Knitting Plus: Review, thoughts, and a contest!

I’m so glad to be part of the blog tour for Lisa Shroyer’s new book, Knitting Plus: Mastering Fit + Plus-Size Style + 15 Projects. If you’ve missed previous installments, you can find all of them here on the kickoff page. There’s lots of great stuff there!

I’m going to be mixing things up today with a bit of review/a few of my thoughts on the book, some Q&A with Lisa, and finally a contest for my copy of the book. (All photos below used with permission from Interweave Press.)

Lisa Shroyer's "Knitting Plus"

First of all, and perhaps above all, this is a lovely collection of patterns that really run the range of different styles, all designed with plus size knitters in mind. Plus size knitters are highly under-served right now, and it’s great to see so many projects for them, all very different from one another, under one cover. I would make a bet that whoever you are, and whatever kinds of sweaters you like to knit, you’ll find something here that tickles your fancy.

The patterns portion of the book is broken up into 5 chapters based on sweater construction: Drop-Sleeve, Set-In Sleeve, Raglan, Seamless Yoke, and Dolman, with one basic (read: easily modified) and two advanced variations in each chapter. I love that even the more advanced variations are suitable for lots of customization (more on that later). I have my own personal style, of course, and it involves fitted sweaters that highlight the female form; I found a sweater that I loved in every chapter: The Waltham Cabled Cardigan is a wonderfully classic and customizable cardigan in the drop-shoulder chapter. (Check out the great shaping that Julie Matthews added to hers!)

The Waltham Cabled Cardigan

Though the specific color choices weren’t my favorite, I thought the Poppy Cardigan in the set-in chapter was just a fantastic example of how great a fitted cardigan can look on a plus size knitter. Sacks, be gone! What you can’t see in this preview picture is the careful shaping–under the arms down the sides there’s a lovely band of ribbing, and waist shaping on either side of it. Can’t you just imagine it in a rich brown, with deep red shoulders?

The Poppy Cardigan

The Banstead Pullover was probably my favorite sweater in the whole book, rich with customization opportunities. I think it really takes advantage of the lines of a raglan, making them an integral part of the design aesthetic.

The Banstead Pullover

The Barton Cardigan won me over in the seamless yoke section. I kept dreaming about sizing that one for myself and fastening it right under my bust with a shawl pin! I love the interplay between the elegant drape of the cables down the back with the waist shaping located at the sides–I thought it gave the cardigan a wonderful drape without looking boxy. And also, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to work with Bijou Bliss?

The Barton Cardigan

Finally, despite the fact that I don’t personally usually care for dolman construction, I thought the Missimer Pullover played up every advantage this construction has.

The Missimer Pullover

Since there aren’t extra pictures on Ravelry and it’s tough to tell from this one how the sweater really looks, this is a lacy, short-sleeved pullover out of a gorgeous yarn. The combination of yarn and lace really plays up the advantage of the dolman style, which is to give lots of graceful ease around the shoulder/arm/bust. The fabric is smooth and light enough that it folds beautifully around the body. I just loved this sweater.

But as great as the patterns are, for me the real treat were the first couple of chapters, which focus with precision on different sweater elements and how to modify them. Part of what I try to do with both my own designs and with the Fit to Flatter classes is to encourage knitters to view a written pattern as a starting point–one particular implementation of the designer’s vision, which may or may not work in every detail for a particular knitter. Speaking for myself, I definitely want people to love and look great in my designs, and if what that takes is a bit of modification, I’m thrilled when knitters do so.

