A knitwear design experiment

You have to love a Victorian spring.  35oC one day, snowing on the mountains the next.  Considering the summer we are likely to get, I relished the cool weather while it lasted. Today is back up to 37, but the brief reprieve got me thinking about starting a jumper (sweater) for next winter.

I’m a very slow knitter so if I start now, it might be ready in time.  I’ve only completed three jumpers even though I’ve probably started at least a dozen, maybe more.  I tend to lose interest when I realise that it either won’t fit or won’t suit me.  The crazy thing is that I still just pick a pattern from a book and knit as directed.  If it was a sewing project that I’d be spending so much time on, I’d be doing a few sketches and working out what alterations I needed before hand.

With that in mind, I’ve been doing my homework.  A recent gift of Blueprint membership has been put to good use watching a couple of knitting courses.  The first was “Wear what you Knit” by Sally Melville.  It piqued my interest because it featured a section on croquis, along with tips for adjusting a pattern for a better fit and gauge changes.  While the maths for checking the fit was really handy ( ie I know what I’m doing now and have tweaked my schematic), the advice on figure flattery seamed to conflict with what I’ve learnt from sewing.  She suggest, that the most flattering length is to finish at the widest part of you hip.  I’m not so sure that is good for a short pear like myself.  To me that would highlight the widest part of me and visually cut me in half making me look even shorter.


Next up was “Knit to Flatter” by Amy Herzog.  I’m only part way through, but she is giving examples for top-heavy, bottom-heavy and proportional figures.  Plus, she uses a model with each figure type and shows some good and bad style examples.  So to balance a bottom heavy figure, I’m to look for wide necklines ( or neckline interest), short hem lengths and short sleeves.  Seems reasonable to me.  I need to avoid narrow necklines and narrow vertical panels.  Waaaa!  For a jumper, I’d like cable panels and cosy neckline.  But it would seem that it would not like me 😦   I haven’t got into the pattern change sections as yet.


Here is the application of the theory so far—

My yarn is Paton’s Inca (wool, acrylic, alpaca mix) in a blue/black mix.  It’s been in my stash for a while and I’d really love to make a cosy jumper for around the house.  I only have 15 balls and it’s since been discontinued.  From the Inca pattern book, I was going to make the jumper shown below, but decided not to as the cable placement and neckline, according to Herzog, isn’t my best choices.  Bummer 😦

Plan B, is to modify the double moss stitch jumper show on the left below to suit me.  Keep the stitch pattern, but adjust the length and neckline  (I’m trusting that my maths ability can overcome my lack to knitting patternmaking experience here).  I’m also drawn to the zippered jumper on the right, but there are those panels again.

The swatch…

The croquis sketches

I had a bit of fun drawing these and trying to get the texture and colour variations in the sketch.  The options are:

Collar Length
Left High V Long
Middle As per pattern Widest point of hip
Right V neck Above hip

My questions for you

Which neckline and which length do you think suits me the best?


Thank-you to everyone who voted or left a comment.  The jumper on the right (V-neck, short length) was the most popular by a big margin.  As of 14 Dec, I’m about to start the armhole shaping on the back with the shorter length.

15 thoughts on “A knitwear design experiment

  1. I tend to evaluate patterns to see if they flatter as well, and I have found that v necklines are best for my pear shape. As for length, I tend to go with shorter pullover sweaters and long cardigans. Having said all that, I think it is important to make something that you like and like to wear. I really like that zip up pattern, and I think it would be flattering on you. I don’t understand why vertical panels are a problem. I would wear them because the eye will follow the vertical line. You could always place the cables around the zipper and make the rest of the sweater plain if you think it is too busy. I am a knitter with a moderate amount of experience, and it’s all in the gauge and the maths. Which one do you like best?


    1. Thanks Becky. I’m not sure why the panels wouldn’t work either as, like you, I thought they would have a lengthening effect. I do love the aran style patterns with their panels. Mmmm, maybe I need to the sketch test again for the next project.


  2. I have a similar shape (and I’m not a knitter either) but I always get a bit weirded out when people wear those long tops and think it makes them look thinner or it covers the wide bits. It doesn’t. From what I remember of the fashion design course I did in the 90’s and what I prefer and believe is the best proportionately (is that a word?) is the top should finish on the hip bone. I think the making the jumper on the right with a light coloured turtle neck for warmth would allow warmth but still be the most flattering. I love the drawings.


    1. Thank you Summerfiles. Hip-bone length it is! Thanks for the comment about the drawings. I found a wonderful You-Tube video on how to render the knits. It’s a bit slow to add the details in, but I like the effect it gives.


  3. Oh yes I also forgot to say I think the zip one gives the same v neck look but with the option to zip up and be warm. Plus, in the end I wear what I like and feel good in. I look forward to seeing which you choose.


  4. How cold does it get in the winter there? If extremely cold, I would make the middle one. The one on the left seems to overwhelm you. I love the one on the right.


    1. Our winter is fairly tame compared to a northern hemisphere one. It’s about 10-15C max during the day and I tend to wear extra clothing rather than turning on a heater during the day. Thanks for you comments on the lenght


  5. I think that the sweater on the right will suit you best, but it depends what you want the sweater for. I like the shorter length but if you are being very active, short sweaters ride up and expose your back. I like your wool choice very much. And good luck with your sweater.


    1. Thanks Lynne. I was a bit worried that the shorter length may let in the drafts. We’ll see how it goes. I think the main thing I want is something that fits and suits me. I’m so slow at knitting that I tend to get discouraged when the final garment doesn’t look nice.


  6. If the weather can be of all sorts, wouldn’t it be an option to knit a V neck sweater and a matching infinity scarf / cowl?


  7. I am a huge fan of Amy Herzog and if you really want to see what they look like on realy bodies, check out her Ravelry page Finished Garments as I am always blown away by how a fitted knitted garment suits just about everyone.

    Oh and if you would like a free customfit pattern to test out, let me know as I have a few spare in my subscription.


    1. Thanks Sharon, I got onto Ravelry at had a look at some of the finished project. Thanks making the offer of the pattern. That is really kind of you. At the moment, I’ve done the calcs for the back of the jumper and have a fair idea on how to do the front. That should see me though this project.

      I love the Anny Blatt / Bouton d’Or patterns and would love to re-work a couple of them to suit the yarns that I have and adjust for fit


      1. I am hopeless with any calculations so that is why I love Customfit and I know you shine with numbers. Can;t wait to see how this progresses, and don’t worry no pressure as I know how long it takes me to knit.


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