Sunday, April 06, 2008

Knitting in the Heartland - Stefanie Japel

I spent yesterday at the Knitting in the Heartland conference here in Kansas City. The guest speaker/designer was Stefanie Japel, author of Fitted Knits. She was phenomenal. I took the class she did on "Fitted Knits Techniques." It was excellent.

When her book first came out, in 2007, I dismissed it immediately because I figured the designs and techniques she used were just for skinny young girls who had great bodies. But after taking the class yesterday, I'm taking a fresh look at the techniques that she teaches, because I think they would make ANY sweater design fit better and look more flattering, regardless of one's size. In fact, I think that's one reason I've been so dissatisfied with the two pullover sweaters I've knitted is because they are just rectangular, with no shaping. So they look like knitted refrigerator boxes. Far from being flattering, they make me look matronly and fat all over.

Stefanie pointed out that as a designer who has always been into sewing and fashion, that many knitters don't have a sense of how to make things fit, or how to even measure themselves properly. Like when a patterns talks about "shoulder to shoulder" measurement - what the heck is that? She showed us, and even measured Christy in class, showing us how to do it for ourselves. She showed us the important measurements we need to get a good fit. The emphasis is on fitted, not clingy. I bought her book and there are several sweaters I'm excited about, especially the "Spicy V-Neck Tee" on page 31. It's adorable!

We knit a couple of swatches in class, including this one:

What she showed us was that you can take a series of increases and decreases and instead of just blindly following a pattern, you can periodically put in a lifeline, try the danged sweater on and see where it's falling, making adjustments as you go. There's a lot to be said for having confidence in yourself and knowing when something isn't falling right, making adjustments to make it fit your body better instead of just blindly following a pattern.

Much of what she talked about is along similar lines to what Sandy has been discussing in recent months over on Knitting Daily - about fitting sweaters to your body size and adjusting them accordingly. Sandy started discussing this in the middle of August 2007 and has had many articles about it since then. By sifting through the post archives, you can find these "fitting" articles because it's become a big topic on her site.

One article, called, "Are You in a Box?" features one of Stefanie's designs called the "Cable Down Raglan" (pictured here). It's a great illustration of how you can add shaping to flatter a middle-age woman's body. You don't have to look like Twiggy to use these concepts, folks.

This "Fitted Knits" book focuses on top-down knitting where you don't have to sew together separate pieces, but you start from the top down, try on the garment as you go, and make appropriate adjustments for your individual body style as you go along. She pointed out that there is a great article in this month's Vogue magazine by Lily Chin that covers some great fitting techniques. I want to get that mag. I don't subscribe to Vogue and seldom like the designs in there, but I definitely want to read that article.

I'm even more excited about Stefanie's next book, Glam Knits, which will be coming out in November 2008 because it's going to focus on 25 designs using luxury yarns such as Tilli Thomas etc. Like me, Stefanie likes bright colors and a bit of glitz, so I think that book will really hit the spot with my preference and tastes.

Tomorrow, I'm going to post some more about the Knitting in the Heartland conference. I could only get started today, and now this has run long. But tomorrow I'll write more.


Elysbeth said...

Sounds as though you are having a lovely time. Glad you were refreshed instead of overwhelmed.

Ellen Bloom said...

I always like hearing other's comments about certain books and knitting techniques. Thanks so much!

Jo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jo said...

What a great post, Chelle! I'm glad you had a good time.

I thought it was neat to see all of the different shaped people at the event who were wearing Stefanie's designs and how nice they looked on everyone.

Catherine said...

I have toyed with the idea of buying that book, but now, if I end up someplace where sweaters are useful more than 3 days a year, I definitely will get it.

ChelleC said...

I love this book. There is one called "Spicy Tee" that I want to figure out how to change gauge and adjust to worsted weight yarn. It's a short sleeve spring top that I will probably try to make as soon as I figure out how to do the math. Ha!

Teri said...

Great post, Chelle! I am so glad that you enjoyed the event!

Laura said...

I'm with you on the fitted knits and boxy sweaters. No, I don't want to show off every little bump, but then, I don't want something better suited to my fridge. I'm glad you learned some cool things and had a great time.

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