Use a Schematic to Choose a Size in an Unusual Sweater
For the new spring issue of Interweave Knits, Courtney Kelly designed this cool, contemporary take on the gansey sweater. Traditionally, ganseys are fitted pullovers with drop-shoulder constructions, underarm gussets, and knit-purl texture patterns. These sweaters were worked in dense gauges with sportweight yarn, usually on size 1 needles, in order to make a wind and water-resistant garment. Courtney's design takes the motifs and underarm gussets of the type, but the silhouette is decidedly modern and the fit roomy and stylish.
The silhouette here is roomy because the underarm gussets begin low on the body (just above the ribbing) and increase significantly up to the underarm, giving the body an inverted trapezoid shape. You can see this shape clearly in the schematic from the pattern:
The unusual body shape here could make choosing a size difficult. In the pattern, we list 38 (41, 45, 48, 55)" as the finished sizes, but those are the measurements at the hem, not the bust. The full bust circumferences are 53.5 (57.5, 61.5, 66.5, 75.5)", which really aren't that helpful for choosing a size. Why? Well, for instance, the model wearing the sample garment measured around 34" at the bust, and she's wearing the smallest size (38" hem). So at the bust, she technically wears this sweater with 19-20" of positive ease. We thought listing the circumference that will lay closest to your body would be most helpful, versus the area that is designed to have great amounts of ease, so we list the hem circs as the sizes.
But you should know the final bust measurements, and you will find those in the schematic in the pattern. You'll find some other important details in the schematic: With each size, the body length becomes longer. The sleeves also become longer. You can see this garment is worked in the round–see the round circular brackets for the schematic measurements?
If you're interested in learning to read and use knitting schematics, I recently produced a series of videos on the topic:
So if you wanted to knit the Eastbound Sweater, which size should you choose? Well, if you don't already know your hip circumference, measure it. You can find some tips on measuring yourself here. I would recommend choosing a size that has 1-4" of positive ease at the hip in this design. If your bust and hip are radically different in circumference, you may need to tweak the rates of shaping in the body and try to work a different size for the upper body than you do for the hem/cast-on. Remember, you're aiming for a lot of positive ease in the bust, but anything in the range from 12-20" of ease would fit–it will just have a different look depending on how roomy the top of the sweater is. You can see from the schematic that the back neck and shoulder widths increase with each size, as do sleeve circumference and length. So if you have a wide hip area but are smaller up top, you may find yourself swimming in the sweater if you choose a size based on hip circ and don't customize the instructions.
I encourage you to examine the schematic for this pattern, and for all knitting patterns, before choosing a size or casting on. You will know best which size to knit, if you need to customize, where to customize, and then you can determine if you're up to the challenge of customizing the pattern. You're going to spend all those hours knitting–start out with a good foundation!