10 reasons why your hand knitted sweater doesn't fit


Have you ever spent weeks (or even months) working on a sweater, only to realize at completion that it doesn't fit? Here are some reasons why!

We've all done it at one point in our knitting lives: we spend ages working on something, only to have it hang funny or just not fit after we're done. It's a frustrating mistake to make, and here are 10 reasons why that might have occurred. 

1. The wrong yarn substitution

The wrong yarn substitution: oops!

It's tempting to substitute yarns, especially when the featured yarn has been discontinued or is out of our price range! It can be done successfully - just read our post on how to do it - but if you're using a pure bamboo as a substitute for a wool blend, it's not going to work out the way you want it to. 


2. The wrong size


I've made a terrible mistake: I knit the wrong size!

Not all sizes are created equal, and not every size 12 is your size 12. Maybe you made the size 12, and it's huge - or sized for a toddler. Most patterns include numerical measurements, rely on that instead!

3. You misread the pattern

Just like that scene in Friends when Rachel starts making a dessert and then reads a main course recipe, this can also happen  in knitting. Who hasn't started on the back of a jumper, only to accidentally follow the pattern for the front piece instead? Try printing out your pattern and using a highlighter to keep track, or check out an app like KnitCompanion for PDFs on your phone or tablet. 

4. You didn't measure

Admit it, you just eyeballed that sleeve length. Sometimes the sofa is too cozy, you don't know where your measuring tape got to, and besides, it looks like it's probably the right length, right? Don't be surprised when you end up with 3/4 length sleeves instead!

5. Your cast off was too tight

That cast off is too tight!


This one can be tricky: for beginner knitters, figuring out the best cast off can be a trial and error kind of situation. Every knitter has their own favorite: Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, a Russian bind off, or many others are at your fingertips to decide what's best for you and for this particular project!

6. You accidentally swapped your needles

Sleeves too tight? Did you misread your DPNs and grab the wrong size? One quarter of a millimeter difference in needle size might seem trivial, but over the course of a sleeve it adds up and can seriously affect your gauge! Add a needle gauge to your stash and avoid all future problems like this one. 

7. The pattern wasn't correct

It's unfortunate, but it can happen: when on Ravelry, check for errata in the description. If you're knitting an independently designed pattern, you can usually contact the designer. If it's from a yarn brand, you can contact them for clarification instead. 

8. You lost the pattern and carried on anyway

I lost the pattern, but kept knitting, and so no one should criticize me

You brave, brave knitting warrior. You lost the pattern and thought, "I can probably eyeball this." But you didn't remember the waist shaping or where the buttonholes should go, and now you have three armholes and a boxy shaped cardigan. Pro tip: save your patterns as PDFs so you can re-print them if you misplace your pattern! 


9. You started knitting it 10 years ago and forgot where you were

We all have the Cupboard of Shame. Projects live in there while we forget why we banished them from the Stash Kingdom in the first place, and when we rediscover them, there's no way of telling where we were in the pattern. You can either soldier on or rip it out and start over to guarantee a properly fitting jumper!

10. You didn't knit a tension square!

Knit a tension square!

I know some of you refuse to knit a tension square: be it on your own heads if something doesn't fit correctly! In all seriousness, knitting a tension square is the best way to get off on the right foot when starting a pattern. Don't believe us? Read this post.


Still need some help? Check out our jumpstart jumper knitting guide for knitting beginners.