out a lot!!! LOL!

  3. Oooops, that didn't add up very well! Hips 7 inches larger than waist.

  4. I was giving myself a stroke at first. I was having visions that the book insisted on these mods. Oh it was not good for a few minutes! haha :)

  5. Katie, your reaction was exactly what I was afraid of. That's why my mods are posted here and not on the rav kal.

    Dottie, amen, sister! Now let's hope it fits.

    Pat, I can help you figure out the shaping if you need help. You could probably just do a-line shaping given what you said here. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

  6. Julie, I too aspire to knitting a sweater that fits me, just right. I've signed up for the KAL, bought the yarn and the book and knit my gauge. The mods intrigue me, and all I can say is thank goodness I got into Amy's Fit to Flatter class scheduled for 3/5! After that I should be able to figure out just what mods are needed!

  7. Susan (I just looked up your name on Rav), thanks so much for signing up for the KAL. That's great you're in Amy's class... she will really help you figure out what you need to do. Thanks for reading the blog, too... if I can help you in any way, just let me know. thanks!

  8. Julie, you're really coming up with some cool stuff! I admire your graphics skills, presentation skills, sense of humor, etc. Always a fun blog to read.

    And it looks to me like your sweater's going to be grand. You go!

  9. Awww, thanks, Shelda... always nice to hear from you, especially since you're always so nice to me. xxxooo