A cardigan for all shapes

posted in: patterns, personal | 33

This month has proven to be quite a traumatic one, with my mum and dad both suffering serious health scares and life once again having to adjust to accommodate the changing circumstances we find ourselves in. I don’t want to dwell on these personal difficulties to be honest as how life chooses to unfold is quite frankly, completely out of my control, and I’m finding the best way of dealing with it is just to deal with each day as it unfolds.

Maybe these shifting circumstances though have made me think “what the hell” for example, when I have been reading a lot online about our perceptions of our own body image, and I realised how reluctant I have been to ‘show’ myself on my blog and that maybe it was time to face this issue head on. I am not as young or as slim as many of the very photogenic people who write blogs in either the knitting or the vintage worlds and therefore tend to avoid ‘showing’ myself very often on my blog, and certainly not in a ‘what to wear’ post, which is frankly, pathetic. So I’m coming out! I’m a little older and a little fatter than I would choose to be in an ideal scenario but on the whole, I like who I am and have no desire to be very much different so what am I scared of?

Why we criticise ourselves like this I really don’t know. I am confident, articulate, educated etc., etc., yet I still go into freefall at the thought of going somewhere and having to get dressed for the occasion. I think for me it is because my clothes say so much about who I am. After being bullied at school for several years I found that expressing myself in what I wore gave me the confidence to enter a room full of strangers, to speak and to stand up for myself. As the years have passed, I no longer ‘need’ this help as much as I used to but just like putting on red lipstick makes me feel good, the right outfit gives me confidence. I have been a punk, a goth, a steam punk, a mod, a rockabilly, I have dressed head to toe in 40s or 50s clothes. Contrarily I have never been scared of standing out in what I wear. Yet I have to admit, maybe because of the bullying, other people’s possible opinions and reactions still un-nerve me. Somehow though, clothes have helped me find a confidence that wasn’t there when I was 16 or even 18 and for that I am very grateful.

I also have to think about what suits me a hell of a lot.  My shape is seriously hourglass – I measure 44-34-48. And even if those measurements each had 10 inches knocked off them I would still need to think about how best to dress to suit my shape.  So I believe the way to approach what I choose is thinking about shape rather than focusing on my size. If I wear clothes that suit my shape its just a question of them being the right fit for me.

I have been endeavouring therefore to knit more of the patterns from my books in my ‘size’ both so that I get to enjoy the garments myself but also so that I can model them for the blog – can’t quite believe I’m saying that!

So the garment I have finished most recently is the Princess Twinset Cardigan from Coronation Knits. The Pattern is designed using Excelana 4ply pure wool and is shown in the book in both Cornflower Blue and Ruby Red. The pattern comes in 11 sizes from 30 to 50 inches (76 to 127 cm) and is designed to be worn with approximately 4 inches (10 cm) of positive ease at the bust.

from Coronation Knits – copyright Susan Crawford

I knitted it in Cornflower Blue Excelana 4ply as in the book and only made very minor tweeks to get the right fit for me. The cardigan is knitted in separate pieces with gradual increases worked on the side seams of the front and back pieces. These main body pieces end with a straight edge to allow for the saddle shoulder which is knitted on from the top of the sleeve heads. The front slopes of the cardigan are scooped quite wide to allow for the full pattern of the Princess Twinset Jumper to be seen when they are worn as a twinset.

I wanted a neat fit as opposed to a loose one, so followed the instructions for the 42 inch chest. I have a narrow back and even narrower shoulders so it always pays for me to go down a size. Often on shoulders I have to decrease stitches to a much smaller size to get the right width but with this cardigan having a saddle shoulder and set in sleeve the shoulder width was fine (more on the importance of shoulders soon).


Due to a bit of a tummy bump I decided to also knit the welt in the same needle size as the main body to make it a bit more of a relaxed fit more me around the middle. I also wanted to be able to wear the cardigan straight rather than pouched at the waist.

I have ridiculously short arms for my height so I also reduced the sleeve length so that the sleeves didn’t start to get folds in them.

And finally when finishing off the garment I added extra press studs so that I didn’t get any gaping.

I love how this cardigan looks. The back detail really creates a lovely shape and adds interest both to the finished garment and also to the knitting process. This clever little twisted stitch doesn’t even require the use of a cable needle!

The back detail is repeated on the turned back cuff and also one repeat of the pattern is worked around the fronts and back neck where the two ends are joined using three needle bind off. With the shortening of the sleeves I only used 9 balls rather than the 10 specified in the pattern. However if I had needed the sleeves any longer than 17 inches I would have broken into the 10th ball.

