Adjusting the stitch count for Luce to knit with Baby Hugs Medium yarn

This week, I’m knitting with Red Heart Baby Hugs Medium – a cuddly soft acrylic that is easy to care for, and comfortable to wear.

Today, I’ll knit the Cable Sweater Dress, which is designed to use Baby Hugs Medium yarn, however, I’ll be substituting the garter stitch sections of the dress with Red Heart An Italian Story Luce, to give it some soft fluff and sparkle.

Yesterday, I made several swatches combing the two yarns and decided that I’d use the recommended needle size of US6 [4mm] for the Luce garter stitch sections. This means that I need to adjust the stitch count for these sections to make them work to the same fabric width.


When I first saw this little dress, I envisioned it in red and white, but not just any white. I saw sparkle!

This is why I chose to use Baby Hugs Lady Bug as the Red, and Luce Bianco as the White. Baby Hugs comes in white, aptly named Frosting, which would also look great and not require any stitch adjustments, but I wanted sparkle.

For complete pattern instructions, you can download the Cable Sweater Dress pattern here.

Lady Bug (red) in Baby Hugs and Bianco (sparkly white) in Luce

The Cable Sweater Dress is worked flat in four pieces and sewn together. I’m making this in a size 4, even though the little girl who will be receiving this dress for Christmas is only 2 at the moment. By the time she receives it, she will likely have outgrown size 2 clothes, so I’m choosing a size up to make sure she gets some wear out of it.

Starting with the back, the pattern calls for casting on 80 stitches and working 7 rows of garter stitch (knit every row). Since I’ll be using Luce for this section, I need to figure out how many stitches I need to cast on to ensure I achieve the same measurement.

This pattern includes a schematic with all of the relevant measurements for each size. This makes it easy to calculate the number of stitches I need. It’s just a little bit of math that can be easily done on the calculator on your phone once you know the formula.

The bottom of the dress should be 19½” wide. So the formula is the desired width, divided by 4 (gauge is measured over 4”), multiplied by the stitch gauge of the yarn.

Formula: 19½” ÷ 4” x 19 = 92 stitches

Using my US6 [4mm] needles, I cast on 92 stitches in Luce and worked 7 rows of garter stitch. Now it’s time to change to red. On the first right side row, I need to evenly reduce the number of stitches from 92 to 80. I never decrease or increase stitches on the edges as I want to leave a clean selvedge for seaming later. Therefore, I decreased 12 stitches as follows:

K7, k2tog, *(k5, k2tog), repeat from * until 6 stitches remaining, k6.

Now that I’m back to 80 stitches, I changed my needle size to US8 [5mm] to continue working in stocking stitch, as per the pattern instructions, until I reached the Bodice section. Here’s where I deviated from the pattern, just a little bit. This deviation is because of the color change.

The pattern instructs you to start the Bodice section garter stitch on the Wrong Side row. When you are doing a color change, you do not want to start with a knit row on the wrong side as it will show on the right side, and you want a clean color change. So, I left the red yarn attached but started with the white Luce with the right side facing. If you’re using circular needles (which I always use), this is easy to do – just slide the stitches across to the other side and you’re ready to go. If you’re using straight needles, this means you have to transfer the stitches across to the other needle — a little cumbersome, but doable.

Because I’m changing back to Luce for this garter stitch section, I need to increase the number of stitches to match the pattern schematics using the same formula as before.

Formula: 13” ÷ 4” x 19 = 62 stitches

Based on the size that I’m making, I currently have 54 stitches on my needles, so I need to increase 8 stitches across the first Luce row, as follows:

*K6, YO, repeat from * until 6 stitches remaining, k6.

Why am I using a yarn over to increase my stitch count, you ask? Other methods such as, kfb and M1 will pull the previous color into the increase and it will show on the right side. Since I want a clean transformation of color, I use the YO method and knit through the back loop of the yarn over on the next row. This gives me a stitch increase without a hole.

Now it’s time to change back to red, which I carried up the side as I was knitting the white. Same as before, you need to decrease the 8 stitches evenly across the first red row, and follow the pattern instructions for the remainder of the back. All the same instructions given for increasing, decreasing and color changes apply for the front piece. I also used Luce as the garter section for the sleeves, and the same formula applies.

The only other tricky part is the neckline, as I also wanted in Luce. The schematic doesn’t give you the overall measurement of the neckline so this time, I worked the formula a little differently. For the size that I’m making, I need a total of 58 stitches. So that means 58 stitches, divided by 4”, multiplied by 16.5 (gauge) equals 13”. Now I can apply the same formula as before:

Formula:  13” ÷ 4” x 19 = 62 stitches

After seaming everything together and sewing in the ends, the project is complete. And I love it!

The Cable Sweater Dress is ready for the Christmas pageant

I’m so happy with the final product and after blocking, the Luce garter stitch sections are completely aligned with the Baby Hugs body. The sparkle is perfect, and the stitch definition on the cabled bodice is beautiful. Everyone I’ve shown this to has the same reaction … OMG, it’s adorable! I’m very pleased with the Baby Hugs Medium yarn and the Cabled Sweater Dress pattern.

This was definitely worth the effort of testing and calculating the stitch count variances between the two yarns. The dress is so soft; I’m sure little Adelaide will love wearing it. The only downside is that by using Luce, the easy care laundry aspect has been replaced by hand wash and lay flat to dry. Oh well, maybe my gift to her parents will be my offer to launder the dress for them.

I hope this article was helpful in learning to substitute one yarn for another in a project. It can add so much to the finished product and turn a regular everyday pattern into something truly unique, by you.

Tomorrow, I’ll use Baby Hugs to make a hat, but this time combining a solid with a variegated yarn, using an amazingly simple technique to create an awesome effect. Join me!

This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: Knitting with Baby Hugs Medium

Go to part 4: This knit stitch looks so complicated instead is SO easy

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