Sally Melville has authored many fantastic knitting books, from beginner-friendly manuals that focus on the simple beauty of the knit and purl stitch, to collections of stunning garments for all ages. Knitting Pattern Essentials fits somewhere between: it contains instructions for eight feminine garments, but the majority of the book is a how-to guide for drafting knitwear to fit our unique bodies.
In her introduction, Sally clarifies: "This is not a design book. Design is different from drafting, and this book is about the latter - the practical mechanics and support material that bring your vision to life." She goes on to explain that we-the-readers are the designers: working from our vision of a finished garment to choose special yarns or colour combinations, decide on stitch patterns, and create swatches of fabric that has the drape or crispness to match.
The first chapter, titled Preparing to Draft, explains angles and curves in knitted fabric, introduces the measurements needed to either copy an existing garment or create one from scratch, and contains an excellent set of basic silhouettes that demonstrate the effects of different sweater lengths and shaping on our overall visual proportions.
The next six sections walk us through the steps of drafting basic body shapes, shoulder and neck variations, hem and sleeve options and alternatives, side shaping, and cardigan styles. The book focuses on sweaters or garments that hang from the shoulder, as Sally believes that drafting almost any other knitted item will be easy once we have the skills required to draft a sweater.
Within each basic sweater shape, we are asked to fill in a worksheet with gauge information from our swatches and body measurements, and then we are guided through simple calculations that will produce pattern instructions. By combining a basic shape with our unique measurements for side shaping, hem and sleeve styles, we learn to draft original patterns for ourselves!
This book is written in an easy-to-read conversational style, and while Sally shares some of her personal preferences about garment construction and combining style elements, we are left empowered to stray from her path as we follow our inspirations. Highly recommended for intermediate and advanced knitters ready to draft their own designs, this is still suitable for adventurous beginners ready to leap into personalized knitting. Contact the shop to reserve your copy!
- Christa Giles