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วันพุธ, ตุลาคม 13, 2553

Knitwear Design Workshop: The Comprehensive Guide to Handknits [Hardcover-spiral]

Customer Reviews:

 I've admired Shirley Padden's stunning designs for years and have hoped she might someday publish a collection. Instead she has done something better: meticulously and comprehensively laid out her procedures for designing carefully fitted and beautiful garments. This book not only guides the reader step by step through all that is necessary to produce original designs, but also offers a backstage glimpse into the thinking process of a gifted designer.

The publisher has gone to the extra expense of binding the book with an enclosed spiral binding, which allows the pages to lie perfectly flat. Many knitters prefer this and take their books to Kinko's for a spiral binding, which unfortunately involves amputating the spine. Knitwear Design Workshop, by contrast, has a strong and decorative spine so it can be found in a bookcase.

This 343-page book is essentially a textbook for knitwear design. Every classic silhouette is each presented with detailed reproducible worksheets, schematics, and measurement instructions to insure success, with sleeve, cuff, neckline, collar and edging variations offered in a separate section. Practical suggestions include comparing your detailed body measurements to the detailed measurements of a knitted garment of similar weight and texture (my suggestion: if you don't have an appropriate garment, go shopping until you find one to try on, then lay it on a clean cloth in the changing room and measure it carefully) to discover exactly how much ease you want exactly where (and there is a worksheet for recording each individual ease measurement). The author also offers sober gauge advice: knit a more realistic 8-inch swatch, instead of the usual 4-inch size, and after working about 5 inches of the actual garment, stop and carefully compare the gauge of the the garment with your actual swatch). Why take such care? Well, we all know what a fickle creature gauge can be. Clearly, the author wants you to end up with a garment that fits!

A small collection of rather ambitious knitwear designs are included as well, each one demonstrating how to apply the principles described in the first part of the book. These designs are explained in much more detail than usual, because they are meant to teach you how to think like a designer. The mesmerizing cover garment, for instance, called Double Leaves and Twists Duster, runs from page 291 to page 305.

There are also interesting discussions of how different categories of knitted fabric behave -the way they move horizontally and vertically, and careful discussions of selvedges and how to use them to achieve perfect seams.

This is a book to add to your knitting library, to use for education, for reference, for inspiration, and as a map for designing and knitting an original garment. 


I have been eagerly awaiting Ms. Paden's book ever since I heard it was being released, and now that I have it in my hands, I am not disappointed in the least. This is a complete reference on knitwear design, lacking almost nothing on the subject.

First and foremost, Ms. Paden presents the idea that we are creating FABRIC with knitwear design. The fabric that is made has it's own properties and characteristics; not just shaping and overall silhouette. This approach is similar to the dressmaker/sewer, who also works with a specific fabric in mind.

Ms. Paden begins at the beginning; that all design begins with the gauge swatch, and for the first time in all of my reading on the subject, she breaks down in a LOGICAL way all the math and how it corresponds directly to the gauge swatch. For example, the total yardage requirement for a sweater design is calculated by the total area of each garment piece (makes sense! I suspected this all along, but didn't quite know how to go about it...now I do), and how many "gauge swatches" will "fit" in the total area of the garment. Knowing the amount of yardage used in the gauge swatch can then be carried out to the entire garment. The entire design process is presented as a series of mathematical calculations that when broken down into logical steps, make perfect sense to even math-haters.

Garment shaping is also broken down into sections. For instance, different neckline styles (as well as many other garment areas) are actually graphed out so you can SEE the shape of the garment changing with increases and decreases. Ms. Paden makes graph paper the designer's friend; not the enemy, and makes the whole process easy to visualize and execute.

Another very notable and useful addition to the book is the series of charts and worksheets to be used for planning out the design. Using these worksheets in conjunction with the design schematic, a designer can create a blueprint for the garment construction, and progress from all the math into a written pattern. An ease chart ranging from actual body measurements of 32" to 48" is also included, as well as the complete CYCA standard size charts for all sizes from baby through men.

Some finishing techniques are also presented here, as well as an overview of fibers and yarns. The projects included are absolutely gorgeous, but not really necessary to this text; however, they do serve to show how the design process works with more complex garments. The cover design is an absolute masterpiece, and elements of it will be sure to inspire readers.

The ONLY thing that is lacking here is an explanation of designing top-down garments. Ms. Paden does cover cardigans that are knit in one piece to the armholes, then split into front and back, but I have not found anything on top-down design. Since this type of construction is fast becoming the favored way to knit a sweater, I was surprised to see it left out. It would not be so hard to apply all the design principles given to a top-down garment, though.

This book is a must-buy for anyone even remotely interested in the knitwear design process. No, it is not for the faint of heart: this is a serious text that could easily be used for a college course in design. There's no fluff here. Everything presented here, however, will transcend all fashion trends and styles and will be useful for students of fashion and avid knitters alike.  


Knitwear Design Workshop bills itself as 'A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits'. It is published by Interweave Press, a very reputable publisher that also puts out Interweave Knits Magazine, my favorite knitting magazine.

I think that this book is a very valuable resource for the intermediate and experienced knitter. However, is a too difficult for a beginning knitter.

The book covers a wide range of topics, all essential for designing knitwear: design planning, ways to select fabric, pullovers, cardigans, skirts and dresses, armhole shaping, sleeves and cuffs, necklines and collars, finishing techniques. It also includes projects.

I am working on a project now that I need to modify and this book is perfect to help me redesign what I'm working on so I can get just what my friend wants in a neckline.

I highly recommend this book as a valuable resource for design and pattern modification as well as complete pattern design. Some of the projects included in the back of the book are also beautiful, especially the Twist Flowers Pullover and the Pea Coat.

The only caveat I have for the book is that it is not for the beginning knitter. Otherwise, it is a wonderful resource.

Bonnie Brody, February 26, 2010 

Knitwear Design Workshop: The Comprehensive Guide to Handknits [Hardcover-spiral]


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