Thursday, 4 October 2007

The online knitting designer's handbook

So you wanna be an online knitting desinger? If so, you just need a dollop of creativity, and Barbarba G. Walker's Knitting from the top.

If you actually have this book to hand, and a modicum of creativity (or a few fashion magazines with knitwear to inspire you) you've got it made. Just an initial skim of a raglan topdown one button cardigan reminds one of a popular online designer's creation. The only difference is that the latter just throws a rib pattern below the bodice, but it's the basic shape and form (complete with button!)- but with short sleeves instead of long(p. 50, fig. 23).

Or if you want to make a cape/flared jacket, look at pg. 53-54 and you're all set.

It's not cheating per se, because it's a basic shape, but it just goes to show that with this book, you're already quids in on saving money buying the basic topdown patterns online, because Ms. Walker spells it all out for you. Yes, duckie, there is even a way to do topdown set in sleeves and it's very straightforward.

Knitting from the top is only 120 pages long, but oh my, what a lot of information in these pages! There are about 12 chapters, and each chapter covers a basic design element (raglan pullover, cardigan, seamless cape, seamless skirt, sleeves sweaters, pants and caps). Within each chapter, Walker breaks down the principles for you, and doesn't go further than third grade Arithmetic.

Ms. Walker's writing style is straight forward. She doesn't meander as much as Elizabeth Zimmerman, nor is she as overenthusiastic as Maggie Righetti can be at times. As a result, the prose is clean, and relatively uncluttered. In addition, the clean, basic diagrams help to bring her points across.

I'd say, if you had to choose between Knitting from the Top or Righetti's Sweater Design in Plain English, I'd go for the former- more bang for the buck and less Math if you're not that inclined. In addition, there's a simple stitch glossary at the front, about 20 different increases explained on page 20 and a short section on how to chart your own patterns, and how to convert piece knitting into the round.

I can truly see why most (if not all) the popular online designers cite this book (although not Chapter and verse). It really allows you to dictate your knitting. Immediately, I can see myself utilising the set in sleeve method (if I can avoid sewing in a set in sleeve, yayyy), or knitting Kim Hargreaves' Salina from the topdown, so that I can have perfect fitting shoulders!

Drawbacks? Well, the cover is old fashioned, the processes are shown in black and white photographs (when illustrations or coloured photographs would be better), and the typeface and the outlay of the papers are dated, but really, the information gleaned from the pages overshadows the frumpiness.

It's a really good book to have. Highly recommended.

ETA to add images from the book. Thought it would be appreciated. :)


hunnybunny said...

Thanks for the review, I think that will be making the holiday wish list for me. I need help. ;) Thanks for posting it.

JayJay said...

You know, I was thinking about getting a few of these types of books, because I find that I need to look things up more and more (for example, those 20 increases would be useful). Also, converting to the round would be nice as well (I think I can figure it out on my own mostly, but it's nice to have a reference. Thanks for review!