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!

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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:

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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.)

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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.

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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.