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The Big Sweater Surgery

So, I put my sweater down for two weeks... and I messed it up.

"When I pick this up again, it'll be time to do the bust darts..."

...somehow turned into, "Oh, I'm picking this up just after doing the bust darts!" And that's how I ended up going all the way to the hem of my sweater without doing the bust darts at all.

The thing is, now that I know how much I desperately need bust darts, I can't go without them. I really need those extra inches in the front to keep the front hem parallel to the ground. Postscript, left, includes bust darts. I knit myself cup 2, which adds 2.25". The tee, beneath it, does not and is the villain of this story.

Since leaving it without darts wasn't an option, there were two choices. Y'all know I hate knitting in the round, especially stockinette. The idea of undoing all that fingering weight stockinette stitch only to reknit it was very, very unappealing. Instead, I decided I'd try out a new skill - cutting open the front, adding the short rows, and grafting it back closed. Would I rather spend three nights doing something I don't love? Or would I like to learn a new skill? The process of cutting, knitting, and grafting took about 3 hours, and I'm super happy with the results! The front hem is where I want it, the graft is nearly invisible, and I feel like an absolute WIZARD.

Before - see that front hem?

After - I expect this to relax just a bit more as I wear it (it's 100% cotton)

These are 'stay inside' pants, and I never thought I'd POST THEM ON THE INTERNET

I never planned to show up on the internet in soft pants that are clearly loungewear. BUT, I want y'all to be able to see my shape and how this works for me. Showing you my whole bod in these pants is literally my gift to you 😂

Not only am I sharing them with you here, but I made a video of this process and posted it on YouTube! It's fine to explain this process through photos, but trust me, the video is MUCH more helpful.

I admit - this was "scary"

I'm not going to act like this was 'just another day knitting.' There was a very good chance that my graft would look bad, or the yarn change would be noticeable - any number of things could have made this 'no longer sample worthy.'

But I put scary in quotes, because y'all, it's just knitting. In the worst-case situation, I'd be back where I started - needing to rip out to the bust line. I can take a risk like that. And maybe you can too!

I also want to say that I definitely was channeling my mama's voice, and I could practically hear her saying 'oh, just do it!' There's basically nothing she won't try and if you're hanging out with her, plan to end up believing that you, a human, can in fact do things humans are capable of doing! There's no room to be scared of knitting, of all things.

PSST - all of my sweaters since June of last year, beginning with The Ruffle Addendum, include bust darts in the pattern. If you'd like to experiment with them without, ya know, chopping into an existing project? Grab one of those!

Tips for surgery

So, maybe you're thinking about a sweater you might cut into pieces, and I'd like to encourage you to go for it! (I know several of you have sweaters that you don't wear because the fit gets a little weird somewhere between the neck and the underarms, I'm looking at you!) Here are my tips and mindset shifts - with all the experience of doing it exactly once, so take these tips with a grain of salt 😅

  1. If you're not wearing the garment because of the fit issue, do you really have anything to lose?

  2. Make your whole plan before you cut anything.

  3. Put in lifelines/rescue lines instead of planning to put your stitches onto a needle live. Do this by picking up one side of each "v"/stitch.

  4. Grafting? Don't skip the setup steps in your graft instructions (thanks, Kristina!)

  5. Knit in the direction you knit originally, or your stitches will not line up - they'll be off-center. So if you knit bottom-up, you'll need to knit bottom-up in any additional pieces you graft on.

I hope y'all are feeling brave, and that if you give this a try you'll let me know! Check out the YouTube video, and if you have questions feel free to leave them there or come back here and leave a comment - I always love to hear what you're thinking!


PS - I believe it's truly important that we create a world where ALL makers can participate in the make-your-own clothing movement. There are so many reasons why this is meaningful work - sustainability, human rights in clothing labor, giving fast fashion the middle finger, and the rich satisfaction that comes from creating clothes that make you feel more like YOU. But for knitters to be able to fully participate, we need patterns that are designed and graded to fit our bodies (in all sizes) and the tools to make them fit our unique shapes. To help bring about this vision I know you share, I'm committed to creating paywall-free educational content for knitters and designers. I'm incredibly grateful to Ko-fi supporters, who make it possible for me to do this work. If you're interested in learning more, you can check out my Ko-fi page here!

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