In her comment, Vera mentioned that she is often disappointed with the fit when she knits a sweater for herself. I have certainly heard that complaint from many knitters. Many knitters are afraid a sweater won't fit, or will be too hard to knit to fit, or have tried and failed to knit a sweater that fits. As a result, they never knit sweaters for themselves.
Instead they limit themselves to knitting shawls, scarves and other one-size-fits-all items. Or they knit for babies and children and often claim - "It will fit someone."
But knitting, by its very nature is a creative process. When doing something creative, why limit yourself? Especially when learning to knit something that fits is pretty darn easy.
When I worked in a yarn store, knitters would often come in with a pattern and ask "How much yarn do I need to knit this sweater?"
To narrow down the options, I would ask "Well, what size are you going to knit?"
More often than not the customer would reply" Oh, I always knit a large." Or small or medium as the case might be. Well, those terms didn't tell me much. A class about sizing was needed.
I would start each class by asking the students "Who here knits a 'Medium' when knitting a sweater for themselves?" Hands would go up.
I would then hand out a variety of patterns and ask the students one by one to state the finished bust size of the 'Medium' on their pattern.
Those dimensions would often vary by several inches.
Knit to Fit - Lesson Number One: Never chose a size based on ambiguous terms like small, medium or large. Size needs to be described in detail - inches or centimetres.
But, then of course, the knitter still needs to know which size to choose. How do we know that? We measure. Not ourselves, as many knitters think, but instead, our sweaters. Hand knit or commercially made, doesn't matter. What does matter is the style of the sweater. If you plan to knit a winter cardigan, don't measure a tank top. Find a sweater that fits the way you like, is a similar type/style to what you want to knit, then measure it.
But, where do we measure? Width/circumference is measured across the front or back of the sweater, armpit to armpit.
Whatever that width may be, double it for the circumference of your sweater After all, the sweater needs both back and front.
Length is measured from where the shoulder meets the neck trim down to the bottom of the sweater
while sleeve length is measured from where the sleeve meets the armpit to the cuff.
You now have three measurements. Stick with me over the next few days and I will tell you how to use those measurements to knit to fit.