Thinking about designing your own knits can be pretty intimidating when you've never done it before, but Design Your Own Knits in 5 Easy Steps by Debbie Abrahams aims to make it a little easier by exploring the basic steps any knitter should go through when designing a garment or another knit project.
While the book sometimes feels like its in a bit of a rush, it does provide a decent overview of the basics and a guide to many of the options you might want to try as you design your own projects.
How to Make a Knit
Each "step" in the knitting design process (inspiration, putting ideas on paper, knitting a swatch, mapping out the design and knitting) includes multiple steps, guidelines and suggestions that should help you go about coming up with a design idea, sketching it out, swatching and getting the math right and ultimately knitting the design you envisioned.
The putting your ideas onto paper section, for example, deals with working with proportional graph paper (a whopping 48 pages of which are provided at the back of the book, making it look more detailed than it is), estimating gauge, understanding scale, simplifying your design, using pattern repeats, converting measurements into stitches and rows and planning a design area.
All of these are important concepts, and some are things you might not immediately think about when you decide you want to design your own knits, so it's a great idea to read through the book before starting a design or at least work on your first few designs with the book (or a similar design boo) at your side.
There are a fair number of illustrations, particularly in the first sections of the book, which make the concepts easier to understand and put it ahead of some of the older design books that don't offer a lot of diagrams of illustration.
Getting Down to Knitting
A full 46 pages of the book are devoted to the "knitting" step, which includes calculating yarn needs and writing up patterns based on a multitude of basic shapes, garment necklines and collars.
It begins with design ideas for scarves, blankets, cushions, bags, hats and socks, then moving on to basic sweater shapes.
It includes design outlines for basic pullovers (it calls them slipovers since the book was originally published in the UK) with drop shoulder, set-in and raglan sleeves, saddle shoulders, circular yokes, jackets and cardigans and various necklines and collars for sweaters.
The designs are shown in schematic form with different areas labeled with letters that correspond to different measurements you need to know, which are further described in a step-by-step description.
Once you have all these numbers worked out and you know the stitch pattern and the gauge you're getting with the particular yarn and pattern you want to use, you can just do the math to figure out how many stitches you need at each point, when and how much to decrease and so on.
This book is already pretty useful, but it would have been even more so if there were pictures of finished garments showing how the different design choices look in real life. There's only so much you can visualize from flat schematics, particularly if you're relatively new to knitting design.
Still, it is a book worth looking into if you're thinking about designing knits for yourself or others and want to make sure you're going about it in a logical way and a way that can potentially be reproduced, by you or someone else.
I wouldn't say this book is an indispensable guide to knitting design, but it does offer an approach to design that isn't too intimidating for those who are new to the concept.
Publication date: February 2008.