I always love any chance to look over a designer's shoulder and see what her or his process is like for coming up with and designing garments, and Debbie Bliss' Design It, Knit It: Secrets from the Designer's Studio, allows readers to do just that.
While the book won't teach you the basics of how to design a sweater or other garment, it does bring insight into how one might go about choosing design elements for a garment and what a designer thinks about and tries while she is mulling a new design.
So if a book called Design It, Knit It doesn't teach the nuts and bolt of knitwear design, what can readers expect to find inside?
The book is divided into six sections:
- Designing for the body
- Designing with color
- Designing with texture
- Designing for kids
- Designing with details
- Design workbook
Each section includes some of Bliss' thoughts on that particular subject, along with pictures of swatches that illustrate the design concepts she's talking about.
For example, the designing for the body section talks about adding ease by incorporating a vent to make more room or changing a rib to a cable pattern to draw fabric in. It includes thoughts on proportions, tailoring and sizing, as well as why patterns sometimes come in strange sizes (a pattern repeat might not work for a middle size, or the garment might not work well for plus sizes).
There are then three patterns that illustrate some of the concepts of the chapter (in this case a Garter Stitch coat, ribbed jacket and textured trapeze coat).
The final section is an exception to all this; it includes blank sketches of basic garment shapes you can draw on, knitter's graph paper for charting designs and a knitting gauge that includes basic abbreviations (and British to American English translations), information on yarn weights and needle sizes and more.
In all the book includes 15 patterns, most of which are for coats, jackets and sweaters. As you might expect from Debbie Bliss, all use her yarns and have her signature style of great details that are well thought out and executed.
While some of the projects have a lot going on, a few would be suitable for beginners or newer knitters as well.
Some of my favorites include the Color Band Sweater, a basic ribbed number with simple color changes at the hem, cuffs and collars; the Multi-Texture Throw, with its combination of simple texture patterns, cables and lace; the Smock Dress, an adorable look for a little girl; and the Button Detail Top, made simply of two long rectangles that are buttoned together to make a top.
Reading through Design It, Knit It and working some of the patterns will give knitters a better understanding of the though processes that go into designing knitwear and why these particular patterns might have turned out the way they did.
There are other books you can read to find out the nuts and bolts of knitting design, but this book provides a lot more inspiration and discussion of the aesthetic side that can help make your knits look more professional and fit you better.
Publication date: June 2009.