I bought a wonderful pattern for a henley t-shirt for myself. The small size has a chest measurement of 38". I would like it to be more like 36…should I use a smaller gauge or reduce the stitch count??
resizing is an art.
in general the shoulders stay almost (but not exactly) the same size, and so does the neckline.
the increase are not proportional (you can’t just take 2 stitches, here, 2 there, and 2 more somewhere else (and be minus 6 stitches and 1 inch (on front or back) and change a 38 inch bust sweater into a 36 inch bust sweater.
you can try… and you might not be too unhappy with the fit…
most knits have some ease… a 34 inch (actual bust measurement of body) might wear a 38 inch (actual measurement of bust of knitting) shirt…
why not take a sweater/knit top that fits (the way you like it) and see what it actually measures? you might be surprised.
if you still want to re size the sweater–be warned–its a lot of work to do it right
What is the finished size of the pattern and is it a loose or a snug fit? You might be able to make a smaller size by looking at the number of sts given for each size, they’ll be in increments of 6, 8 or more sts difference. Then you could CO that many less than the small size and follow it, keeping in mind your stitch number is less.
You could also knit it with thinner yarn and smaller needles. Just using the yarn in the pattern and smaller needles will give you a very dense and stiff knit which may not result in a nice fitting sweater. If you do this, you need to knit up a sample of the yarn and find out how many sts/inch you’re getting with it and then multiply by the measurement you want and see if one of the sizes has a stitch number close to that. Then you can follow that size, though you would adjust for length to match the size small. If it says “knit X rows” for something, then you have to convert that into the pattern’s row gauge to find out the inches needed, then translate that into your row gauge because a smaller size yarn and needles will have more rows /inch.
There is an example of resizing a pattern here.
I think how difficult it is has a lot to do with the pattern…if it’s a boxy sweater with drop sleeves, it should be fairly easy. If it has a lot of shaping, not so easy.