But to do that, of course, you need to know what you need to change and how to change it. And this book gives plus size knitters (and the rest of us, too) the tools one needs to go about making those modifications. It’s just fantastic; it’s clear this was a definite goal of Lisa’s when writing the book and I applaud her for it. As she said:

As I thought about what my book should be, I came to this idea pretty quickly—that the best way to approach a discussion of sweaters is to first talk about the way sweaters are put together. How can we talk about modifications, fit, flattering different body types, without first conquering the rules of actual sweater construction? Knowing that you need to add shaping, yoke depth, sleeve width, et cetera, is no good if you don’t know how to do those things within the parameters of the design you’re working with. Adding sleeve width to a raglan can potentially make the neck opening larger. Doing the same to a drop-shoulder means you can’t seam the sleeve into the armhole, without also changing the armhole depth. Those are very different results from the same modification to the sleeve. I knew I wanted this book to approach the topic from a place grounded in knitting, and to then move into discussions of fit, why you should make mods, what styles look good on you and why.

The whole book is crammed with advice on what modifications you might want to make, when you might want to make them, and how to go about it. While the projects are all sized for plus size knitters, much of this information is great for all of us to have.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with another quote from Lisa. I asked: If her reader left the book with only one message, what would she want it to be? Her answer:

Common notions of what curvy women should wear don’t always align with the knit designs we fall in love with. That new pattern on Ravelry may be all wrong for you, according to the rules we’re supposed to live by as ample women. I want knitters to make their own choices about what to knit, and I want this book to give them the information they need to work that design in a size and shape that not only fits, but works structurally. You choose and buy clothes to flatter your shape. Knit first what you love to knit, and from there find ways to make those projects work for you.

I just love the sentiment here, and her book absolutely gives you the tools you need to pursue it.

Want to win a copy of the book? Leave a comment saying so, and at the conclusion of her blog tour on Friday, April 22, I’ll pick a random number and send the book along to one lucky commenter!

Comments

  1. karen says

    What a great book! I have a bunch of sweater quantities of yarn but no sweaters! Clearly this bookm would help that!

  2. Patty says

    I would love to win a copy of this book. It’s true there are very few patterns for plus size women so this book would be very welcome in my house. I love all of the styles that you show.

  3. Kate/Massachusetts says

    What a great book! The patterns are gorgeous. I would love to win a copy of the book. Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. says

    Great review! I think one of the key things is that not everyone plus sized is, well, sized the same way — and it sounds like this book addresses that.

  5. Isabel says

    I recently looked through a copy of the book and it does look great. I’d love to have it in my library of technical knitting books!

  6. Samantha Edwards says

    I would love this book!!! I am always looking for plus-size projects to make.

  7. says

    I’m on the edge of plus so I’m always looking for patterns that flatter a curvy woman! I’d love to win this book!
    Thanks!

  8. Joyce says

    Great book review! I like the idea of customizing patterns for specific things because being plus sized doesn’t mean you’re plus sized in the same way as someone else. I’d love this book!

  9. Huguette says

    Great review, Amy! Your Fit to Flatter class has taken my sweater creation to a new level– and it sounds like Lisa’s book helps to nail down those useful concepts even further. Thanks!

  10. Nina says

    Oooh, I’d love to win this – I have such trouble finding good sweater patterns to fit my Rack of Doom. Thank you!

  11. says

    This book is on my list of essentials for a good design library now! If I can’t win a copy, I’m sure I’ll be buying my own shortly. It sounds fabulous.

  12. says

    I would definitely love the opportunity to add some sweater patterns to my library. I’m with you, the Banstead pullover is my favorite of the ones you’ve shown here.

  13. Stacy says

    Wow, great review of the book. Makes me really want it! Would be great to win, but it is definitely going on my wish list in case I don’t win!

  14. Linda says

    This would be a wonderful addition to any knitting library. Along with your tutorials, what more is there to learn about customizing a pattern? I hope I win a copy.

  15. says

    My best friend/maid of honor needs this book. Her confidence in her knitting skills as well as her shape aren’t nearly as strong as they should be, and I think this book could really help her with both. Thank you for the fantastic review!

  16. says

    I’d love to win a copy of this book. As a plus-sized knitter I’m always looking for new patterns that will flatter my figure not overwhelm it.

  17. G. K. Green says

    I want to win a copy of the book! Who wouldn’t? The Waltham Cabled Cardigan is absolutely amazing!

