Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sizing for Wee Ones

I've been thinking about sizes and measurements in general lately, more specifically for the little ones in our lives. One issue I hear often from knitters is that their little knitted garments don't fit. And how disappointing is that? All that time and effort spent on something that will be worn for just a moment since the child can't get real, comfortable use out of the item. This has happened to me too and I will agree, I was pretty disappointed. I had whipped up a quick little baby jacket for a baby boy who was 10 months old (and who I hadn't met yet) in the 1 year size. When I gave it to the parents, they kindly slipped it on and, surprise surprise, it barely buttoned across his belly. 

So what went wrong? As it is with knitting, there could be a number of reasons why it doesn't fit. 

#1: Gauge
That's right, I said it, gauge. I'm guilty of it too, especially with baby knits (and other small items), I don't do a guage swatch. So while I think I may be somewhere in the same vicinity of the correct gauge listed on the pattern, I probably am not. While I knit on with all good intentions, there's a good chance the finished piece will not end up being the measurments listed on the pattern. No guage swatch = probably the wrong size.

#2: Not checking pattern measurements
Most finished patterns (mine included) will include a schematic. This will show you all the intended measurments of the finished garment (assuming you got gague; see #1). So if you get your pattern and think, "My niece/nephew/grandchild/co-worker's mother's best friend's newborn is 6 months old so I will knit that size" and don't actually check what the finished size is, there is the possibility that the size will be wrong. For example, last winter D was approximately 4 months old. Assuming I made him sweaters to fit a 6 month old, he would have had zero sweaters that fit. At 4 months he was almost 20 pounds and all sweaters I made for him were the 1 year size.  Before knitting something, it's always best to get an idea of what size the little one is. If you want to keep the little garment a surprise, just bring up the baby's growth in conversation. Parents love gushing about how gigantic or petite their kids are. 

#3: Variations in sizing
I was recently looking at several sweater patterns (and have just finished a draft of the Christmas Sweater 2013), trying to decide which I'd like to make for D. As I narrow them down to a short list I check the size to see how much yarn I will need. What I've found is that sizes can vary quite drastically from pattern to pattern, designer to designer. And really no one is wrong. The Craft Yarn Council's guides on body measurments show a measurment of 20" chest circumference for a 24 month old (21" for  a 2 year old). D has a chest circumference of 22.5" (he's 14 months old). Do you see what I'm getting at?  Children grow at such drastically different rates that the averages are just that, average and drastically different. When designing, I normally add a couple of inches to the CYC's guide, and then choose to make the size that will fit D for the sample. In a recent pattern I found, the size 2-4 years had a finished chest circumference of 22". If I knit this size, there would be negative ease, and he'd look awful silly.   My point with this is, check the sizing.

Overall, if you want a well fitting piece that the kiddo can wear through at least one season, checking your gague and being concientious of sizing and the child's measurments can help. It's a few extra steps that (I think) are totally worth it.

1 comment:

  1. Great analysis on this issue that can happen.


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