Sloper mods, part 1: Resizing the pattern

Sloper mods, part 1: Resizing the pattern

Today I want to talk about how to resize the Sloper sweater, which is also in some sense how to resize anything. Stitches are building blocks: The dimensions of any piece of knitted fabric are a function of [stitch size x number of stitches], plain and simple. The width or circumference of the fabric is determined by [stitch width (aka “stitch gauge”) x number of stitches]; length is determined by [stitch height (aka “row gauge) x number of rows].

• If you want a garment to be larger than the pattern size, you either need larger stitches or more of them.

• If you want a garment to be smaller than the pattern size, you either need smaller stitches or fewer of them.

Those are your two options: change the gauge or change the stitch count. Both require some math and some thoughtfulness.


Again: smaller stitches and/or rows will create a smaller sweater. Larger stitches and/or rows will create a larger sweater. Keep in mind these two things are interdependent: smaller stitches will make a fabric that’s shorter as well as narrower; larger stitches will make a fabric that’s taller as well as wider. How much smaller/larger depends on the specifics. So if you want to knit at a slightly different gauge, you’ll need to do the math to determine the outcome—

• Width/circumference: Divide the pattern’s stitch count by your stitch gauge to find out how large it will turn out. [stitch count ÷ sts per inch = width]

• Height: For any stretch of knitting that’s given as a specific number of rows, divide the row count by your row gauge to find the measurement, and adjust as needed. [row count ÷ rows per inch = height] On the other hand, for any stretch of the pattern that is given in inches instead of rows, you’ll simply knit as many rows as it takes at your gauge to reach that height.

For example, if you’re knitting Sloper at 2 stitches/inch (instead of 2.25), the pattern’s 84 stitches (42 front and 42 back) will yield a circumference of 42″ (instead of 37.5″)*, but if your row gauge is correspondingly larger, you’re changing the height at the same time, which will affect the neck depth and armhole depth. So do the math to see if you need to make adjustments there, as noted in yesterday’s post.

If you just flat out want to knit at a totally different gauge, do the math to determine how many stitches and rows it will take to meet the dimensions, and remap the placement of the shaping accordingly. (Get out your graph paper!) One fairly simple thought is that if you were to knit at 4.5 sts per inch — exactly double the pattern gauge — all of the stitch counts would likewise be doubled. But you’d need to pay attention to your row gauge, again as above — do the math and see if you’d need to make adjustments, since your row gauge is not likely to be as neatly doubled.


The more refined option — and the better one if you want to change the size more than a little — is to knit at pattern gauge but manipulate the stitch counts to affect the finished size. In this case, the stitch and row counts are not interdependent: You can add width (stitches) without adding height (rows), and vice versa.

Row counts change height

If you simply want the garment to be longer or shorter, all you need to do is add or subtract rows. The only question is where. Generally, you want to adjust rows during a work-even portion (a straight-sided stretch) of the garment.

• To change the total garment length without affecting the armhole depth, work more/fewer rows between the hem and the underarms.

• To change the armhole depth without changing the neck depth, work more/fewer rows between the underarm shaping and the neck shaping. Changing the armhole depth will change the total length, so make sure the two component lengths — cast-on-to-underarm + underarm-to-shoulder — add up to your desired total.

• To change the neck depth without changing the armhole depth, shift where the neck shaping begins (moving it up or down however many rows) while keeping the total row count from underarm to shoulders the same.

Remember to make sure your front and back armholes are the same depth, and that your side seams also match up unless you’re deliberately making an uneven hemline. But the armholes must match, no matter what.

Stitch counts change width/circumference

The sweater is two pieces — a front and a back — and whatever you do to one, you’ll also do to the other. At 2.25 sts/inch, each stitch is .44″, so that’s how much extra width you get for every stitch you add.

If you want the garment to be just a couple of inches bigger than written, adding 4 stitches — one at each edge — will give you an additional 1.8″ in total circumference, and that’s super easy to do in Sloper’s case. Simply increase the cast-on by one stitch at each edge — CO 44 sts per piece instead of 42 — and then you’ll bind off two stitches instead of one on the initial underarm BO row(s). But you do need to think about what happens to the ribbing at the side seams as a result of those extra stitches. If you’re leaving a split hem, I would just work 3 knits instead of 2 at each end, working the edge stitch as a slipped-stitch selvage. If you’re seaming all the way to the hem, though, you’d wind up with 4 knits together at the side seams instead of 2. (Note that knitting in the round to the underarms would have the same effect, since you’d retain the 4 selvage stitches that would otherwise be lost into the seam allowance at the end.)

