Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Knitting for a Pear

When I was young, my mother told me that when she turned forty, she turned into a pear. She was over 40 when I was born, so I never saw her pre-pear figure, but I saw pictures and indeed she was a slim, trim gal until around the age of 40. She was never obese or anything near it, but after 40 she carried a nice little roll of fat around her middle and had an ample derriere and upper thighs to match.

I always assumed that my mother’s conversion into a pear was not the result of aging but rather was the aftermath of childbirth. She was pregnant for the first time at age 40, with my sister. I – her second and last child – was born less than a year after my sister. A couple of years ago I learned, however, that I was wrong in my assumption about my mother’s pear-shape resulting from childbirth.

My sister was always very thin. Much thinner even than I. She’s a couple of inches taller than I am but never weighed more than I did. She had five children when she was in her twenties and even after that remained very thin.

A few years ago, I was planning to visit my sister in Pennsylvania. She warned me in a pre-visit phone call not to be shocked when I saw her. She claimed that she had gained a fair bit of weight in the year or so since I last saw her. Knowing my sister’s figure, I assumed this meant that she had added two or three pounds. When I saw her, I was rather stunned. Now, don’t get me wrong. She is still most definitely NOT fat, but she had put on what looked to be about 20 pounds.

Being a sensitive and loving sister, I laughed and laughed. I did a bit of pointing at her mid-section. And then I laughed a bit more, as I sat sipping my coffee and eating a piece of cheesecake in my size 4 jeans. Her response? “Don’t laugh. It’s going to happen to you too.”

Sigh. Sigh. My sister was right. It started about three months before my 40th birthday and continued for until about three months after. I gained darn near 20 pounds. I turned into a pear.

So far, my new pear shape has not bothered me too much. I know that I’m still smaller than the majority of women my age and I’m certainly not one to get all tied up about how I look. I spend most of my time in sweatpants anyway, working away at my yarn dyeing. This weekend, however, I am attending a wedding and will need to dress for the occasion. OH NO!

I had no idea how difficult it would be to buy clothes when one is a pear. I hate to shop as it is, but found this latest shopping experience to be quite a nightmare. I tried on several beautiful dresses only to find that I looked as though I were hiding a child’s inflatable pool-ring under the garment. Eventually, I was able to find a dress that looks passably good on me. It’s a print in black and ecru with a fitted bodice and a looser-fitting mid section that gently expands into a slightly flaired skirt. At the bottom of the bodice is a thick ribbon-trim in black that gives some definition to my shape without clinging in any way around the midsection. It also has a sort of tie-thing at the chest that hangs down to the midsection and does a fair job of masking any bulges in the wrong places.

This horrific shopping experience got me to thinking about knitting for my new pear shape. I’ve been so busy lately that I don’t think I’ve made any new sweaters for myself in well over a year. I made a couple for my husband, but none for myself. This got me to thinking about the possibilities for knitting to camouflage my new spare tire.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still not a big girl. I assume there are plenty of knitting patterns out there designed specifically for big girls. But that’s not what I need. I need something for a Was-A-Small-Girl-Not-Long-Ago-And-Still-Is-Not-A-Big-Girl-Now-But-Needs-To-Hide-An-Inflatable-Tube-Around-Her-Middle-Kind-Of-A-Gal.

I’m intrigued by the idea of using color or stitch patterns to create the illusion I need. I know there is nothing new in any of the ideas I have, but they feel new to me as I’ve never had to contemplate this problem before. A few ideas brewing in my mind are …

Using color combined with modular knitting: I have a vision of doing a modular knit sweater, with squares and triangles mapped out so that at the midsection there are two triangles with their hypotenuse falling along the underarm seam and their points meeting at the center of my body. This would create two wedges of sorts around my midsection. If these wedges are in a darker shade than the squares fitting above and below them, I think it would work well to create the illusion of a narrower waist. Hmmmm…

Using varied cables: I’m also thinking about what possibilities there might be to use intertwined cables to create a slimming illusion. Perhaps a cable pattern where the cables are narrower around the midsection and then expand to a larger width as they move into the bodice. Hmmmm….

Using stitches and texture: How about a looser fit sweater with a stockinet body, with an inch or two of ribbing that actually runs up the sides (knit in the round, with the ribbing where the underarm seams would be). I think this might create a bit of a slimming illusion. The ribbing situated in this way would not be enough to cause the sweater to cling but it would gently slope inward toward the sides of my body, perhaps creating an illusion that my body is narrower than it really is. Hmmmmmm.

The possibilities are probably endless and I’m just beginning to think about this. Although it’s an interesting knitting challenge that I find entertaining food for thought at the moment, it is also a sad day. It’s happened to me. I am a pear.


AmysBabies said...

It happens to the best of us. I find myself heading towards being an entire still life! I would wager that whatever you make will be gorgeous. It could be an excuse to use more of that beautiful cashmere ;)

Stacey said...

Genetics. Gotta love them!

I love the cable idea - it could be intricate and beautiful!

anne said...

i've always been a pear—like you said, not big, but a pear. bigger on the bottom than on the top. plus, i'm hi-waisted.
i like 2- and 3-piece outfits. open cardigans and empire lines are great for this figure too!
you have a ton of options, don't worry! plus, you're so creative.
and, just to be sassy, show off that booty—don't hide it!

aija said...

Pears are my favorite fruit :)

Freyja said...

stripes that get thinner as they go up into a weave of cables. Then bell sleeves. It just needs a v neck. I'll let you know how that goes.

This is totally for real! My spare tire is going flat:)