Knitting for Plus Sizes: The Chiral Cardigan

The Chiral Cardigan, designed by Coralie Meslin for Interweave Knits Fall 2010, is a dynamic take on simple knitting. Basic stockinette shapes are tweaked and turned to form an asymmetrical cardigan with gentle ruching along the front bands.

Asymmetrical cardigans can end up looking quite different on women ranging beyond the smaller sizes. On thin and small-busted women, the front of a sweater is nearly a flat plane (Figure 1). For women with more contour, the front becomes three-dimensional, reaching from the side seam to the front of the body and over the bust and belly, between the breasts, and back down to the other side seam (Figure 2). This can force the opening in an asymmetrical cardigan onto the most rounded areas, creating puckering and gaping along the fronts when buttoned, especially as you move.

One way to avoid this problem is to knit a size with positive ease, so that the fronts aren’t stretching and putting strain on the buttonband. You can also work more buttonholes, fairly closely spaced, to avoid gaping between buttons. The Chiral Cardigan already features decorative gathers along the right front opening, with a firmly knit band and then a ruffle that will cover any gaping showing along the edge of the left front. You may want to omit the waist shaping on the back and left front, unless you truly are hourglass-shaped. A-line body shaping is always a good alternative for plus-sized women.

Overall, the Chiral Cardigan is a great choice for curvy women—the asymmetry, differing stitch orientations, and V-neck all create flattering lines. But I do urge you to choose a size with positive ease and rework the body shaping to suit your shape. At 4 stitches to the inch, it’s a quick project in any size.

~ Lisa


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