I was taken aback to see this photo of me, snapped for what I hoped could be an illustration for a sweater pattern I am working on. In my mind's eye, I was envisioning the thick, aran-weight jumper pictured as being quite loose and shapeless. Worn with a pair of men's cargo trousers I was going for a relaxed, oversized look. To see instead my figure outlined so frankly came as a bit of a shock. That I have a big bum and sharply tapering back is no surprise; these are the realities of my body and I am quite used to them. What surprised me, was that my contours somehow managed to re-shape this loose and boxy jumper! When a friend modeled this very item for me last week, it looked like an entirely different garment - despite her seemingly similar pear-shaped figure.
To me, this raises some frustrating questions with regard to making and selling patterns. For instance, how do you illustrate the finished product accurately? Using several different models seems like the obvious answer. But even then, it is impossible to account for all body types.
Moreover, for a garment which involves shaping, how can you possibly make sure that the shaping is in the right place for any given individual? It seems to me you cannot, which perhaps explains why most knitting patterns - even for dresses and fitted cardigans - go easy on the shaping.
I love knitting clothes with a highly tailored fit, and would hate to exclude that from my designs. At the same time, I recognise that the more shaping I introduce into a pattern, the less universal it becomes.
Coming from a background where everything I knit is a one-off and made for specific individuals, whom I can personally study and measure, the world of pattern design is very different from what I am used to. So perhaps I am just overthinking it. One thing I know for sure, is that I won't be the one modeling this sweater for the pattern illustrations. Contrary to what the photo above suggests, it really is boxy, with no shaping along the torso what so ever!