Sunday, 20 April 2008

Design Your Own Knits

As you know, I've been having a go at my own knitting designs for the past few months. I guess knitters have always adapted and altered patterns to some extent but there can still be an element of following slavishly someone else's ideas. Going beyond patterns and exploring my own creativity is a big part of how I want to explore knitting today. My impression is that this is also part of the zeitgeist of the resurgence of knitting in the modern era. So I've been really pleased this week to acquire a copy of Debbie Abrahams' long-awaited book Design Your Own Knits.
Although there have been some US publications on this topic and also Alison Ellen's excellent books, this is the first UK publication to offer a really straightforward introduction to knitting design. The book is clear and well laid out, moving from creative inspiration to putting ideas onto paper, then knitting swatches and mapping out a design project for completion. There is advice on using proportional graph paper and on how to use different yarns and needle sizes for particular projects and to get the look you want. I particularly like the fact that the book covers bags, cushions, hats and socks as well as sweaters and cardigans. The sections on calculating yarn quantities and writing up patterns are very useful, especially if you want to be able to make your designs available to other knitters. One obvious omission is how to work out the number of stitches to be picked up for the front bands of a cardigan, and the font size, which varies a lot, seems unecessarily small in some cases. Overall, though, this is a generous book, building on the design courses Debbie runs around the country, and offering a professional's guidance to the amateur knitter who wants to express her or his own creativity.
On the actual knitting front I have made some progress on my throw, moving from brown to yellow on the big piece and, because it is getting a bit unwieldy to carry about with me, starting a smaller side panel in Irish moss stitch. I've not done any spinning: this is becoming a hurdle to be overcome. Although I've booked another lesson with Carole next month, there's a wider question about commitment to learning to spin that I need to think about.
Meanwhile I've finished off the socks I was knitting for my sister-in-law's birthday on Wednesday.