April 15, 2013

Book Review & Giveaway: Knit to Flatter

Photos courtesy of Karen Pearson.
Knit to Flatter wholeheartedly embraces the phrase “variety is the spice of life.” In it, Amy Herzog guides us through the process of determining what shape we really are (and it may be different than you think, so do the exercises), and making choices in style and fit that will best flatter us.

Amy divides the womanly figure into three basic, easily-identifiable categories: bottom-heavy, top-heavy, and proportional, and goes into detail with respect to which design elements are most flattering to each shape. I think we’ve all found that certain neckline, length, and sleeve treatments are more appealing to us than others. Knit to Flatter will help explain why that is, and possibly even break you out of a routine choice that may not make the most sense for your shape.

Chimera.jpg Cypress.jpg

I'll be sharing favorites throughout the post. These are Chimera and Cypress.

Each of the three shapes has its own chapter that includes several sweaters designed to flatter that body type, and emphasizes the aspects of the sweaters (and in one case a skirt) that make them aesthetically pleasing. The patterns also include text boxes where Amy discusses how to modify the patterns to flatter other body types, so that if a sweater catches your eye, but does not appear in “your” chapter, it is not out of reach. Within each of the three main body types, there are variations – some women will be bustier, others may have a little “junk in the trunk,” as I like to say about my own “enhancements.” Amy has a chapter that covers these variations in detail as well.

The coup de grace is the chapter that brings it all together, where Amy discusses how to make the alterations that you will find yourself wanting to implement in all of your sweater projects. This is the chapter that will get dog-eared by many, as they use it over and over again. It covers waist and bust shaping (darts and short rows), changing the position and/or shape of a neckline, and changing the length of the bodice and sleeves. The information is clearly and simply presented, and geared to the average knitter who has not modified a sweater or does not do it on a regular basis.

Flutter.jpg Elora.jpg

Flutter and Elora. I looove those sleeves.

The variety in Knit to Flatter is not limited to body types, however. The book includes 18 patterns (15 designed by Amy herself, and the remainder by well-known designers Elinor Brown, Kirsten Kapur, and Caro Sheridan). It is clear that care has been taken to provide a variety of details within each body type section and throughout the book. There are some factors that are constant. Amy prefers a seamed, bottom-up construction with set-in sleeves (I am also in this camp – give it a try, ultimately you may be, too), and ample use of Stockinette stitch in key places for ease of modification. All of her sweaters include vertical darts, which can be further modified.

Dansez.jpg Stoker.jpg

Dansez and Stoker.

Within the base patterns there are 8 cardigans, 2 wrap sweaters, 6 pullovers, a tank, and a skirt. At least two of those patterns have alternate patterns included, one of which is a vest version. There is great variation in necklines – crew, scoop, V-neck, U-neck, turtleneck, square neck and cowl neck. Body lengths vary, as do sleeve lengths – full, flutter, ¾ length, short, and sleeveless. There is something for every knitter: 6 sweaters employ cables, 5 utilize lace, 3 are textured, and 1 involves colorwork. The patterns are very accessible, and are all the type that will become wardrobe staples – perfect for work or weekend. Knit to Flatter is a book that every knitter who wants to understand modifications should own. And one of you can! Leave a message in the comments telling me what routine modifications you either make or want to make to enter to win a copy of the book. Comments will stay open until the 22nd, and I’ll choose a winner by the 30th.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about Knit to Flatter and Amy Herzog you can catch her on her blog tour:

Monday, April 15: Rock and Purl - Ruth Garcia-Alcantud
Tuesday, April 16: Mind of Winter - Julia Trice
Wednesday, April 17: Mary Jane Mucklestone
Thursday, April 18: Moth Heaven - Julia Farwell-Clay
Friday, April 19: Baby Cocktails - Thea Colman
Saturday, April 20: Knitting At Large - Julie Matthews
Sunday, April 21: ADD Knitter
Monday, April 22: Savory Knitting - Amy Christoffers
Tuesday, April 23: Carole Knits

Posted by Julia at April 15, 2013 09:53 PM
In main


I do not like it if I stretch myself and the bellybutton is saying "hello". So I would lengthen the body!

