Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to: Waist Shaping

On the Waltham KAL board, Lisa asks, "Julie, would you share with us how you did the waist shaping? At least for this novice knitter?"

Lisa refers to the Waltham waist shaping I discussed in my previous post, where I modified the sweater sides from a rectangle to a trapezoid designed just for my particular lumpiness.

I started by knowing my target finished measurements, which are shown below. Note that these measurements are made of my body measurement plus ease of two to eight inches. (One of the great mysteries of my life is what plus-size ease should be. When I figure this out, you'll be the first to know.)

Then I figured out stitch counts using the gauge. For my Waltham, the gauge is 6 stitches per inch, so I multiplied each of the measurements by 6 to get the stitch count, and then I added 2 stitches, one for eash side, for the seam.

Then I figured out the length I had to work with. I needed a 17-inch long body with the waistline falling halfway at 8.5-inches. I also figured in the two-inch bottom ribbing and 1 inch height of the waist.

Knowing this, I could figure out the decreases. I calculated that I needed to go from 218 stitches to 164 stitches over 6.5 inches. (I got the 6.5 inches by taking the 8.5 length to the waist and subtracting the 2 inches of ribbing.)

Being incredibly math challenged, I then used Touch and Go Knitting, a great little iPad app do the math. I've sometimes used Sweater Wizard to figure out the math, but Touch and Go lets me figure out a single trapezoid without putting in every single sweater measurement. It's my own personal knitting Swiss Army Knife and I wholeheartedly endorse it for iPad users.

With Touch and Go, I entered my stitch and row gauge and then selected the waist width (27 inches or 164 stitches); the hem width (26 inches or 218 stitches), and the length (6.5 inches or 42 rows). The great little tool displayed the decreases:
  • Decrease 1 stitch each side every other row 15 times
  • Decrease 2 stitches each side every other row 6 times
  • Total stitches decreased: 54 stitches
I then used a similar approach to figure out the increases from the waistline to the bustline. Then I can go back to the pattern to knit the shoulders and neckline as prescribed.

I hope this makes sense. I wish I could explain the math to you, but I just can't. For a girl with a genius IQ, I'm pretty damn dumb, at least in the math department. But at least I can rely on great tools like Touch and Go Knitting. Thank goodness!

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