Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Custom Knits"

I recently received a copy of "Custom Knits" by Wendy Bernard. The sub-title is "Unleash Your Inner Designer with Top-down and Improvisational Techniques." Oh yeah, this is right up my alley. I'm the queen of top-down sweaters. Lately, they are the only kind I like to knit and crochet.
I've been reading Wendy's blog for awhile now. In fact, I think she used to read my blog too. A few years ago she contacted me about mid-century modern locations in Los Angeles. She said that she loved that 50's, 60's style and wanted her sweaters photographed in that context. I gave her a few suggestions, but, by the time she got around to selling her book, I suppose her publishers, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, had other ideas. There isn't a Googie-styled or Mid-Century Modern building in the background of any of the photos. I did spy a long surfboard on the cover, a rattan patio set and one shot in front of the vintage Hollywood Sign though. The photos are excellent and really show off the construction of the sweaters. That's the point, right?
I have been taking the book to a few Stitch 'n Bitch meetings for comments. Many people were put off by the numerous underwear shots in strange locations (like the kitchen counter, for instance). Aw, come one! We have to make fun of something! The photographer, photostylist and production manager are probably the ones that came up with these improbable locations and photo ideas. There is one shot of a lovely sweater called "Slinky Ribs" with a woman leaning against a sofa, poolside (do you have a sofa outside?). Anyway, the pool guy in the background, cleaning the pool is kinda' blurry, but there is a perfectly placed strategic ray of light across his particular area that many of the ladies have appreciated (thanks for noticing, Mary). At least Wendy's sweater designs are fine.

I'm definitely knitting "Ingenue"

I rarely follow a prescribed pattern. You don't have to if you knit/crochet sweaters using the percentage or top-down method. Wendy has taken this lesson to the max by showing how you can customize this method of making a sweater. She explains the way you can "understand your style." The patterns are divided by type: Top-down raglan sweaters, set-in sleeve sweaters, round-yoke sweaters and the sweaters that she has designed "on the fly." I particularly like the last chapter called "Unleash Your Inner Designer: Elements to Alter and Starting from Scratch." In this section, she diagrams all the types of sweaters discussed in the previous chapters and how to mix and match the elements to come up with your own design.
Wendy's "Essential Tank"

I haven't actually tried knitting any of the patterns yet, but the concept of this book is good. I will definitely incorporate many of Wendy's design elements in my next sweater.



At 5:33 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ingenue" is definitely an Ellen Bloom look. I can see it already with a cool vintage pin on the cowl.

Christine G.

At 9:11 PM PDT, Blogger mary said...

I am so glad I could contribute to your book review and further your enjoyment of the book! ;)

At 10:12 PM PDT, Blogger betty said...

I bought the book and LOVE it. In fact, I will be casting on for Ingenue this weekend. After that, I will probably knit the slinky ribs. I liked the photography of the knitwear in the book, but wasn't paying too much attention to the background scenes.

At 11:58 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No crochet patterns, of course (sigh). Now, that would be innovative. Maybe the knit ones can be converted?

At 1:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Hi Marianne,
Yes, you can definitely take the top-down instruction in Wendy's book and apply it to any crochet pattern.

At 11:32 AM PDT, Blogger Madge said...

Ingenue rocks that 60s vibe hard. Can't wait to see your version of it!

At 11:33 AM PDT, Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Hmm. I love Wendy, and like Jewel, but I'm on a fiber diet (bugetary restrictions). I wonder if most of the designs are using "fahncee" yarns? Or does she give possible subs?

I could *so* see you in ingenue. It would probably take you a minute to knit.


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