Custom Knits: Unleash Your Inner Designer with Top-Down and Improvisational Techniques by Wendy Bernard (of knitandtonic.net) [GoodReads] is a lovely book. I bought it because most written sweater patterns aren’t designed for someone as small as I am, which means I need to learn how to customize them. I don’t want to spend all that time knitting a sweater, only to have it come out as something baggy and blechy that I’d never want to wear. Also, most written patterns describe starting at the bottom and knitting up… which means you’ve knitted most of the sweater before you can try it on! Knitting from the top-down allows you to try-as-you-go.
The book is clearly aimed at the modern (20s-30s, female) knitter. The patterns are edgy, not boring baggy sweaters (whew!), but they’re items that real people might wear, and she includes suggestions for other ways to customize each pattern to “make it your own”. They all call for finer weight yarn, so more knitting but less-bulky sweaters. It has lots and lots of pictures… most of which involve scantily clad women and/or men. (Only the women are wearing sweaters. One picture seriously has a scantily clad pool boy in the background. I don’t know why.) The theme seems to be SoCal and beaches, since many of them are wearing swimsuits under their sweaters.
I wish there were more explanation of how each pattern works and how to calculate the numbers for your own body size, shape, and weight of yarn. She gives instructions for a wider range of sizes than most patterns do; I think in most cases the extra small is too small even for me (this never happens, so I’m excited), and she goes up to 3x-large. But the instructions are all for the particular gauge she specifies, so if you want to branch out by changing to a completely different yarn, you have to do the math, and figure out how to do the math, all on your own (or with another book). I love her narrative voice, and wish she spent more time describing how she decides what changes to make to a sweater, and how to make those changes.
My favorite part is the two-page instructions on how to make your own dress-maker’s dummy using two rolls of duct tape, an old t-shirt, and a hanger. (And cotton batting and your best friend.) I’ve been wanting my own dummy for a long time, but the highly customizable ones are ridiculously expensive, and the lightly customizable ones will never be my shape. This is something I could actually do. (I just need to wait until purpleleopard finishes moving and has an afternoon to spend duct-taping me…)
I’ll let you know when I’ve knitted anything from the book …