Minions (who do my bidding) and Followers (who do not)

About Me

My photo
Mama, wife, knitter, blogger, spinner, wannabe something or other. That's enough, right?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Review #6: Knitting Pattern Essentials by Sally Melville

'Tis another happy day here in the San Francisco Bay Area! I'm actually getting things done before the end of the month for once! I'm kind of amazed with myself...I suppose that's what a lack of sleep and a cooperative Little Man will do.

Anyway, it's time for another book review.

The book(s) in question are books that I have purchased (or someone bought me for a Christmas and/or birthday present) for my own fibery library. I have been given no money or other non-monetary forms of payment for my book reviews. The reviews are based on my own experience(s) and opinion(s) and may not necessarily coincide with the thoughts and opinions of other fiber enthusiasts (though they certainly may). I may also throw in some other fun information, if I can find it or if I know of any. We'll see where we end up...

Disclaimer. There it is.

Today's book is Knitting Pattern Essentials by the lovely Sally Melville.

Photo from Amazon

The Basics
Author: Sally Melville
Publisher: Potter Craft (March 26, 2013)
Softcover: 224 pages
Language: English
Cover Price: $24.99/$28.99 Canada (though you can buy it on Amazon right now for $18.98)

I discovered Sally Melville back when I was living in Wisconsin, specifically April 9-11, 2011. Little Man was just a little peanut back then at only a mere six months old. I had seen a couple of her books and a few of my knitter friends had knit some of her patterns. It wasn't that I wasn't impressed but it just wasn't something that was "me" so I passed it over time and time again. However, she was going to be teaching five different classes at my LYS (Woodland Studios in Stoughton, WI) and everyone told me how fabulous she was so I signed up for the two classes held on Saturday. The first class was "Knit to Flatter & Fit" and the other class was "First Choices, Basic Shapes, & Pattern Drafting (Set-In Sleeves)." You can find more information about those classes here.

Let's talk about Sally. First of all, she's fabulous to work with...she has such a creative drive and inspires everyone...even the non-knitters (seriously, check out the section on Woodland's page that Gary wrote...he's not a knitter but he summed it up perfectly). She didn't set out to be a designer and teacher. She was just a knitter that couldn't seem to get gauge. Ever. She had to start modifying and adapting patterns if she wanted them to fit her properly. A fun story is that she once took a one-day knitwear design course and was kicked out of the class for passing notes. Oops.

To date, she has seven books of her own and has work in another eight separate publications (so fifteen publications). She also travels throughout Canada and the United States teaching classes and giving talks to knitters' guilds.

Knitting Pattern Essentials is, at the heart of it all, a book form of the two classes I took from Sally in 2011. It focuses on knitting sweaters but the information can be adapted to other items, as well.

The first chapter, Preparing to Draft, talks about the different types of sweaters (knit flat & seamed, knit bottom-up, knit in-the-round, etc.). It also discusses standard measurements, positive/negative ease (something that I understand in my head but not on my body - I need to read that section a bit more closely), and that evil, four-letter word: swatching. Okay. so it's more than four letters...

Chapters two, three, and five talk about shapes (sweater shapes, shoulder shaping, neck shaping, side shaping, etc.). Chapters four and six talk about alternatives (hem alternatives and sleeve alternatives). Cardigan sweaters get their very own chapter (chapter seven). Chapter eight is about fabric, fixes, and finishing touches (something we don't always think about as knitters). Chapter nine is, of course, patterns, and the appendix is full of the "how to" and other items that don't really fit anywhere else.

This book is invaluable and I am so so so glad I picked it up...if only for the chapter about how to draft a pattern. Something that so many knitters do is knit a sweater blindly without really paying attention to how it's going to fit in the end. I'm guilty of it (although I really do love my first sweater), I'm sure many other knitters are guilty of it as well. They knit a swatch, get gauge, and follow the pattern. The first chapter talks about how items should fit, what they should be paired with so as not to look unbalanced or weird....basically, it talks about how to find your balance point and how to adjust what you have to fit your balance point (and yes, you learn how to figure out your own balance point).

If you're a beginning knitter, this book is valuable for teaching you what to look for in a pattern and how to adapt it to make it better or fit properly. If you're a more seasoned knitter, it can help you make your own pattern from scratch. It does have a lot of writing, it requires some math (ick), probably some drawing...but it is so worth it. I can't even begin to adequately explain how fabulous this book is for a knitter. Because it's such a recent publication, I have not been able to delve into it quite as much as I would like, though I did refresh myself regarding the balance point and how to fake it if you're wearing something that isn't right for your body (and I probably am).

If you're a knitter that has difficulty finding patterns to knit because you can never get gauge, you want to knit something that you'll wear and look good in, or you want to just start making up things as you go...yeah, you should get your hands on this book :)

I might just spend the rest of the night reading this book.......

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great guide to sweater knitting. It's such a treasure when a good book is found.