I want her to help get me there, too! So we drove from Maryland to Maine for the class. The class started with a quasi-excruciating exercise: getting photographed. Amy took photos of each class participant so that we could analzye our particular figures. Here are mine:
As knitters, we have the ultimate power to create a piece of couture perfectly suited to our figures every single time. Your hand-knits should make you look and feel like a million bucks, and not just because of the skill required to form the stitches. I want to help you get there.
The goal is to discover your widest point and then use that information to figure out what works best to show off your particular assets. People tend to be top-heavy, bottom-heavy, or proportional; another dimension is curvy or straight. I drove all the way to Maine for Amy to tell me what I couldn't quite figure out for myself: I'm bottom-heavy, busty, and curvy. YES. That's it exactly. And looking at these pictures, I see that my mother was right: I am indeed short-waisted.
Given this, the objective is to create sweaters that balance your widest part with the rest of your body. So, what does this mean for me? Here's what Amy suggested:
Shorten my sweaters by four to six inches. WTF? Really? Hey, I need to cover my belly! I need to hide my shape! Wrong. The answer is to stop the sweater ABOVE your largest dimension (for bottom-heavy women anyway). This means that I don't need to make everything 32-inches long. Instead, my sweaters should be 26 inches long in the front and 27 inches long in the back (I need to do one inch of short rows to give me a slightly longer back so that I'm not perpetually pulling down my sweaters - see my recent short rows entry to learn more).
I wish I had better pictures to work with, but this is the best I can do. Here are two sweaters I made in the past year, the Augusta and Diamond Yoke cardigans. Note that I'm 50 pounds thinner in the green sweater than the pink. Regardless, the pink sweater definitely shows off my waistline better because it's shorter and because it's buttoned at the waist. I am lucky to have a waist and I should show it off (no matter how much this makes me cringe). And in both cases, I need to lose the baggy shirt underneath - very unbecoming. Instead, I should wear a more form-fitting shirt that's longer. The shirt and slacks should be the same color. Amy gave me this hint but only after loyal-reader Teresa said the same thing. Thanks, Teresa!
Make sweaters with elbow-length sleeves to emphasize the waist. Long sleeves that line up with the garment ribbing tend to underscore that horizontal line. The goal is to break it up. Elbow-length sleeves stop the horizontal line at my narrowest part, my waist. If I need warmer sleeves, I should wear a long-sleeve tee underneath. I'm still going to make long-sleeved sweaters from time to time, but I definitely want to make some shorter-sleeved garments. Great for hot flash sufferers, too!
Create sweaters with visual interest at the top of the garment. Having designs around the neckline and shoulders are more becoming on me than having the same designs at the hips. Therefore, round-yoke, fair isle garments look great because they balance out my top and bottom. Thank goodness since I spent all that time making the Handstrikket!
Avoid sweaters that have patterning at the bottom. This means I can't wear anything around the hem, including ribbing, lace edging, fair isle, etc. It's just not attractive on my hippy form.
Conclusions. So, where has all this left me? With a dysfunctional Melrose Peacoat, for one. On vacation, I finished the back and sleeves, but after the class I decided to gut the back. I cut the bottom of the sweater off and am reknitting it so that it will be 27 inches long instead of the 33 inches I had originally knit. I'm going to leave the long sleeves but I'm now contemplating the front. Amy thinks I should avoid the double breasted look with the overlapping heavy fabric and all the buttons. I'm thinking about either using the seed stitch center panel and making it button down the middle or knitting it as it was designed with a one-inch placket on one side so I don't have the overlap. Or perhaps just making a classic cardigan with narrow seed-stitch-bordered center fronts and being done with it. It's a muddle. I'm not sure how to proceed but I'm confident that I wouldn't be happy with the Melrose Peacoat on my particular form. A shame because I really like it.
And where does this leave you? This is what works for my particular lumpiness, but if you're not shaped exactly like me, none of this will help you. You need to figure out YOUR figure. I highly recommend Amy's Fit to Flatter series, and if you can get to Maine or Massachusetts to take her class, GO. You won't be disappointed.