Posted by: Hanni at April 22, 2013 01:07 PM

I've knit a lot of sweaters, but make very few modifications. Really though, I need to learn how to add bust darts. I have a small torso and a large bust, and I think that this would make a world of difference. :)

Posted by: Cheryl at April 22, 2013 10:50 AM

I lengthen the arms

Posted by: Kristin at April 22, 2013 10:47 AM

I lengthen the arms and increase the hip size compared to the bust.

Posted by: Jennifer at April 22, 2013 10:32 AM

I haven't yet made a sweater for myself but think I would make the body shorter to de-emphasize my hips and use waist shaping to accentuate my waist. I'm definitely "bottom-heavy" and need to learn how to make a sweater that both fits and flatters. I've been waiting for a book like this! Thanks for your wonderful, comprehensive review.

Posted by: Connie at April 21, 2013 08:42 PM

I don't usually make mods - knitting a sweater right now, raglan top down, and for the first time, trying it on as I go and doing waist shaping. Not sure how it will turn out, but as the advice was built into the pattern, thought I would give it a go.

Posted by: Willow Caroline at April 21, 2013 03:59 PM

I haven't knit a sweater for myself yet, but I want to learn to do bust shaping and change necklines (from crew or boat necks to V or scoop necks).

Posted by: ikkinlala at April 20, 2013 03:03 PM

I haven't knit a sweater for myself yet, but I'd love to learn to create a more flattering waist shaping so that I can.

Posted by: Connie K. at April 20, 2013 01:13 PM

I do shorten the sleeves and body usually - I'm quite short;)

Posted by: Agnieszka at April 20, 2013 11:52 AM

For me it is the position of waist shaping. I always need it moved up as I am only 5'0.

Posted by: Serena O. at April 19, 2013 11:02 PM

I always lengthen the arms of a sweater, if I don't I end up with 3/4 length sleeves!

Posted by: Helen Knits at April 19, 2013 03:08 PM

Waist shaping, if it exists, is never in the right place. I almost always have to add bust darts too.

Posted by: EileenD at April 19, 2013 12:34 PM

I am short and busty, so I find myself a little lost when I try to figure out how to create a sweater that makes me like what I see in the mirror ... somehow the proportion all seems wrong - like there is way to much happening in the top half of my body and not nearly enough leg to hole it all up. I'm hoping Amy Herzog can help!

Posted by: Sage at April 19, 2013 11:27 AM

I always need to modify the waist length, it seems. I have a long torso and long arms. I want to try using short rows to make little cap sleeves. I have been intimidated to try yet though. Thank you for the opportunity to win this awesome book! It is on my Amazon wish list! :0)

Posted by: amy at April 19, 2013 11:24 AM

I almost always add short rows in the front for my bust, and then if there's not any waist shaping I add that. I am not a rectangle and neither should my clothes be!

Posted by: Emily at April 19, 2013 10:15 AM

I want to learn how to make narrow shoulders with full bust adjustments. Till now I've knit top down raglan sweaters.

Posted by: Virginia at April 18, 2013 06:00 PM

I usually find myself modifying armhole length because i am petite from shoulder to bust. I've started to get brave about adding waist shaping in back when using cheap yarn. My recent yarn splurge has me determined to learn what I am doing.

Posted by: RJB at April 18, 2013 05:50 PM

I prefer my sweaters worn with more positive ease and need more room at the chest and hips. Am also interested in changing necklines

Posted by: SeattleSuze at April 18, 2013 02:27 PM

I am VERY short so always have to change length and where waist shaping occurs.

Posted by: Naomi at April 18, 2013 01:33 PM

I usually shorten the body and sleeves. I would like to try changing crew necklines into V-shaped necklines.

