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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About LisaShroyer

Lisa Shroyer is Content Strategist for the Knitting group at F+W. She is the former editor of knitscene and Interweave Knits magazines.

10 thoughts on “Knitting for Plus Sizes: The Chiral Cardigan

  1. I have to respectfully disagree with the A-line shaping for all plus sized figures. I have a classic hourglass figure at a 24W and A-line is the LAST thing I would ever want to put on myself.

  2. I really REALLY appreciate the information regarding reshaping the pattern for one’s body type. That is often lacking and even though I personally feel that I’m at least an intermediate or better knitter as far as technique with stitches and inatarsia, etc., I fall short on adapting a pattern to my body type. I will often bypass a pattern thinking that even though it’s very cute, it wouldn’t flatter me.
    Well, I am going to try this one. Thanks for the great advice.

  3. After reading about these sweaters on Knitting Daily, I remembered that on another cardigan I made I stitched a 6 – 8 inch length of matching grosgrain ribbon along the inside back of neck of the sweater. I found this to be a good stabilizer for keeping the sweater from stretching out too much. I think one could even have the ribbon go from shoulder to shoulder as well. I love the look of the sweaters above! I might try this soon.

  4. Hey, Bonnie – short answer: If you have positive ease, it means the garment, unstretched, is larger than your actual measurements.

    longer answer: This is handy if you have a fairly fitted garment, but you don’t want to show certain lumps and bumps. If you give yourself an extra inch or two, the garment will skim your body so it doesn’t add extra bulk, but won’t cling to the aforementioned lumps and bumps.

    flip side: sometimes if you have, say, a proportionately large bust, fitting garments to your bust leaves the waist fluttering in the breeze, adding that dreaded faux bulk that nobody really wants. In that case, you may also wish to flirt with NEGATIVE ease, knitting (or buying) garments that fit your waist, but stretch over the bust. It’s partly a matter of personal taste and partly a matter of the drape of the fabric.