Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Review Week Day 2: Knitwear Design Workshop

Title: Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits
Author: Shirley Paden
Publisher: Interweave Press
Approx. Retail Value: $40.00
Release Date: 2/15/2010

In Knitwear Design Workshop, Shirley Paden provides a designing class in a book!  The book, designed to take you from planning to finished project, is THE book to have in every knitwear designer's library - whether budding designer or established.  As Paden states in the beginning of the book, she has written this book not to magically turn the reader into a professional designer, but rather to help the regular Jane knitter properly design, plan, and produce products of professional quality.

Right off the bat before I even read the book, I was in love with the spiral bound and notebook like design.  Although the book is a hard cover book, it has the feel of a book to be used in a class, as a learning tool.  Infact, in the very beginning of the book, Paden provides wonderful worksheets to plan your design and measure yourself  (or whomever you are knitting for), taking care to describe each measurement and how to obtain it correctly.She even describes how to allow for ease and provides an Ease Allowance Chart for easy measurement rendering.  Also at the beginning of the book, Paden describes body shapes and provides worksheets for drawing designs based on those shapes.

Step by step, Knitwear Design Workshop takes you through the basics of selecting yarns, taking care to educate the knitter about fibers, fiber properties, yarn construction, and weight.  (Personally, I feel whether or not one takes the leap and designs one's own garment, this section of the book should be read by every knitter!)  And she doesn't stop at the basics of selecting yarn. Paden goes on to give the knitter instruction on choosing stitch patterns, understanding and writing charts, gauge swatching, translating measurements to stitches & rows, and calculating yarn requirements - all before Chapter 3, no less!

Each chapter is designed to use sample garments to highlight Paden's lessons in construction.  Each lesson has full descriptions, math & measurement calculations, charts, worksheets, and tips to help ensure that every aspect of design and construction is covered and each garment fits the way the knitter prefers it to fit.  It truly IS a comprehensive guide to handknits.

If you are a newbie knitter, do not let this book intimidate you.  Flipping through the pages can seem overwhelming to the newer knitter/designer.  But once you start reading the book, you realize it's not out of your reach.  The techniques in design and construction are well explained - including transitions, increases/decreases, shaping, and finishing.

Over all, I learned a TREMENDOUS amount of information from this book.  For some odd reason, I expected designers to have some incredible magic force that allowed them to simply knit up a garment and then write it down.  I honestly thought designing would not be a part of my knitting repertoire.  But after reading this book, I realized that it's really a matter of planning, careful measurement, and creative expression that leads to a beautiful and properly fit garment.  I feel empowered to give it a whirl!  (And you should too!)

Chapters included in this book:
  1. Planning Your Design
  2. Selecting the Fabric
  3. Classic Silhouette Pullover
  4. Alternate Silhouettes 
  5. Cardigans
  6. Skirts and Dresses
  7. Alternate Armhole Shaping
  8. Sleeves and Cuffs
  9. Necklines
  10. Neckbands, Collars, and Lapels
  11. Finishing Techniques
Projects: Twist Flowers Pullover, Cable Coat with Cape Collar, Double Leaves and Twists Duster, & Peacoat (my favorite)
Thanks to Interweave Press for providing me with a free review copy of Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to HandknitsKnitPurlGurl Disclosure Policy applies.



  1. I bought this book a week or so ago. I have not read every word of it, but it seems to be well written and worth the price I paid.

    I agree that the book will certainly inspire you to have a go at designing something.

  2. This one definitely looks like a good one to add to my knitting library. I hadn't heard of it before your post, so thanks for the great review!


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