Fast-forward to 2013 and Amy Herzog is now a household name, at least where knitters live. Amy recently launched a truly spectacular Craftsy class, Knit to Flatter, that allows people around the world to learn in the comfort of their homes. Now she has published the accompanying "Knit to Flatter" book which offers, as the subtitle says, "The only instructions you'll ever need to knit sweaters that make you look good and feel great!" No hyperbole here.
You'll love both the class and the book. Truly. Amy helps you figure out your particular body type and then gives you concrete instructions about selecting the best sweater for your body. Her advice and approach: discover your shape, select a flattering pattern, and then knit your first sweater that really fits. The book provides 18 attractive patterns that are designed to be easy to customize for your particular shape. Amy says that after knitting a first sweater that really fits, you will then be able to apply this knowledge to almost any other garment and consistently make well-fitting sweaters that make you look your very best.
One of the things I like best about the book is that Amy uses real women with real bodies, including some larger models. I asked Amy about particular challenges and solutions related to ample knitting.
Julie: You've met a lot of knitters nationwide teaching about sweater fitting. What have you learned in particular about larger women and their bodies?
Amy: I think the most powerful thing about seeing so many larger women, and talking with them about their sweaters, is the coalescing of several facts into a whole picture. Fact one is that larger women tend not to have larger shoulders. Fact two is that the standardized measurement chart used by the fiber industry is a straight graded scale (everything gets larger together). And Fact three is that we're so hung up on size that many women assume their size is the cause of an unhappy sweater-knitter pair.
I knew all of those things before starting the workshops, and even had thoughts about how to address them (the first two by choosing a base size that fits well in the shoulders as a starting point for a successful sweater, the third by concentrating on the much-more-important shape rather than size). But really considering them all as a (powerful, terrible) unit was hugely, sadly enlightening.
Julie: What discoveries do larger women make in your classes?
First, that their size truly isn't the important factor in whether they like a sweater. It's all about that body shape and the silhouette our figures present to others.
Second, that they can in fact look great in hand-knit sweaters--the samples I bring to class are invaluable for this. For many women, it's the first time they've ever seen themselves in a properly-fitted sweater! And that's incredibly empowering.
And finally, what modifications they need to make to ensure a perfect fit.
Julie: Which are the most important sweater mods for larger women?
The single most important consideration to start with the right "base size"--one that will fit well in the shoulders. This number is often 6'' or more smaller than what the knitter would choose based on the fullest part of their bust.
After selecting a size where the sleeve cap math and shoulders work, the focus is all on the geometry of their particular body. Do they carry their weight all in front, with a more flat backside? They may knit the back and sleeves as written, focusing on making the front of the sweater wider to accommodate them. Are they perfectly proportioned and curvy, but larger? Add inches at the hip, waist, and bust--and shape, shape, shape that sweater! It sounds intimidating, but definitely makes sense once you know your body's inherent shape.
Finally, shaping is another super important modification for larger women. All women need shaping, but larger women especially--the body is much more flattered by something shapely than by something boxy. And we go into detail about how to achieve that look without resulting in a sweater that clings.
Two special offers for Knitting at Larger readers!Would you like to take Amy's Craftsy class? For a limited time, Knitting at Large readers can purchase Amy's Knit to Flatter class for only $19.99! You really should take this class. Seriously. Even experienced knitters will benefit from this terrific learning opportunity.
I'm also giving away a free copy of the Knit to Flatter book! To sign up for this contest, simply leave a comment that briefly describes your biggest sweater fitting challenge. I'll pick a winner on April 30. Good luck!