close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Reading: Knitwear Design

When the days are sunny and warm, you may not care to knit a big, wooly sweater while you lounge by the pool (as I happened to do earlier today). However, if you want to keep your knitting brain sharp, consider increasing your skills and design knowledge this summer with one of our design books.

At the shop, we stock many useful resources for designing handknits to your specifications, using the design details that you want and planning so that garments actually fit the way that you want them to fit. In addition to Vogue Knitting and The Knitter's Handy Book series, we have a variety of knitting design books that would make great summer reading.

First, there's Jennifer Seiffert's Fearless Knitting Workbook. This is a book for beginners who want to increase their skills. It is designed as a sort of course, with "assignments" and a final exam. The assignments are fun and fast - squares knit to learn gauge and practice new techniques, like lace or cables.
We also carry Design Your Own Knits in Five Easy Steps by Debbie Abrahams. This book would be appropriate for the novice to intermediate knitter. Advanced knitters may even find some useful information in the book. It includes finding inspiration, choosing yarn, working with graph paper to chart designs, gauge, swatching and calculating yarn quantities.
Next is Debbie Bliss's Design It, Knit It. This is a relatively new book - published last year. It is more personal than the others, as Debbie Bliss shares what she has learned from decades as a successful knitwear designer. She highlights specific sweater patterns which illustrate points of her design advice, such as shaping, texture and color.
The recently rereleased Sweater 101 by Cheryl Brunette is a spiral bound book, making it easy to use as a reference while knitting. This book is in black and white and is very clearly written with everything the knitter might need, including helpful diagrams and math calculations. I like this book because it does not overwhelm the reader with too much information and the simple layout makes it easy to read.
The Cadillac of all design books, though, in my opinion, is the recently released and very impressive Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits by Shirley Paden. A bound and spiral-bound book, it also lies flat for easy reference. This book delivers what it promises: it couldn't be much more comprehensive. It begins with worksheets for planning your design, selecting fabric and yarn, creating the desired garment silhouette, common collars, necklines and details, finishing techniques and patterns for specific projects. This book would be most helpful for intermediate to advanced knitters and also would be a wonderful gift for the knitter who has everything.
So, if sitting by the pool with a heavy alpaca sweater on your lap doesn't sound like your idea of a good time, check out some knitting design books this summer. By fall, when cooler weather arrives, you will be full of inspiration, ideas and new design skills.

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