March 11, 2024 3 min read 1 Comment

Unlike swimsuits which seem to come in only two sizes (too big or too small), sweater patterns now have a size range from 28" bust to a 62" bust.  So there shouldn't be any problem getting the size that fits you perfectly, right?  

Well, sadly, having multiple sizes is a great thing, but it doesn't really address the problem most knitters face when they begin a sweater pattern:

How do I choose what size to knit???

It's the most asked question in the shop, on line, and in our membership site, Club Crazy for Ewe. Choosing the right size is confusing, especially for dropped shoulder garments that have crazy amounts of ease.   

Some patterns, like Rowan patterns, suggest a size based on your full bust measurement.  The sizes are indicated with the words to fit bust,and modern Rowan patterns also give you finished bust measurements. This format is helpful because you can just measure your full bust and then find the size where your bust fits and make that size.  You don't have to worry about how much ease you want because the designer has built in the amount of ease they want the garment to have. 

But the amount of ease you like is a very personal thing.  We're all different in how we like our clothing to fit.  

Other patterns give you finished measurements and just suggest an amount of ease, typically a range, such as 4"-6".  The idea is that you would take your full bust measurement. add the recommended number of inches of ease to that number, and knit the finished size that corresponds to your calculation. 

These are both just different ways of presenting the same information. 

How do I know how much ease is in a pattern

In a Rowan pattern, you can figure out how much ease they recommend by subtracting the finished measurement from the to fit bust numbers. 

For example, In the Luna we're doing for our upcoming Knitalong, the pattern information is shown below


Luna size info


You can see that the size to fit bust 28-30 actually measures 43.25".

43.25" minus 30" is 12.25" of ease.

43.25" minus 28" is 14.25" of ease

So the recommended ease in this pattern is between 12.25 and 14.24 inches of positive ease.

Ease of 12"-14" isn't really as much as it sounds like.  It's a dropped shoulder, so it's meant to be a little oversized and have a nice roomy fit. 

My full bust is 36", so sometimes I will size down, but for this one, I will be making the third size.  Because it's a bulky dropped shoulder, I am going with the full amount of ease.  Plus I know that I like about that much ease in this style of sweater.  

Here's a picture of me wearing another dropped shoulder sweater with 14" of ease 

Ellen wearing easy bulky one

                                                                                                                    This is Joji Locatelli's Easy Bulky One, which recommends 16" of ease. In her pattern, she gives only the following finished measurements:

Bust circumference: 46 (50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 70, 74) inches

Since my bust is 36, with a recommended 16" of ease, I would knit at 52" finished bust.  But that's in between the sizes available.  I could have chosen to go with the 50" finished bust which would have given me 14" of positive ease (2" fewer than recommended) or with the 54" which would have given me 18" of positive ease (2" more than recommended)  I ended up sizing down and going with 14" of positive ease

How did I decide? 

Here's the secret:  

Your upper bust measurement.   

My upper bust is only 34", so I knew that the garment designed to fit a 34" bust would fit me.  

That upper bust measurement takes your bustline out of the equation and gives you a measurement that can speak to your overall size without the influence of your bust. (the girls)

If you are unsure what size to make, It's always a good idea to measure your upper bust. Then go to the pattern offerings and see what the finished bust measurement would be for the size that correlates to your upper bust.  

The amount of ease you'd have for that size should still be enough to accommodate your full bust without looking too tight or too sloppy.  

I'll be chatting about this in more detail on YouTube this week. If you have specific questions, please bring them, or post them in the comments, and I'll be happy to answer.  

See you there!

how to choose what sweater size to knit youtube thumbnail featuring Rowan Luna pullover in Felted tweed aran


1 Response

Helen Nell
Helen Nell

March 12, 2024

I still don’t get this. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pattern with an upper bust measurement which
In my case would be great after having a mastectomy. In the past I’ve been content with a size large in most any top that I’ve knitted but now I find them a bit too large in the bust area for my taste but still having the necessary demension from the waist down (unfortunately)

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