Thursday, February 19, 2009

Knitting for the Curvy Girl (plus sizes).

Knitting for plus sizes can be a daunting task. Primarily because most knitwear designers are not plus sized and there for have difficulties designing patterns that fit a plus sized woman correctly. Frequently plus sized knitwear patterns are just up-sized all over, and that rarely fits us curvy girls well. After all, just because we might be fleshier through the torso, doesn't mean that our shoulders are wider or that our arms are longer. I also frequently find that a pattern that has been increased for a plus size, will be wider (larger around), but no length has been added. Clearly there is a lack of understanding the plus sized body by those doing the designing (for the most part).

As a plus sized clothing designer, I have tried to apply what I know about designing clothing for plus and supersized women to my plus sized knitwear. Adding a few show rows thru the bust in a sweater can give you some extra room for an ample bosom. Shaping thru the waist and adding stitches thru the hips can make a sweater accentuate those curves! And I always add a little extra length! Plus sized sweaters are never long enough. But the bottom line is we generally have to do a lot of resizing patterns to get them to fit.

There are a few exceptions in some great knitting pattern books released over the last few years. Two of the most popular are
Big Girl Knits, and More Big Girl Knits. These books won't tell you that they will make you look "skinny", but that their patterns will make you look GOOD! The styles in these books are not about making Kate Moss fashions big; they are about making great knit fashions for big girls. Rather than covering up your curves with boxy, shapeless sweaters (that flatter no one), Big Girl Knits works with the shape of your body. The designs will camouflage what you are not happy with on your body and flatter what you love.

I didn't love every pattern in these books, but the books are of great value in that they give you a lot of good information on how to shape and alter patterns to fit your specific body shape. Some of the styles that were not a hit for me, will surely please the fashion-adventuresome, and of course not all patterns suit all body types. The good thing about these books as a whole is that they are not boring vanilla, and seem to excite the young knitters that are revitalizing the craft.

Over the last couple of years I've been knitting more and more and have enjoyed making some fabulous sweaters for my family. Particularly my plus sized daughter, Rachael. Rachael is a size 22 that is 5'10.5" - so not only do I need to make adjustments in patterns for size, but also her height. Here are a couple of sweaters that I recently made for her that have worked quite well for plus sizes. The first is a cute, light weight "Tee" style sweater that I found the pattern for on The pattern is called Bad Penny, and here is what the sweater looks like from Knitty (left). And here (right) is my finished version for my daughter in colors that suit her much better. This was a very easy knit, and as with all patterns that you knit "top down", is easy to adjust as you go along.

This next sweater that I made for her comes from , and is called the Simple Knitted Bodice. It has great waist shaping, and as the other sweater I made for her is a "top down" raglan sleeved sweater. They do have instructions for sizes up to a 3X, so I have no problem in making it in her size, but as mentioned before I still ended up adding some shaping changes to the pattern so it would fit her body more correctly. Here is the picture (left) of the StitchDiva model (in a very small size), and my finished sweater for my daughter in her size 22 (2x) (right).

If you are a plus size knitter, I also recommend you join
Ravelry. Ravelry is a fabulous knitting community that has everything from patterns, to needle and yarn recommendations, and a huge group of forums with almost 300,000 knitters, crocheters and yarnies (fiber addicts) from all over the world that you can network with and share kntting tips. One of my favorite features of Ravelry is "My Notebook" where I am able to catalog all my projects, favorite patterns, knitting needles, stashed yarns, my favorite forums/groups on Ravelry and my RavelryFriends. Ravelry is every bit the social network for knitters and crocheters. In fact you can take a look at my profile (I am KnitzyBlonde) on Ravelry and get a feel for what all is available. Ravelry is almost too huge of a site to describe in detail here - so be sure to stop by and request an invite to join. You will be very glad you did. Once you get your invitation to join, be sure to check out the forums. There are at least a half dozen groups that cater to plus sizes where you can network and share ideas on knitting for the curvier figure.

Here are some more links to some online resources for knitting and yarns (that I recommend): - Articles and a great resource for patterns. Also has a forum. Most of their women's sweater patterns are sized up to a 3X (26/28). Well done site, updates seasonally (4 times per year).

Ample Knitters . Links to sever different yahoo groups devoted to plus sized knitting and crocheting.

Vermont Fibers - Has knitting patterns up to size 6X

Just One More Row - Very cute patterns for sizes up to a 68" bust.

Oat Couture - Trendy knitwear patterns in sizes up to a 58" bust. - Fabulous site with knitting tips, techniques and tutorials for knitters from beginning to advanced. You can even learn to knit by watching videos on this site! Great resource!!

KnitPicks - My favorite online Yarn shop with even greater prices on quality yarns. I absolutely love their Options interchangeable knitting needles. Great investment for the "always knitting" knitter.

StitchDiva - Fun, funky and trendy knitwear in sizes to a 3X.

Besides making sweaters and ponchos in plus sizes, I also like to make longer and larger shawls and scarves that fit our bigger bodies better. Generally those are pretty easy to figure out for the intermediate to advanced knitter. Here are a couple of recent items that I knitted that are available for sale in my Etsy shop Zaftig Delights.

I hope this has helped any of you plus sized knitters with some great tips and resources for knitting for the Curvy Girl!!

Happy knitting!!