FF Case Study: Triangled

If you want to knit sweaters you love to wear, you must accept this:

Nobody, not even the designer, should blindly knit the pattern as written.

Truly. Nobody is truly Miss “Average” in every way, and everybody benefits from a little thought (and perhaps some tweaking) to the original pattern. When considering a pattern, think about

  • Fit! Obviously, the sweater has to fit. But that’s not all.
  • Style! Whether you like the elements in a sweater or want to tweak them. Whether most of it’s perfect, except the one thing. Or whether it’s exactly like your favorite sweater.
  • Whether or not you’ll actually wear it, day to day. (And whether or not wearing it regularly is even important to you!)

This Fashion Friday, let’s step through a case study of a sweater I modified for my own wardrobe and preferences: The Squared cardigan.

When the bookcame out, I had some of my most trusted sample knitters work up a few of the book sweaters to my own body’s needs, and this was one of them. The book’s sample is actually in my size, so excitingly, we can do a real comparison!

ff-triangled-2

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this sweater on me… it preserves the balance of my shape, the fit (though in the “relaxed” category) is fine, the lines it paints are okay…

…but it’s not a stunner, either. And let’s be clear: The problem does not lie in the size. This sweater fits me well, right down to the bust darts.

Squared was designed especially for curvy-waisted proportional figures. The elbow sleeves, curved cabled check motifs, and symmetry between the neckline edge and the hem edge all accentuate a waist that’s nipped in at the sides:

Squared-5_medium2

And that’s just not me. Further, a square neckline isn’t going to get a ton of play in my wardrobe: It doesn’t play nicely with my staple camisoles, it mirrors the square lines of my shoulders just a bit too much. So when I thought about how I’d make Squared my own, my mind immediately went to a V neckline instead of the square of the original. (Hence my nickname for this sweater: Triangled.)

ff-triangled-5

This is what a relaxed-fit sweater looks like in my wardrobe. It has to be shaped, in this case quite aggressively, or thanks to my very athletic frame I just look like a vaguely imposing refrigerator box.

(Aside: I so admire those women who can do the slouchy, oversized look and somehow have it read “willowy”, or “feminine”, or “just threw on a men’s shirt!”. When I wear that stuff, I look… blobular.)

When I modified the pattern, I added enough bust darts to result in an inch or so of positive ease even in the bust. All over, this sweater has tons of room to move around. It’s the most oversized item I’ve ever knit myself, by far. And yet, I don’t feel boxy. I feel… hugged. Which is good, right now.

ff-triangled-7 ff-triangled-9 ff-triangled-8 ff-triangled-6

I’ll give you the details on Monday, but for those who aren’t interested in the nitty-gritty, remember: Everyone needs to make changes to the pattern to get sweaters they love to wear.

Your body, your wardrobe, your needs, are not wrong.

They’re 100% right. And when the sweater works with you, nirvana ensues.

Comments

  1. Suzanne L says

    I would have passed on Squared but Triangled…I’m all over it! Looks fantastic on you Amy.

  2. Jackie worth says

    I wouldn’t knit squared as is and would bypass the pattern because I’m not confident enough to make the changes needed, much like the new version. I love that you are helping us see patterns so differently. Now I just need the confidence to give it a go

  3. LydiaA says

    I love it! Especially, in the end, that it makes you feel good.

    I’m curious if the contrasting buttons are adding to the look as well?

  4. Mary Horvath says

    I think you look great in both versions but I see your point. This post has actually convinced me to make the square neck version as soon as possible. I love the square neck and I’ve really taken the elbow-length-sleeve-accentuating-the-waist idea to heart since I’ve read your book.

    • Amy says

      Thanks very much for the compliment! As I said, I definitely don’t feel hideous in the square neck or anything… but I can’t wait to see your version, too. :)

  5. Heather says

    This post has made me realize a hangup I was having with modifiying sweaters. It was seeming wrong to take away what seemed like key design elements, like I was dissing the designer for doing that. Even though I would know the design element was wrong for me. I love your Triangled. Thank you!

    • Amy says

      Thanks for the comment, Heather! I can only speak for myself, of course, but I’d *much* rather that someone be happy with their sweater than faithful to my design.

  6. Pat says

    Beautiful! It looks like Triangled is also longer than Squared. I’m still trying to figure out optimal sweater length, and I’d love to hear more about how you decide how long to make different sweaters.

  7. says

    Some day, some day, some day I am going to have the gumption to modify something fearlessly. I will just have to sit at your feet a little longer and listen. You look fabulous in both but most especially the new one. I will look for the nitty-gritty on Monday. I’m fairly certain you have lost some weight, too and would love to know how (hopefully not stress).

