Sally Melville believes strongly that we should knit what we actually wear...that we should be looking in our cupboard and picking knitting patterns that are similar to clothes we own. Instead we often pick patterns that we want to knit rather than wear. She stated that the number one mistake knitters make is following the pattern...instead of changing it up to suit our body types. Sally is a big proponent of knitting flat (knitting in pieces), since she believes that seams are the essential skeleton, holding the shape of the garment. When participants complained about having to seam, Sally stated that if you have trouble seaming a cardigan it's because the pattern has not been written properly.
If you are unable to hear Sally Melville speak in person I highly recommend her book Knitting Pattern Essentials. Everything she talked about in the class is thoroughly covered in the book. If you are a newer knitter this book explains how to look at a pattern and adjust it to fit you properly. For more advanced knitters the books covers how to draft and knit your own sweater design.
One of my knitted cardigans that I feel fits me properly is Jane Richmond's Grace that I showed you in my last blog. This cardigan was knit top down before I attended the workshop. Besides doing a gauge swatch for this cardigan and adjusting the size of the armhole I knit the pattern as written. I guess I was lucky that it fits me so well. Another tip Sally gave us was to use sweaters/cardigans that we feel fit us well and use their measurements to help guide us when picking new patterns and adjusting the size. I can definitely use this cardigan to help me with that.
But I have made other top down cardigans which don't fit me as well, one being my Calligraphy Cardigan by Alana Dakos. In this case I feel I am always fighting to keep the sweater from sliding off my shoulders. I think it would stay on much better with seams.
I am still undecided as to what style of knitting cardigans I prefer. I am exploring many different methods. All I know is that I am tired of knitting a cardigan that doesn't fit me properly. This workshop really made me think about patterns in a more informed way. I also like the challenge Sally gave us of finding a bought sweater that we like and using the information given in her book to try and replicate it. Maybe that's my challenge for 2015.