is this lesson J yet?

hello, and please forgive my absence of several days—we have been furiously uploading huge files for a The Work Project and any extra “connection time” had to be devoted to that.

on a bright note, i sent out 10 books on monday. done. off to the printer.
but then i got a whole other volume of books to finish off—only 6 this time, and actually, someone else will finish off the three more that go with them.

but still. i just now finished updating files for the day. each book has 2 tests and 10 lessons, A thru J. remedial math. and a teacher edition to go with. i’m kinda sick of it. but then, we all are (even you, right?). so, i apologize ahead of time if this post sounds distant. or if any equations creep in.
actually, i wish i could show you one or two—some of them are truly jaw-dropping in stature, despite their supposed remedial-ness (or maybe because of it).

it feels like forever since i had a normal amount of time to knit (3 to 4 hours in the evening, WHEN i feel fully awake and alert is all i’m asking).

i’ve been spinning more the last couple of weeks because it is soothing and uncomplicated. knitting has been a bit lackadaisical—i do what i can, but generally, my brain has felt like mush for it, especially the last few days.

i don’t have new pictures of any of that stuff, though—i missed the boat on daylight today. tomorrow i will regale you with visions of lovliness.

today, i’ll talk about the book, fitted knits, by stefanie japel, instead.

i looked forward eagerly to receiving this book, based solely on the title, i have to admit. i did not even know who the author was when i pre-ordered it. i purchased it strictly to satisfy my penchent for all things that smack of tailoring, detailed consideration of fit, or that hint at the employment of more involved technique (as tailored styles often do).

i think i thought that this book was going to be more of a study in garment construction and design, with information about how to make any garment more fitted—discussions of ease, different kinds of darts, different ways of shaping the body and sleeves, etc, and how to decide which to use where. more of a textbook.

so, i didn’t really do my research before i bought it. which is why i said in the beginning of january that, though i will not stop buying books, i will take some time to choose them more carefully, and i will probably not buy any more designer collections for a while.

but i digress. so, what i ended up with here is a sweater collection by stefanie japel, a designer known to favor top-down construction in her shapely silhouettes. she has had designs published in knitty, interweave knits, and several knitting collections.

this collection of feminine designs for pullover shells and sweaters, cardigans, a few dresses and a coat are very fitted, for the most part, with bust measurements ranging from around 33 inches to around 46 inches. many feature top-down, seamless construction, unique detailing, and allover shaping. there are underbust darts, princess lines, and shaping on the sleeves. for the most part, the necklines are open—boatneck, v-neck and larger round neck, rather than higher-neck styles.

there is a strong theme throughout the collection in the use of a wide horizontal banding to accentuate the waist area, coupled with a peplum-type hem. another featured element is the combination sleeve—puffed top with a straight, tight lower half. the overall feeling is young, soft and pretty, with a tendency toward the dressy rather than the casual. the yarns used are mostly easy to come by, and of nice quality; many styles feature yarns from the cascade line.

while a couple of styles had maybe a little too much going on, overall, the designs are cohesive and very nicely put together. there isn’t much here in the way of classic, fitted jackets, and i would not say there is something here for everyone.
though i have not knit from any of the instructions, at a glance, they are concisely written and seem fairly clear for the intermediate-to-experienced knitter.

the author gives a general overview in the beginning of the book about how one may further customize the fit of any sweater and make changes to the patterns. this will require the knitter to do some math, and to figure out where in the pattern to insert those changes. since the book is about fit, and there is encouragement for the knitter to make changes to achieve a custom fit, i thought it would have been nice if the pattern instructions would include a line or two telling the knitter (briefly) where to insert changes—”lengthen or shorten here”, “insert extra rows between decreases here”—that sort of thing. an example of a worksheet for keeping track of calculations or notes on custom fit might have been nice too.

the photography, book production, and layout is well-done—the text is clear, well-spaced, and easy-to-read. pattern notes are listed beforehand, and numerous photos of detailing are provided. some of the charts are tiny, but that is normal for book production these days.

