Pick-a-Page: Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton

Filed in Just Stitches by on September 1, 2013 0 Comments

Each month Kellie and I have a theme that helps guide our posts for the month. This month with the beginning of Fall and the change of season our theme is sweaters. Of all the knitting books I have on my shelves, the most influential book about sweaters is Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton.

As you can see, I have a very old copy (first edition) purchased soon after it came out in 1992. This book has the unique status of being the only knitting book, other than my own, that I have read cover-to-cover, every word of every page. This is surprising for two reasons: 1) I am not really a reader, 2) there are actually a lot of words in this book! But today I am going to pick a single page and share what I glean from it.

I landed on page 170 & 171 in my copy. I didn’t try to find a page that was particularly familiar, but alas, many of these pages are and this one certainly is! It contains what is easily my favorite design from the book, an Aran Motorcycle Jacket!

Our pick-a-page feature is about what can we learn from any given page (or 2) in any given book. The first lesson I see on page 171 is that a blending of classics (in this case an Aran sweater and a motorcycle jacket), will produce yet another classic. Although this design is over 20 years old, you could knit this today and no one would be the wiser about “how old” the design is. I would probably toss the belt and add a little waist shaping to make it a bit more current.  But really, that is pretty minor. Overall, Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton is a timeless classic.

On the previous page, we learn about the importance of swatching, particularly when working with a variety of stitch patterns that will ultimately have a different gauge. We see how photos, swatches and other elements can translate into a sketch which very closely matches the final design. But my favorite is the last paragraph on the page:

“It’s not often that I pursue such a complex garment in knitted fabric. The experience was a lesson to me that almost any garment can be translated into knitwear.” – Deborah Newton

So what sweaters do your knitting needles hold for the upcoming season? Is there one already on the needles? Do you have one in your stash, just waiting to get started? Or are sweaters on your radar at all? Share your sweater knitting dreams for the upcoming season in the comments below and we will share ours too!

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