How do I change gauge with a complex two-strand pattern?

I have a lovely (complicated) Alice Starmore pattern that uses 7 colors of two-ply fingering yarn, to be knit on Size 3 (US) needles. I have all the materials (with extra yarn for each color), along with the pattern.

However, the pattern itself is too small. The finished bust size, for example, is 43"; I’d like it to be more like 46-47".

In addition to the front, back, and sleeve pieces, there are several additional pieces that are sewn as attachments. Each piece has diamond patterning in a contrast coloring, and each piece also has a rather complicated shape.

All to say that, because of the complexity of the pattern, I can’t simply increase the number of stitches to change the size.

I generally knit fairly true to the specified gauge (including with multi-strand patterns). My thought is to use size 5 needles instead of 3’s. Does anyone have any experience with this–am I on the right track?

Welcome to Knitting Help!
Yes, going up a needle size or two will increase the size of the sweater. You’ll have to try a gauge swatch to see [I]how much[/I] it will increase the gauge and if you like the feel and drape of the knit fabric. If that works then you can always increase the lengths given in the pattern to your measurements. You may also need more yarn than the pattern calls for.
Sounds like a very intriguing design. Can you give us the name of the pattern or a link to it?

Thanks so much for such a prompt reply!

The pattern itself is from “Tudor Roses” and is called “Katherine Howard.” Here is a link showing the back cover of the book itself, which features this design: http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/0962558680/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_1?ie=UTF8&index=1.

The book itself is out of print (although I hear tell that it is being reprinted), so I borrowed a copy from a friend to get the pattern.

Since many of the yarns used in the original pattern are no longer available, I used a conversion chart that is available from Camilla Valley Farm, which explains which weights and colors from other kinds of yarn most closely correspond to the ones in the pattern. Here is the link to CVF: http://www.camillavalleyfarm.com/jamiesons/alicestarmoreyarnsubstitutes.htm.

We’ll see how it goes–I’ll post pictures along the way.

Thanks again for the reply!

I have this book and looked at the pattern. I’d do a swatch with the larger needles and do some math to see if it will be enough to make the sweater the size you like and if the fabric is what you want. If not, you may want to increase the pattern repeats and make the ‘peplum’ proportionately larger, maybe adding a stripe to each side.

It’s certainly not your average pattern, so I understand your concern with changing the size.

Hmm. The other thought that occurs to me is to add stitches in the center, and bring the downward pointing “V’s” down by that much more. I could center a pattern repeat that way, perhaps splitting it down the middle between the front halves, and centering it in the back (I’d have to look more closely at the pattern to figure out the particulars). I could add to the length enough to recreate the effect of the peplum overlaying on the under-piece. I don’t mind if the jacket as a whole ends up a little longer anyway.

Might that also work, do you think, or am I overlooking something?

An added repeat in the center back should work. You’ll still have to increase the peplums but I think that’s do-able. You’ll also have to work out the bind offs for underarms, any shaping and the neck bind off because of the added sts. And of course, the fronts will increase too at the center opening. After all this, figuring out the collar should be easy!