Sunday, 22 February 2009

The size of the matter...or the matter of size

Last weekend I got together with a couple of girlfriends. We gossipped, we laughed, we drank wine, ate muffins, tied strings around our waists, attached stickers to our boobs...and measured each other.

Anyone who has seen this book knows that it has a fabulous section in it about taking a number of detailed measurements to ensure that your knitted garment fits properly. The underlying principle of this book is fit, that the instinct of women who don't particularly like their bodies is to hide their curves in large, boxy knits which actually makes them look larger and does nothing to make the most of their best features. We agreed that it is very difficult to do these sort of measurements oneself so as a group we resolved to get three sets of accurate measurements.

Practicality aside I think it's fair to say that I have fallen into the classic curvy girls trap where most of my knitting has consisted of socks, mitts, scarves and sloppy jumpers so that I haven't had to think about the technical, or to be honest, the psychological challenge of knitting garments to fit. I've slowly been plucking up courage. At new year I weighed myself for the first time in years so that I could gauge the effect of eating more healthily and taking more exercise. So far, so good. I allowed myself to be persuaded that I should place a couple of decreases at the waist of my Hoodie-in-a-week to cut down on some of the bulk and the look of the garment is better for it.

Knowing my measurements is another step along that journey. A lack of confidence in its potential to fit properly had somewhat stalled progress on the Honeycomb Vest. This week I measured it and, more by luck than judgement found that it was pretty much on track for a good fit so here it is!

and here is some of the stitch detail.

I am very pleased with this and certainly plan to make more. It will be a perfect garment for work as I can already see signs of spring in the air making heavy coats and jumpers redundant but there is always that nip in the air which precludes going without entirely.
With hindsight I could probably have knit this top a size smaller as the fabric is very stretchy but it might be better to try going down a needle size as a slightly firmer fabric might be preferable. I back stitched the seams rather than mattress stitching them as I felt the heavier seams would give the fabric more stability.

Buoyed up with this success I made a couple of decisions. Firstly, I am not going to sit on favourite skeins of yarn in anticipation of knitting a whole slew of smaller jumpers. I think I deserve to wear garments knit in my favourite yarns now.
A little stash diving later and I came up with some more of my carefully squirrelled discontinued Rowanspun Aran in a vibrant springtime green.
I also found my copy of Stephanie Japel's Fitted Knits. I have enjoyed looking at this book for some time but never plucked up the courage to try any of the designs. Given the season and the success of my last vest I settled on this:

And here is my progress so far.

I feel that facing up to a few stark realities and being prepared to do something about them has given me the confidence to start really making knitted garments for myself. I am sure there will be some setbacks along the way. Never underestimate my capacity for eccentric choices and hit and miss colour combinations! Right now I feel like digging out all those books with garments I fell in love with but decided weren't for me and rummaging around in my stash and starting at least half a dozen things at once.
Well I suppose it's one way to keep my head out of the fridge....

14 comments:

tea and cake said...

Good for you, Jane! What a brilliant attiutude - and, I am just using the same green yarn for a vest, too! spooky, or what?

celadon2 said...

I'm after knitting that vest from Fitted Knits too, after I've lost some more weight.

Anni said...

I've got the Big girls knit books too, both the books and they've got some brilliant advice for bigger knitters. I'm definitely on the big side so I know how you feel although I'm probably a lot bigger than you. I'm about to start on a cardi for myself using my own hand dyed yarn and my own design. It's the first garment i've knitted for myself in years.

I've nominated you for an award. Not finished my blog post yet though and may not get it finished tonight so check it out tomorrow.

picperfic said...

I feel privileged to have seen your new vest in real life. How lovely it was to meet you yesterday, I felt I knew you already though. I am looking forward to seeing more of your fitted knits.

Bells said...

what a lovely post. Nice way to approach it. I fall into this category too and I like your angle on it.

the U vest is a great place to start. It's on my 'make it soon' list too. I even have the yarn all ready to go.

Lol said...

Bravo, you echoed everything I have felt about myself and knitting for years. How often I have flicked through the latest Rowan book thinking - 'next year'. You have inspired me to get the books you mention and have a go. I have some wonderful Alpaca that deserves to be much more than a sack.

Mandella said...

Right, thats it! You really are my evil knitting twin. I've swatched Honeycomb and have the U-neck vest on the needles (although I think I'm going to frog it and start again in a different colour. And I make things too big (like the disastrous frogged tent that was Tomato).

Oh, and I'm definitely on the hefty side.

Sally said...

Your honeycomb vest is lovely Jane. A gorgeous colour and good knitting!

Would we be able to see a photo of it on?

LittleBerry said...

Love the stitch detail on the honeycomb vest but I think the one from fitted knits is lovely and I do so love that colour of Aran you've chosen....

kathryn said...

I love your honeycomb vest - I like the fabric being stretchy, I think it will be a very comfortable and flattering knit.
It's difficult getting the sizing just right - your own size, the amount of ease you like and of course the tension...all combining to make a minefield.
And it's just as hard for the skinny ones too.

Janey said...

I'm also a curvy girl (i like that description) and I too have decided to make shaped things that flaunt my curves cos dieting is just too hard. I have entered a walking marathon so I'm trying to be healthier!!
But what I really wanted to say was that I had a mental picture of you as this petite person, not sure why but in my head you are a dainty size 10 with size 4 feet!! Perhaps that is your idea of curvy in which case I'm not the same kind of curvy!!!!

varun said...

nice stuff!!Shawls and Scarves

Jane said...

From one Jane to another - "Go for it!" I am about to embark on the drop-stitch tank from "Fitted Knits."

Theresa in Florida said...

Hallelujah sister! Get on the bandwagon of spoiling yourself with pretty things. Another upside is knitting lasts much longer than food.