I figured out what happened. The sweater was too snug because my gauge was off.
I thought I had gauge that was right on, but that's because I thought it was 18 stitches per 4 inches (4.25 stitches per inch), which is what I got.
It is supposed to be 16 stitches per 4 inches (4 stitches per inch). That means that I was making a sweater much smaller than what the pattern stated.
Confusing? I know, it seems it should be the other way around, doesn't it? It feels like it should be when you get more stitches per inch, then the size should be larger. NOT! Lemme put it this way - 10 inches for a 4.25 gauge = 42.5 stitches. The same size for a 4 stitches per inch = 40.0.
But that doesn't sound like too much of a difference, right? And it really doesn't make that big of a difference at 10 inches. But when you talk about something that is 46" around it's the difference between 184 stitches and 195.5 stitches, or about 4 inches smaller than it should be. For me that equals negative ease, and that's just not a pretty site on me.
So I tried a gauge swatch on a larger needle (a 10). Got gauge but I didn't like the fabric as much - preferred the way it looked on a size 9 needle. Sooo, to make things more interesting, I decided to stay with the size 9 and do a bit of math to make it fit properly and then I frogged it the rest of the way and started fresh.
I’m gonna be knitting my brains out for the rest of my life….