No such thing as too many chefs.

We should all be grateful for our honest friends; the ones who tell us hard truths, like that we have something stuck in our teeth and that puce is not a color anyone should wear. Or, in my case, that the sweater I’m kntting so confidently is not going to fit.

Knitters: I need your help.

I optimistically embarked on Sizzle for my first sweater/top project, and I’m facing a difficulty. This is what it should look like when it’s complete:


The pattern said to choose the size based on bust measurement. I measured my bust: 38 inches. Okay. I cast on 98 stitches and began. When I was about six inches into the back, my friend Sara cast a discerning eye upon it and told me, as I mentioned above, that I was knitting a tent, not a close-fitting top.

“It has darts!” I protested. “It decreases to 86 stitches at the waist!”

Ever patient, Sara pointed out that at my gauge of 5 stitches/inch, the waist of this sweater was going to be nearly 35 inches. We pulled out the tape measure and wrapped it around my middle. 28 inches.

I kvetched, but I frogged it and started again, this time with 78 stitches, decreasing to 66. Problem: the bust measurement for this size is 31 inches, which is just not going to cover the area required. Clearly, Ms. Wendy Bernard did not have my body in mind while she was writing this thing. Which is fine – I don’t really expect her to dramatically tear up her patterns, declaring “these are wrong! All wrong! They just won’t fit Uccellina!” (though I kind of like the image) – but now I need to strategize.

At 66 stitches, the narrowest point in the sweater will be 26.4 inches.

sizzle math

(First of all, really? Is this right? Because although I teach English, I am beyond awful at math. So if I’m doing this wrong, please tell me.)

(So far beyond awful, in fact, that I just noticed that my fancy equation up there could be simplified by just subtracting 31 from 38. Yup. That’s how bad I am. It’s embarrassing, really.)

On the recommendation of several people, I picked up Big Girl Knits. It has wonderful instructions on how to create short-row shaping for de boobies. I practiced it on some spare cotton, and hey! Look at that!


Extra inches of breast-space, as promised.

But . . .

How do I incorporate the short row section into a pattern that already has darts? Do the short rows interrupt the pattern, or is there some way of adjusting the pattern to do the darts and the short rows simultaneously? And what to do about the neckline shaping and armhole shaping that’s supposed to happen at approximately the same place in the pattern where the short rows need to go? Should I abandon the short rows and just increase the dart stitches more than the pattern says?


At least the back is pretty. Maybe I’ll just wear that.



20 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Celeste said,

    I’m a total newbie, but see if this link will help.

  2. 2

    Anne said,

    I would stop dart shaping early…most likely at the base of your bosom (like where an empire waist would fit in)… and begin the boob pouch created by short row shaping. Another thing might be to cast on for the number of stitches that correspond to your hips and waist for the front rather than the CO that corresponds to the bossom since you already have that part set. Maybe that is too much finagling the pattern though.

  3. 3

    uccellina said,

    Celeste – Thank you! Unfortunately, those instructions are pretty similar to the ones in Big Girl Knits. My challenge at this point is not so much figuring out how to do short rows, but how to incorporate them into a pattern that already has darts coming up the front. Please forgive me – I’m trying to ask my question without giving too much of the pattern away, as I don’t want to violate copyright.

    Anne – so do you mean ignore the dart instructions as written, and replace them entirely with short row shaping?

  4. 4

    Celeste said,

    Okay. I think your idea to ignore the darts and just do a front with short row shaping is the answer. If you sew, which unfortunately in this instance I have more experience with than knitting, it would be analagous to making curved princess seams in a vest vertically rather than making darts on the bias. You would never mix the two techniques in a given project.

    I will be hanging on to see how this experiment turns out!

  5. 5

    uccellina said,

    See, I can’t sew. Maybe that’s my problem 🙂

  6. 6

    miss kendra said,

    i think mixing the techniques is a risky idea. i would ignore the front darts and do the short row shaping.

    it’s a learning experience.

  7. 7

    MonkeyGurrl said,

    I say ask Wendy. She’s pretty approachable, and although she laments her newbie status, she’s actually kinda knowledgeable.

    Also, I *know* you were just showing off. 38″ boobies and 28″ waist. BEEEEYOTCH!!!

