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5 mins with… Sally Melville

5 mins with… Sally Melville

As part of Kerry Knight Maher’s feature on Knit For Your Shape in September’s issue of Let’s Knit (on sale from 26 July 2013), she took the opportunity to speak to Sally Melville, author of Knitting Pattern Essentials, who was kind enough to answer some questions about adapting and designing knitting patterns.

The idea of adapting a pattern to suit their body shape can be quite overwhelming for some knitters, do you have some top tips for where to start and what to do which would help them?
The first thing to do is to measure a garment that already fits. Then find a pattern that is the same style AND that offers the same numbers (circumferences). Be prepared to shorten or lengthen (for body and sleeves). And that’s all there is to it!

Personally, I like the idea of creating and designing my own patterns but can understand that some knitters are quite happy with following a pattern exactly. At what point in your knitting life did you realise patterns weren’t always right and that you could change them to suit your expectations?
I suppose I am lucky that I learnt to knit from a Brownie leader, not from my mother (who did not knit). So my mother couldn’t help me when I started to knit garments and did not know that I was a naturally loose knitter, she did not know how to measure gauge, nor did she know I should have been using smaller needles. Because of all this, I began to measure and draft when I was very young. It never intimidated me, and like anyone else who has tried it, the rewards were so great that I never much considered following patterns.

When a garment goes very wrong, what are your go-to knitting moves that usually save you from ripping back?
Besides knowing how easy it is to shorten or lengthen, I will play with it! Pulling it this way and that, buttoning pieces together, and knowing that anything done three times becomes a design. Also, knowing that anything that looks like a mistake can be embellished to turn into a feature.

If you could only impart one piece of wisdom to a new knitter, what would it be and why?
Make the connection between your knitting and your closet. That means two things:

  1. Knit pieces that are the same size and style as what you wear
  2. Know what you are going to wear the garment with before you knit it

If you do this, you will knit what you wear and wear what you knit! People will admire what you have done, and you will honour your craft.

For more words of wisdom from Sally Melville, pick up the latest copy of Let’s Knit (LK70, September issue) for an extract from Knitting Pattern Essentials (RRP £16.99, Potter Craft). Plus, grab a copy of her book at or by calling 01273 488005.


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