what not to knit

a knitalong blog of garments of which stacy and clinton (or, if you prefer, trinny and susannah) would approve! choose patterns and colors that flatter your body type--this is the antidote to unflattering clothing everywhere, the reason many of us learned to knit our own clothing in the first place!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

sexy? knitters club

nominations are up at the sexy knitters club for the next knitalong. some patterns seem sexier than others to me, but sexy really is about using what you have, not about the thing itself. i mean, a piece of lingerie can be sexy by itself, but (for most people) by virtue of the suggestion of a body wearing it--the right body, in our opinion.
so that brings me back to the nominations:
the cropped cardigan from blue sky alpacahas some things going for it on the right body. the knitter needs to bring the waist down to the right length for the wearer--the ribbing should hug the narrowest parts, not expand over any pudgy bellies, which narrows down the best wearers quite a bit, i think. but this sleeve length is great on a lot of people, as is the neckline.
something red by wendy of knit and tonic is similar in sleeve length, but more forgiving below the waist--it would disguise pudgy bellies. it should not, however, be knitted too long--a common mistake, i think. for most women, i think it needs to fall somewhere between the navel and hipbone (usually closer to the latter). the deep v neck is not flattering on all women, and definitely requires special care on women with both very large busts and very small ones. i think it's best on medium sizes in that area.
garn studio's cardigan in alpaca with glitter is yet another cardi; this one really requires a skinny minnie. all that ribbing around the middle will cling like sausage tubing to any little fat rolls. if the wearer just isn't particularly toned, a foundation garment like those i've discussed before will address those enough to make this lovely on her. but short of that, i'd say steer clear of anything like this unless the wearer has a stunningly toned midsection.
the simple knitted bodice is my favorite in this list by far. the sleeves can be knitted to any length. the body can be knitted to any length (again: for most of us, this is somewhere between navel and hipbone, usually close to the hipbone). the pattern at the narrowest point, just below the bustline, is the single most flattering thing you can wear, pulling the knit in *without being ribbing,* thereby NOT behaving like sausage casing, so disguising any rolls of fat while still shaping beautifully, drawing the eye to exactly where you want it, and providing the beginning of a slight flare out to a relaxed shape over the tummy. totally, utterly flattering. and the neckline is wide enough to broaden the shoulders visually, something most of us need to balance hips, but not so much to be unflattering on apple-shaped or broad-shouldered women--the deep v takes care of that. and the deep v is wearable with a v-necked cami underneath for some women or with a higher, scoop-necked cami for others. it's hard for me to imagine a woman on whom this would not be a knockout. plus, the pattern is available in sizes from 30 to 54. LOVE IT.
wendy's sizzle has the same great neckline as the knitted bodice and can also be knitted to any length on the waist, but man. the uninterrupted field of fabric over the torso is way unforgiving of figure flaws. and i don't know many women out of their teens with arms toned enough to wear sleeveless sexily (myself included). all i can say is, do your tricep, bicep, and shoulder exercises daily and year-round if you mean to wear this one.
starsky is not going to flatter many, in my opinion. it adds bulk all over and even more to the waist with that belt. it is also so long that it accentuates the largest part of any pear-shaped woman, though i suppose you could knit it to hipbone length and still wear it belted (though then it would flare out and have a totally different look, more like a peplum jacket, which would be odd for a 1970s throwback in every other sense). anyhoo, it's cozy looking, but flattering, not so much.
tubey is another one of these unforgiving-of-fat-rolls-but-otherwise-beautifully-shaped sweaters. if the wearer has a generally good figure and is worried about rolls, a foundation garment will take care of these. and of course for a woman with a model-perfect figure, this is a fabulous sweater. the point: all that ribbing is going to hug every curve whether you want it to or not. the good news: the neckline broadens narrow shoulders visually without being ridiculous on a broad-shouldered woman and it's low enough to be sexy without being unflattering on anyone.
heather from white lies designs is not my style, but it isn't unflattering. the neckline is generally flattering and the bust detailing naturally draws attention to that area, so if you're not *too* busty and want attention drawn there (that is, neither huge nor tiny there), it would look nice. i think the bead detailing is a mistake, though, drawing the eye downward and away from decolletage, collarbone, and, more importantly, the face (hello?), while drawing it toward areas of the body that are typically more problematic (tummy, waist, hips). if i made this, i'd leave it off entirely, or at least stop the drawstring way up near the bust join. the rest of the construction being flattering really depends on the drape and fit--if it isn't too snug and it skims the body, a fine gauge like this is okay with the right foundation garment. but the least bit tight and no foundation garment? every jiggle and every roll shows. yikes.
the same company's myrna has similar pitfalls (and advantages) to many others here: ribbing clings mercilessly to whatever it covers, especially in finer gauges. it has potential on a slightlier bustier woman who fills out the perpendicular ribbing, but she still can't be so busty that the v neck is a problem. i'd be curious to see this finished on some actual people.
iris. now here's a conundrum. this is something that really very few people are likely to see the wearer in, i'd think (or, if many people will see her, she's unlikely to be concerned about their honest opinions about her). this is a good thing, because frankly, it's a tough one to make look good without a healthy dose of fabulous body image. when you're wearing something like this, honey, that's about all you need. well, maybe a panty. personally, i loathe the color and fabric choices here, but i can see it being sexy in black and a whole lotta attitude. the great thing about something like this: it's truly all you. and when you're in this, you're likely in a setting where that is really all that matters.
the combo corset t is about like tubey, though without the forgiving nature for broad-shouldered gals, and definitely not for women with untoned arms. ribbed for your pleasure? you decide.
these lace stockings are pretty, but (a) patterned anything on the legs call attention to them, so the wearer had better not have heavy ones (and great ones would be a plus) and (b) i often find that lace or fishnet stockings can be uncomfortable on the soles and toes. i might at least knit a soft, cushy stockinette under the footprint.
arisaig has a lot of potential. the wrap, if positioned properly, under the bust, accentuates a great part of the body (well, two: the bustline and the narrow part of the body beneath it). the ribbing sort of hugs the waist in back but also swings loose of it in front--i'd love to see it knitted a bit longer, to hipbone length, and with the wrap tied a little lower than shown on the model. the neckline is lovely and flattering on pretty much anyone, and modifiable with the cami chosen underneath. i don't like it as much as the knitted bodice, but this might be my second choice for flatteringness (and i've had my eye on this for a while as a potential project, so there must be something that draws me to it).
regine is a pdf, so i don't have a photo to show you, but i think this is a lovely choice of simple sweaters. the neckline is wide and squared. in the right size, if it doesn't cling too much, it would be very flattering on the right wearer. (again: right foundations. foundations foundations foundations.)
rusted root *requires* thin or toned arms. period. knitters intending this for wearers without them should just pass this one right by. beyond that, though, this is an adorable sweater, no doubt about it. right fit and it'd work.
saunshine's scatter, like any tank, in my opinion, also requires toned arms to wear alone. barring those, this could be layered over a long-sleeved hanes perfect t, i think.
cobweb is a gorgeous shrug. something like this can camouflage a multitude of sins over a strapless or sleeveless dress (say, flabby arms?). pretty sure this would look good on anyone.
the deciduous cami is mostly backless. lots of toning needed here, both arms and back. skinny straps like this aren't great on broad shoulders, but it really is a lovely tank.
the prosperous plum tank is a better tank for broad-shouldered women, like many of the tanks with wider straps. it also has better shaping than some of the others. but...again: tanks really require great toned arms. and it will require a good figure underneath and good foundation garments. (this is a pdf, so i don't have an image.)
the final nominee is the not-so-shrunken cardigan from wendy at knit and tonic. i really love this little sweater. it's totally unassuming, worn exactly right on the model, over a floaty white blouse and a perfect-fitting pair of dark-wash boot-cut jeans. i see pointy-toed shoes with them and this is weekend casual done great. the neckline is versatile, the layering is forgiving of lots of figure types (and flaws), and the sleeve length is comfortable and flattering on lots of people. maybe this replaces arisaig as my second favorite.
so...there you have it. my opinions on what to knit (the knitted bodice, the not-so-shrunken cardigan, and arisaig), and what (probably) not to knit (unless your intended wearer has some very specific body types). these are just my opinions, of course, something i'm never short of :)


