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.
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.