Knit Swirl! by Sandra McIver

Here’s a novel approach to picking well-fitting garments. Instead of studying gussets and darts and short-rows, measuring every inch of your body and calculating your shape down to the last stitch and row, just choose something you know will look good. Easier said than done. But it is possible.

Several years ago at one of Cat Bordhi’s visionary retreats, a woman named Sandra McIver told us about a sweater design she had stumbled onto by accident. It was based partly on the popular circular sweaters you often see in shops—but knit with a clever outside-in construction.

We pounced on her knitted samples and began trying them on. Quite the physically varied group, we marveled at how each sweater looked fabulous no matter who was wearing it. Not only that, but each sweater felt fabulous—it had the cozy embrace of your favorite robe, only in far finer fibers.

Sandra wanted to publish a book about these sweaters. Never mind that she’d never published a knitting pattern before. Years ago she conquered the world of wine, founding a winery that would go on to produce some of the finest wines in the industry. With that same confidence, passion, and skill, she turned this sweater into this book.

The patterns are divided into four basic silhouettes—centered circles, centered ovals, off-center circles, and off-center ovals. Although they share similar overall concepts, they do have subtly different proportions that cause them to drape and taper in their own unique way.

The patterns are all worked from the outside in, beginning with what seems like an absurd number of stitches and getting smaller and faster with each round. Each pattern also has a hexagonal diagram filled with numbers and arrows, accompanied by an equally daunting-looking numeric chart of the sleeve, lapel, and arms. Keep breathing, because they’re actually quite clear and intuitive.

Perhaps most unusual is the fact that these jackets do not rely on chest, arm length, or any other traditional measurements for their sizing. You simply measure the yoke—she shows how in the book—and choose from among the three possible sizes based on that number. Long, short, narrow or wide arms? I don’t quite know how you’re supposed to modify things (perhaps I could borrow a tip from Ysolda’s book?), but somehow it all seems to work out.

Each jacket uses quite a bit of yarn. Although Sandra gives very little room for yarn information, she has chosen her materials wisely. You’ll find gorgeous examples of Habu, Sundara, Alchemy, Shibui, and Tilli Tomas yarns, among others.


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