Monday, February 28, 2011

Hour-glass shaping for the overample

Well, by all accounts, Lisa Shroyer's Knitting Plus is a big hit (pun intended). If you haven't bought your copy yet, run to your LYS, bookseller, or Amazon. This fantastic offering belongs on your bookshelf right next to the Big Girl Knits books and the Curvy Knits ones, too.

As you know, I'm fascinated - nay, obsessed - with learning how to make a sweater that fits. Lisa Shroyer chocked her book with technical information about sweater mods for the larger figure. I wasn't ten pages into the book until I got the first invaluable tip: "In a garment with waist shaping, the full bust girth must be reached before the armholes-preferably with a few inches worked even before the first underarm bind-off." Uh oh.

I'm in the middle of my Early Bird Special cardigan - and I mean literally in the middle. I'm working on the hour-glass-shaped back. My original plan: employ standard waist shaping as provided by Sweater Wizard, doing decreases from the hips to the waistline, then knitting an inch at the waistline, and then adding an equal number of increases to the armholes. Sounds right, yes?

Wrong. What I need to do instead is decrease to the waistline, then rapidly increase to the full bust measurement, and then knit straight up to the armholes. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. My body doesn't gently expand to my breasts. Instead it goes from my narrower waist to BOOM! BOOBS!

Lisa also goes on to say that it's important with hour-glass shaping to make sure that the angles mirror the body, noting that the hip and bust measurement need not be the same. I've been contemplating this very point. My hips are larger than my bust, so I'm going to do fewer increases past the waist to match my bust measurement (plus ease).

Sadly, this means I've got to rip out about six inches back to the waistline. But better to rip than to make a sweater that doesn't fit. My belief: if you can't frog erroneous stitches, you shouldn't be knitting at all. The truth is you can't knit anything good if you're unwilling to unknit the bad.

I'm glad Knitting Plus shipped in February; if the book had come in March as I anticipated, I'd have the entire sweater done and would sitting here wondering why it didn't quite fit. The chance of a well-fitting Early Bird just increased significantly - and a well-fitting Waltham, too, since I'm going to use the same shaping on that project.


  1. Very interesting point! Probably it also depends on how high (or low) your breasts "sit" with respect to your waist. Seems to change with time ;)

    I'm glad you got this info early, as you said! It'd be useful as an object lesson to see one sweater done one way, one the other, but it'd be even better to have both fit you!

  2. Aaah! That would have implications for me too who have buts and waist measurements that are the same but then my hips are larger. A little replanning is in order!
    We saw a wonderful example of the ample hourglass shape on the Academy Awards last evening. Oprah has joined the Dolly Parton body shaping craze!!!

  3. ack! I had to go look up that Oprah dress since I didn't watch last night... I'm afraid of looking like an overstuffed Victorian strumpet and I'm lots bigger than Oprah. Not sure about that look... hopefully my sweaters will be a lot more subdued.

  4. I absolutely love that frog. Is that your own original pattern? I know you are an improvising genius, even at composing your blogs! Thanks for all the information you provide for the large but not fru fru of us.

  5. No, no, the frog isn't mine... my worst memory from junior high was dissecting the frog. Thank God for Gordon Reid (RIP) who willingly took on the task for me.

    The frog design is called Biology 101 and is available for download online:

    Thanks for the kind words about the blog... glad to hear I'm not just talking to myself!