If you need to size up any farther than that, it requires a bit more effort—

Say you want the front and back to each be 22″ across. You’d need to cast on 50 sts per piece instead of the 42 the pattern calls for. [22 inches x 2.25 per inch = 49.5, round to 50] That means you’re working with 8 extra stitches for the front and 8 extra for the back, so you need to figure out where you’ll put them.

From the cast-on edge to the underarms, all that matters is how your additional stitches factor into the ribbing. The pattern calls for 2×2 ribbing, which requires [(a multiple of 4 sts) + 2 to keep it symmetrical] — so it starts and ends with two knits. Adding 8 stitches doesn’t change anything in that regard, because you’re adding a multiple of 4. But if your new count doesn’t divide equally into that equation, you need to either round to a number that does or adjust the ribbing to something that works with your count — could be 1×1 ribbing or 3×2, or not ribbing at all but garter stitch or something else. Whatever works for you and your stitch count.

Once you reach the underarms, however, the stitch distribution requires some thought. As shown above (click to enlarge), the 42 pattern stitches are divvied up as follows:

3 underarm | 10 shoulder | 16 neck | 10 shoulder | 3 underarm

To maintain the proportions of the pattern, you’d want to add your stitches proportionally, so in our 50-stitch (8 added stitches) example, perhaps they’d get distributed like this:

4 underarm | 12 shoulder | 18 neck | 12 shoulder | 4 underarm

In this way, you can add as many stitches as you need in order to make the garment pieces as wide as you want them to be. Do the math on each section to understand how wide your adjustment means your neck, shoulders and armholes will be. As you go larger, you’ll probably want to add more to the shoulders than the neck, so the neck doesn’t get overly wide. Note that changing the neck width and/or depth might affect how many stitches you pick up for your neck treatment, so compare those numbers (under Finishing on the pattern) to see where you might need to adjust.

If you specifically want to change the neck or armhole shaping a bit, you can distribute your stitches to accomplish that, and we’ll get into that in tomorrow’s post.

MOST IMPORTANT: Remember that your front and back pieces have to match when it comes time to seam them together, so any changes you make to the front stitch count and distribution need to be repeated identically for the back.

Again, I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Link your Ravelry projects to the Sloper pattern listing, and use the hashtag #sloperKAL to share your plans and progress on Instagram in the coming weeks.


*Again, bear in mind the seam allowance. Traditionally, mattress stitch is worked such that you lose one stitch at each edge (two stitches per seam) into the seam allowance. At this gauge, some people will work into the center of each edge stitch instead, so you only lose half a stitch per edge (or a total of one stitch per seam). You can do whatever you like, but I do it the traditional way, regardless of gauge, which means 4 body stitches total disappear into the seams. But really, what you lose in seaming can also be made up for in blocking. Numbers are squishy!

PREVIOUSLY: Sloper: Basic pattern for a sleeveless sweater

14 thoughts on “Sloper mods, part 1: Resizing the pattern

  1. I am another voice from the sidelines: I am rarely sleeveless outside of my own home, and adding this extra bulk over my 47″ bust is not a happy look, but I love that you are encouraging people to take the creative leap, and I will look forward to the pictures. For me, DK is a bulky knit.

    But as I look at the schematic and plan, I am disturbed by those stair step shoulders in this heavy yarn. I hope that you are planning to discuss the use of short rows to shape shoulders, or the use of a sloped bind off so that the should line looks perfect. If I were doing this, I yould use the sloped bind off under the arms as well.

  2. Pingback: Sloper: Basic pattern (and knitalong!) for a sleeveless sweater | Fringe Association

  3. Hi Karen! I did my swatch last night (copying you with 2 strands of Kestrel held together) and I LOVE the drapiness of the fabric! Do you have any tips for making the edges nice? I find that I end up with loose stitches at the edges always and it’s super noticeable at this gauge :( Is that something blocking will fix?

    Thanks! -Helen

  4. This is so handy! I have a summer tank in mind and a cone of nubby silk yarn (maybe light DK weight?), so on the one hand it’s an entirely different garment but on the other hand the way you’ve laid things out really gives me confidence in making a simple sleeveless piece.

  5. If we’re making a split hem do we need to reduce the stitch count for the bottom ribbing (since no ribbing stitches will be absorbed into side seams)?

    • Nope! It’s designed so that if you seam it together, it works out to two knits at the side seams, and if you leave it split, you’ve got two knits at each edge. So don’t change a thing! ;)

  6. Karen this is so interesting and helpful! A real trove of information. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and knowledge. Can’t wait to see how they all turn out!

  7. This is crazy good. I’ve learned more about modifying my knits in this one post than in my previous four years of knitting. Thank you!

  8. Hey Karen, I just want to ask if the pattern needs to be larger if you have a big chest? My waist circumference is 43″ but I have a chest circumference of 50″… do I just knit it for the waist circumference until I get to where my boobs are and then increase by a few stitches? Xx

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