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Dear Pat: Would you be good enough to advise me on how I might enlarge a figure for a sweater? I have a child's Mickey Mouse pattern and would like to make it large enough for an adult sweater. Thanks! - Marge, Kearny, N.J.

Dear Marge: With no more information than this, I can only assume that it is the mouse design you wish to enlarge. If this is true, the easiest way you could do this is to work the adult sweater in a different gauge.Let me give you an example of what I mean. Let's say that the figure of the mouse is 3 inches at its widest point and 5 inches from top to bottom, and your gauge for the child's sweater is six stitches and eight rows per inch. If you multiply the stitch gauge of three by the width of the design, you will see that you need 18 stitches to achieve that width. Multiply the row gauge of eight by the 5-inch height, and you'll have the number of rows (40) needed to complete the design.

What happens to the design size if you now choose a basic sweater pattern with a gauge of three stitches and four rows to the inch? Divide the 18 stitches by the stitch gauge of three, and the result is a width of 6 inches. Divide the 40 rows by the row gauge of four for a 10-inch mouse figure. Try this formula on various gauges to see the difference that each change of gauge makes.

Not having any idea of the actual size of the Mickey Mouse figure and your stitch and row gauge, I'm just playing a guessing game with these figures. However, if you will apply your true gauge and measurement figures and then test various gauges for the adult sweater using the two formulas given here, I think you will find your own answer.

The preceding letter points out the reason that gauge plays such an important part in knitting - or crocheting - to fit. Ignoring the importance of gauge results in more undersized or oversized garments than you can imagine.

When I was first beginning to knit, I was just as guilty of this as anyone. Just by luck, I achieved the correct gauge with my first two sweaters by just using the needle size mentioned in the directions. My third one, however, was planned as a surprise Christmas gift for my normal-size husband but turned out large enough to fit an NFL tackle!

Too late, I learned that my gauge did not match the one of the designer with the needle size listed in the pattern. I was working on 110 stitches for the back and the same number for the front. At the listed gauge of five stitches per inch, that would have made each piece 22 inches wide for a total chest measurement of 44 inches, which would have been just right.

But the actual chest measurement was almost 49 inches! A more experienced knitter checked my gauge and said I had worked 4 1/2 stitches to the inch. I was very skeptical that only one-half stitch per inch could possibly make that much difference until she proved it to me mathematically. A good understanding of gauge and careful checking of it is really essential for every knitter and crocheter.

Because of the large volume of mail she receives, Pat is unable to answer your letters personally. However, she welcomes all questions and hints, and will use those of general interest in the column whenever possible.

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