Note: This is a Pattern Support article. I am posting it here in order to help knitters who are working on my garment patterns choose their correct size. If you are knitting somebody else’s pattern you might still find this information helpful, and you are of course very welcome here. Just be aware that some references will pertain to my patterns as opposed to patterns in general.
So you bought a garment pattern, and are trying to decide which size to knit? Follow these steps!
Step 1: Find the Sizing Info, Schematic & Measurements
These will normally be at the very start of your pattern. And the main thing to understand when studying the sizes, is that the measurements provided refer to the garment and not to the wearer’s body. In other words: If Size 3 specifies a Chest Circumference (in some cases labeled Bodice Circumference) of 95cm/38”, this means that the actual sweater itself measures 95cm/38” around the chest/bodice. It does not mean, that if you have a 95cm/38” chest, this is the size to knit (unless of course you are after a fit with zero ease - but more on that in a bit).
Step 2: Measure Around Your Chest & Hips
Do this with a cloth tape measurer, and err on the generous side. Then write down these figures and keep them handy.
Step 3: Decide on How Much Ease You Want
The word ‘ease’ seems to terrify and confuse some knitters, but really this is just another way of saying: Decide on how loosely or snugly you’d like this garment to fit you. The more ease, the more relaxed the fit. The less ease, the snugger the fit. Zero ease (garment’s measurements same as your actual measurements) means a skin-tight fit!
As a very basic guideline:
For a figure-hugging fit, opt for up to 5cm/ 2” of ease.
For a standard fit, opt for 5cm/2” - 10cm/4” of ease.
For a relaxed fit, opt for no less than 10cm/ 4” of ease.
Step 4: Add the Ease to Your Relevant Measurement
Depending on the design of the specific garment you have chosen to knit (i.e. whether the Bodice is shaped or straight), my pattern will instruct you to either (A) go by your chest measurement, or (B) go by your widest measurement, which is either your chest or your hips.
To determine your size, you then add the ease you’ve decided on (see above) to this relevant measurement.
Then, referring to the Chest/Bodice measurements, choose the nearest size.
Example: Mary and the Inse Sweater
Let’s use the fictional Mary as an example. Mary measures 36” around the chest and 37” around the upper hips. Mary would like to knit Inse with approximately 2” of ease. The pattern instructs her to select a size with desired amount of ease around whichever of these two measurements is wider, so in her case the hip.
So Mary adds up 37” + 2” and the resulting number is 39”. She then refers to the Bodice measurements: Is there a size with a 39” or so Bodice? Why yes! That would be Size 4. Mary is going to knit Inse in a Size 4.
There are, of course, many nuances to size selection not covered here - in particular if your figure deviates from the so-called average proportions based on which pattern grading is done. But that is a topic for another post. The purpose of these instructions was to communicate the very basics of size selection, and I hope in that sense they have been helpful!