Posted by: Karen at April 18, 2013 01:18 PM

I have yet to make my first sweater, but I have sweater quantities of yarn for two projects in my stash right now. When I did a lot of sewing, I had to lengthen the neck to waist measurement to get a good fit, so I assume I may need to do that for a sweater as well. More importantly, the older I get (sigh!), the lower my bust sits on my body, and that would definitely have to be considered in making a sweater. I've been reading Amy's blog for a while and am very impressed with her work. I would LOVE to own this book! Pick me, PLEASE!

Posted by: Susan at April 18, 2013 11:26 AM

I have been wanting to learn how to use short rows to alter for a full bust, so I can knit a flattering Raspy in Rowan Denim! I already regularly add a couple of inches to the length of sweaters to adjust for my height.

Posted by: sewkate at April 18, 2013 09:15 AM

Lengthen Lengthen Lengthen! Torso and sleeves for me.

Posted by: Kelly at April 18, 2013 09:00 AM

Altering sleeves to make them full length!

Posted by: Charly Derham at April 18, 2013 08:38 AM

I always add extra bust shaping, and often change sleeve lengths.

Posted by: Sylvie at April 18, 2013 08:31 AM

I like long sleeves! I usually make them longer when I knit sweaters and cardis

craftink on rav

Posted by: craftink at April 18, 2013 05:53 AM

I lengthen the sweater, and often the sleeves if they're 3/4 length.

Posted by: Carolyn at April 18, 2013 12:30 AM

I usually lengthen my sweaters especially the sleeves. Lately I've taken to making a sway back adjustment too. I also prefer a high armscye so sometimes I'll take some volume out of the upper shoulder area for a better fit.

Posted by: Jesinger at April 17, 2013 09:19 PM

I tend to make the front and backs of my sweaters in different sizes. I'm not real busty, but I carry a little weight around my back and that gives me the room across the back I need without bunching under the arms.

Posted by: Thepatternslave at April 17, 2013 08:48 PM

I am big all over. Short rows and darts are my friend.

Posted by: Quinnwick at April 17, 2013 08:38 PM

I am dreaming of getting my hands on this book! I frequently add (or modify) waist shaping, mess with sleeve length, or change the neckline and or collar. I prefer V-necks and shawl- collars, which is a style that I love but I want to diversify a bit. I'm hoping that Amy's book will help me find the confidence to try a different style.

Posted by: Meredith MC at April 17, 2013 07:23 PM

I routinely change the length from the sleeve to the hem, and of the sleeve itself. I would like to regularly do some waist shaping.

Posted by: Karen Scheer at April 17, 2013 07:21 PM

I'm really glad I've found this information. Today bloggers publish only about gossips and web and this is really irritating. A good web site with interesting content, this is what I need. Thanks for keeping this site, I'll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can't find it.

Posted by: link more at April 17, 2013 02:05 PM

Looks like a must have for any knitters shelf. Thanks for the chance to win!

Posted by: Kat at April 17, 2013 01:20 PM

Just learned how to knit, so haven't attempted a sweater yet. But, I have really short arms and know that the sleeve length is something that I would have to modify.

Posted by: Tagati at April 17, 2013 10:12 AM

I usually try to make the arms longer. I also like to have the length of the sweater longer for myself as I am taller.
For my sister I have brought things in as she is rather thin.

Posted by: Maureen at April 17, 2013 09:46 AM

For the last 10 years, I have nearly been modifying every garment I knitted or crocheted so that it can fit me better, given the fact that most patterns do not work on a "stick" figured person like me! :)

So this book would definitely come in handy.

Posted by: Emy at April 17, 2013 08:26 AM

I've made a toddler sweater, and am ready to try one for myself, but the amount of yarn and endless variations in fit keep holding me back!

Posted by: Elizabeth S at April 17, 2013 07:19 AM

I am taking Amy's crafty course so this book would be a great companion.

