About Woolly Wits

I am a hand-knitting designer and teacher. See and purchase my published designs on Ravelry.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wooly-Wits Reviews Interweave Knits Spring 2011 Issue

Hooray!  Finally, an issue of IK that is not dominated by crew neck sweaters!  This time around, the neck actually gets some exposure, always a good thing for those of us trying to look longer and leaner. 
V-Yoke Cardigan - Knitting Pattern
I almost love the V-Yoke Cardigan from Amy Christoffers.  It's got a lot of great features:  open v-neckline, front buttonband, long sleeves with a pointed extension to make them even longer, lovely drape, and the sweeping hem that hangs longer in the back to cover the bottom.  So, why not total adoration?  No waist shaping!  While the beautiful drape of the Firefly yarn (a new favorite at my LYS) echoes the body's curves, the pattern does not have any shaping through the torso.  This is likely because the body is constructed in one piece without side seams, so adding a curve along the torso is not easy - but it's not impossible.  Certainly, if I were making this (and I am tempted), I would challenge myself to include the shaping, and I would alter the sleeve.  While the pointed extension is certainly an attractive feature, it isn't very practical for a an active person. 

Gathered Front Tank - Knitting PatternMercedes Tarasovich-Clark's Gathered Front Tank is a neat exercise in adding what is generally a very flattering design feature in ready-to-wear to a hand knit garment.  Vertical gathers along the center front of a top are a great way to hide the horizontal tummy folds of the body underneath when executed in a lightweight knit or woven fabric.  The challenge is to make it work in hand knits which are, by nature, a heavier weight.  This piece has very clever construction and appears to be knit in a U-shape.  Unfortunately again, this construction does not allow for easy waist shaping.  It also results in folds along the side seam which might unfortunately resemble the body folds we are trying to hide underneath.   But, it gets a A for an excellent effort to translate flattering design to the knitting world. 

Swirl Crop Jacket - Knitting Pattern
The Swirl Crop Jacket by Andrea Babb  is a great piece for knitters who tend to be pear-shaped (and you are the majority of American women).  The challenge with your body is to add visual weight to your upper torso to balance the lower body.  This design does just that in a very flattering way.  The very dramatic folds draw focus to the torso, but the v-neck shaping also visually lengthens the body.  (The hot pink color chosen by the editor is also working hard to keep all attention focused right there.)  And, the sleeve length is a very good one for many women who don't want to expose their upper arms either because they are naturally come with extra padding, or they have begun to lose their fight with gravity.  This jacket also seems like it would be an awful lot to fun to knit, and that is always a huge appeal to the experienced knitter. 

Leaf and Picot CardiganA very basic sweater in a lace pattern is always a good addition to the wardrobe.  This issue offers the Leaf and Picot Cardigan by Laura Grutzeck.  We love a v-neck cardigan because the combination of open neckline and center front detail really lengthen the body, that, as a result, make it look thinner.  But, my problem here, again, is a lack of waist shaping.  I am sure it is missing because increasing and decreasing stitches in a lace pattern is a challenge.  So, the tricky knitter breaks out her needle set and adds shaping by changing needle sizes.  The first step is to measure and know where your own waist rests on your torso.  This is not necessarily where the 'waist' might once have been, but where you are now the narrowest between bust and hip.  Begin the knitting working on the recommended needle size.  About three inches before your waist, change to a needle one size smaller.  After two inches, go another size smaller.  After two more inches, go back up and size, and then two more inches on go back to the original needles.  Voila!  A flattering curve to accentuate your womanly curves achieved without interrupting the lace pattern.  In fact, because the needle size changes will condense the pattern, there might even be an optical illusion that your waist appears narrower.  How great is that?

Diminishing Gore Skirt - Knitting PatternIt's no secret I love a knitted skirt. This A-line style from Gwen Bortner is certainly a nice addition to my portfolio of choices. But, it doesn't displace my true love, Annie Modesitt's Luminaire Skirt. (See photo at right.) Like most of what Annie designs, it really is genius.

Gossamer Smocked Tunic - Knitting PatternThe last design in the magazine, and our final choice for figure flattery is the Gossamer Smocked Tunic by Shelley Gerber.  It is worked in Shibui Knits Silk Cloud, which appears to be closely related to Rowan's Crack-Silk Haze, oops, I mean Kid Silk Haze.  (The former name is what it goes by at a LYS where there are many, many addicts to this good stuff.)  The waist shaping is created by a smocked stitch, which, in a case of nearly great minds thinking alike, also appears in my design shortly to appear in the Spring/Summer issue of Vogue Knitting.  Guess smocking was in the air before the holidays.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Woolly-Wits Says Even the Great Knitters Sometimes Falter

One of my favorite blogs is The Rainey Sisters.  I love that it is primarily, but not exclusively, about knitting.  I love the sophistication and advanced technique of their projects.  But, maybe I am mostly jealous about their relationship.  I have two sisters, but for the first forty years of our relationship, I was the only knitter.  Now my baby sister (do the math - at 40+, she isn't such a baby), is also a knitter.  However, as a busy working mom of two young girls, she doesn't have a lot of time to knit.  Fortunately, she also is surrounded by knitters in her college community, so she doesn't need to look to her big sis for help.  But, I digress . . . .

Last week Susan blogged about her latest project, this fabulous sweater from Vogue Knitting: 

It has lovely details and is right on trend for the retro-80's look happening in fashion right now.  But, remember the saying that if you've lived through the fad the first time you shouldn't revisit it?  Well, here's the consequence of violating that rule: 

Susan has a great figure, but this style is doing nothing to show it to it's best advantage.  The drop shoulders only exaggerate her more narrow shoulders.  The extra fabric in the chest not only makes her look larger, but also completely disguises her womanly curves.  And, the hem is cutting right across her middle, which is not typically an area any mother wants to showcase.    The next time she reads a hand knit described as 'very wide and cropped', she needs to keep going.  Susan needs a sweater with set-in sleeves, fitted, but not not tight, through the body and ending at hip length. 

The good news is that Susan recognizes this mistake, and that she usually does make good knitting pattern choices.  It's just a shame that a poor knitting pattern choice is a waste not only of our money (in terms of yarn), but also our time, which is even more precious.  This is probably a sweater which will be worn half a dozen times out of guilt, and then shoved to the back of the closet.  (And lest I sound too self-righteous, I just did a major purge to clear out my closet of my own past poor knitting choices.)

The other good news is that knitters tend to be kind and generous people, and I bet this mis-step sweater finds its way to the 20-something to whom it really belongs.