Question regarding sizing in patterns

I hope I’m putting this in the right place. I recently downloaded a purchased pattern to make a knitted top for my daughter. I’m having trouble trying to decide on what size I should be choosing. Can someone explain to me what it means when the pattern states (after the list of “Finished” sizes) that the “pullover shown measures 33 1/2”; modeled with 2" of positive ease."

I have never seen anything written like this before and I’m unsure if this means it’s included in that “finished” sizing. For example: if I was trying to choose a proper size for a bust of 36 what would I choose?

Thank you for your help, everyone.

You are correct an actual measurement of a 36" bust should produce a garment measuring 38" this allows room to move. If you measure a garment you have bought it should confirm this for you.


    August 1

You are correct an actual measurement of a 36" bust should produce a garment measuring 38" this allows room to move. If you measure a garment you have bought it should confirm this for you

I still don’t understand. Are they saying that the 2 in positive whatever is included in the finished measurement and assuming the bust measure is less by that amount? I’m sorry but I’m finding everything in life so confusing now. I’m getting older and showing it.

Yes you are correct. You choose the size you are 36" and the pattern takes care of the 2" positive ease.

The pattern is telling you the finished size of the actual garment. The model has a chest size of 31 1/2" so there are 2" of positive ease (a finished size of 33 1/2"). If you want the garment to fit the way it is modeled, then pick a finished size that is 2" greater than the child’s chest measurement.
For a chest size, 30", pick a finished size 32".


Thank you. That’s all I wanted to know. I guess I understand things and explain them differently but that’s what I meant. I just haven’t ever seen that worded that way before, so thank you for clarifying for me.

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It means that the actual pulloever measures 33.5" around the chest, but the model’s chest is only 31.5", so to get the look that the model has, you should choose a finished size 2 inches larger than the actual chest size, because the pullover looks best with a little extra room.

So for a 36" bust, you should work the 38" pullover (or if the pattern does have 38", then whatever the closest size to 38" inches is).

Thank you for your reply. I’m feeling rather stupid right about now.

This was a good question. Patterns are often very vague about whether the positive or negative ease is included in the measurements or not. It causes all kinds of confusion.

Oh no!! Just when I thought I got it straight and now you mention “negative ease”??? Omg! What is THAT?

Negative ease is when the finished size of the sweater is smaller than the chest size. It’s a sweater that fits more tightly.

But when would you ever see that term? I haven’t knitted much over the last few years but I had a lot of years experience before that. Is my memory that bad? Why would this even be a mention in a pattern?

Well, like the pattern linked to, when you want a more form fitting sweater. It’s often the style in vintage sweaters from the 1930s and 40s.
You may see it in camisoles like this too.

On Ravelry it’s one of the tags so you can search on it.

Well, thank you for this information. I’m thinking I might just not look at it at the moment, because my head will get even more screwed up. Right now I’m trying to figure out WHY Patons Astra is quoted in two different places with different yardage! I ordered yarn for the top I’m going to do and was substituting for another one. I was trying to get the same yardage and now it’s all screwed up. It just seems like maybe I should quit knitting.

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These things are so frustrating, I know. Sometimes for reasons of their own, manufacturer’s decide to change the way they put up the yarn. It makes it difficult to tell what’s going on.
Are completed Ravelry projects that list yardage any help?

There do seem to be differences in yardage depending on the kind of Patons Astra:

  • Solids Composition: 100% acrylic
  • Variegated Composition: 100% acrylic
  • Crystal Composition: 89% acrylic and 11% olefin
  • Solids Weight: 1.75 oz/50 g; 161 yds/147 m
  • Variegated Weight: 1.75 oz/50 g; 133 yds/122 m
  • Crystal Weight: 1.75 oz/50 g; 161 yds/147 m
    This is from JoAnn’s site.
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I’m not sure of how to check that. I seem to be thinking in circles right now, but I’ll check it out if I can. Thank you for so many replies.

Stuff like this makes my head feel like it’s gonna explode, too, so it’s not you being stupid, more like the goal posts being changed! When it comes to positive and negative ease, I only first came across the terms when I started using Ravelry. But because I don’t knit garments I never really bothered to find out what they meant :flushed:

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Well, I’m glad to hear that. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not the only one with confusion when it comes to knitting patterns.


You’re welcome :wink:

A little late to the party…don’t be discouraged; things evolve even in knitting. For sizing, take a look at www.craftyarncouncil; there are sizing charts on the site that may be helpful to you. Also, for yarn substitutions, check out; that site is helpful as well.