  8. 8

    uccellina said,

    Monkeygurrl – Huh? Wendy Bernard laments her newbie status? Quoi? Or do you mean a different Wendy?

    And I am not showing off. I have a legitimate knitting question, and I can’t very well explain it without giving my measurements. For a woman who wears the sexy tight low-cut tops to show off her bodacious ta-tas all the time, you gotta lotta nerve. 😛

  9. 9

    Nora said,

    Wow knitting sounds really complicated.

  10. 10

    Sachi said,

    I have some ideas. Because you’re well endowed like me. But I’m at work and I can’t think clearly. I just wanted to drop a line and let you know that I might be able to help but I can’t sit down with a calculator at the moment.

  11. 11

    Wendy said,

    Hey! What you can do is this:

    1. Continue with the dart shaping.
    2. When you reach the point in the piece where your lower bust starts, place markers abut 2 inches in from each side.
    3. On the next RS row, work across (and if you are still doing your dart shaping just do it as you reach the part where you need to), to your outside short row marker and on the last stitch before that marker, wrap the next stitch and turn.
    4. On the WS row, do the same with the other side. When you are one stitch from the farthest marker, wrap the next stitch and turn.
    5. Work a row or two, hiding the wraps as you encounter them.
    6. On either the next RS row, or after another couple rows, do the same maneuver, but wrap and turn about and inches worth of stitches before you reach the last wrap. For a size 38 inch bust, you could probably do this short row shaping about four times, which is about eight rows. You’ll want to hold it up as you go so you will know if you’ve done too much or too little.
    7. A tip about short-row shaping: If you do them too close together, you’ll end up with more of a pocket. If you do them a little farther apart, the slope will be nicer.

    Also, there is a good article about short rows in the this month’s Knit n’ Style. You may also look at Joan McGowan Michael’s site, White Lies Designs. There is a free tank pattern there that has short-row shaping and you can take a look at that for some inspiration and guidance. It’s also a great-looking tank for shaplier figures. Good luck!

    BTW: Sorry if the instructions are spotty. I have tint in my hair and I have to run to go get Girlfriend and I haven’t washed it out yet! Ugh! Big Hurry!

  12. 12

    uccellina said,

    ^ Proof that Wendy Bernard is THE awesome. So awesome she requires a definite article.

  13. 13

    MonkeyGurrl said,

    Hey – Maybe “newbie” wasn’t the right term, how ’bout “simply knit”? I don’t know how to ‘splain it, but she doesn’t get all complicated and stuff.

    AND didn’t I say to ask her?! ?!?!?! So I was RIGHT?!?!?!!!! 🙂

    ALSO, my boobies may be big and obvious, but my waist is nowhere near the slenderness of yours, and for THAT reason you are a beeeyotch.

  14. 14

    desiknitter said,

    What Wendy said. Do the dart shaping till the beginning of the bust, then do the short rows for the bust. Do this shaping only for the front (ha ha ha!)
    It’s a lovely colour, Uccellina, looking forward to a top-down photo of you in it!

  15. 15

    Annika said,

    Whatever you do, WRITE IT DOWN so I can do the same thing. Someday far in the future when I can afford to buy more than one ball of yarn in one go.

  16. 16

    miss kendra said,

    yes, write it down, because i want to make it too.

  17. 17

    Cheryl said,

    I can’t help you here – my crowning knitting achievement is ROUND!

    But a) thanks for the Big Girl Knits rec. I have newfound boobies that are shockingly larger than what I started with even after they have been thoroughly cleaned out by my kid. (NONE of my prepregnancy shirts fit.) So I’ll be looking forward to boobie mods on future knits that I am working up to making.

    b) what is the yarn you’re using? it’s lovely.

  18. 18

    elsewhere said,

    I never realised knitting was so mathematical. It’s putting me off. Evidently you need your own special equation.

  19. 19

    uccellina said,

    Cheryl – Olympus Shizuku, the recommended yarn for the pattern. As far as I can tell, it can only be bought on And it’s delicious.

  20. 20

    […] 2, 2007 · Filed under Knitting Once, in the throes of knitting agony, I summoned every ounce of courage I could muster, and asked for help. And you? You were there; you came through for me. And I was so grateful, I cried for days and […]

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