On The Way Up: Above the Waist of the Farmer’s Market Cardi

The story so far:
Waist decreases from hem to waist have been successfully navigated in my Farmer's Market Cardi. This week, I managed to make it halfway up the armholes!

Here is where things start to get (more) interesting. Neck decreases, bust increases, split to work back and fronts separately, armhole shaping…it's like watching coverage of the Olympics, where the networks keep switching back and forth between curling, luge, and figure skating.

But what about THE BUST?

OK, let's get real. Forget the question of did-I-steek-the-armholes-or-didn't-I. Forget the neck decreases. I have a sneaking suspicion that all anyone wants to know is did I or did I not put bust darts in my Farmer's Market Cardigan?

The answer is: I did not. I'm sorry, I know you were all probably really looking forward to a rousing discussion of Bust Darts, and adding fullness for The Girls, and all that. But I didn't Dart, for two reasons: (1) This particular sweater is designed to be a loose(ish) outer garment, not a fitted one; and (2) Given the amount of ease I am using (3") and given my bust proportions, I didn't see a need for me to use darts here.

Most outerwear cardigans won't require the insertion of bust darts, as they (the cardigans, not the darts) are designed to fit loosely and can be left unfastened for comfort. However, we little humans are not so adjustable–so how do you know if you would be better off using bust darts?

Let me ask you a few questions: Is your cup size larger than a C? When you add positive ease to a garment, do you find that it fits around your bust, but looks too large for the rest of you? Do you routinely find yourself adding 5 or more inches of ease simply to accommodate your bustline? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you may wish to consider adding bust darts to your sweaters, even a loose-fitting sweater like this one, in order to get a well-fitting garment that fits you all over, instead of in just one or two places.

In theory, and on paper, the above rules-of-thumb work out; however, as always: You're the one who knows your personal fitting challenges best. Women are not paper dolls, and we all have a lot to learn when it comes to sizing for the variability of the human bustline.

Couldn't you just add more ease? Well, of course you could. But when you add more ease, you add it all over the entire garment. Do you really need that much extra room over your back? Your shoulders? Your hips? Your waist? Maybe you do, and maybe you don't. If the only place you need more room is in the bust area, then consider bust darts–adding fabric only in the bust area–instead of adding more overall ease.

Short Rows or Vertical Increases?
For the Farmer's Market Cardigan, you could use either the classic short-row bust dart, or you could use strategically placed increases between waist and armhole. I'm not going to go over short-row bust darts, as knitty.com (where that link takes you) has done a better job of that than I could. However, since most folks are less familiar with vertical bust darts, I'll go over those briefly here.

Vertically placed bust increases

First of all: Increases for the bust should be made only in front, not equally spaced all around the circumference of the sweater. (You want room for The Girls, not room for a hockey team.) Second, in the Farmer's Market Cardi, the designer actually has dart spacing marked out for you, both in back and in front. So if you need more bust room, add additional increases from waist to armhole just before the first dart marker (left side), and just after the last dart marker (right side). Don't add increases at the back (unless you need extra room there too). What if there aren't any darts in the pattern you are using? Divide the stitches for the left front in half, then go back .25", and place a marker thereabouts. Increase just before that marker. For the right front, divide stitches in half, go forward .25", place marker, and increase just after that marker.

How many increases and how often? This is done on the same principles, and using much the same math, as the increases for the waist on the lower half. In other words: How much room do you need (inches)? Convert that to stitches based on your gauge. How many rows do you have to work the increases? Measure the distance from the end of the "work even" section at the waist to the beginning of the armhole. Convert that to rows based on your gauge. Then, divide the number of rows you have by the number of stitches you need and voila! That's how often to work the increases (every Nth row).

Further reading on bust darts
Bust dart worksheet

Whew! Now that that's settled, we can talk about steeks and other amusements next time.

Till then, I hope you find joy (as well as some really pretty yarn) on the needles. As you knit, perhaps keep a thought in mind for the fine folks of Haiti, as they are suffering terribly after this week's earthquake.

– Sandi

Have a question or some feedback? Leave a comment and let me know!

Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. You can find her blogging here on Knitting Daily every Thursday. Want more? Visit Sandi's personal blog, wiseheart knits.



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