Here's my challenge: to design, knit, and publish a series of sweaters over twelve months that are reasonably simple to knit, work on a range of body shapes, and are wardrobe-building. I've created some guidelines.
1. This is about sweater knitting, not accessory knitting, although it's likely that a few staple accessories might work their way into the collection. Browse through Ravelry and it's apparent that knitters love to knit accessories far more than sweaters. Why? There are a lot of reasons, from cost and skill, to climate (if you live in Florida you have less incentive). But I think a lot of it has to do with body image. Simply put, many (most?) women have a level of discomfort about fitting themselves. It forces us to confront our actual shape and size, instead of our aspirational selves. To this I say, "get over it". Knit for your actual self and discover that you can look fabulous in the product of your own hands. Look no further than Sonya Philip's Instagram pages. Sonya is not a small woman, but she looks amazing and so happy in her "100 Acts of Sewing". I am a small woman, but that doesn't mean there aren't challenges with fit and style. Remember, most women have to deal with these issues in one form or another. So, what can I design to make the most out of us all? Continue reading...
2. Most (not all) of the designs in this collection will be from the cardigan family. That includes coats, jackets, etc. Front-opening garments are forgiving on the body. They can be worn fully open, partially open, or closed, depending on your shape and what other garments you happen to be wearing. And let's not forget that they can be tossed on or off quickly in case of one of those unexpected "power surges" some of us of a certain age are prone to experiencing.
3. Most (not all) garments will have an A-line silhouette. Most of us have hips, and even those who don't are generally flattered by the graceful drape of A-line shapes. Those garments that aren't A-line will be oversized and drapey--again, another shape that looks well on pretty much everyone.
4. The collection will be top down in construction. That is the best way to allow knitters, especially inexperienced ones, to fit the body. At any point, you can slide all the stitches onto some waste yarn and try on the garment. Sometimes I even wet block (and dry, of course!) a garment-in-progress before trying it on to be absolutely certain that the length is right. And if it isn't, it's pretty easy to alter because of the top-down direction.
5. Accessibility is a concern. I want knitters who haven't tried sweater knitting before to feel encouraged to have a go at it. So, the pieces will have simple finishes, and where there is stranded knitting or cable work, it will be limited to only a portion of the garment. There will be links to tutorials. (I am continually surprised that the tutorials on my blog are the most frequently viewed pages.)
6. Finally, these pieces must really work hard as part of a wardrobe strategy. Many of us have knitted beautiful sweaters only to have them languish on a shelf, unworn and ultimately little more than knitted artifacts. I want this collection to be chock full of things we actually want to wear!
Audrey is the first piece in my EveryBody Project. I think I made it with the idea of the Project only lurking in the back of my head. But then it was finished and I realized how I wanted to continue. There you have it. Now, to work! Or is that play? A bit of both, I think.