Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard
This knitting book has been out for a couple of months now, but just in case you just got back from Mars and haven’t heard about it, you’re in for a real treat. This is a great knitting book!
First off, there are a ton of great patterns that you actually believe you can A) knit and B) wear in public without embarrassment. I look at a lot of knitting books. If a book has 3 or 4 patterns that appeal to me it’s hit the ball out of the park; most books have none or one or two “maybes”. (That doesn’t mean the book isn’t filled with beautiful, expertly designed patterns – it just means that I didn’t find much that appealed to me and what I want to knit) Custom Knits has 10 patterns that I’m very interested in with about 5 more that might make my list someday.
Secondly, the writing is brilliant. Not just the pattern writing, which is clear and straightforward and detailed, but the writing is just plain fun to read. Wendy has a sharp, dry sense of humor, but it’s never mean or condescending – it’s fun. I rarely read a knitting pattern book like a novel, cover-to-cover, but I did with this one. Wendy also writes the deservedly popular knit blog Knit and Tonic which I recommend highly.
Third, there’s a lot of great instruction here. Wendy offers multiple ideas for modifying each pattern – lengthen or shorten the sleeves, change the neckline, turn the pattern around and make the back the front, try a different stitch pattern. She opens your eyes to the world of possibility (and shows most of the patterns with a couple of variations) There’s a valuable tutorial at the back of the book for designing your own sweater; everything is laid out and explained – no hiding of how the magic tricks work. Even if you never design your own sweater and even if you plan to always follow pattern instructions to the letter you will come away from this section with a much clearer understanding of the construction and fit of garments. Priceless.
Fourth, Wendy shows you how to make your own waist-to-neck dress dummy, created to your exact measurements. It’s just plain cool.
Now, I do have to admit – I haven’t actually knit a sweater from this book yet (by the way, the patterns are mostly sweaters but also include a scarf/stole, a hat, a beach cover-up, a poncho and a skirt) I can’t give you my experience with a pattern I’ve actually knit but I’m confident I’m not going to change my mind. I do have the yarn in hand for two sweaters – some Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed in a yummy chocolate brown (from the stash!) for Slinky Ribs (long-sleeved version) and some gorgeous Malabrigo worsted in mouth-watering “Buscando Azul”, bought especially for Tang. I’m sure they won’t be the only sweaters I knit from this book.
In knitting news, I’m nearing the finish of the first sleeve on Mr Greenjeans; I still have hopes it’ll be done yet this month. Flyingdales has been patiently waiting out Socktoberfest and NaKniSweMo and will be next. And I have 5 or 6 trillion small projects – mittens, cowls, scarves, hats – that I’m just dying to get to. Guess I need to add “more time” to my Christmas wish list.