Book Review: Good Measure – Knit a Perfect Fit Every Time

Filed in Just Stitches, Point of View by on October 22, 2015 0 Comments

Several decades ago, back when Threads Magazine still included several knitting articles in every issue, Deborah Newton wrote an excellent article about fit called Fashion Doesn’t Stop at 40 Inches. So it was no surprise when her most recent book Good Measure – Knit a Perfect Fit Every Time was released.

Good Measure

Reviewing her designs from the early 80’s on when I first became a fan, I now realize that one of the reasons I was drawn to her, as a designer, was that she really understood the relationship between shape, fabric, application (how/when was the garment to expected to be worn), fashion and general attractiveness of design. Her designs were not only interesting as a knitting project but appropriately wearable as a finished garment. So when I was given a chance to review her latest creation (in the form of a book), I jumped at the chance.


Let me start by saying if you haven’t figured it out already, I am a huge fan of Deborah Newton. But that is as much about the quality of her work as a designer than for any other reason. Over the past few years, Deborah and I have actually become friends, having had the opportunity to teach together at an event a few years back. Also, the publisher sent a me copy of the book at no cost for review. That being said, I was already planning on purchasing it, I just wait until I have several on the list before placing an order and that wouldn’t be soon. Regardless of the above, I will do my best to provide an honest review, which of course is based solely on my observations and opinions.

An Overview

The book is about 175 pages long. The last 50 pages or so are dedicated to the patterns for the wonderful designs that are used in the book as “real-life” examples. What this means is about 125 pages of the book includes dense, meaty, valuable information about fit and design. Even with a quick glance, it was apparent that this really is “supplement” or “part-2” of her first book, Designing Knitwear. Whereas Designing Knitwear focuses on the creative process, Good Measure focuses on the tactics of taking a wonderful design and ensuring it will look and fit properly on your individual body.

The book starts by ensuring you have the right mindset about what a “good fit” really means. Next you move into understanding and actually taking body measurements (without these, you might as well not continue). Then you start looking a key sweater elements: ease, silhouette, and fabric, followed by an exploration of garment types and structure. Finally, before jumping to the patterns, a chapter is dedicated to the all-important discussion of alterations.

The Highlights

A few things popped out at me as I did my first browse through the book. First, there is a lot of really valuable content in here. And the little ribbon marker sewn into the binding is a valuable addition. This is not a book you will probably sit down and devour in a single sitting, but you won’t just want to skim over it, either.

Next, the sweater designs used as examples through the book and then provided as patterns at the end are not “simple” designs. It is easy to talk about fit, adjustments and modifications when the sweater is primarily stockinette or another simple stitch pattern, but that is not the case here. The designs are what I have come to know as “typical” for Deborah. They use interesting knitting techniques, have numerous details, and although they are elegant, they’re rarely what one would call simple.

The last thing I noticed right away is that the models used are not all the same size. Traditionally, professional models are all a similar size and shape so every garment will most likely fit every model interchangeably. But because this book is about fit (not just for models), the sample for any given sweater maybe the small size that is typical, but it may also be a medium, large or XL.

What This Book Is Not

Although there are 23 designs (several are a variation on a theme), I don’t think of this book as a pattern book. The patterns are included, but more because folks will see the beautiful examples and will want access to Deborah’s wonderful designs. So you could buy the book for the patterns, but that is not what this book is about.

If you want a quick, easy, no-stress, low-effort magic answer to all your fitting needs, you won’t find it here. The answers are definitely here, you just need to be prepared that it will take an investment of time and effort to see results. But if you do, I am confident you will be exceedingly pleased.

If you expect a knitting book to have lots of pictures and few words, you will be disappointed. Although beautifully photographed and illustrated, the inspiration is just a bonus. This book uses photos and illustrations to supplement the knowledge being shared. This book is a reference book, not an inspirational book.

What This Book Is

If you are a technician, someone interested in garment knitting, or a person who wants to understand more about the marriage of design and fit in the world of knitting, this book is a must for your library. The information it provides is both detailed and deep. There are lots of tips included that have come from over 30 years experience as a professional knitwear designer. Examples bring the information to life making it more accessible and practical.

If you want to knit garments, but are unable to consistently create a project that makes you happy, this book is for you.

If you have successfully done some alterations on simple designs, but aren’t sure how to move forward into more complex arenas, this book is for you.

If you are doing any level of sweater design, either personally or professionally and you want to improve your final product, this book is for you.

If you are just a Deborah Newton fan (like we are here at Two Sides – Two Points), this book is for you.

Final Thoughts

As my knitting bookshelves get full, I become more and more selective about what gets added to my collection. A good reference book that will stand the test of time will always win a spot on a shelf and Deborah Newton’s latest contribution to the world of books is no exception. Good Measure is a nice way to round out what I am now thinking of as the Deborah Newton sweater trilogy. Just as her first book has had a home on my shelves for over 20 years, I anticipate Good Measure will be keeping it company for many years to come!

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