I bought some natural-grey handspun wool in a Slovenian village and want to make a rustic pullover with a classic aran pattern out of it. The problem is that, although the wool wraps to 9 wpi (which is "worsted" on Ravelry), it knits up to 14x18 on 5 mm needles. But the patterns I find are in the 18 to 24 stitches range.

I know well that your first thought will be "change the needle size" but I don't want to do that. So the question is asking specifically about getting the pullover made at the current gauge.

I cannot just knit less stitches in the circumference of an existing pattern, because the aran patterns have narrow vertical stripes of stitch patterns which cannot be reduced well. So I will have to scale. I calculated that to make a generously-eased pullover of 100 cm circumference at my gauge, I could use a pattern which is intended to make a 55 cm chest circumference at a 24 gauge. This would be a children's pattern.

If I follow such a pattern, is there a good chance that the pullover will scale properly for me? Also, will some pattern constructions work better than others, e.g. should I avoid raglans because they give me less controll to adjust the length in the shoulder area?

P.S. Please note that this is not a question about alternative ways of getting the size I want. I am asking for answers which address specifically the questions in the title and in the last paragraph.

  • 1
    This seems to be a question about human proportions, I think? Without getting too detailed, it depends on the fit of the original design and target age and the physical build of the adult meant to wear the upscaled version. The ratios of arm lengths, shoulder widths, and trunk size. My concerns would be having the adult sized one having enough length (arms and bottom hem) and also having enough freedom of movement in the chest/shoulders. Is that the type of information you're looking for? Unfortunately, I know more about the body than I do anything textiles, so I'm not sure I can be any help
    – user24
    Oct 29, 2018 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


No, it almost certainly will not scale to fit you appropriately. But it could work with some reasonably simple adjustments.


In general, garments for babies and toddlers have shorter arms and shorter torso-length compared to the chest circumference than garments for adults. They sometimes also have a wider neck opening, and the size of the arm holes may be larger for ease of dressing and movement.

If you scale a small child's pullover up to adult size based on the chest circumference, the arms and torso will be too short. But, if you can find out from the pattern the relevant dimensions of the finished garment, you can scale it all up, then work out how much extra length is needed.

It would also be worth checking that the neck and arm hole sizes are appropriate, although if you are making a loose-fitting pullover, then these won't be as much of an issue. But different constructions will behave differently around the shoulders, as you expect. I expect that raglans and drop shoulders would be fine. I think round yokes are likely to be less easy. But the only way to really know is to do the maths!

Adding length

It would be easy to add length to the torso by adding some extra rows, although it may take some care to make sure you get whole repeats of any pattern(s).

Arms are likely to be tapered from the shoulder to the wrist. You should probably keep the same number of decreases, so you should add rows between decreases, to make the tapering appropriate for an adult.

Worked example

By comparing patterns for the same raglan pullover sized for adults:


and children:


(Note that I round to the nearest quarter inch and to the nearest 0.5 cm)

The adult size 40 has:

  • chest circumference of 40'' / 101.5 cm
  • total length 23'' / 58.5 cm
  • arm length 18.5'' / 47 cm.

The child size (12 months) has

  • chest circumference 22.75'' / 58 cm
  • total length 12'' / 30.5 cm
  • arm length 6.5'' / 16.5 cm.

If you scale the child size up to match the adults chest circumference, then you would have

  • gauge 7stitches x 9 rows per 4'' / 10 cm (very chunky!)
  • total length 21'' / 53cm (2'' / 5.5 cm / 4 rows shorter than adult)
  • arm length 11.5'' / 29 cm (7'' / 16 cm / 16 rows shorter)

So you can see that you would need to add 16 rows to the arms and 4 to the torso to match the adult size.

In your case, you could compare your scaled-up child's pattern to a different adult's pattern, or to a pullover that you own.


If your pattern gives the sizes in cm or inches, you can adjust your knitting to the given sizes. If your pattern is just given in the knitting pattern it is still possible but you may need to re-write it and you will need experience to adjust it.

When working from a child pattern you will need to check that the sizes match the adult who will need to wear it. Kids have other dimensions than adults.

In Arran knitting you can add more strips or leave out strips, or change strips from a narrow to a wider one. And where you have the few stitches between the strips you can add one or two of those to add in a bit more space, or bring them down from 5 or 4 by one or even two. You will need at least two stitches in between for most strips but you will have to try out how many more you need. Make sure you keep the changes on both sides of the front and back the same but you can get away with different changes between front and back.

Some strips are flexible in size, if the pattern in the strip is just knit and purl without going over and under, you can almost always change it in width by the number of knits and purls you repeat. Just repeat them once more or twice more, or less of course.

You can use a kid pattern for the layout of the strips but for an adult sweater you need adult sizes to make the pattern parts.

Unless you are an experienced (Arran) knitter or like to experiment, you are likely better off if you find a pattern that fits your wool, needles and the person to wear it.

  • Thank you taking the time to write an answer, but that's not what I asked. I asked specifically about knitting a child's sweater in a larger gauge. I already know all of the suggestions you made, and none will work in this case, since we are not talking about a stitch here and there, we are talking about patterns having 30% to 40% more stitches than I need.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 28, 2018 at 12:12
  • My answer does work, as you can take out strips and stitches, but as I said in my last line, you are likely best off finding a pattern that fits the yarn and needles.
    – Willeke
    Oct 28, 2018 at 12:30
  • Your last line is not applicable, because as I said, I was not able to find such patterns. Leaving out strips until I have gone from 112 to 78-ish stitches would in principle work, but it is so complicated and the result will look so unlike the original that it would be actually easier to design my own sweater from scratch than to make this kind of adjustment. And in any case, I did not ask for alternative methods, I asked very specifically for the problems which I might encounter in the method I have chosen this time.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 28, 2018 at 12:40

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