I teamed the cardigan with a dress I got from Cath Kidston last year or possibly the year before. The skirt has a really flattering cut with four vertical seams which really help how the skirt drapes and keeps its shape. This dress has been washed countless times and still looks as good as it did when I first got it.

I also managed to borrow my daughter’s fab royal blue nail varnish which matches the cardigan exactly.

However I did forget to put on my lipstick for which you must excuse me! In short it really is a cardigan fit for a princess and also for me! You can see all of the garments or purchase your own copy of Coronation Knits from my website and I’m now going to quickly publish this before I start doubting my judgement!

for now
Ruby xx

33 Responses

  1. thedoublelifeofmrsm
    | Reply

    Susan, I am very glad you have taken the leap and posted a photo of you in one of your designs. First up, bumps or not, you look lovely! Secondly, you are absolutely right about focussing on size rather than shape. I too am an hour glass and not a tiny one but I have realised that friends do not view me as large because I work with my shape!


  2. zilredloh
    | Reply

    You and your cardigan look gorgeous! 🙂

    I'd love to see you in more of your own hand-knits. Thanks for detailing how you made your alterations.

  3. flossieKNITS
    | Reply

    It looks fabulous on you! You should definitely appear in more of your posts.

  4. Jane
    | Reply

    You look lovely, and the cardigan is great. Interesting to read what modifications you made, too. i like that colour on you.

  5. tomofholland.com
    | Reply

    Susan, that colour really makes your eyes sparkle. I'm very pleased to see you have taken this direction. In A Stitch In Time Volume 2 you already had some "plus size" models, which I think is great. To now make the leap and get yourself in the spotlight and show that you are beautiful is a very brave step indeed. Congratulations.
    And of course it also shows off your incredible designer skills!

  6. Sadie
    | Reply

    Beautiful cardigan, and you look really lovely in it.

    And I think it's wonderful to see things modelled on someone who isn't a slender young thing – I'm a similar size and shape to you and I do worry a little that the lovely fitted vintage cardis and jumpers I'd like to knit will just make me look like a knobbly sack of potatoes compared to the more usual models, so it's really encouraging to see that that isn't the case!

  7. Penny
    | Reply

    A really interesting post, particularly how you tweaked the pattern to fit you. Thanks for the photos, you've inspired me to add the cardigan to my 'to knit' list!

  8. Felix
    | Reply

    I love this post, for your honesty and for your generous explanation of making alterations to fit things perfectly to one's shape – it's really useful to read about that.

    It's really great to see you wearing your own design. One of my favourite features about Ravelry is that you can see any popular pattern on a lot of different body shapes and sizes. I think that as both producers and consumers of fashion, we need to diversify the range of body shapes and sizes that clothes are seen on.

    Huzzah for stepping into the light towards this end; you look absolutely brilliant for it.

    BTW I love my copy of Coronation Knits so much and have been thinking about doing the princess twinset cardigan for a while now! I'm even more convinced it will look good on me, seeing how good it looks on you.

  9. Nisse
    | Reply

    Susan, I'm so very happy to see you posting something again with you and and to see it goes relatively well with your family.

    The cardigan is lovely, and so are you. It's a shame that so many people are ashamed of they look because of a image created by society. That's what I love about Ravelry, real people showing how clothing looks on themselves.

    I'm looking forward to see you showing more knit wear, knitted by you, for you.

  10. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Thank you for your honesty.

    It is very helpful to read your commentary about how you adjusted the cardigan to fit you properly. It just shows that a well-fitting suitable garment is very flattering and looks great. You look very good in this cardigan and it fits you beautifully. I would rather see a garment on a "real" person, so that I can judge better what might look good on me. A garment on a waif gives me no help at all!

    Thanks again.

  11. BusyLizzie
    | Reply

    I think this looks lovely and I would love to see you in more of your own knitted garments. I too am curvy and it is great to see how your designs work on all shapes. I love your honesty and appreciate you sharing yourself with us all.

  12. Mim
    | Reply

    You look fantastic in your cardigan! The thing that persuaded me to buy ASIT vol 1 was meeting a lady in one of the knits from it, and then seeing more at the first KnitNation. They were all ages and sizes and all looked great.
    that colour really brings out your eyes, it's fantastic on you.

  13. elisesophie
    | Reply

    This is such a lovely, honest post. The cardigan looks so lovely on you, that colour really makes your eyes sparkle, like tomofholland.com said earlier. This also shows the great scope for variety your patterns has, and your notes on alteration was useful. My mum and I recently received both A Stitch In Time books and we're having great difficulty in deciding what to knit first; the designs are all so lovely!
    I'd love to see you model more of your creations and projects, you look so lovely.

