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Review: The Knitter’s Handy book of Sweater Patterns


First, the facts:

Title: The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns

Author: Ann Budd

Published by: Interweave Press, 2004

Pages: 218 p.

Type: Design!


1. Drop-Shoulder Sweaters
2. Modified Drop-Shoulder Sweaters
3. Set-In Sleeve Sweaters
4. Saddle-Shoulder Sweaters
5. Raglan Sweaters
6. Seamless Yoke Sweaters
7. Expanding Your Options


Pattern Size Range: 26″-54″

The In-Depth Look:

This is actually going to be a fairly simple review, because it come down to one thing … This book is perfect.

Do you knit sweaters? Do you like different shapes? Do you hate having to do all the math for designing your own sweaters, but don’t want to be tied to pre-written sweater patterns?

This book is for you.

Taking the basic sweater shapes–Drop-Shoulder, Modified Drop-Shoulder, Set-In Sleeve, Saddle-Shoulder, Raglan, and Seamless Yoke–this book tells you EXACTLY what you need to do to make one.

And, I don’t mean that it just explains the process–though it does that, too. There are explanations on how the structures fit together, explanations of different necklines or sleeve options you might want, closures for cardigans, all the things you really want in a book about sweater design.

But the best part–especially for the mathematically-challenged–are the charts. Unlike usual knitting charts, these aren’t about stitch patterns. They are master sets of numbers for pretty much every gauge and every size sweater you’ll ever want to make.

You heard me. No more math. If you can figure out your gauge, and you know the size sweater you want to make, you just follow the numbers given. All you have to do is count.

The book starts with an explanation of how to use the book, make a swatch, and estimate yardage, and then it dives right into the first shape.

The chapters, you see, are each devoted to one of the basic sweater shapes, and within each, breaks it down to children’s sweaters (26″-34″) and Adult sweaters (36″-54″). For each pattern, the book gives you a step-by-step grid instructing you exactly what to do depending on the size sweater you are making, and the gauge you are getting. There are columns across the top of the page for the finished size, and within each step of instructions, there are rows for different gauges.  All you have to do is follow the numbers given.

Within these boundaries, though, you have pretty much every sweater option available to you. You can pick your own yarn, your own colors. You can opt to do cables or color-work. You can choose different necklines, or make cardigans or pullovers … it’s just that the handy charts take all the guess work out of the math.

Along the way, there are tips to help make the process easier. Basic stuff like, “Knit with yarn that you really like. You’ll enjoy what you’re doing,” as well as less obvious tips like, “When you’re working the yoke on circular sweaters, push the sleeves to the inside of the sweater to keep them from getting tangles with the yarn and to make the knitting more manageable.”

There are also schematics and illustrations galore. Photos of finished sweaters. All sorts of options spelled out. The final chapter is devoted to ways you can take the basic sweaters and customize them. The glossary at the end not only provides basic definitions, but comes with illustrations for how to DO each of the techniques. Not to mention that there are fully-written patterns, just in case you fell in love with one of the modelled sweaters thoughout the book. There is even a complete index. AND the book is spiral-bound inside hard covers, making it both sturdy and easy to use.

What are you waiting for? If you ever knit sweaters at all, this is definitely a book you’re going to want. Especially if you have ever felt the urge to design your own sweater, but weren’t sure where to start, or were intimidated by the math.

This is a great, helpful, practical, useful book, and it’s selling for $17.79 over at Amazon.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

My Gush: Really, it’s simple. Get this. If you ever make sweaters, it’s absolutely fabulous. You could knit for your entire life out of this one book and a stitch dictionary. It’s great!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • CindyS September 22, 2008, 1:03 pm

    This is the very first knitting book I ever bought, and it intimidated the hell out of me. Now that I’ve knitted four sweaters (one per family member) I finally feel ready to use this book and create my own design. Thank you for reminding me that it’s in my library and ready to go!!

  • CindyS September 22, 2008, 1:05 pm

    Sorry, I was typing too fast. I meant to say that I have knitted four sweaters from premade patterns. And NOW I’m ready to use the book. :doink:

  • --Deb September 22, 2008, 2:11 pm

    I admit, it does LOOK intimidating, but it’s really easy to use once you figure out how it’s supposed to work!

  • Kathy September 23, 2008, 5:39 pm

    Just wanted to say thanks for starting this blog. A great help to those of us who love both knitting and books. Also – you have already reviewed at least two books I was wondering about purchasing so it has been really helpful.

  • --Deb September 23, 2008, 6:01 pm

    I’m glad I could help! I’m having fun–not only with the new books, but digging through my library to review older ones. Any excuse to browse through knitting books has to be good, right? (And, dare I ask which books? And if you decided to buy or not to buy? I’m curious!)

  • DeannaC September 30, 2008, 3:20 pm

    Great website! I have found this book great for sizing up sweater patterns that stop a couple inches short of what I need. After I figure out how that pattern has added width between the other sizes, I use the appropriate numbers in the charts to work my arm hole shaping.

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