Monday, August 16, 2010

Knitwear Design Workshop Book Review

I've been an admirer of Shirley Paden's work for many years. Her modern take on classic designs has always appealed to me.

This book is a wonderful resource for the Knitter that would like to improve their understanding of the design process as it relates to their individual knitting projects. I think it will be especially helpful for the Knitter that has no background in garment construction, as there is a lot of detail that is not included in basic patterns on how many design decisions are made. Shirley takes the Knitter through all the calculations necessary to turn a swatch into a garment step by step.

When I first started knitting garments I had already been sewing for some time and had completed basic pattern drafting courses. I knew what a flat pattern looked like and what steps to follow to put the pieces together as well as how to alter for fit. It's not unusual for Knitters to learn the basics and advance to garments without ever being exposed to that level of detail. Schematics are not really the same as a construction guide so I can see this book adding a lot of knowledge for many Knitters. I think it will be especially helpful for those who want to work from existing patterns but modify them for better fit and flattery. The sections dealing with yokes, collars and calculating curves and angles will be especially useful for Knitters without garment construction knowledge.

It covers many standard silhouettes in a step by step manner which would walk the knitter through the process from concept to execution. I think that it's not a book for the real beginner Knitter, you do need to have knit at least a few sweaters to really benefit from the high level of detail Shirley provides. The focus is on garments with no accessories but this is exactly the book I would have wanted early on in my knitting life. The concepts are ones that I eventually was exposed to by taking a design course from a machine Knitter who was a fashion school graduate.

I do have a comment about the section on skirts as I've known many Knitters to have problems when making knit skirts. If there is no closure and the skirt is dependent on stretch to go over the hips it's a good idea to do a stretched swatch for the waistline to make sure that you will be able to pull it over your hips. The first skirt I made had this problem and I've had a few purchased knit skirts that it was a struggle to pull over my hips. It's especially problematic for those with a large difference between their hip and waist ratios. I find that the elastic gathering on skirts can be unflattering and bulky so I make a seam opening and put an invisible zipper in by hand so that I can make the skirt more form fitting. I use a grosgrain tape and tack it to the inside of the waist to make it more stable. I line the skirt to make it more comfortable and to protect it from "seating" at the derriere. I think that these variations are beyond the scope of the book but it's worth knowing that a zipper and lining is possible for knit skirts and dresses.

You can find the errata for this book here

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