Posted by: Jen at April 17, 2013 06:45 AM

As a fairly new knitter I am not even sure what modifications would be best for me, but I have heard great things about Amy and her classes and would LOVE to learn from her book!

Posted by: Gretchen at April 17, 2013 06:31 AM

I usually add more waist shaping and lengthen the sleeves. I actually took Amy's Craftsy class recently, and changed out the shaping in my newest sweater to use her vertical dart method - it fits like a glove! I'd love to win the book, looks like a terrific resource.

Posted by: Amanda at April 17, 2013 06:16 AM

I'd love to learn how to bust darts. I routinely modify waist shaping and adjust length, but understanding bust dart shaping would make a such a difference in my knitwear!

Posted by: Jen at April 17, 2013 04:33 AM

I usually change the shaping as I have a rather high waist, add short rows when possible or lenghten torso. I also tend to change the sleeve lenght.

Posted by: Isa at April 17, 2013 03:53 AM

I regularly do waist shaping but would like to do some adjustments in the bust area.

Posted by: Anita at April 16, 2013 09:35 PM

I need help making it appear as if I have a waist.

Posted by: Sandee at April 16, 2013 09:18 PM

The modifications I normally make now are to lengthen the torso and shorten the arm length. I would love to be able to learn more about shaping techniques. Amy's book would be a great resource. This is my first time reading your blog, and I love how books are now touring around the blogosphere. It's a great way to be exposed to new perspectives. Thanks!

Posted by: Esther at April 16, 2013 08:22 PM

I've got quite a few mods I have to make with each sweater. First, I have to Frankensweater two sizes together for my hips and my base size. My hips are considerably larger than my base size. I'm very busty, so bust darts are a must for me and I'm short waisted, so I always have to move the waist shaping. I'm also rather curvy so the shaping in my sweaters usually happens pretty aggressively.

Posted by: Erika R. at April 16, 2013 08:12 PM

Changing the length, or method of construction is my most common modification. I'm busty though, so I'd like to learn about short rows to accommodate the ladies!

Posted by: Nikki at April 16, 2013 08:07 PM

I would change the length of a sweater to avoid having the hem hit me in at my widest part. As for sleeves, I prefer 3/4 sleeves. This book would be a huge help as its been 20+ years since I've completed a sweater for myself.

Posted by: Carol at April 16, 2013 08:02 PM

I've only made one sweater for myself, but would like to mod my next sweater to make it more fitted.

Posted by: Geknitics at April 16, 2013 07:40 PM

I always need to shorten sleeves and torso length. I'm really excited that Amy is making modifications easy to understand and implement!

Posted by: Sandra David at April 16, 2013 06:48 PM

I need to make sweaters shorter and allow more room in the bust.

Posted by: Eloise at April 16, 2013 05:21 PM

I'm petite so I shorten the torso and arms.

Posted by: Lisa at April 16, 2013 04:47 PM

My most routine modifications are that I lengthen sleeves to about 19.5 in to the underarm, and I make the front of my sweaters narrower by about an inch on each side so I don't get the annoying bunchy fabric at the armhole.
I also tend to convert patterns from being knit in separate pieces to being knit in one piece or in the round.

Posted by: Karina at April 16, 2013 04:06 PM

Well, I'm short... so I always have to modify length of body and sleeves. I would like to learn more about modifying necklines. I've just finished Amy's Craftsy course and can't wait to dive into the book!

Posted by: Janelle at April 16, 2013 04:00 PM

Sometimes I make waist shaping at the back of a sweater. But I think there are much more possibilities for waist shaping.

Posted by: yarnbird at April 16, 2013 03:26 PM

I usually add length to the body. Thanks for the giveaway!

Posted by: LauraH at April 16, 2013 03:25 PM

Bust darts and waist shaping!

Posted by: Amanda S at April 16, 2013 02:28 PM

I have to admit that I don't make any modifications--which is why I really need this book!

