Thursday, May 30, 2013

knit to flatter, a sweater challenge

This spring Amy Herzog taught her Knit to Flatter class at Lion Brand Studio, NYC. I decided it would be the perfect birthday treat for myself and my twin. It is not your usual knitting class where you learn a specific technique.  Her class gives knitters the knowledge on how to choose the right design for your body shape and how to customize those designs for you. Even a non-knitter would like this class.

She took photos of us in tight fitting clothes and we figured out from our outlines whether we were top heavy, proportional or bottom heavy. We then discussed what details of a sweater would be most flattering to the different body types. She challenged everyone to make one of her designs, encouraging us to of course make changes.

I already had her book. I also had a bag of worsted weight yarn that I had won at a yarn crawl that would be perfect for a sweater. My criteria was that I wanted to use the yarn I already had and a pattern from the book. I chose the Coin Cable Cardigan. Fortunately, the only worsted weight pattern in the book also was good for my body type (proportional). Details of my project are on Ravelry. The process is below.

The first step was to swatch. I swatched in stockinette stitch and the coin cable stitch pattern.

The sweater was a bottom up, one piece design. I first knit a long band of the coin cable stitch pattern and picked up stitches along one side to knit up to the armholes.
coin cable stitch pattern bottom band

At the same time I knit both front bands using the same coin cable stitch pattern. Knitting the corner was quite fiddly and I wasn't sure I liked the way the front band fit into the corner. I was hoping it would work itself out in the blocking which it pretty much did. However, if  I were to make it again, I think I would make some adjustments at that stage.
the rows of the front band seem to be too many to fit into the stitches of the bottom band

The sweater was knit in one piece and worked up to the armholes. I adjusted the length by shortening it below the waist shaping. The waist shaping was in the back, similar to a sewing pattern, rather than the sides as most knitting patterns.
back waist shaping started
I worked the fronts and the backs separately. I placed locking stitch markers on my work to mark the decreases and increases. There are only 5 because I had to borrow some for something else. I love visual markers in my work. The waste yarn is another visual marker, placed in the row where I started to work my armhole decreases to make it easier to measure my work from the armhole to the shoulder shaping. I took note of the number of rows I worked so the back and right front could be worked to the same number of rows as the left front and therefore all match each other. Sometimes just relying on measuring knitting doesn't always match.
left front
Now the fronts and backs are completed. On the right front I used a locking stitch marker for my visual clue for measuring instead of the waste yarn. That was what was convenient for me at the time.
body completed

Now for the fun part (can you hear the sarcasm in my voice?). I knit the back neck trim, attaching it to the body as I knit it. Better than having to sew the pieces together, but quite fiddly. After blocking, I realized the back neck was quite wide. It was not enough of a problem to do it over.

back neck trim

Now for the actual fun part. I decided I wanted to work the sleeves from the top down, not the bottom up as written. The pattern called for knitting a band of the coin cable stitch pattern, picking up stitches along one side and knitting the sleeve up and sewing the sleeve into the armhole. No more coin cable stitch pattern for me (I didn't really enjoy knitting that stitch pattern). I picked up stitches around the armhole, worked short rows to shape the sleeve cap and knit the sleeve down. Sounds easy, right? I did work it a couple of times to get a smooth look to the short rows and to get a good fit. I do love working a sleeve that way however.
sleeve cap, no sewing

I also decided that I wanted 3/4 length sleeves, more flattering to me. I had to decide how to finish the sleeve and since the coin cable stitch pattern is on a background of seed stitch, I decided to finish the sleeve with seed stitch.
seed stitch trim on my 3/4 length sleeve

The knitting is finished.

The ends are woven in and the sweater is blocking. I love using a blocking board so I can easily block to the right measurements. I stuck a towel inside, but it still took 2 days to dry.

Now for the button. The hole created by the cable is the buttonhole. I love this idea. However, the existing hole dictates that a 3/4inch button be used which I think looks too small when you only have one button for the whole sweater.  Fortunately, I had the foresight to pick up a couple of buttons from Melissa Jean at  Maryland Sheep and Wool, one being oval. I think it is perfect for this sweater. In real life the color of the sweater and the button match perfectly (and I didn't have my sweater with me!).

The sweater is finally ready to wear. 
a selfie of my sweater

It was fun taking her class in person, but you can read her book , Knit to Flatter, or take her class on Craftsy and get the same information. She has a fun Fashion Friday post on her blog where she visually demonstrates her philosophy every week. You can catch her blog posts on facebook too.

Amy Herzog and me
The sweater I am wearing is my Comfy Cowl Neck Pullover pattern, which has the top down sleeve as an option. I wanted to design a sweater that would be my go to sweater, that I could just wear all the time, not a statement piece. Ironically, it fits in pretty well with Amy's philosophy.

What body shape do you think you are and what sweater details tend to look good on you?


  1. Looks great! Love the cable detailing.

  2. Thanks Holly, everyone loves the cable trim, ironically I did not enjoy knitting that particular stitch pattern. It could easily be substituted for another pattern I'm sure.

  3. How do I reach you with a question?