close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Saturday, June 12, 2010

DIY: Design It Yourself

You see a fabulous yarn that calls out to you from the corner of your local yarn shop. Your newest obsession. Is it Malabrigo, Madelinetosh, Spud & Chloe, Noro? It doesn’t must have it.

But what will you make with it? Can you find a nice hat pattern at the right gauge? Maybe some simple mittens? Perhaps you have a vision of your dream sweater, but none of the patterns you find are quite right. Enter Ann Budd and her handy books.

The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns gives aspiring designers a place to start. Ann provides a basic pattern for mittens, hats, gloves, socks, vests and sweaters in a variety of gauges and sizes.

While the charts may seem daunting at first, the basic premise of these books is very simple. You choose your gauge and size, then find the appropriate instructions in the charts. I like to photocopy the pattern and circle or highlight my numbers so I don’t get lost. Or, you can write it out like a regular pattern to familiarize yourself with the process.

For each project, Ann provides the kinds of great tips you would expect from a seasoned knitter and gives instructions for adding your own personal touches to your design. I have used this book for countless hat, mitten and sock projects, and the results have always been exactly what I had hoped.

The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns focuses on sweaters of many common constructions, including set-in sleeve, drop shoulder, saddle-shoulder, raglan sleeve and seamless yoke.

I used this book to create a saddle-shoulder sweater for my daughter. We call it her Pirate Sweater.

I added just the details I wanted: stripes on the sleeves, hemmed edges and a roll-neck.

I also created this sweater using Rowan Denim for my brother, who later confessed to not really liking sweaters of any kind. I gladly welcomed it back and it has become one of my favorites.

In addition to the basic do-it-yourself charts, Ann includes specific patterns for three examples of each construction technique. Again, there are tips and instructions for a wide variety of details and finishes.

If you feel like taking a little dip into designing, these books can provide a great jumping off point. So, go ahead and buy that fabulous new yarn. With Ann Budd's books, you can always design the pattern of your dreams!

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