one thing that always jumps out at me when looking at sweater books is how the finishing work translates in the photography. for some reason, those finishing details really pop in photographs. and here the sweaters show a few problems. the pullovers are generally flawless, but the cardigans seem to get a little sloppy. to be fair, this could be totally due to a lack of care of the part of the stylists, or from not taking the time simply to steam the garments properly. but i saw a number of troubled closures on otherwise cute sweaters. such as this

and this

the reason i mention this is not to be petty, but to point out that these things are probably easily fixed. to me the finishing bands just look a little loose, as if using a smaller needle would have tightened the fabric up and made it sturdier and more anchor-worthy.
i also wondered if possibly, these things are a sign that the yarns used should have been knit at a slightly tighter gauge, to give them more body. i have used top-down and circular sweater construction extensively myself, and have found that without seams, garments tend to need a little more support in the actual fabric, either from tighter gauge, or from cables and stich patterns.

anyway, to sum up, this is a book of very pretty sweaters with a definite fashion direction, and worth looking into if your fashion sense is young, soft, and feminine. it is probably more suited to the knitter who has some experience in knitting sweaters. applying the suggestions for customizing fit will require an previous understanding of garment construction and its relationship to the body, as well as the ability to organize calculations for pattern changes.

27 Responses to “is this lesson J yet?”

  1. Brenda says:

    Thank you. Very good review. I read on another site that all the sweaters have raglan sleeves, which I guess is due to a lot of top down construction (I haven’t knit top-down, so I’m guessing–tell me if I’m wrong). Anyway, the three sweaters you show pictures of do have raglan sleeves. For me, that is too bad, as I need a shoulder seam to not look dumpy. Bosc pear bodies and raglan sleeves are not a good combo.

    Editing math books (I tutored rememdial math and intro calculus through college)–you deserve a medal, or better yet some silk or cashmere yarn!

  2. Lynne E. says:

    Nice review of FITTED KNITS. I’ve looked it over twice, and decided not to buy. IMO, garments that achieve “fit” with ribbing to the waist aren’t exactly “fitted”, and of course there are the problems you pointed out with the models. These days, I don’t buy knitting books without looking at them first–there are just too many bad ones being published. FITTED KNITS was a close decision, though, and I suppose I may yet change my mind. :-)

  3. michelle says:

    Thanks for the review. I too thought it was going to be a more of a how to fit a garment than just another pattern book. Darn it :)

  4. Anne says:

    It must feel wonderful to have all that book stuff shipped off – sounds like you are making progress.

    A very informative book review. Thanks for including the pictures. Yah – the bands look a little wonky. I would worry if you weren’t stick skinny it would just make that “design detail” even more noticeable.

  5. Thanks for taking the time to do that review. It was very informative. I see what you mean about the button bands. It looks like in some spots those cardigans might be a touch too “fitted”, causing the button band to gap.

  6. Em says:

    Thanks for the book review! I’ve been hearing peeps about “Fitted Knits” for a bit now, and, like you, was quite excited at the prospect of a book on techniques for achieving the desired fit. While I’m a bit disappointed that this book isn’t the book I was imagining, it’s pretty neat to learn it’s written by “Glampyre”, and your descriptions of it’s ups and downs are quite interesting.

  7. Josiane says:

    Thanks for the book review: the information you provided here tells me much more than I could have found out from a quick page shuffling in the bookstore, and I really appreciate it.
    I hope you’ll soon be able to get a normal amount of time (and at the right moment) to knit. At least, you can spin…

  8. Tonia says:

    Thanks for the review. Very thorough and informative. I was glad to hear that at least there was a decent range of sizes. It seems that every time I have seen fitted garments they are for the size 0 – 2 stick person.

    I agree that the cardigans look too snug or something. The gaping is not very becoming.

  9. Beth S. says:

    I’ve been curious about this book for a while now, but I suspect it may not be for me. I see two, and possibly three, short-sleeved cardigans here, and my view on the cardigan has always been that if it is cold enough to wear one, then it is cold enough for sleeves.

  10. LaurieM says:

    Thanks for the great review. I found it very helpful.

    Sorry to hear that work is bringing you down. I hope you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Take care of yourself!

  11. Julia says:

    Thanks for this review. And for showing photos of some of fashion offenses that have been bothering me lately. I knit a Twist by Bonne Marie and found the gaping of the buttonband bothers me – I feel that with that sweater, simply incorporating more buttons on the band would have helped. I am not a stick person, but I am not oversized either and frankly will not wear something that gapes between buttons – because it looks like the sweater is too small. Gads! Who wants that? I had not considered that a denser fabric would have solved the problem, that is a good thing to think about for the next one. I had begun to believe that cardigans should not be worn fitted unless they zipped.

