My fat knitted wardrobe - part 2 - Peak shawl

Peak Shawl – The realisation that you have more knitted shawls in your collection than months (even weeks!) in the year and that you do not even wear half of them.

Becky - Ovis Yarns - wearing a pile of hand dyed hand knitted shawls

In 2017 I reached peak shawl. I had more shawls than I had reason to wear them. I don’t knit for others often and I don’t have many friends who would like to receive or wear a shawl…  Then the BBC released a trailer for the 13th Doctors costume and I became obsessed with the idea of making myself a Navy cardigan with a rainbow panel, mimicking the Dr’s jumper. A few weeks later I found myself at Nottingham yarn expo opposite the Doulton Border Leicester’s stand, and fell in love with their Semerwater colour way, a deep dark Navy. I went for it, I bought 5 skeins of 4ply, and it was the most money I had ever spent on yarn for myself in one go.

I came back from the expo and headed to Ravelry looking for a simple cardigan pattern that could be modified to have a rainbow stripe across… The one I settled on was the Mama Vertebrae. I had knit the baby version in the past, the sizes seemed generous and there were people of a similar build to me in the project pages (if I looked hard enough).

Sadly it was not meant to be… it took me 12 months to complete the body. I am not a monogamous knitter, and the acres of navy stockinette were not the first project I reached for. When I finally came to pick up and knit the arms it was Jan 2018 and they seemed a bit huge. Not so huge to be the biggest issue, but I’d say about 1 inch lower than I’d really like. But on I went… I knew I’d be seeing Ellie from Doulton in September so I wanted it finished to show her.

I was about to learn my first harsh lesson of knitting as a fat person.

“Just because a pattern has your size, doesn’t mean it has been graded for your size”

A knitted cardigan part frogged

The circumference of my picked up sleeves was 46cm and there was around*  8 – 12 decreases of two stitches. By the time I got to my elbow and the decreases had finished, the circumference of the sleeve was 31cm. Now I probably could have figured out the extra decrease needed… but I was angry and upset. I had spent over 12 months knitting this cardigan. It felt like the pattern had been graded by someone so unfamiliar with larger frame they did not realise that you don’t get fat in proportion. I was done. I frogged and frogged and decided to knit something else.

But from bad often comes good… and frogging the cardigan led me to trying something new and discovering a whole world of patterns I never thought I’d enjoy…

Next week: “Cropped jumpers on fat bellies – how I never thought I’d be a Jumper person”

*Now I want to just state here a few things:

  • I had gauge, both flat and in the round and the body fit.
  • My criticisms are approximate because I don’t want to give information about a paid for pattern out to the public realm.
  • I followed the pattern… to the point that I frogged and re-knit the sleeves 3 times.
This is a popular pattern and as I mentioned above, there are people of my size that have it in their Rav projects – maybe they altered the decreases, maybe they have some magic skills. This is my personal experience.

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