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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A cardigan for all shapes

This month has proven to be quite a traumatic one, with my mum and dad both suffering serious health scares and life once again having to adjust to accommodate the changing circumstances we find ourselves in. I don't want to dwell on these personal difficulties to be honest as how life chooses to unfold is quite frankly, completely out of my control, and I'm finding the best way of dealing with it is just to deal with each day as it unfolds.

Maybe these shifting circumstances though have made me think "what the hell" for example, when I have been reading a lot online about our perceptions of our own body image, and I realised how reluctant I have been to 'show' myself on my blog and that maybe it was time to face this issue head on. I am not as young or as slim as many of the very photogenic people who write blogs in either the knitting or the vintage worlds and therefore tend to avoid 'showing' myself very often on my blog, and certainly not in a 'what to wear' post, which is frankly, pathetic. So I'm coming out! I'm a little older and a little fatter than I would choose to be in an ideal scenario but on the whole, I like who I am and have no desire to be very much different so what am I scared of?

Why we criticise ourselves like this I really don't know. I am confident, articulate, educated etc., etc., yet I still go into freefall at the thought of going somewhere and having to get dressed for the occasion. I think for me it is because my clothes say so much about who I am. After being bullied at school for several years I found that expressing myself in what I wore gave me the confidence to enter a room full of strangers, to speak and to stand up for myself. As the years have passed, I no longer 'need' this help as much as I used to but just like putting on red lipstick makes me feel good, the right outfit gives me confidence. I have been a punk, a goth, a steam punk, a mod, a rockabilly, I have dressed head to toe in 40s or 50s clothes. Contrarily I have never been scared of standing out in what I wear. Yet I have to admit, maybe because of the bullying, other people's possible opinions and reactions still un-nerve me. Somehow though, clothes have helped me find a confidence that wasn't there when I was 16 or even 18 and for that I am very grateful.

I also have to think about what suits me a hell of a lot.  My shape is seriously hourglass - I measure 44-34-48. And even if those measurements each had 10 inches knocked off them I would still need to think about how best to dress to suit my shape.  So I believe the way to approach what I choose is thinking about shape rather than focusing on my size. If I wear clothes that suit my shape its just a question of them being the right fit for me.

I have been endeavouring therefore to knit more of the patterns from my books in my 'size' both so that I get to enjoy the garments myself but also so that I can model them for the blog - can't quite believe I'm saying that!

So the garment I have finished most recently is the Princess Twinset Cardigan from Coronation Knits. The Pattern is designed using Excelana 4ply pure wool and is shown in the book in both Cornflower Blue and Ruby Red. The pattern comes in 11 sizes from 30 to 50 inches (76 to 127 cm) and is designed to be worn with approximately 4 inches (10 cm) of positive ease at the bust.

from Coronation Knits - copyright Susan Crawford
I knitted it in Cornflower Blue Excelana 4ply as in the book and only made very minor tweeks to get the right fit for me. The cardigan is knitted in separate pieces with gradual increases worked on the side seams of the front and back pieces. These main body pieces end with a straight edge to allow for the saddle shoulder which is knitted on from the top of the sleeve heads. The front slopes of the cardigan are scooped quite wide to allow for the full pattern of the Princess Twinset Jumper to be seen when they are worn as a twinset.

I wanted a neat fit as opposed to a loose one, so followed the instructions for the 42 inch chest. I have a narrow back and even narrower shoulders so it always pays for me to go down a size. Often on shoulders I have to decrease stitches to a much smaller size to get the right width but with this cardigan having a saddle shoulder and set in sleeve the shoulder width was fine (more on the importance of shoulders soon).

Due to a bit of a tummy bump I decided to also knit the welt in the same needle size as the main body to make it a bit more of a relaxed fit more me around the middle. I also wanted to be able to wear the cardigan straight rather than pouched at the waist.

I have ridiculously short arms for my height so I also reduced the sleeve length so that the sleeves didn't start to get folds in them.

And finally when finishing off the garment I added extra press studs so that I didn't get any gaping.

I love how this cardigan looks. The back detail really creates a lovely shape and adds interest both to the finished garment and also to the knitting process. This clever little twisted stitch doesn't even require the use of a cable needle!

 The back detail is repeated on the turned back cuff and also one repeat of the pattern is worked around the fronts and back neck where the two ends are joined using three needle bind off. With the shortening of the sleeves I only used 9 balls rather than the 10 specified in the pattern. However if I had needed the sleeves any longer than 17 inches I would have broken into the 10th ball.

I teamed the cardigan with a dress I got from Cath Kidston last year or possibly the year before. The skirt has a really flattering cut with four vertical seams which really help how the skirt drapes and keeps its shape. This dress has been washed countless times and still looks as good as it did when I first got it.

I also managed to borrow my daughter's fab royal blue nail varnish which matches the cardigan exactly.

 However I did forget to put on my lipstick for which you must excuse me! In short it really is a cardigan fit for a princess and also for me! You can see all of the garments or purchase your own copy of Coronation Knits from my website and I'm now going to quickly publish this before I start doubting my judgement!

for now
Ruby xx