Measure twice, order once.

I am a cautious knitter. I swatch, I read patterns all the way through. Knitting appeals to my need to plan, to organize, to do things well. But I missed one crucial measurement years ago that is still haunting today’s knitting. First, some background without crossing too far into “overshare” territory: I wear a size 36C bra.

Mistake #1: In late 2003, I got a great deal on some Classic Elite Lush to make a turtleneck. Reviewing the sizes available in the pattern, I select the medium, with a finished chest size of 36″ that takes ten skeins. I buy my ten skeins.

Mistake #2: The Ebay seller ships my order twice, and says “keep the extra ten skeins” when I offer to return the yarn – so nice! Shortly thereafter, I receive the Spring 2004 issue of Interweave Knitts, and am completely smitten with Veronik Avery’s lovely cardigan, Salt Peanuts. Coincidentally, Elann, yarn purveyor to the stars, has the specified yarn on sale. I come up with the idea to sell the extra ten skeins of Lush and buy the Salt Peanuts yarn with the proceeds. I sell the extra ten skeins of Lush.

Mistake #3: Reviewing the sizes available in the Salt Peanuts pattern, I select the 37 1/2″ finished chest size because of course, I am 36″ around, and purchase my 19 balls of Muench Bergamo – I got an extra, because you don’t want to run out.

Last week, considering the purchase of a sweater from a seller affiliated with that distinguished retailer EBay, I asked Knit One Purl Too’s fitting specialist (my husband) to measure my chest.

Have you guessed what happens next?

40 inches around. When they measure you for a bra, the measurement is around your ribcage below your breasts, not including them – why did I not remember that? Let me say that again for those of you who may not fully understand the magnitude of my blunder: The measurement does not include your breasts.

So let’s review: Unbeknownst to me, I order not enough yarn for my first sweater. I receive a second free shipment that gives me the appropriate quantity, plus some. I knit not one but two pieces of sweater #1 in the wrong size. I sell the free yarn, and buy not enough yarn for another sweater. No, I’m not kidding.

If I break the YNBA, you’ll know why. Actually, here’s what I’ve decided to do. My birthday is too far away (May) to reasonably call any pre-April yarn purchase a gift. Are you familiar with the term Shabbos Goy, a Gentile who does things on behalf of observant Jews who must keep the Sabbath as a day of rest? Should I use up all of the Lush before March 24 (God, I hope so), I will press my husband into service as Knit One, Purl Too’s yarn goy, to click the button marked “order” so I can buy two more skeins of Lush and finish my sweater. He has said he will only do this if I publicly admit that I’ve asked him to, so there you go.

Sigh; I enter into this plan with the utmost respect for both observant Jews and the YNBA. Also, no breasts were harmed in the making of this entry, though I did bang my head against the desk in frustration several times at my boneheaded stupidity.

Bonus links: A preview of Interweave knits Spring 2005 projects. And, the Red Scarf Project for a Chinese orphanage.

7 thoughts on “Measure twice, order once.

  1. abby

    Thank you SO much for posting this. I’m about to enter into sweaterland for the first time and Totally had not realized the below the breasts thing! How did I miss this??? You have helped me avoid non-fitting sweater hell, and that is, no doubt, a mitzvah!

  2. Donna

    I’d like to think so, Monica, but you could probably go either way. After all, I could choose not to finish the sweater during the YNBA and work on other stashed projects during that time – but I probably won’t. We’ll see – if I finish what I have with five days to go, I’ll wait…Have I overthought this enough yet?

  3. Sharon

    Overthinking is an understatement, but it does make for a great blog entry. Donna, sweetie, buy the two skeins and move on. Really. Lightening will not strike you. (And I agree with Monica…it comes under the category of supplementing.) Speaking of breasts, I have to share this joke, from the musical, Nunsense.
    Q: What did the nun say when her bra strap broke?
    A: My cup runneth over.

  4. Christine

    Oh dear. This makes me extra grateful that I was taught in the yarn shop how to figure out the measurements as I purchased 1400 yards of yarn for my first sweater. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  5. Sibylle

    Are you angry when I write this posting put a big smile in my face? I also nearly made this mistake. After not knitting a sweater for myself and just before knitting the Rogue I wondered about the size I should make. In Germany patterns give you the finish size of cloth, like size 36, 38 and so on or small/ medium/ big. So findig the breast circumfence as a size I was confused. Luckily I wrote an email to the designer to ask where I have to measure my breast 🙂
    I Like salt and peanuts too 🙂
    Best Regards!

  6. terri

    Don’t go too oversize, though. I measure *over* my boobs, just under the armpit. I’m 37″ there, and I like 38-39″ finished sweaters. If I measure over the boobs I’m 42″ and a 42″ sweater on me hangs like a sack.


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