Swallows and Amazons For Ever

A friend of mine who is a DJ / record collector once told me that he had a dream about finding a rare and very expensive record, in his dream the record was €5 and he found it at a foreign fleamarket, anyway to cut a long story short – he then found said record whilst on tour in Europe, at a fleamarket for five euros. I wasn’t sure if I believed him until today…

Recently I had a very frustrating dream where I had stumbled across a stash of old rowan books in a charity shop (sad I know) and I had to keep going back to buy them – in that stash was Book Number Ten: Swallows and Amazons For Ever – the one everyone wants cos it’s got Kate Moss in it and loads of Kaffe designs. Ever since I heard about this book I sort of secretly desired it even though I’m not a massive Kate Moss or Kaffe Fassett fan, it always intrigued me… well enough that I’d actually dream about owning it.

So today after a morning of bad luck (came off my bike on the way to a hospital appointment!) I decided to cheer myself up with a visit to my favourite East Dulwich charity shop. I headed straight over to the shelves where they keep the knitting patterns and what should I see looking up at me? Yeah you guessed it. Rowan Knitting Book Number 10 for 75 pence! 75p! I nearly had a heart attack  (someone is currently selling this book on eBay for £51.99). Anyway the rest is history…

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!