Knit to Flatter Review

Oh, the excitement that can only come with the arrival of a new book! Last weekend my copy of Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter arrived and boy is it pretty.

So pretty!

The photo they chose for the back cover is a bit reminiscent of a Dove ad with it’s varied body shapes in jeans and plain white t-shirts, which is not surprising as the message of the book isn’t entirely dissimilar to Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. The love your body message is carried faithfully through into the pages. Herzog isn’t interested in your size or weight, she doesn’t care about numbers. She cares about proportions. This isn’t a book about looking slimmer, it’s about choosing clothes that flatter the body you currently actually have. In fact, in some cases, the patterns are geared to widen parts of the body to balance out the figure, such as a knit skirt on a top heavy shape.

The first chapter guides you though the different shape elements you need to take into consideration when choosing a pattern, and shows you how to figure out your own shape. The following chapters break down into top heavy, bottom heavy and proportional shapes, with patterns and advice for flattering those shapes. The final chapter discusses other modifications and how to do them, such as bust darts and short row shaping. The knitting instruction is very minimal, the focus is instead on how to calculate where and how to add shaping to achieve your desired effect.

This is a really good book if you want to make more considered choices for your knitting. If you fall in love with a pattern that, in theory, shouldn’t suit your body type, there’s lots of suggestions for making alterations to make it work for you. Even the patterns in the specific body shape sections list ways to adapt it for the other shapes. My current favourite is the Delish Cardigan. The whole cardigan is in sand stitch, which is seed stitch alternated with plain knit rows. Apparently that texture “masks a thicker tummy” which sounds great to me! I have some lovely red yarn from Colourmart that would be perfect for it. (I promise, I’ll finish some projects before I cast on!)

The book is based on Herzog’s Fit to Flatter series on her blog. At the moment, you can read the whole series online, or buy a PDF download for those scary offline times, but with the publication of this book, these tutorials are set to be removed. Because of this, the biggest criticism that could be levelled at the book is that it’s asking you to buy what you could previously get for free. While I can see that argument, I think the book does a couple of things the blog posts don’t.

For starters, it’s all collected in one place, rather than having to scroll and click through a series of blog posts to get the information. You could already get the PDF collection, of course, but that was also for a price. Additionally, the specific patterns are new to this book. Personally, while I do spend most of my life online, it is nice to curl up on the sofa with the book without having to plug a laptop in.

The one thing I would have liked to see more of in the book is the last part, how to flatter the other elements of body shape. My own “problem area” is a large tummy with a small chest. The last chapter show you how to shape your knitting to accommodate a large chest, and then explains how this can be adapted to tummy or bottom shaping, but it feels a little tacked on as it only occupies literally half of the last page of the book before the abbreviations. Perhaps this part is, or will be, expanded in the online supplementary tutorials.

Despite that, this is an interesting and useful book on understanding body shape, and how to use knitting’s flexibility to your advantage. If you’re already comfortable with choosing clothes to flatter your figure, the patterns might not be enough incentive, but for a lot of women, including (especially!) me, the advice in the book is invaluable.

 

Fibre Flowers for my Favourite Friend

Stew (co-author of this blog) got married this month as she mentioned in her last post. I had promised her long ago that I would knit her bouquet. But as the wedding preparations began in earnest I was incredibly busy with my PhD and had to  tell Stew I couldn’t do it. I’m not sure quite what happened but somehow after my major deadline in late January, with another looming on the horizon, I managed to knit two shawls for the bridesmaids and the bride’s bouquet. Thanks to some great friends and family.In a fit of whimsy, seeing the perfect yarn in the LYS for the flowers and shawls, I bought the yarn and got started. Unfortunately the hard cotton really hurt my wrist so I had to pause the flower making. I kept chipping away at the shawl knitting though. Knitting a row or two in my study breaks. With one week to go I had one shawl knit, one still on the needles and a bare handful of flowers and leaves. The shawl still needed the border knit and to be blocked and dry for flying. Pitying my plight as they saw my frantic shawl knitting at the UCD knit group, these wonderful generous knitters stepped in and offered to knit some flowers. We met up the day before I flew and everyone had a flower or two to offer. Most of them were patterns from `100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet’ by Lesley Stanfield, a Christmas gift from my lovely sister in law. With only a few hours left before flying I had to figure how to put it all together. Eep!

I went to my parents to borrow florist wire. Several hours later, in the wee hours of the morning a creation emerged. My mum had taken charge. She directed my dad to acquire and create supplies – everything from sawing a hard plastic tube and drilling holes in it, to requisitioning a hand-grip from my badminton-mad brother. I stitched and finished the flowers already made. Mum patiently, artistically and ever-so-speedily sewed the existing flowers onto a chamois sponge sturdily attached to the tube. Dad took over the leaves- lining them with wire and making ribbon-leaves under mum’s direction. Meanwhile I crocheted flowers for all I was worth – finishing each one just as it was needed for sewing on!


I had great fun travelling with the flowers. They needed to be carried by hand and elicited much comment – and even free drinks! Thankfully they seemed to go down well and added a pop of colour to the wedding. The lovely pictures are due to the talented Evin O’Keefe of www.evinok.net

 

WIPs, I did it again

For my very first post, I did a public shaming assessment of my WIP pile. At the time, I had 15 projects on the go, but that was September. A lot has changed since then. Right?

A vest: Done.

2. Socks: Done (and well loved).

3. Socks, again: Done.

4. Gloves: Mostly done. I have ends to weave in, and I have to pick some matching ribbon.

5. Shawl 1.0: Done, just in time.

6. Shawl 2.0: Still WIP.

7. Shawl 3.0: Still WIP.

8. Shawl 4.0: Frogged.

9. Shawl 5.0: Still WIP.

10. Shawl 6.0: Still WIP (I really must figure out which needles I need).

11. Shawl 7.0: Sitting on my desk at work, so still a WIP

12. Dishcloth: Done.

13. Master Level 1: WIP, I’ve sent off for the updated instructions so I can get back into this.

14. Scarf: Frogged.

15. Mittens: Still WIP.

So two frogged, six finished and seven still occupying the needles.

Of course, one or two projects may have slipped in as we went along. A hat, or three. Some hair accessories. A couple of small shawls. Some fingerless gloves.

But at least I didn’t cast on another pair of socks.

Or worse, something huge, like another evenstar shawl.

Because that would be silly.

 

This was originally written two weeks ago, but I never got around to posting it. Since then I have held a workshop, been married, ripped back and restarted the green sock and cast on a Color Affection, but that’s all for another blog post.