  14. Mrs Juzzie Green
    | Reply

    Gorgeous, that colour and your eyes!
    Good for you for putting your self out there.

  15. B'ham
    | Reply

    That cardigan is just lovely… But you my dear, are absolutely beautiful !!
    The colour you chose compliments you and I may be a bit (okay- maybe a lot) jealous of your knitting prowess… You are very talented !!

  16. Anna
    | Reply

    Gorgeous jumper and you look fabulous in it! More posts like this please 🙂 I'm looking forward to buying Coronation Knits (been saving up for it as a treat to myself!) Anna xxx

  17. blodeuedd
    | Reply

    You look quite beautiful and the photos make me want to knit the cardigan. I was just puzzling over the same dilemma because I am the only person around here to model my designs but I always hope I can find someone slimmer and younger to do it for me. I don't want to put people off making my designs because they're depressed by photos of me wearing them. Thank you very much for showing that it doesn't matter in the least and that in fact the reverse may be true. I like to see how lovely your cardigan looks on a figure that has curves.

  18. thesheepshop
    | Reply

    You need never worry about posting a photo of yourself again – you look fabulous, and so does your cardigan.

  19. Maria (viola33)
    | Reply

    Susan, thank you for this post and for showing this cardigan on the real person (you) and not only on the model (though I find your model very pretty). We (your readers and customers) are real women, not models either, and its very nice to see how the garment looks like "in real world" :). BTW I think that women in 50s and earlier were not subtle like modern models. Just have a look at old movies and family photographs.
    I wish you family will get well soon.

  20. Fine Lightness
    | Reply

    I think you a very very beautiful. You shine! It is lovely to see you.

  21. Hélène Magnússon
    | Reply

    You looks stunning as usual, with or without red lipstick!

  22. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Thank you for showing what your cardigan looks like on a real woman. I'm always reluctant to try to knit something for myself when the model is unquestionable NOT my body type. You look gorgeous and the blue is simply fabulous.

    Patricia W

  23. Scully
    | Reply

    Susan, I have to say that on the few times I have met you, I've never thought of you once as being fat or old! I've also thought about how wonderful you have looked in the 'outfits' you have worn and of how well they have suited you.
    You are a very beautiful lady with a wonderful welcoming smile and personality and whilst I don't know you well, I'm always left with the impression that you are a very caring, warm and extremely talented individual.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, your feelings about not wanting to post pictures of yourself is something I can identify about myself and as I 'mature' I find that I am becoming less worried about what others think and am starting to have the 'What the Hell' attitude about such things.
    I wish you and your family well. ♥

  24. Susie Hewer
    | Reply

    Susan, well done you for being brave and facing your demons.

    Redheads rock no matter what their size or age (that's what I keep telling myself anyway!). That is a really lovely cardi and the colour is great on you.

    Good idea about the press studs as I hate gaping around my bust and upper tummy area.

    Love and hugs,

  25. Tracy
    | Reply

    Good for you Susan, you look absolutely lovely in your cardigan. I also love the back detailing. We all have our issues and frankly waste far too much time worrying about them. Goodness if we all looked the same wouldn't life be dull! 🙂

  26. Nicky
    | Reply

    Its so nice to be able to put a face to the name now.
    The blue looks so lovely on you.
    I do hope you appear more in person in your blog.

  27. Unknown
    | Reply

    You look fabulous in this cardigan! Honestly, I like it better on you than the model. Now I have another project to add to the queue!

  28. The Knitting Archaeologist
    | Reply

    You look fabulous, and I honestly think the cardigan looks better on you than the model. I'll be adding this one to the queue. Thanks for making an appearance 🙂

  29. Unknown
    | Reply

    You look fabulous, and I honestly think the cardigan looks better on you than the model. I'll be adding this one to the queue. Thanks for making an appearance 🙂

  30. thedoublelifeofmrsm
    | Reply

    Susan, I am very glad you have taken the leap and posted a photo of you in one of your designs. First up, bumps or not, you look lovely! Secondly, you are absolutely right about focussing on size rather than shape. I too am an hour glass and not a tiny one but I have realised that friends do not view me as large because I work with my shape!


  31. jmpeck
    | Reply

    You look wonderful in the sweater and it's a gorgeous pattern! Thank you for this post – it's inspiring confidence which is currently lacking a bit.

  32. elise
    | Reply

    The cardigan matches your eyes beautifully ! Brava, on modeling yourself in the photograph, you are sensuous and lovely.
    You and your folks will be in my thoughts, and prayers.
    Best Regards,

  33. hahnak
    | Reply

    va va VOOOOOOM

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