Big Girl Knits is not as controversial as The Da Vinci Code (no announcements about it yet from the Vatican), but it has gotten a whole lot of attention around the knitting blogs.

The first question with this book has to be this: How big a girl do you need to be before this book is useful? The quick answer: the patterns start at size 14 (national average here in Hamburger-a-go-go-land). Finished measurements range from 40″ to 60″. The patterns tend toward the trendy. This could be the perfect knitting book for big girls with modern tastes. By comparison, my other trendy knitting book, Denim People, has no sweaters for women larger than 40″. Some stop at 36.” And, in fact, a quick check of my entire knitting shelf shows that 42″ is the top regular size. So if you are a really generously built woman, you might find that this book is your favorite ever.

But that was only the quick answer. Because there is a section before the patterns begin (as well as a lot of stuff in the pattern section) that could make this book useful for many other knitters: the section on fitting. It has a completely different approach from all your other knitting books.

Before reading this, I would have said that fitting wasn’t an enormous issue for knitters. Sweaters are generally fitted at the bust, so you do a little calculating to make sure it fits there, and the rest of the sweater floats tactfully down the body. Set-in sleeves can include geometry and trigonometry, but that is a dimensionality issue, not so much about fit.

I think I was wrong.

For one thing, not everyone has his or her largest measurement at the bust. You might be blessed with a Jennifer Lopez kind of bottom, or you might be a guy with a bit of embonpoint. This book will tell you how to fit your sweaters at other spots, whether you’re a big girl or not.

For another, tact is not everyone’s main requirement for clothing. You might want to show off your bodacious bosom. This book tells you how to make your sweaters a bit more shapely. Again, this could be handy whether you are a big girl or not. My daughter has a very slim hourglass shape. If she knits a classic sweater, she has a choice between wearing it tight and looking boyish. This may explain the classic sweaters her grandmother and I have given her (not tight), and how they sit in her dresser. And if you are a C-cup like me, or bigger, then this book can help you get a sweater that is big enough in the bust without leaving 10″ of ease at the waist, or falling off the shoulders — again, whether you are a big girl or not.

So this book does not contain classic sweaters. You can use your calculator for those, and this book will give you some helpful suggestions.

There are lots of little worksheet-cum-charts which will help you with the math, too, if you are one of those knitters who says “aargh!” when people like me throw around phrases like “a little calculating.”

Now, I can’t say much about the patterns, because I have not knitted anything from this book. (I always get cross at people who write reviews at Amazon of knitting books without having knitted anything from them, don’t you?) There is a wide variety of patterns — socks, mittens, wraps, coats, pants, skirts, and a bag as well as sweaters. Since it is a collection of work by various designers, there is a lot of variety rather than a single unifying look.

If you are a size 14, and accustomed to looking at sweaters worn by size 2 models and guessing how they will look on you, you may find it difficult to look at these sweaters worn by size 24 models and guess how they will look on you. But it is nice to see curvaceous beauties, and to read positive words about them.

There are also some surprises in this book. I don’t think I had ever previously encountered the measurement known as “tasteful nipple distance.” And there are instructions for how to throw a measuring party for all your friends. By a remarkable coincidence, KaliMama had a post just yesterday showing her in the recommended outfit for such a party. She’s not that big a girl, but she appears to be prepared anyway.

So, to sum up, if you are a knitter who is more than 42″ around, you should probably get this book, if only because there are so few alternatives. If you are not that big a girl, or maybe not even a girl, but have been disappointed with the fit of your sweaters, then you should still consider this book. If you are a size 14 or 16 and are perfectly happy with sweaters from common knitting books, then just check it out at the library and see whether you like the patterns or not.

#2 daughter is still in the UK, where they had a heat wave in the low 70s and were having PSAs about avoiding heat stroke. The Americans of course found this hilarious (in our part of Hamburger-a-go-go-land, we don’t consider it hot till it’s in the 90s), but I trust that they did not point and laugh.