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Topic: Best way to block cotton sweater and sizing issues  (Read 1674 times)
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Split Needles
« on: October 08, 2012 11:35:09 AM »

I've just knit my just first human garment - I've knit countless dog sweaters - and so I'm new to blocking. (Actually this will be my first attempt at blocking.) I've knit the Hotness Top - http://www.redheart.com/free-patterns/hotness-top - from Red Heart, but I had a few problems with it along the way. I made the small, but it is a bit too short and much too wide. There's about 3 inches of extra width at the waist. Funny thing is, it actually turned out a bit smaller than what the pattern says, but it's still a tad roomy and it's kind of unflattering. The gauge was off no matter what size needles I used so I think that may have had something to do with it. But will blocking help resize the top to fit a bit better? And what's the best way to block cotton knitwear? Steam blocking? Wet blocking? I read somewhere that cotton tends to stretch with wear, so perhaps I should have chosen a different fiber? Should I just frog it and start all over with wool yarn? I just have no idea how to go about fixing this and I really want to be able to wear it since it is my first top. Any help is greatly appreciated!
Split Needles
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2012 12:16:43 AM »

After much thought - and careful measuring - I think the pattern might have a mistake and that's the cause of all the extra width, which actually totals in about 4 extra inches! Someone please correct me if I'm wrong because the other knitters on ravelry didn't seem to encounter any problems, at least they didn't mention any in their project notes.

So the gauge for the pattern is 20 sts = 4 inches and 28 rows= 4 inches. My gauge was off, but it was 20 sts / 26 rows. So that's roughly 5 sts per inch. The pattern also states that the finished measurements are 18" for bust and 14" for waist. If so, then 5 sts x 18" = 90 sts. That seems about right since the number of cast on stitches is 89. But here's where I'm confused... If 5 sts x 14" = 70 sts, then why does the pattern say to decrease only to 79 sts? Shouldn't I decrease to about 69 sts in order to get 14" for the finished garment? When I knit this top I followed the directions and decreased to 79 sts but then the finished garment measured 16". So again, if my math is correct, 5 sts x 16" = 80 sts.

Am I wrong? I'm just really confused. I'm also not very good at math so I'm seriously second guessing myself over here. But no matter how much I try to figure out what I did wrong to gain those extra inches, I keep coming back to the same conclusion. But perhaps my row gauge being off a bit had something to do with it too? Huh
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2012 09:57:41 AM »

The waist decs may not be your actual waist measurement, they're just meant to nip in a little there instead of it being straight up and down. The 14" is for the length you knit to, not the width. Since your row gauge is off a little you should be knitting to measurement for the length, which means you might use less rows. But since it's shorter, I'm not sure what you did. You can also adjust the measurements given for the length in order to fit you. I have a short body with long arms, so I make the body shorter and the sleeves longer so they fit me the way I want.

To block a cotton item, just run it through the washer and dryer. Don't leave it in the dryer until it's bone dry, take it out when it's still a little damp and lay it flat to finish drying. You might want to pull on the length a little bit, that will take in the width somewhat too. Cotton tops also stretch lengthwise quite a bit. So do that to it, then try it on to see if it fits a little better. Before you do though, you might check your actual gauge on the sweater to see if it's still 5 sts per inch. If you relaxed a little while knitting the whole thing, it might have loosened up to 4.75 or 4 sts per inch - that can happen.

Split Needles
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2012 12:40:51 PM »

Thank you for replying! You're right, 14" is the length from armpit to the bottom.  Tongue I got confused by the diagram. I may be over thinking this whole thing. I also should have been more specific and mentioned that the length is the same as what the pattern specifies, it's just not long enough for my liking. I guess I was just hoping that if I stretched it lengthwise it would help with the width. Which you say it should. Hooray! I will try it. Thanks again for your help answering my annoying and overanalyzed questions.
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