  18. says

    I WANT this book! I have a 52″ bust and boy is it ever hard to find patterns. I keep putting off knitting for myself cuz I;m not confident enough to tweak most patterns I like.

  19. Enid Shaw says

    if you are willing to mail overseas, please consider me for the drawing. ~It looks to be a great book, and has several patterns I like.

  20. Emily VA says

    Ooh, I hope the random number generator picks me!

    (Also, thanks for the helpful review. Does the book talk about how to change the sleeves in the other-wise gorgeous cover sweater to be set-in?)

  21. Kimberleyh says

    This book comes a just the right time for me. I have sworn to finally knit a sweater for myself this year.

  22. says

    I think one feature that distinguishes the Poppy cardigan and makes it all the more flattering is the dash of colour around the neck and upper bust area. Draws the eye to a flattering part of the wearer.

    I love the models on the book. They look stylish and modern!

  23. Julie says

    I am so happy to see another book written for the plus size woman. I would love to win this book so that I can start knitting with the sweater quantities of yarn I have in my stash.

  24. says

    I would love a copy of this book. As a plus size knitter I am always looking for patterns I can knit and ways to modify ones not made for my size.

  25. Kandace says

    This looks like a fantastic book, I’ll have to go out and buy it if I don’t win it here ; ).

  26. Seattle Amy says

    I am looking forward to this book!! I can’t wait to try some of these patterns….a sweater that might actually work with my body type rather than a finished product just not quite right…

  27. SAJohnstone says

    As soon as I finish Arm Candy (love that pattern, thank you!) I’ll be looking for another project. I would love to knit one of the patterns from this book.

  28. Laura says

    This looks like a phenomenal book, with some plus sized patterns that would actually be flattering.

  29. Andrea says

    I love the Poppy Cardigan and have been debating about getting the book just for that pattern–but how much better to win it!

  30. Daisy says

    Great review. I wouldn’t have wanted this book before but you make it sound so wonderful for fitting issues. Thanks!

  31. Billie says

    Between this book and your webpages, maybe I can get over
    the notion that I CANNOT wear some of the patterns that
    I see and love. Thanks to you both for the work you put
    into giving us alternatives.

  32. says

    Hi Amy — I’d love a copy — there are plus size women in my life that I’d love to knit for! — Cate

  33. Catherine says

    I’m so impressed by your description of the book. I’d love to win a copy. Knitting sweaters for my plus size figure baffles me – so I knit a lot of everything else!

  34. Nicki says

    Love the excerpt from the book. This sounds like someone is finally ‘getting’ what plus size knitters both need *and* want. I’d love to have a copy, and, thanks to your sneak peek, Amy, would most likely knit many of the designs in it. All of Lisa’s fit suggestions plus your Fit and Flatter series will make it a winner!

    Cheers,
    Nicki

  35. Elsbeth says

    I would love to win the book. I have been looking for some plus patterns that work with not against size. I love the Waltham Cabled Cardigan!
    Elsbeth

  36. Amy says

    I have been seriously considering buying this book, but of course, winning it would be better! As a beginner sweater knitter, I want to start with the tools that will help me produce sweaters that I will be proud to wear – and it seems that this book would be a great learning tool.

  37. says

    The book looks great – some really nice feigns for those of us who often get neglected in the pattern stakes. I’d love to win a copy!

  38. Linda says

    Your reveiw convinced me I would like this book. I have heard of it, but no photos or actual reviews. It sounds like it would be of use in addition to the actual patterns.

  39. Mandy Harris says

    I have loved the banstead pullover since the very first time I saw it! Thanks for the contest!

  40. Courtney says

    As a curvy, petite plus size, my forays in to sweater knitting have gotten off to a rough start. Either it just doesn’t look right or I love the concept but the pattern doesn’t get anywhere close to my size. Would love a to win this book and start the right way!

  41. kelly K says

    This looks like a great book! I’m ready to knit myself a sweater, but part of what’s kept me from doing it is being worried about the fit. Looks like this book is a great solution.

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