Posted by: Carol at April 16, 2013 02:16 PM

I think bust darts and waist shaping can make a sweater really flattering. Thanks for the chance to win!

Posted by: Marilyn at April 16, 2013 02:05 PM

I'm relatively short with wide hips, so my sweaters need to either end above the hip or be loose around the hips.

Posted by: Sheila at April 16, 2013 01:37 PM

If I am going to make mods, they are simple--longer sleeves and body. Being tall, I find sweater lengths generally too short.

Posted by: Barb Thompson at April 16, 2013 12:48 PM

I'd love to learn to accommodate broad shoulders

Posted by: Kesha at April 16, 2013 12:41 PM

For me, the biggest fit issues are in the bust and shoulders, and I still don't have it right. Sigh.

Posted by: Melissa at April 16, 2013 12:11 PM

I'd love to learn how to accommodate my bustline and yet also have a waistline.

Posted by: Sandy at April 16, 2013 11:58 AM

I need bust shaping at a minimum, and something to suggest a waist. And I need to read this book and learn a lot about how to shape sweaters!

Posted by: Jan at April 16, 2013 11:48 AM

I am a new knitter so am just in the process of learning how and what modifications I can or should make. This book looks wonderful to help me accomplish my knitting and dressing goals.

Posted by: Debra G at April 16, 2013 11:48 AM

Bust darts! I need sweaters to fit closely under my bust so shaping is a must.

Posted by: Amanda at April 16, 2013 11:11 AM

Being tall, I frequently add length to sleeves and body. I would love to win this lovely book!

Posted by: Barbara Thompson at April 16, 2013 11:05 AM

I often shorten the length of the sweater and sleeves. But, I really need to learn more!

Posted by: Mary Anne at April 16, 2013 11:01 AM

I knit a lot but it seems like I mostly make small things(accessories and toys). this year I want to challenge myself and make sweaters. As far as fit I like a sweater that is a little longer. when I shop at the clothes store I find that the t-shirts and sweaters there are too short. It makes me self conscious - and I spend all my time tugging down the hem.

Posted by: Mary Jo at April 16, 2013 11:00 AM

I've never completed a sweater. I have one I started a couple years ago, but when I picked up to add the sleeves the yarn in the arm pit got so stretched out that I have these huge ugly holes there now. I was so disheartened that I put the sweater away and haven't touched it since. I guess I should either finish it or rip it out.

Posted by: Savannagal at April 16, 2013 10:39 AM

Shortly after I got married, my husband went Christmas shopping to buy me a fluffy bathrobe. Being a wrap-around style, the robe fit okay, and he proudly explained how he got the "right" size. He said he told the sales girl that his wife was "short, with long legs, a short body, and long arms." I said, "You made me sound like a gorilla." Many years later, it's still a joke between us. Petite sizes only work above the waist, and my "gorilla" arms need an extra inch or so. Most importantly, I've discovered that certain necklines make my face look like a balloon, so I'm usually limited to patterns with shawl collars or crew necks. I even hope to make your Adiri neckline continue further up toward my face--or will wear it over a collared shirt. I savored your review of Knit to Flatter and realized that if anyone could benefit from serious, custom-fit knitting, it's me! (I suppose I should add that, despite my body style, I do walk upright.) :-p

Posted by: Unwindle at April 16, 2013 10:36 AM

I haven't actually made a sweater for myself yet. I keep gearing up to do it. I pick a pattern, I choose yarn, I change my mind twenty times about the color, then I chicken out and make another pair of mitts or socks. Currently I'm in the stage where I change my mind about the color. I'd probably have to make adjustments for my largish bust size and I prefer sweaters with 3/4s sleeves.

Posted by: Kristin EM at April 16, 2013 10:34 AM

I routinely change the location of the waist shaping and the rate of shaping for sleeves. I am petite, so standard shaping often does not work for me.