Blogger Robin said...

Love the run-down of the Sexy Knits - I agree with pretty much everything you've said, including the fact that the Knitted Bodice would be flattering on just about anyone.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

Great observations ... I'm making the Simple Knitted Bodice on another KAL so I vote for something red, but I could easily go for the not-so-shrunken-cardi or a couple of other tops by Ysolda, I like Matilda-Jane & the Apocalypse Tree Hoodie ...

11:10 PM  
Blogger Estellika said...

Very interesting. Glad you shared your thoughts, especially for the knitalong, so I can choose what most people would be able to knit for themselves, together!

11:16 PM  
Blogger Estellika said...

Hello, if you have a chance, would you please go into detail about foundation garments? Or if you have already can you please point me in the right direction? I honestly am not sure what they are, and they sound handy.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Estellika said...

Hello, if you have a chance, would you please go into detail about foundation garments? Or if you have already can you please point me in the right direction? I honestly am not sure what they are, and they sound handy.

11:35 PM  
Blogger AuntieAnn said...

What an educational post! This helps me by articulating what I could not about why I didn't like some of the patterns, when all I could say was, "no, that's not for me".

11:31 AM  
Blogger mary said...

Glad I've found other What Not to Wear fans, like me. So fun to read your blog and I agreed with everything you said. I hope more knitters get the concepts and knit better items for their body shapes.

1:56 PM  
Blogger gaysknits said...

love your post, but i also love stacey and clinton and trinna and susannah i'll be visiting more often! great advice too!

4:54 PM  
Blogger Jeanie said...

Lisa this is FANTASTIC!!! Absolutely LOVE (and appreciate) this information!

7:48 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

I really appreciated your run down of the garments that are being voted on. It is helpful to have a critique of garments based on what body-types they will flatter and what ones aren't going to be flattering for many. As for Starsky, I've knit it, and you are absolutely right about it. I love it because it is comfortable, warm, and cozy, but I wouldn't classify it as a "sexy knit."

11:51 PM  

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