Finding patterns for plus size bodies has been getting easier but I've noticed that they have one thing in common -- they are boxy. When Jillian Moreno and Amy R. Singer, from Knitty.com fame, got together to make a knitting book I knew I had to have it and with a name like Big Girl Knits, I'm sure you understand why.
Big Girl Knits has twenty-five unique patterns for women size 14 and up. Each takes into account the three important aspects of every plus size woman's body: boobs, belly and butt. The foreword is written by the author of The Fat Girl's Guide to Life, Wendy Shanker who says they "commissioned top designers to create this must-have collection of curve-friendly patterns" accounting for different body shapes and proportions. The pattern list includes pullovers, sexy tees, sleek skirts, and accessories.
Big Girl Knits is made up of nine chapters divided into 2 sections: "What you need to know" and "Patterns":
1 - Secrets of Big Girl Knitting
2 - Meet the B3: Boobs, Belly and Butt
3 - This is the Part Where You Get Measured
4 - The Two Indispensable Adaptations for Big Girls
5 - Pullovers (5)
6 - Cardigans and Coats (6)
7 - Tanks and Tees (4)
8 - Bottoms (5)
9 - Accessories (5)
1 - In this chapter the authors talked about what's wrong with the current world of knitting and what this book is about -- knitting well designed patterns for curvy bods, the importance of "meticulous measurements" (I actually was afraid of this statement. I mean it's not like every girl has a love relationship with her curves), misconceptions about big girls and colour (hard to believe that still goes on), and type of yarn. "On average we spend 2 - 3 times more than our skinny knitter sisters on yarn." We see this in the retail clothing stores too. And a few tips on using your knitting money wisely.
2 - This chapter explains how the patterns are symbol coded: boobs, belly, butt; and provides style suggestions for each. While they have a number of helpful guidelines they recommend breaking at least one to feel good. Each pattern is rated for level of concentration:
1 - half caf - straightforward with shaping
2 - expresso - shaping, color work, multiple stitches
3 - triple shot caffeine - complex shaping and multiple things happening at the same time
I tallied up the patterns and they consist of 17-twos, 7-threes and 1- 1/2 combo. Kind of makes you wonder why they even mentioned level one at all.
3 - In this chapter you're getting into the knitty gritty of the book. It's about getting accurate measurements and lists the required tools and techniques for doing so. They provide a step by step how to guide and explanation. You'll probably never take such accurate measurements on anything else. I would have liked a pull out sheet or insert for this section but it was easy enough to type up in Word. There is a note to photocopy but I couldn't get my copy place to go for it. Warning: pattern adaptations require math skills but if you can follow any intermediate pattern you'll probably be able to handle this.
4 - Here they offer two tools for customizing knit patterns with another chart to help organize required notes. A calculator would be an asset. The first tool is a waist shaper which is totally awesome. It will help you change any boxy pattern into a curvaceous woman's dream. Complete step by step instructions are included. The second tool is using short rows to "build wedges of extra knitting" which will especially help in the boobage department; instead of stretching your design to fit your curves you can tailor your sweaters to yours. This tool is a little more involved than the first because it includes visual knitting techniques.
Big Girl Knits isn't a learn-to-knit book; although there are a few learnable techniques. The reader needs to have an understanding of the fundamentals of knitting and the aptitude for pattern design. This book isn't for the lazy knitter. The patterns are geared for sizes large - 3x but I would have liked to have seen another size or two. Overall, it's a great pattern book with beautiful designs, excellent finished product photos with real plus size models, and side bars throughout with pattern notes. The material is delivered with a light comical tone that is refreshing and stress free. Do I like all the designs? No, but then again I have yet to find any pattern book where I loved every design it. Go forth and make curvy things!
Big Girl Knits and other plus size knitting books are available from Amazon.
M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario, Canada. She has been a content writer for ten years and a blogger for six. If you are going to find this eclectic reader and writer anywhere it is probably at her computer. For more information visit her official website.