Tigard Knitting Guild Book Review

Knitwear Design Workshop - A Comprehensive Guide to Hand Knits
by Shirley Paden
reviewed by Sue Lambert

Shirley Paden's Knitwear Design Workshop is the most impressive looking book on the shelf among many other knitwear design books. The oversized hardcover has a stunning picture of a knitted coat on the front along with a sketch of what is presumably the same coat. Inside the book, the almost 350 pages are spiral bound which allows the user friendly book to lie flat and stay open. The print is large enough to be easily read and the pages are not overly crowded. There are not many photographs until the end of the book which contains patterns for four projects, but those photographs are excellent. Notes, tips and other important items are printed on colored blocks which visually stand out. Each design includes a sketch and schematic.

Shirley Paden has taught and lectured about hand knitting and crochet for twenty years. She has published designs and articles in Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, Vogue Knitting and Knit-It. She has appeared on HGTV and Knitting Daily. On her website she states the goal to "Enable, encourage, and empower knitters of all levels to design." Her tools for the process are measurements and math. Her stated purpose in the introduction for writing this book is to "explain the various techniques involved in designing hand knitted garments with a perfect fit." She describes her approach as "architectural" with precise measurements and the extensive use of math.

Chapter 1 - Planning - covers the idea and plan, measurements, ease, and contains worksheets for four different garment shapes.

Chapter 2 - Fabric - covers fiber discussion, yarn construction, review of stitch patterns, gauge, symbols and yarn calculation.

Chapter 3 - Classic Silhouette pullover - and 4 - Alternate Silhouettes - are the chapters Ms. Paden describes as the foundation for using the rest of the book.

The remaining chapters cover cardigans, skirts, armholes, sleeves and cuffs, necklines and finishing techniques. Following this are the 4 coat and sweater patterns, an appendix with abbreviations and a design process checklist, standard measurement charts, additional shaping formulas, bibliography, supply sources and index.

This is the most comprehensive design book I have encountered. There is an amazing variety of design styles and information presented. The classic body worksheet at the end of chapter 4 is the most complete and complex worksheet I have seen. I originally obtained the book from the library but felt it worthwhile to own so I purchased it. I think it covers almost every design process and shape I could imagine needing. I liked the fact that it did include skirts and coats which many books do not. I realize that expanding the book to include circular or top down construction might have made it way too large but some mention these methods probably should have been included.

My only concerns about the book are that the math emphasis is intimidating and the index which is only 2 pages is not very thorough. The table of contents is quite thorough but not as user friendly as a complete alphabetical index would have been.

I would recommend this book for anyone interested in design and the design process particularly if math comes easily for them. I think beginner knitters would be quickly overwhelmed by it however and suggest that it is probably most appropriate for the more experienced knitter.

Available now in hardback, paperback, and electronic (Nook).

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