Saturday, May 2, 2015

Two knitting books probably not large enough for amples

Hello, my ample friends. Today I'm going to tell you about two books that may not have a sweater large enough to fit your fluffy frame - we've been down this road before, haven't we? That's the way of the world, I guess. I still think if 60+ percent of Americans are overweight or obese that 60+ percent of the knitting patterns should be sized for them, too. But, alas.

First up - Amy Herzog's latest offering, Knit Wear Love, a follow-on to her first book, Knit to Flatter. Thematically, the two books are similar in style and approach. The first book focuses on helping knitters determine their body shapes: top-heavy, bottom-heavy, and proportional. The latest book enables knitters to discover their clothing style: casual, sporty, bohemian, modern, romantic, and avant garde. My opinion: knowing how to best clothe my body shape was revolutionary and I will forever be grateful to Amy for teaching me about how to knit sweaters that make the best of my figure. Knowing my particular clothing style? Not so much.

Knit Wear Love works similarly to Amy's very useful Custom Fit software. The book presents "meta patterns" for the pullover, cardigan, vest, cowl, tunic, wrap, tank, and bolero. She then shows how to add details to make the meta pattern match the clothing styles mentioned previously.

The problem for ample knitters is that the patterns only go up to 54 inches. If your widest measurement is under this, then Knit Wear Love could work for you. If you're above 54 inches (raising my hand here), then IMHO you'd be a lot better off going to Custom Fit and buying a custom-fit pattern that's made for your measurements. Just remember to add additional ease in the Pop the Hood section unless you want a nearly skin-tight sweater. When I made my Custom Fit sweater, I added six inches in the hip. As an example of what I'm talking about, consider this Bohemian Tunic from Knit Wear Love. In my book, it's at least four inches too snug in the waist and hips. But kudos to Amy for using a real-size woman as a model.

Next up: Wanderlust - 46 Modern Knits for Bohemian Style, edited by Tanis Gray. This book was created around Cascade's Longwood yarn, a 100-percent extra fine merino superwash wool. Tanis describes the yarn as having "the lovely properties of wool without the itch and without the possibility of accidental felting." Longwood looks beauteous in the book's designs - I'd like to try it myself. Longwood, an aran weight, comes in 100-gram skeins of 191 yards in over 40 colors. It is also available in DK and sport weight.

The 46 patterns in Wanderlust are mostly scarves, cowls, shawls, hats, mittens, matching sets of mittens and hats or scarves. I'll leave you to discover those on your own since I am a sweater knitter at heart. Suffice to say there are many pretty non-sweaters you can make from this book.

Wanderlust includes are seven sweater patterns but sadly most are too small for the ample among us. The one 59.75-inch sweater is an over-sized cropped top which I'd bet 99 percent of you would never wear - I certainly wouldn't! That would even cover my mighty bustline.

My personal favorite is Amy Weaver's Lady Gansey, an updated gansey cardigan that's just perfect for my bottom-heavy frame. The Longwood yarn really shows off the pretty cables, plus I love the cabled button band - very clever. This one is definitely on my to-do list. It only goes up to 51.75 inches (grrrr) but I can manage the upsizing to make it.

So, here's the crazy thing. Lady Gansey's smallest size is a 32-inch finished bust size; it takes 5 skeins of yarn. When I make this sweater for my 60-inch finished bust size and 72-inch finished hips, I will buy a whopping 11 skeins - more than twice as much yarn. Remind me again why the knitting industry caters to skinny chicks? I just don't get it...