  8. Heidi Smith says

    Once again you have taught me so much in so little time… :) Thanks again Amy! By the way I like both of them on you too.

  9. Patricia says

    I love Triangled. I was confused about why Squared was in the proportional section of your new book, it seemed too boxy and short…at least for me. But now I see how it could work for some proportionals. Look forward to reading more about your mods for Triangled, especially deciding the correct length. Thanks Amy!

  10. Lynn says

    Trying on my think-hard-about-sweater-shapes hat here (so forgive me!): So, I see three main differences between these Squared and Triangled sweaters – the neck shape, the length of the sleeves and the overall length of the body. Also, three minor differences: you’re smiling in the Triangled photo; the Triangled sweater is a dark value, whereas the Squared color is a medium value; and the buttons on your Triangled are much lighter than the yarn, unlike the Squared sweater.

    I think all of those differences, not just the neckline shape, add up to a sweater that works better on you. In fact, I would go so far as to say I think the Triangled neckline looks a little constricted on you; I think I’d like to see it be a half-inch or so wider on each side. Sure, that Triangled is a nice sweater for you, but to my eye, it’s just OK, not great.

    Which means you need to knit more variations on Squared/Triangled, all in the same color, but with a square neckline, with shorter sleeves, more cropped, darker buttons, etc. Ahem. I’m kidding, of course, but now I’m curious, too. And I suppose the take-home message is that it’s hard for an average knitter (raises hand) who maybe finishes one sweater a year (although I start 3 or 4) to figure out what really works on his or her body, despite decades of trying on commercial clothes.

    • Amy says

      Love this comment, Lynn, thanks for stepping through it. You’re right, of course, that there are other differences that matter. And I respect that you think it’s just OK!

      The one thing I really want to pick up on, though, is what you said last:

      And I suppose the take-home message is that it’s hard for an average knitter (raises hand) who maybe finishes one sweater a year (although I start 3 or 4) to figure out what really works on his or her body, despite decades of trying on commercial clothes.

      I think this is crucial to discuss. You might have a tough time figuring out what hand knit sweater properties you like the best, but those commercial clothes can get you a good start. I always recommend that knitters start by thinking about what they like to wear, period–and going from there to hand knits.

      What do you think? I definitely don’t want you to be discouraged!

  11. Nora Brown says

    I’m built more like you. I’ve got your book and I’ve bought your craftsy class, but life just hasn’t been settled enough for me to spend any time educating myself. I’d love to know how to make the v neck sweater from the original pattern. It looks great on you.

  12. Carolyn says

    I loved this sweater in the book but can not wear the squared off neckline–this new version is fantastic!! I can’t wait to see how you approached this in Monday’s post–I ditto the above comments on gaining the confidence to change patterns as well as figure out the optimal length for a sweater for me and how to solve that question–thank you so much for the time you are taking to pull things apart so it is “digestable”!

  13. KL says

    Like you said, the first was OK, but the second’s great. I’m small framed, short waisted, but proportional, and I’m excited to think not only about waist shaping and picking “the right” sweater, but to move on to real modification? Wow!

  14. Lucie Proroková says

    Amy, I think the squared cardi looks better on you but it’s the colour that isn’t the right. And ss Lynn wrote here before me, when you don’t smile, the feeling from the picture is different. I truly understand what is your preference, one can see it on your face, but in this case the main difference here is the colour. If the squared cardi was in the darker colour (which fits you better), you’d be more smiling too:-)

    • Amy says

      Thanks, Lucie! I didn’t manage to get a picture of myself smiling in Squared, but I did get a non-smiley of Triangled, which I’m about to post. Would love your thoughts!

  15. Leisa says

    Thank you Amy, I hold out hope that I will soon knit a sweater that fits my curvy, petite frame and actually wear it.
    Looking forward to more info on how/where to place bust darts.
    Have already taken my high bust measurement and realized have been making 2 sizes too large.
    Thanks again for this wonderful blog!

  16. Christa says

    Add me to the list of those eagerly awaiting the details for Triangled. Might be a nice one to try for CustomFit.

  17. says

    What would you tell someone who’s never knit a sweater before? (In my case, I’ve only ever knit baby sweaters, and have only knit the seamless kind) Would the answer still be “don’t knit as written” or should I do it once just to get the basic construction down?

    • Amy says

      This is a great question, Melissa. Previously, I would have recommended that you go ahead and identify simple modifications that would make a big impact…

      …but at the moment, I’d recommend holding tight for a few more weeks and trying CustomFit, instead. :)

  18. says

    Thank you, thank you
    For providing me a guiding light for my re-thinking my ‘sweater situation’

    In fact, your thoughts have changed the way
    I wear my clothes on a daily basis.

    Thank you

    Hugs
    Gerry