Inspired to Knit: Creating Exquisite Handknits by designer Michele Rose Orne attempts to answer the question designers and creative folks of all stripes probably get asked the most: Where do you get your ideas?
The book includes 19 patterns, arranged around the seasons, along with notes about the designer's inspiration and tips for making a pattern your own.
The designer's notes and sketches also show how a design evolves -- for example, how a project initially imagined as a cropped shrug became a long cardigan.
The book includes four design workshops that take want-to-be designers through the process Orne uses to design knitwear.
They begin by describing where inspiration comes from and encouraging readers to collect items that catch their eyes to form a "mood board." The mood board evolves into choosing a color palette, then swatching and sketching, devising a schematic and styling your final idea.
While none of the lessons are particularly comprehensive (only one of them is longer than two pages) they do give hopeful designers a basic understanding of how an idea can become a garment.
Of course, not every designer works this way and not every design is so linear from starting with disparate non-yarn items to playing with a color palette to swatching, drawing and knitting.
Sometimes a yarn tells you what it wants to be or you see a garment in your head or on a rack that you just know you have to knit in a particular way. But this is one path to a garment design, and it's a good starting point for thinking about design in a creative way.
The book also includes a useful schematic worksheet on which a designer can put her measurements and the desired measurements for the top she is working on.
The patterns in the book are mostly pretty involved, textured or intricately colored patterns that wouldn't be good for beginners. While several projects, such as a ribbed halter top and a simple roomy sweater knit on size 15 needles would be fine for new knitters, other projects are clearly for intermediate and advanced knitters.
Orne loves shrugs, cardigans, coats and jackets, and these sorts of patterns take up much of the book. There's a fall foliage covered jacket, a shimmery, lacy shrug, a "poet jacket" with a lacy scarf attached, and a summer cardigan inspired by a butterfly, just to name a few.
There's a lacy knit wedding dress (which would be lovely as a fancy summer dress not knit in white), a vintage lingerie-inspired top and a super-fancy Victorian lace blouse knit from buy-it-anywhere fine crochet cotton.
Some of my favorites include the Lily of the Valley shrug, knit in an undulating pattern that looks like leaves, the aforementioned lingerie top and halter top, and a camisole with a twisted cable pattern that runs right into the straps.
The bottom line is that this is a lovely book that should inspire designers and want-to-be designers alike to take a look around them (and a walk outside) and see what sweater inspirations lie all around them.
Publication date: June 2008