  12. kristin says:

    Thanks for the review! I, too, purchased the book based on the cover picture and the title. It is the only book I have ever sent back to Amazon. I was so disappointed. Don’t get me wrong – some of the patterns are lovely, but I was really hoping for more tailored and fewer cropped garments.

  13. Monica says:

    A very thoughtful review, thank you!

  14. I think it’s just a matter of getting a person to wear the proper size sweater for the body. Those buttons were definitely straining…

  15. but I like the first one best~

  16. Nancy says:

    I was so looking forward to your review!
    Thanky you, it really helped me make a decision.

    You made some really good points and reading your view makes me want to buy a knitting book written by YOU.

    So… when can I?

  17. C. says:

    Thank you so much for your review! I’ve been on the fence on whether or not to get her book since I just finished the designer’s Simple Knitted Bodice (SKB) and now I’m convinced I can wait a bit longer to get it if I get it at all.

    Apparently, the issue of where to tell the knitter, especially one in the beginner-advanced beginner stage, to place the customized adjustments is a consistent issue as I ran into this w/the SKB pattern.

  18. vanessa says:

    i hate it when the buttonbands are strained. even if you are skinny it makes you look fat. and if you have boobs, forgetaboutit.

  19. Laura says:

    From the title, I would have expected the same thing you did from the book. Hm. Disappointing, that. Also, I hope it’s not indicative, but in a book that encourages shaping, the models you showed don’t seem to have much shape… The sweaters they’re wearing could be off-the-shelf, as far as shaping is concerned. Also disappointing. I’d expect to see a range of body types to model the sweaters, such as tall, or large-busted, or quite small waisted, or whatever.

  20. Kristen says:

    I’m not a fan of Stephanie Japel’s designs, even if I AM a redhead. I simply don’t wear sweaters in the ways she suggests they should be worn. Empire waists, strained closures, horizontal bands, anything that ‘clings’? Goodwill. And oh dear heavens anyone who comes at me with a poncho, capelet, or shrug will be uninvited to my birthday party.

  21. Margaret says:

    Thanks for a very comprehensive review! I have to think this gaping button-band thing is some kind of style rather than poor fit as it seems to be everywhere. Skimpy does not equal fitted. Couldn’t agree more with Vanessa, who exactly does it flatter?

    Hope you get some knitting time soon!

  22. Karen B. says:

    You beat me to the punch on this one. Ms. Japel’s book arrived just yesterday and I noted many of the same things you did: wishing for more about fit and less about specific patterns.

    Overall, I’m glad I bought it – even if only as an “inspiration” piece.

  23. Spike says:

    Thak you for the extremely informative review–and rats!!! I, too, was hoping for a more technical manual (or even thirty pages of technical manual buried among the eye candy–you usually find this much “how-to-knit” in a pattern book).

    While I accept that one must have some garment construction knowledge, and a general feel for “average” proportions before knitting to fit, it would be nice to have something in-between “big baggy shapeless sweater” and “construct the pattern yourself from a sloper.”

    I had high hopes for this book. A pity they seem not to be well-founded.

  24. nicole says:

    I am a big fan of Ms. Japel and actually really like this book. However, I think you hit the nail on the head when you commented on the button bands on those patterns. In several of her other patterns, she incorporates the button band as she knits the body. This does not give you the opportunity to knit the band at a tighter gauge than the rest of the sweater. That will definitely influence how I will (or may) knit a particular pattern of hers. Thanks for the insight!

  25. Wanda says:

    I enjoyed reading your review. I’m sorry the book wasn’t what you expected. I’m sure that was a bit of a shock. I really like her designs and am waiting for my LYS to receive their shipment so I can get my own copy, but I have had a chance to see it and I did know the book was her designs. Some of the cardigans, such as the yellow one is chunky yarn (I believe) and some of those designs, I can pass on. I don’t care for the gaping button band, but I do like your tip of knitting it at a smaller gauge. I’ve also thought recently that top-down raglans due to no seaming, that the pattern should be knitted to a slightly tighter gauge throughout. Nice to have that thought solidified.

  26. Krista says:

    Thanks for such an informative review! I got my copy in the mail yesterday and was both pleased and disappointed. There are a few classic knits in there that I would like to knit; however, I am not a cropped sweater or puffy sleeved girl. I was, however, EXTREMELY pleased with Classic Knits (or was it Classic Style?) by Erika Knight– every single one of those garments I would knit. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that book!

  27. What book might you recommend that you think *does* do a good job helping a knitter modify a garment to fit her/his individual shape?