Machine Knitting/Knitting to measure

Knitting to measure edit

Taking measurements edit


Abbreviations of measurements:

Back length
Sleeve length
Chest circumference (across the breast)
Upper chest circumference (above the breast)
½ neck + 1 shoulder
Armhole height
Upper arm circumference

Knitting to measure is simple if you knit a straight up and down sweater. In that case, it is enough to have two length measurements and two width measurements.

Length measurements edit

The back length (BL) is measured from the nape of the neck and as far down as you want the sweater to go.

The sleeve length (SL) is measured from the middle of the shoulder rounding to the underside of the wrist bones.

Width measurements edit

The chest circumference (CC) is measured just around the chest, without tightening (afterwards, you may add more or less, depending on how wide you want the sweater to be).

NS is measured from the middle of the nape of the neck to the middle of the shoulder. This is the measurement that we need in order to know how far we shall decrease for the armhole. Even if you knit a sweater where the sleeve is tacked straight on, without a sleeve cap and without rounding the armhole, you still need this measurement to be able to calculate the correct sleeve length, because the length that the sweater drops over the shoulder has to be subtracted from the sleeve length. NS may also be used as the height of the armhole.

Drawing the knitting sloper edit

Fig. 2

Before drawing the pattern, you must decide how much you will add to the measurements. Naturally, this is a question of taste, and also of whether the sweater is to be a thick sweater worn over something else, or whether it is to be worn close to the body. There is nothing wrong in knitting exactly to the measurements, for knitted work is elastic. But if, for instance, you want 1 cm free space all the way around, you add 6 - 7 cm to CC. You may also add much more. If you knit in the easiest way without rounding the armhole, you must add at least 14 cm and could well add 16 cm or more. A rule of thumb: The height of the armhole should be 2/9 of (CC + additions).

If you do not know NS, you can use 2/9 of UC without additions. 3 × (2/9 of CC) may also be used as the sweater length until the hips, to which the rib border may be added.

Figure 2: You start with marking out the back length along a vertical line; this is the middle of the backside. Then you mark out 1/4 of the chest circumference perpendicular to the back line at its bottom end, and continue until you have a rectangle. You may round the neck a little, or draw it straight. Draw the neck opening as a square measuring 1/2 NS both horizontally and vertically; that leaves space for a neckband. Elongate from the shoulder outwards with the sleeve length, which starts at the NS mark.

Normally, the upper sleeve circumference is 2 × AH, and the circumference at the wrist is = AH. But naturally this depends on how you want the sleeve to be. However, you only draw half of the circumference. Draw the underside of the sleeve as a horizontal line, and the upper side as a sloping line. These measurements agree with standard measurements where height and width fit together, but not always with personal measurements.

Although you do not decrease for the armhole, it is a good idea to mark the deepest point of the armhole with a little strand when you are knitting. Then it is much easier to tack on the sleeves.

Fig. 3

This is the simplest way to make a sweater pattern; but you can make more out of it, e.g. slant the shoulder and draw a rounded armhole. See Figure 3.

In case of knitting a ladies' sweater, you can do it a bit more exactly by using both CC and UC. First, measure the UC just under the armpits. Then you press the arms in to make the tape measure stay in place on the back side; and on the front side you pull it down over the thickest part of the breast. The difference between these two measurements is divided by two, giving you the measurement of one breast (B). When drawing the pattern of the back side, you use 1/4 of UC (including any additions). When you draw the pattern of the front side, you likewise use 1/4 of UC, but you add the width of a breast in each side. That gives you a deeper armhole on the front side, and the sweater will fit better.

Fig. 4

In figure 4, the back and the front are laid over each other.

You cannot use this method if you knit without rounding the armhole, because then the front and the back piece have to be equally wide. In that case you must make ample additions all the way around. The sleeve, too, needs more width, because it must fit with the UC.

When you have taken your measurements and decided how much you will add, you draw an outline and write the measurements on it. Next, you transform the measurements to numbers of stitches and rows according to your knitting sample as described in the knitting samples chapter. The outline in itself needs not be very exact or have the correct ratios, if only you have added the correct measurements. However, if you want it to have the correct ratios, you can draw it on chequered paper. You may let one square represent 2 cm. If the squares on the paper are 1/2 cm, you will get your pattern in 1/4 size.

Above the outline, you write whom the sweater is for, the name of the yarn, the stitch size and the stitch and row numbers per cm.

First, you mark out BL along a vertical line; and perpendicular to that, at its bottom end, you mark out 1/4 UC for the back, and 1/4 UC plus half the difference between CC and UC for the front. Having come so far, you turn again upwards at right angles. On top, the shoulder line is drawn perpendicular to the back line. Along it, you mark out NS, and from there, you turn down at right angles and mark out AH, which may be equal to NS or slightly more, if you want. At the last part of it, you round out outwards to meet the sideline. You find the neck by halving NS and use the same measurement vertically and horizontally. You may slant the shoulder line as shown in the drawing, but it is a matter of maximally 2 cm.

On the outline you draw horizontal lines where the armhole begins, where the neck begins, and where NS begins. If you start slanting the shoulder at the same time as you close the neck, then it fits with having space for a neckband of 3 cm. If you want no neck border, you must reduce the neck opening by these 3 cm in both directions, unless you want a large neck opening.

