Help! My Sweater Is Huge

On the right is a purchased sweater that fits me, on the left is the sweater I just knit :frowning:
I swear I swatched, in fact I did three swatches of various yarns and blocked all of them! I tried on as I was going and things seemed okay, a little big, but not big enough to fit two of me!
The shoulders and underarms are the biggest dealbreakers for me. I can live with the long length. Does anyone have any ideas of what I can do about them? Or do I just need to find a taller, bigger friend that I really like to give this to?
(It’s Brooklyn Tweed Little Wave pattern)

Your post has a number of views but no one has felt brave enough to answer yet, so I’ll take the fall. Were you here I would make you tea and sit you down before I broke the hard news. But it’s a virtual kitchen table, so let me just start by saying that it’s a really beautiful sweater. I’m sorry for your result. How discouraging this must feel.
Now some sadness:
I think the actual sweater is beyond doctoring. Felting will ruin it before it fits, and there’s no surgery to fix that wide a size gap that will preserve the details that made it worth knitting, so that’s out too.

So my suggestion is (are you sitting down?) to give it away and/or try again. If you decide to either give it away or rip to reclaim the yarn, make sure you record all the details of your finished sweater and use that to inform your choices in the re-knit. Even if you can’t face Little Wave again, how that yarn behaved is critical to your successful re-knit, regardless of the pattern. And can I ask sheepishly: Did you wash your swatch? A lot of yarns grow lengthwise and or widthwise (depending on the stitch pattern) when they get wet. The called for yarn, Shelter, is pretty stable in the blocking process in my experience. Maybe your yarn is not.

So I hope this didn’t break your spirit. I hope you try again. I hope you get it right next time. I really do. Maybe this can be your progress thread? We can all cheer you on!


Thank you for the response. I had already come to terms with the idea of giving it away. I have a few people in mind who I think would like it and that will make me very happy. I just posted here hoping for a miracle :wink: I did wash my swatches. I believe I measured myself incorrectly - and all that negative ease/positive ease stuff confuses me.
I’m channeling Kay and thinking about the fact that I love to knit and even if the result isn’t right for me - I loved making it!


phew, I’m so relieved.

Ease can be confusing, and people ask me a lot about what a sweater’s built-in ease is. I always assume “finished measurements” are the “as knit” dimensions, and its up to me to decide how much extra space I want for that particular sweater. As important as having accurate measurements are, I believe in another set of measurements: those of the garment you already own that fits you the way you want the sweater in progress to fit. If your yellow sweater reflects that, you could use that sweater’s circumferences to tell you what size to knit in your next adventure.


This may not help much, but your sweater is really beautiful. This first try didn’t work out size-wise, but your workmanship is lovely. Fine tune that gauge thing and you will be turning out masterpieces!

  1. What a beautiful sweater!
  2. Your choices, I think, are to chalk this project up to A Learning Experience and reuse all that lovely blue yarn OR give the totally gorgeous cardi to a knitworthy friend who is such a good friend they won’t feel pressured to think of something equally fabulous to give you in return. Like a kayak, or something. I mean, really, this sweater would have “gift of a lifetime” status, in my view.
  3. I think most knitters, at some point, knit one thing to completion that cannot possibly work for the intended purpose. You have now achieved this, and with flair. I admire your style!

My Little Wave is larger than anticipated too. I swatched too. I do think that once I get underway my gauge relaxes. I’m wearing mine at home and will try again with a smaller size. Gauge lies.


The sweater appears to be beautiful. I guess that whether to give it away, or not, depends on the original cost of the yarn. I have ripped out things that are not right for some reason, skeined and washed the yarn, and started over. It is nice to see a graphic of the pattern that you are knitting. Eliz Zimmerman always said, in her books, to check the gauge frequently. It is easy to knit more loosely as one gets started.

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I echo Julia’s tip about measuring a sweater you own that fits you the way you want the new sweater to fit. This is the only thing that has ever worked for me, in fact, as I, too, get confused about ease. So I make sure that the pattern tells me what the finished measurements of the sweater are going to be, and I aim for the size that most closely approximates the sweater-I-already-own. Of course, I can still mess up my gauge, or have it grow in blocking, but I find gauge much easier to control than the vagaries of ease!

This doesn’t help you with the finished sweater but someone will be delighted to get that sweater! I couldn’t bear to rip it out but you may be stronger for it than I am.


This post is timely for me as I cast on Julie Hoovers Crosby last night. I sized up ( my gauge appeared spot on) because the ease recommended is +2-4 and the model is wearing a +5 ease, which looks great on her, but every fibre of my being is telling me that it’s going to be too big now. I think this post has sealed it - I can rip it back today and lose very little.

I’m so sorry this has happened to you- the sweater is gorgeous and I am sure the lucky recipient will be thrilled. The workmanship is something you can be very proud of and maybe when the wounds have healed you might knit a smaller version for yourself.


Or you could just order a lot of pizza and drink a lot of beer/wine/emptycalorieofyourchoice until it fits.


I knit many many items twice and I never regret it. So much better to have something that fits the way you want. It’s going to take a lot less time next time because you won’t make it so big!

The great thing about knitting is that you could knit your sweater five times with the same yarn if you wanted to. As a sewer I am always aware that one mistake can ruin my fabric.

I think reknitting is an essential part of knitting stuff you like.


My gauge relaxes so much that I can’t make baby booties the same size. One is always comically bigger than the other.

I always measure and preferably try on sweaters periodically. I can’t take my gauge swatch too literally.

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Ditto here. Used the suggested yarn. Got gauge. The sweater is BIG. I cut a few inches off the sleeves and reknit the edge, which enables me to wear it with a don’t-you-love-this-gorgeous-roomy-sweater air. I think I recall that the Yarn Harlot also had issues with the sleeves.

It IS a gorgeous sweater, and pattern. I’m just not clear on the unexpected BIGness.

Nodding head about the fabric comparison. Also, lumber. An eighth of an inch off and you may have wasted a ten-foot board.


Is your sweater knit out of superwash wool yarn? Some superwash yarn has to be machine dried or it superenlarges. I had this happen to me back in the 20th century and still haven’t forgotten the horror. I laid it down flat to dry and it grew and grew and grew, just putting the sleeves out flat made them fit an MBA star.

Good luck. We have all made gauge errors. Holding the sweater up to your body as you are knitting ought to prevent this kind of thing, but sometimes even then…

After a similar horror I washed my hands (hah!) of superwash wool and haven’t looked back.

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Thanks for sharing this. I once heard that if superwash socks are washed in the machine, it’s sometimes necessary to put them in a low dryer for a few minutes before laying them flat, or they will stay embiggened from the wash. I’ve always wondered if it’s true. I mention it to people I gift socks to, just in case, but no one has confirmed or denied.

I’ve made blankets in superwash wool for teenagers (hence need to be machine washable!) They looked alarming at both the blocking stage and after the final wash, but all went back to normal in the tumbledryer!

Thanks to all for your advice and commiserations. The sweater is now in the loving hands of an old college friend, who has admired my knitting from afar. It made me very happy to give it to her.