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!