On one side of the pattern you write the cm measurements, and on the other side the row numbers. In the corners you write the needle number. A number below showing which needle number you cast on with, and a number above, at the shoulder, showing at which point (NS) the armhole is decreased, and another showing how far the neck opening goes.

Knitting a sweater in the simplest way edit

You only need four measurements:

  • Back length (BL)
  • Sleeve length (SL)
  • Chest circumference (CC)
  • ½ neck + 1 shoulder (NS)

Before you make a pattern you have to decide how much extra width you want in the sweater. If you knit in the easiest way without allowing for the armhole you had better add at least 14-16 cm to the chest circumference (CC), as referred to above.


You cast on with one of the methods described in the edges chapter.

When you reach the armhole, you decrease the number of stitches. You may bind off half of the stitches at once, and then the rest of the stitches by one at the beginning of each row. This is the simplest way. But you can round the armhole more nicely if you bind off nearly one fourth of the stitches twice, then 2 or 3 stitches for each row, and then one at a time, or perhaps at the end bind off one stitch for every 4 rows. It depends on how fine the yarn is that you are using. If it is the back you are knitting, you continue to the shoulder. You can cast off all the stitches, or you can shape the neck and shoulder in the following way:

The carriage is on the shoulder side. Put half of the needles + most of the neck into resting position and knit 1 row. Turn and push down 1 extra needle on the neck side and push e.g. 6 stitches in the resting position on the shoulder side. Turn and push 1 more needle up on the shoulder side on the way back, and 1 or 2 more on the neck side, turn and push 1 more up on the way back and 6 more on the shoulder side and 1 more on the way back. Continue in this way, and calculate so that you reach the neck point at the same time from both sides. Put back the shoulder needles and knit one row. Now you can cast off all the shoulder stitches except the last one. Release the rest of the needles and knit one row. Now the carriage is on the other shoulder side. Repeat the process in reverse. You can make the neckband now, or you can leave the neck needles until you have knitted the front. If you leave them, you can knit a few rows in another colour and drive them off with the carriage. You may press the stitches if the knitting is left for some time.

On the front side you stop at the row number you have calculated for the neck to begin. Now push half of the needles + for example 6 needles in the resting position. You cannot shape the shoulder at the same time, but only one side of the neck pushing for example 4-3-2-1 needles by the time and one more at the way back and finally only 1 needle a few times until you come to the needle you have calculated for the neck to begin on the side. Knit straight up to the shoulder and slope it in the same way as the back shoulder. You have better note how you did it, so you can do it in the same way in the other side. When you have cast off the shoulder you move the last stitch a suitable distance away from the neck and pick up stitches for the side of the neck. Knit one row the whole way to the other side, put back the row counter to the row where the neck begins, and knit the other side of the neck in the same way in reverse. When you have picked up the stitches for the side of the neck, knit one row. Now the neck is ready for a neckband.

Sleeves edit

The easiest way of knitting sleeves is to pick up stitches from the armhole and knit it from the top and downwards.

For a plain knitted sleeve, the height of the sleeve cap is 7/12 of the armhole height.

You will automatically get the right size if you do it in this way:

After having sewed the shoulder seams together, pick up the needles in the armhole of the sweater one stitch from the edge. When you have measured the upper sleeve circumference, you calculate how many stitches you have to use and which number needle in each side. You place the bottom end of the armhole on these needles. Then you pick up the needles in holding the position. At the shoulder seam you pick up one needle on each side and continue to pick up needles in the middle until the space between them is so little that you can pick up the rest of them without measuring. When you have all the needles, set the row counter and knit one row, so the needles go down. Now put half of the needles against the carriage, except for example 5, in the resting position. Pass the carriage to the other side. Push half of the needles in the other side except 5 in the resting position, and knit one row on the 10 needles in the middle. Continue knitting pushing 2 needles down in the end of each row, until you have reached a little before half way. Then you push just one needle down at the front but still 2 at the back until all the needles are down at the back. The rest of the needles in the front you push down at the same time. Now you have made the sleeve cap. Note what the row counter shows. Subtract the number of rows the row counter shows from the number of rows you calculated for the whole sleeve from the shoulder to the wrist. Say you have knitted 38 rows for the cap, and the whole sleeve length is 208 rows. 208 - 38 = 170 rows. Then you have needle 54 at each side and will increase up to needle 33, then you have to increase by 21 stitches in 170 rows. 170 / 21 = 8.1, so we increase by 1 stitch at each side for every 8th row. If you want a rib band at the wrist you subtract the length of that before you calculate how often to increase the stitches. Before you make a band at the wrist, you may increase by a few stitches dispersed through the knitting.

Remember, when you make the other sleeve, that now the front and back sides are on the opposite sides.

If you have not made rounded armholes but knitted straight up to the shoulder, and have only put a little strand where the armholes were supposed to be, you just pick up stitches between the strands and knit the sleeves from there. To get the right sleeve length you subtract the little amount from NS to the edge, because that is where the shoulder seam drops down the arm.

Knitting samples · Edges