Books For Budding Knitwear Designers

Recently I’ve been doing some research into books which will help me advance with my knitwear design and I thought I would post the fruits of my research for anyone else who is looking for similar books, I’m not saying these are the best knitwear design books ever but they are affordable and seem to be well respected within the knitting community.

First up is Pop Knitting: Bold Motifs Using Colour and Stitch by Britt Marie Christopherson.

This book is amazing, it has some of the most unique colourwork and pattern design I have seen in knitting. It freaks me out though as some of it seems incredibly complex (it’s probably not really once you actually invest some time in it) and the book assumes that you know the techniques already.  However, the slip stitch ‘shadow’ patterns look fairly straightforward, I think I will probably attempt to master them first. The instructions are minimal, leaving you to create your own knitwear designs based on the swatches and their many variations, at the back a basic guide to design a sweater (read “canvas”) for these designs is supplied. I would probably call this a coffee table knitting book – it’s a real beauty. It’s not entirely useless to me right now and it will definitely come in useful in the future, it’s will really  inspire me when it comes to using colour, texture and pattern in my work.

Next up is Custom Knits: Accessories by Wendy Bernard

I thought this book looked a little bit naff, the styling is a bit iffy and the images of certain designs are repeated way more than is necessary BUT I bought it anyway because I wanted some help understanding how to design basic accessories such as hats, socks and mittens. It’s a good all rounder, it’s very simple and easy to understand and talks you through designing and adapting patterns for your own accessories. It has some basic formulas and charts for designing all the different shapes of each type of accessory. It’s not that basic though as the designs given as examples are actually quite interesting in terms of shape and detailing – not just run of the mill hats and scarves – there are bonnets and ponchos too! This book will help me to make my own designs without having to look for existing patterns as a starting point and the fact that I don’t find the designs hugely inspirational, I suppose gives me  a blank canvas to get creative with my own ideas!

Finally, a book I’ve had my eye on for a while, Knitwear Design Workshop: A comprehensive Guide to Handknits by Shirley Paden.

This book looks like the business, at first glance it appears to be a sort of textbook with areas where you enter information – so you’re learning along with the book and keeping a record of what you’ve learnt. I think this book is going to be the most useful as it teaches you the fundamentals of pattern design – from taking your measurements and applying them to different silhouettes to choosing the right stitch and yarn all the way up to adding extra details and textures to your designs. There are formulas and charts to help you acquire accurate results in every aspect of the designing process. If you’re looking for a practical, no-nonsense knitwear design book then this is it. Again, it’s not that inspirational, the featured designs are a bit frumpy BUT it is going to give you the tools to design pretty much any type of sweater you like so just buy it!

In Stitches

My stitch “vocabulary” needs expanding. I’ve mastered the basics and now I need some fancy stitches. How excited was I to discover “New Stitch a Day” blog then? Very! It’s a great knitting and crochet resource for beginners and pros alike which as you might have guessed, will teach you a new stitch a day. From basic cast ons to creative cables to fancy edgings, they’ve got it all! I’ve posted some of the stitches I’d like to try out below…

It’s cold outside…

Spring is still to rear it’s head and it’s going to get even colder this weekend. In some ways I don’t mind because it gives me an excuse to keep knitting big woolly hats and sweaters even though the weather is supposedly warming up! Anyway, I was out in the miserable cold on Lee High Road earlier today and I stumbled across a few shops I hadn’t visited before, one was a second hand bookshop which had a selection of 70s knitting books and magazines, the other was which I knew was in Lewisham but only happened upon it by chance this afternoon.

I opted for a Phildar magazine in the book shop which has lots of classic 70s woolly warmers in it… most of it is horrendous but there are a few gems. That said the pattern inside the front cover for a hooded Aran jacket complete with tassels – which was my main reason for buying it – doesn’t actually seem to be included. Bummer.

In knitshop I got a few skeins of yarn. Whilst they don’t have a great colour selection and it’s a bit muddled inside, the yarns are good quality and well priced considering they are an independent shop who don’t sell branded yarns. I got one skein of Alpaca Quito yarn in ‘Anthracite’, which is heavenly soft, drape-y aran type wool, a skein of Alpaca Fino in ‘White’, which appears to be finer, sturdier but still as soft as the Quito and a skein of Simply wool in ‘Black’ which is similar in texture to Rowan’s Creative Focus Worsted. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them all but I’ll probably post the results here soon enough!

We Are Knitters

Just came across We Are Knitters, a Spanish website selling yarns and pattern kits. Whilst I’m not a massive fan of kits as I find choosing the colour and texture of my yarn to be one of the most exciting parts of the knitting process, We Are Knitters do have some nice modern patterns made from chunky 100% Peruvian wool yarns. The kits are are reasonably priced, when you consider that you’re not just getting the yarn but everything else you’ll need to make your garment including the patterns and needles and on top of all that they have made their own instructional videos which teach you all the techniques used in their patterns.

The designs look quite simple and are really contemporary so could be a good gift for converting a friend who doesn’t knit already. I’d love to knit that poncho or one of the loopy waistcoats!

The Vintage Aran Dress

Sirdar, 1967

I have been stock-piling vintage knitting patterns, my battered leather binder is filled to the seams with designs from the 1940s through to the early 90s. In amongst the batwing jumpers and lacy twinsets is a selection of cute cable knitted dress patterns from the 60s and 70s. If I ever accumulate enough wool (thirty-six 50g skeins to be precise) I will knit one and risk looking like the Michelin man!

 This version is a from an issue of Mon Tricot magazine from 1973, I love the relaxed fit and matching socks!
This pattern from Emu is not technically a dress but look at that cabled skirt!

Below I have pasted some images of other Aran dresses I have found on the internet, whis is your favourite?

Needle Needs…

Need a needle case? Don’t wanna fork out for some chintzy rag? Make your own! Here is a needle roll I made a while back using this pattern I found on the ‘Made by Loulabelle’ blog. It’s easy to make and professional looking – I used some fabric from the Gambia and some left over scraps I’ve been hanging on to since fashion college. I am yet to design a mini version to hold all my DPNs and Knit Pro interchangeables (which came in a yucky, fiddly plastic case)…

Wool House

Wool House at Somerset House is on until 24th March, the exhibition claims to be the largest showcase of wool in the world. Designers such as Donna Wilson and Ashley Hicks have been tasked with furnishing a suite of rooms with a huge rang of woollen creations. I will be making a visit on Monday to get inspired… maybe some knitting ideas for objects around the home will be the result! Admission is free.