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Living Large

So, as publishers realize that more and more knitters are coming in different shapes and sizes, and publishers are responding by offering books to suit every one of us.

The first time I was aware of full-figured knits (I don't know a better term for this. If someone does, puh-leese email me.) was when Big Girl Knits was published a couple of years ago. If I remember correctly, Knitsmiths bud Alison had a design in there.

Knitting Goes Large is another entry in this category. The book, by Sharon Brant, contains 20 patterns for cardigans and pullovers, shawls and shells for those among us with the curves to fill out these things. The list of designers is impressive, with Kim Hargreaves and Martin Storey among them.

[The images below were scanned by me, and not provided by the publisher.]

KnittingGoesLargeCover0113.jpg

I especially like the body-type discussion at the beginning of the book. The book uses two models, similarly sized, but with different shapes. The gist of the discussion is flattering what you have, not trying to cram your body into something that clearly isn't good for you. [Oh, how I wish I could hand out copies of these pages on the subway...]

BodyTypes0113.jpg

Might I just add that I think that the cover model's hairstyle is very flattering on her. I was almost inspired to bring this book on my most recent haircut appointment (I'm not ready, however, for a return to bangs).

I loved flipping through this book! The photography is worthy of a travel book (the location shots were done in Paris). As for the designs, Sigrid Olsen came to mind. These are easy, flowing, comfortable styles that, if properly sized for the wearer, would look good on anyone. Knitting Goes Large includes a brief section on altering your knits to get that ideal fit.

These designs aren't afraid to cover hips and butts. I like that. I am so over the cropped look. Here are my favorites.

WhiteTank0113.jpg

Simply entitled Camisole. Why do I like this? Look at the armhole height. Speaking for myself, I have this little area up there which I CANNOT seem to tone. No matter how many shoulder presses, or lifts, or pec flys, or rolls, or whatever it is that I do, it's always kinda flabby. This area defies exercise. This cami would cover that up. I would probably make the straps thicker for BSC (bra-strap coverage), because if there's one thing I know it's that knitting doesn't go large by wearing a strapless bra.

I will admit that some of the designs default toward the if-your-butt-is-big-then-cover-it-with-a-bigger-shirt fallacy. So, I think that a knitter would need to carefully consider the length and width of a project in terms of the wearer. One should do that anyway, but with some of these knits it seems especially important. There's that special line. If you hit the line, then the top will flatter. If it's a little bit higher, then hips are all that you'll see. If it's a little bit lower. then all you see is a giant tent covering your butt. [How may times can I use "butt" in this post?] A good example of this is the Lace Tunic:

BlueTunic0113.jpg

But I love the design. Perhaps I am reminded here about a blue tunic that I myself had in my early 20s. My tunic was not knit, but I did try that tunic-legging look as a slimming device.

And there are other designs that camouflage and flatter:

PurplePeplumFront0113.jpg

I love that Peplum!

PurplePeplum0113.jpg

I am a bit surprised at the quality of the schematics. Overall length and width are given, but not much else. Seems to me that a book with such an emphasis on body types and customizing knits should offer the information required to decide if a pattern will work as knit, or if it needs some changes. Information like, how deep is that V-neck? How wide is the shoulder? We don't know.

The sizes in the book begin at a 38-inch bust, and look as if they incorporate a lot of ease. Although I'm in love with these designs, the sizing is too large for this knitter. Because I don't have a lot of information with these patterns (see above) I'm not sure that I could alter them for my smaller size.

Monday Surprises

Why, you might ask, am I writing about Monday surprises on a Wednesday? When I arrived at my desk on Monday morning (after a weekend that included the Spiders' Annual Holiday Bash--good times!) a package awaited me:

CountryWeekendKnits1217.jpg

Country Weekend Knits: 25 Classic Patterns for Timeless Knitwear might be a gift for the knitter(s) on your list. It was published last month by St. Martin's Press. As promised there are 25 patterns, divided into four chapters; each chapter is a small sampler of a traditional knitting techniques from the UK and Ireland.

I like the concept. If the economy has you canceling your trip 'cross the Pond, perhaps this book will be a small consolation. The overall color palate is quite subdued, with lots of earth tones and gentle hues. One might imagine wearing these on the estate, during a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of The City.

GreenSweater1217.jpg

Yup, can't you just see me hopping fences at the country estate? No? Really? Huh.

Overall there isn't anything ground-breaking in this book. I think that's the point. The book highlights classic forms, designs, and techniques that are common in English, Scottish, and Irish knitting. These are sweaters that, if you like the designs, you could probably return to this book again and again.

There is one pattern I dearly, dearly love:

NewShell1217.jpg

It reminds me a lot of that Rowan design that was sweeping through Blogland a few years ago. I can't even remember the name. I thought that it was Butterfly, but that turns out to be something different. I don't remember the name, but I remember that the sleeves were very similar. Or, maybe it was a Rebecca pattern? Does anyone know what I am talking about?

Anyway, this brings me to a small issue. The sizing is very inconsistent. The above-mentioned sweater? I'm, apparently, too large for this design. Even the newly svelted, just-lost-15-pounds, wear-a-size-6-pant me is too large for this knit. I can understand if a designer doesn't want to calculate every size from a 24-inch to a 44-inch chest, but inclusive sizing will help you sell more books. It's part of the reason that I could never get into Rowan's publications all that much. [Although I hear that they've gotten the sizing message and started to include larger sizes. Maybe I should give them another chance.]

