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Knitwear Design Workshop-A review

The irony of choosing to give you a book review today is not going to be missed by my lovely daughter.  She called me yesterday to tell me that the announcement of the closing of 12 of our public library branches had just been announced.  They close April 3.  Morrison Regional, formerly Sharon branch, is where the girls grew up and where I visit weekly.  It almost feels like a death in the family.  I wrote the County Commissioners; today I go to the library to pick up books on reserve.  I feel like Rome is falling all around me.

Shirley Paden’s Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits

I’ve been waiting impatiently for this book and it was worth every moment.  This is a must have–even more important to me than Principles of Knitting.  It is for would-be designers, but every knitter IS a would-be designer.  Surely you’ve realized that no one gets a custom fit from just following the pattern.  It has to be tweaked.  And how often do you really find the perfect pattern–right shape, right neck, right sleeve?

So much knowledge is right at my fingertips in this book.  Great schematics so I can really understand shapes.  The math is here; knitting is math–not calculus, but Algebra I and simple arithmetic.  And it is explained impeccably.

She addresses all shapes, styles, armholes, sleeves, necklines, skirts, collars, lapels, seams, buttonholes, stitch patterns–and then–she gives you worksheets that simplify it all.  The appendix pulls together resources, measurement charts, shaping formulae and supply sources.  Paden even includes four of her own designs.

If you are not familiar with her work, think elegant, textured, couture because a Paden design is always those three things.  These are heirloom pieces.

Now the best part.  The text is clear, logical and practical.  I want my green linen skirt to be an A-line:  That’s pages 163-164.  On these pages Paden

  1. defines the style
  2. shows a schematic with sample numbers
  3. illustrates converting measurements to sts and rows
  4. gives a sample pattern
  5. shows how to calculate the number and placement of the increases
  6. gives some hints
  7. discusses the finishing

Anyone can follow this and can knit a skirt with as much flair as you want.

I also went immediately to the Raglan sleeve shaping. (p. 178) It is different from the standard increase every other row formula you can find in so many easy, but ill-fitting patterns.

Did you know that V necks can be shaped three different ways?  Me neither.

This book is a treasure for any knitter who wants to knit garments that fit and that flatter.  If you can dream it, Paden has described it clearly and carefully.

Oh–it’s a spiral hardback on lovely, creamy paper.

It’s so awesome that we need to form a book club group just to explore this one together.

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4 Responses

  1. I am taking your recommendation and have ordered this book from Barnes and Noble using some gift cards. You had me when you said it was more important to you than Principles of Knitting. POK is really a technique reference and I’m looking forward to reading Design Workshop.

    Really depressed about the library situation and plan to check out volunteering at the library. Charlotte is such a world class city. Barf!!!!

  2. Thanks, Jane, I can hardly wait for my copy to arrive!

    So sad to hear about the library closings — I’m guessing this is part of the city of Charlotte’s budget issues? You’d think access to knowledge and the world would have a higher priority!

  3. YES YES YES!! I agree on all points. This books is absolutely excellent. I have flagged about 20 pages of it already. The best design book I have ever come across.

  4. It’s on my wish list at Amazon. But now, I may just go ahead and order it. Thanks for the review.

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