Something I've been wondering for a while is if you knit a swatch, and you're happy with that swatch (or you've knit a few swatches and like the tighter gauge or something) but you get more stitches per inch than the pattern calls for so you decide to knit a larger size... how do you know which larger size to make?
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Most patterns have measurements, for exactly this reason. Figure out how many stitches per inch your preferred guage is. Then measure, say, your bust. Then you can figure out how many stitches correspond to your inches, and compare to the measurements for the pattern. Does that make sense?
Ah. So, say I wanted the guage to be 6.5spi and my bust measures 32''. That'd be a total of 208 stitches, right? Then I'd use the pattern to determine which size has 208 (or close) stitches at the bust and use that size?
Don't forget to add a couple of inches to your bust measurement for ease (unless you want a really tight sweater). The amount of ease depends on the style of the sweater and how you like your clothes to fit.
One good way: Measure a sweater that fits you well and use that for your bust measurement.
Also, keep in mind that certain stitch patterns afford more ease than others. And how tight you knit. If the end fabric is knit with open stitchwork it'll drape/shape differently than st st worked snuggly. Some st patterns have very little horiz stretch, others have quite a bit. So, if you like the ease of an existing sweater, allow for whatever differences there are in the new design when calc'ing your new ease. (4" ease in one might not net you 4" in another with much diff stitch.) Hopefully your swatch will give you a sense.