Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Laura Petrea lessons learned

It's that time again! Welcome to the Knitting at Large post mortem otherwise known as lessons learned. For the uninitiated, I do this after every sweater I finish because I inevitably learn something important along the way. My Laura Petrea (aka Amy Herzog's Petrea) is no exception. So here goes!

For God's sake, take a shower, put on some makeup, and get someone else to take pictures of you modeling your sweater!

I have nine million photos of me modeling this cardigan with four different bottoms and I hate every single one. I wish I'd gotten all dolled up and then tracked down a great photographer (read: NOT Tom) who can make me look my best in my new creation. But I couldn't wait. Hence the dreadful pictures. If I can ever manage to get better ones, you'll be the first to know.

Shorter sweaters work for me.

The main reason I made the Petrea was to test the Fit to Flatter theory that bottom-heavy women should wear sweaters that end well above their widest part. In my case, this is obviously my mighty derriere. Many skeptics and critics cried foul when I said I was making a sweater that exposed my belly - and frankly, they're right. Every day, I do at least three things: brush my teeth, walk my dog, and cover my "apron" (as my doctor delicately and ickily puts it). The following dreadful picture shows what happens when I don't cover my tummy.

Regardless of this awful photo, I really can wear shorter sweaters.  I knew I could wear this cardi with a denim skirt because I've been wearing shorter sweaters with denim skirts forever.

But I am surprised that the sweater works so well with the longer white blouse and jeans. It would be more becoming if I rolled the sleeves up to my elbows; then your eye would stop at my waist rather than at my upper hips. I also suspect the cardigan would look better if I had a darker or matching pink blouse, especially one that didn't add bunchy extra fabric underneath like this one does. A fitted blouse would be better. But it ain't bad, all things considered.

Longer sweaters work for me, too.

I like the shorter Petrea, but I'm not completely ditching the longer sweaters either. When I'm wearing jeans, I'm still going to want to cover my belly with a long cardigan. My favorite sweater of all time is my Handstrikket which is quite long but still becoming. There is another F2F option for bottom-heavy figures: the sweater should stop well below the widest part. I don't think Handstrikket makes the most of my curves, but OMG, it's comfortable and snuggly and I love it. That matters most of all.

That extra pool of fabric at the back? Move it to the front where you need it.

Let's look first at the problem. With every sweater I make, I end up with extra fabric bunching up at my back waist.

Now look at the Petrea from the side. The armscye is stretched out of shape while the fabric pools at the back. I still need a 60-inch finished bust size, but that extra fabric belongs up front with the girls and not at my back at my narrower waist.

Given this, I'm trying something new with my latest cardigan, the Under Toad. I made decreases from the hem to the waist using darts like those in the Petrea. Usually I would then add increases for my bust, but this time I knitted straight up. This shape better matches my backside.

As I'd hoped, this mod also appears to have eliminated the extra waist fabric.

Last night I casted on for the Under Toad front. My plan is to take the increases I omitted from the back and move them to the upper front so that the armscye is moved back to where it belongs. My crossback measures 17 inches, but my crossfront (for the lack of a better term) will be 19-20 inches across. I bet this works a lot better - we'll see.

Adding short rows to my hips helps eliminate the inevitable ride up.

Much to my chagrin, my sweaters always ride up in the back:

With the Petrea, I added one inch of short rows at the hips and it helped a lot. If I had to do it all over again, I'd add even more. Short rows work.

Good job on moving the lace around.

Amy's Petrea features a beautiful lace panel on the bottom hem. I love it!

But as I've said over and over again, I don't need any more attention drawn to my mighty derriere. Therefore, I put a smaller version of the lace at the back neckline (thanks Deb for the inspiration!). This turned out to be a really nice mod and a great compromise, too. I also replaced the bell sleeves with elbow-length standard sleeves, and flipped the neck lace around for the sleeve cuffs. I like it.

Frankly, I've done very little lace knitting in my crafting career, so this sweater was a bit of a challenge. But I'm very proud at how it turned out. Really beautiful if I don't say so myself.

Whew. I'm sorry this post mortem went on so long, but I learned a lot from this little venture. I really will try to get some better pictures; such a pretty sweater deserves to be modeled in style.


  1. Wow, when you talk about the lessons learned from this venture, it makes me think too. I have a big problem with pooling of fabric around the waist and a mighty back shelf as well.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! It inspires me to take a little more time and thought in my sweater-making. :) Laura looks lovely on you.

  3. What an education! MANY lessons learned and, thankfully shared.
    I LOVE the look with your black capris. A Lovely outcome of a very interesting and pretty project.

  4. I really love the outfit with the white shirt underneath, but then I've always been a bit preppy...LOL- (it's Dottie) I also think that as far as the arm thing, next time try using addiitonal in the arm side of the front or the garment... I'm a top down girl so i say increase along the outside edge on your way down, that way you don't end up with a cavern under your arm, but you go bottom up which throws me into a loop...lol - but i hope it made sense...

  5. There are a lot of things you did right with this sweater! Good idea to avoid the pooling fabric at your lower back.

    I like the white collar underneath, but maybe not the tails hanging below the sweater hem as much. I wonder if it would look even better with the white shirt tucked in?

    Agree that hem not falling at the widest point is a flattering move. Great work!

  6. I'm a little late chiming in but I really like the idea of moving some of the material from the back to the front. I'm very interested to see how it works, it totally should, on this next sweater.

  7. Well if you ever find yourself in the Knoxville, Tn area, I love to have you and your gorgeous knits in front of my camera! Even better if Knoxville happens to be showing off the fall foliage at that time. And since I'm a knitter far too terrified to attempt beautiful sweaters such as yours, maybe you can teach me a thing or two, too.