If your bust is larger than 34 inches (which, ahem, mine is), then you'll find that many of the patterns are too small for you. Sure, some of the patterns go up to a size 38, and the mens patterns go up to about a 40. But, if I'm buying a book, then I want a broad range of sizes that will fit all the people in my life (most especially, myself!)

Secondly, the patterns lack schematics. Show me what the sweater pieces will look like, how wide the neck opening is, and how long the armhole openings are. Is this too much to ask? I wonder if this was a layout or an editing decision. Perhaps in the race to get this out before the holidays, some corners needed to be cut.

Getting back to the positives: the thoughtful photography is definitely a plus. You see the garment artfully posed, but you also see it posed so that you can figure out what's going on. Nothing bothers me more than a pattern photograph in which you cannot fully see the item in question. There's none of that here. Kudos to the art director/photo director/person-who-figures-this-stuff-out.

Let's face it, this isn't the most fashion-forward knitting book. But sometimes you just want an old favorite to knit.

Blue Sky Friday!

This title has nothing to do with the post I am about to write. I'm simply so struck by the fact that the weather is acting normal for the first time in a week that I can't let it go by without remarking on it.

A few years ago at Knitsmiths we received a sample of a knitting loom. I think that Dava brought it in, and all of us stared at the loom quizzically.

"What does one do with a knitting loom?" we asked. Knit stuff, was the answer.

"What kinds of stuff?" we wondered. Apparently you could knit everything with the loom that one could knit with needles (although we saw no evidence of that in the materials we had in front of us).

"Really?" we replied. "How?" And then we looked at the instructions and our faces blanched. One by one we silently picked up our projects and returned to knitting the way that we knew: with needles.

Needless to say, I do not struggle with conventional needles. I like the way that they feel in my hands, the way that they gently poke my fingertips, and I like feeling the fabric grow as I loop, loop, loop my way through a cardigan, or socks, or a scarf. I find that needles fill my hands and give them something to do. Knitting, one might say, is my own personal therapy.

You can probably infer that I don't have any issues maneuvering needles and yarn. Heck, I do it standing up on the subway. Stockinette? I don't even need to look anymore.

So where am I going with this? Having exposed my personal bias, I find myself with a copy of No-Needle Knits: Loom Knitting Pattern Book by Isela Phelps. Here, at last, was the proof I sought to show me that one can, indeed, knit anything with a loom that can be knit with needles.

Loom Knitting Pattern.JPG

I don't own a loom, and I have no experience with the technique, so I can't tell if these patterns are easy to understand. From my own perspective as a needle-based knitter (or, NBK) they certainly look straightforward. In fact, I think that all of these designed could be easily converted to needle-based instructions without too much thought.

And, if I were to pick up a loom, this book has a series of instructions to get me started.

Once I figured that out, I started to peruse the patterns.

GreenSweater0523.jpg

The one thing that struck me immediately about this book is how good the photos are. Jonny Thompson, you are one heck of a photog--especially with the kids. Maybe you can take my picture someday--I bet that would be a fun photoshoot. I like how they're captured using the garments: yanking off booties, pushing up sleeves, and just generally being little kids in handknits (or, loomknits?).

BabyBooties0523.jpg

I apologize for the craptastic-ness of my photos of these photos.

So, as you can see, it's an enjoyable book to browse for ideas. For those of you who might want to try something new, a copy of No-Needle Knits and a brand-spanking new knitting loom, might just be your answer.

Now Are You Happy?

Veronik0914.jpg

Discovery

Hmm, another Monday, another Monday with Photoshop problems. What up with this?

Anyway, these days if I'm on the internet and I'm not blogging, then you can somewhat guess where I am. Thanks to the Rav, I discovered (or finally realized) that one of my very favorite knitwear designers is Véronik Avery!

Véronik uploaded a bunch of her designs to her Ravelry page. On a recent Ravelry expedition, I somehow I clicked through to there. As I scanned her photos I realized that she's the source of many of the designs that I've coveted since becoming a knitter. Coveted, but never knitted. That's another story. Over and over I thought "Oh yeah, remember that. Love that!'

Designs like this skirt:

Shocking0911.jpg
(Interweave photo, saved to my server)

I had forgotten about this skirt, and just how much I liked it. Furthermore, it's stood the test of time. I liked it when the pattern was first published, and I still like it now.

Then I noticed that she has a new book out. Oh my. Must. Have. That. Book.

[Remembers the book/yarn embargo currently in effect chez Subway Knitter QNS. *Drat* Remembers that Christmas isn't too far away. *Smile*]

But if, you know, someone in the marketing department of Stewart, Tabori and Chang, happens to read this post, and, you know, happens to have a review copy of this book lying around, I would be happy to, you know, write about it here. Just sayin'.

But if, you know, someone in the marketing department of Stewart, Tabori and Chang is reading this blog, I should act a little cooler about this. (Or at least make it seem less certain that I totally WANT THAT BOOK!) Why would any marketing type send me that book for free when they pretty much know that I (or someone else who might be shopping for me) will buy it? Indeed, there's a Borders right up Broadway from the offices of Subway Knitter. Right up the street. Mere steps...

Oh dear. How many days 'til Christmas?


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