Waist Shaping: Choose Your Curves

In the last post, we worked out the math to get us from hem to hip on a pullover worked in the round from the bottom up.

Now that we are ready to actually dive into the waist shaping, there is a decision to be made: subtle shaping or curvy shaping?

Gentle curves: Dovetail Pullover (Spring 2008)

Remember, you are in control of the shaping, and there is no rule that says you have to do dramatic decreases that give you a totally hourglass attitude when all you want is a bit of a nipping in at the waist. You can decide how much shaping you prefer in a given garment. Too much waist shaping, and you're going to show e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g you've got—not good, not unless you are Beyonce. Too little waist shaping, and we're back to the box again. In general, if you have a rectangular figure (thick or thin), you'll want to go for the gentle waist curves; if you have any amount of hourglass tendencies, play them up a bit more with more pronounced curves.

Subtle shaping

Here, I thought we could turn to one of the experts in sweater construction and design, Ann Budd. In her book Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, Ann has the following instructions for gentle waist shaping:

Sometimes a little shaping at the waist is all that's needed to turn a casual boxy sweater into a sleek and slimming dressy sweater. Waist shaping allows you to custom-fit a sweater to a bottom-heavy or top-heavy figure. If the wearer's hips are broader than her bust (or his chest), you may want to have more stitches at the hips, decrease for the waist, then increase fewer stitches than were decreased to reach the bust circumference. Conversely, if the wearer's bust is larger than her hips, you may want to increase extra stitches above the waist.

Decreases and increases should be evenly spaces to make a gentle curve inward followed by a gentle curve outward. Typically, the narrowest circumference is maintained for about an inch between the last decrease and the first increase.

The easiest way to draw in the waist is to work a series of decreases at the side seams of the front(s) and back of a sweater. For balance, work on decrease at the beginning of the row and one at the end of the row—there will be a total of 2 stitches decreased. *Work even until the piece measures 1" from the decrease, then repeat the decrease row. Repeat from * until the number of stitches decreases at each side represents about an inch in width (i.e., total width of back is 2" narrower). *Work even for about an inch, then increase one stitch at the beginning of the row and one at the end of the row; there will be a total of 2 stitches increases. Repeat from * until you have the same number of stitches you began with (before the first decrease).

Excerpted with permission from Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd. Thanks Ann! And please note that while our warehouse is out of stock until mid-April on this popular book, you can still purchase it at your local yarn shop.


Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. She is now the author of the popular Knitting Daily blog: What's on Sandi's Needles.


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