I would love to become more confident in modifying necklines.

Posted by: KellyInTexas at April 16, 2013 10:12 AM

I would love to look at this book, as I am terrified of trying to make anything with fit!

Posted by: Amy at April 16, 2013 09:59 AM

I don't make a lot of mods to sweaters, generally, except that I almost always change sleeve length. I must have long arms or something, because I often find that sleeves don't quite hit in the right place as written. I'd like to learn to make additional mods, though, so this book looks great!

Posted by: Chris C. at April 16, 2013 09:56 AM

I am petite but I have a bust line, not usually an allowed combination.

Posted by: Kate at April 16, 2013 09:52 AM

Length and upper sleeves on fitted sweaters... Amazing how many designs think we have stick arms!

Posted by: JenS at April 16, 2013 09:20 AM

Routine alterations? In most sweaters create more room in the bust. In some, add a bit to the hips. And sometimes alter length. Oh and always add a bit more to the upper arm. Gosh, how much of the original is left? I can sure use this book.

Posted by: SallyBC at April 16, 2013 09:18 AM

I always have to morph between sizes because my hips are larger than "average". With Amy's book I hope to learn how to employ vertical darts so that I don't have to rely on shaping at the side seams. I want to learn to place the shaping within the body of the garment.

Posted by: LisaB at April 16, 2013 09:06 AM

As a relatively short person, I often make the body shorter and the sleeves, too. I suspect that I should be making other modifications as well.......I have much to learn!

Posted by: Mary Anne at April 16, 2013 09:02 AM

i make the upper sleeves wider (most of the time) and increase the buttons. i love buttons.

Posted by: duni at April 16, 2013 08:59 AM

I always have to add length to my sleeves and torso. Sometimes need to add waist shaping and bust darts, depending on the pattern.

Posted by: Terri at April 16, 2013 08:35 AM

I have a wide rib cage and large bust area so need to be able to make mods there without wearing something that's too big all over.

Posted by: Jessica (@gardenJess) at April 16, 2013 08:29 AM

Bust shaping! I have narrow shoulders and go by my high bust measurement for sizing, so I always have to add fabric to go over my breasts.

Posted by: Annika at April 16, 2013 08:27 AM

The mod I make on pretty much every sweater, is add length to the body and sleeves. I am 5'11 and most of the designs out there do not cater to us tall girls. But no worries, adding length is one of the easiest mods ever!

Posted by: carriejay at April 16, 2013 07:46 AM

I always look at the length from sleeve to hem and the sleeve length. Have also added waist shaping with good results.

Posted by: Karen Scheer at April 16, 2013 07:23 AM

I typically have to modify sleeve length, and often make the body longer. Great book!

Posted by: Dee at April 16, 2013 07:16 AM

I'm short-waisted with short arms, so I have learned to consider shortening the length of the body, and I nearly always shorten the sleeves. I remember my sewing class in Jr. High when we took our back neck-to-waist measurements, and I had to fold the pattern to shorten the torso of every garment I sewed!

Posted by: Anita at April 16, 2013 07:14 AM

I haven't made a sweater yet because I need to learn how to make it to fit. I'm reluctant to do a lot of work to knit and then have it not fit or not look good on me. This book sounds like it would be a great help to me!

Posted by: nelle at April 16, 2013 06:53 AM

I don't really make any routine modifications other than picking a size for what amount of skeins I have and then if it doesnt' fit, I gift it. It pays to be my friend :)

tbmccarthy on rav

Posted by: Tracey at April 16, 2013 06:27 AM

Short rows. Lots of short rows!

Posted by: Jen. at April 16, 2013 06:00 AM

I am short but have a long torso for my height. I usually lengthen the body a bit.

Posted by: Mia at April 16, 2013 05:08 AM

Usually I make the body longer and the sleeves shorter. The idea of using darts for shaping is intriguing, though!

Posted by: Kim at April 16, 2013 03:48 AM