Measuring Yourself

Figure 3-1 shows the parts of the body that you need to measure before you start knitting a new garment. When you measure, follow these guidelines:

1 Use a cloth or plastic tape measure; if yours looks worn and stretched out, spring for a new one. A stretched-out tape measure won't give you an accurate measurement.

i Strip down to your skivvies, or at least wear something close fitting. Measurements taken over a winter parka won't be accurate!

1 For all horizontal measurements, try to keep the tape measure untwisted and parallel to the ground. Hold the tape measure snug to the body, but don't cinch it in.

1 For all vertical measurements, keep the tape measure perpendicular to the ground. Hold the tape measure close to your body and let it follow your curves, just as the finished garment will.

Figure 3-1:

How to measure yourself (or someone else).






Total length

How do you measure yourself accurately? You can't! You really need a friend to help you do this right. You can do pretty well with your bust, waist, and hip measurements, but just try measuring yourself from armpit to wrist or shoulder to shoulder! Find someone to help you measure honestly and accurately.

Here are some specific guidelines for measuring each area in Figure 3-1:

  • Chest: Measure around the fullest part of the chest. Remember, this measurement isn't the same number as your bra size!
  • Waist: Measure around the tummy at the narrowest point, which usually is even with the belly button. Don't hold your breath or suck in your gut (as much as you may want to!).
  • Hips: Measure around the hips at the widest point.
  • Cross back: This is the measurement from shoulder to shoulder. Often the cross back measurement is taken incorrectly across the full breadth of the shoulders including the arms. Instead, you want to measure from the shoulder joint where your arm bends (not from the edge of your arm).
  • Sleeve length to underarm: In knitting, the critical length of the sleeve is from the wrist to the underarm. The cap of the sleeve can be shaped in a variety of ways, so measure from the underarm to the wrist.
  • Back waist length: Measure from the nape of the neck to the waist. It's helpful to measure your front waist length, too. If you have a curvaceous figure, there can be a big difference between the distance from the neck to the waist in the front and in the back.
  • Total length: Measure from the top of the shoulder to where you want the garment to end, perhaps at the hip. It may be easier to take this measurement from a finished garment. See the section "Trying the 'favorite sweater' technique if you're still unsure about size" later in this chapter for more information.

Two other helpful measurements include foot length and head circumference:

  • Foot length: Put a ruler on the floor and stand on it with your heel at the zero end of the ruler. Note the number even with your longest toe. Make this measurement without shoes on, of course.
  • Head circumference: Hold a tape measure snug around the head just above the ears.

Fill in your measurements in the table on the Cheat Sheet so that you always have them ready. I include a couple of extra columns in case you knit items for your loved ones; this way, you always have their measurements handy. And remember to update the numbers from time to time, particularly if your weight has changed.

Knowing What Size You Should Knit

Compare the numbers you've written down in Table 3-2 to the numbers given for the Craft Yarn Council of America standard sizes in Table 3-1. Do you fit exactly into one of the standard size categories? Probably not. No worries, though; in the following sections, I give you guidelines for determining the size you should knit.

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