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Review: Aran Sweater Design


First, the facts:

Title: Aran Sweater Design

Author: Janet Szabo

Published by: Big Sky Knitting Design, 2006

Pages: 175

Type: Design.


1. A Brief History
2. Anatomy of an Aran
3. Materials
4. Learning the Ropes (and Honeycombs and Diamonds)
5. Creating a Design
6. Putting it All Together
7. Useful Aran Knittin gTips
8. Constructing an Aran
9. Dropped-Shoulder Arans
10. Peasant Sleeve Arans
11. Set-In Sleeve Arans
12. Raglan Sleeve Arans
13. Aran Vests
14. T-Sleeve Arans
15. Wide-Saddle Arans

Aran Sweater Design

Pattern Size Range: N/A

The In-Depth Look:

I’ve practically lived and breathed this book for the last couple of weeks and finally realized I had to write a review of this book to tell you why.

I had decided to tear out an aran I knitted in 2006 and reuse the yarn, and I spent so much time looking for the right pattern when I decided that I should just design my own … and this was the book I immediately reached for.

Why? This book tells you simply everything you need to know to put together an Aran sweater.

It starts by examining the construction of traditional sweaters, the kind of yarn that is ideal–important, basic beginnings. Then it discusses different kinds of cables–honeycombs, diamonds, braids … what makes them different from each other.

But then it gets really good–it talks about how you put them TOGETHER. Proportions. Row-counts. Frequency of repeats. Reasons some cables look better with certain cables rather than others. This entire section is masterful.

Next, the book examines the different constructions–saddle-shoulders, top-down, bottom-up, raglans, set-in sleeves, and so on, along with tips you need to know. This is followed by in-depth detail about how to actually KNIT a sweater in whatever shape you might want.

There are a handful of fully-designed sweaters at the back. They’re perfectly nice, attractive and all, but to me, they are not the point of the book. The object of the book is for you to be able to design your own Aran … why follow someone else’s pattern?

Honestly, there isn’t a technique that I can think of that’s not in here–not that you’re likely to need, anyway. The style is entirely accessible and readable–it feels like having a good friend sitting next to you, helping you along. It does not get bogged down with technical jargon, but it doesn’t dumb-down anything.

My one complaint? There are no cable patterns in the book, which I think is an odd lapse. Since the book is giving you all the tools you need to knit your own Aran, why are there no cable stitches to see you on your way? I understand that the object is to concentrate on the construction, and that there’s no way you could have all the cable stitches you might want. There’s simply not enough room. But, still… it seems to me that the book would have been better served by using the space at the back given to sweater designs for cable stitches instead.

That said … don’t let that stop you from buying this book. You SHOULD buy this book. It’s a masterpiece. Entirely approachable yet utterly informative. And if you need cable patterns? You can’t go wrong by checking out Szabo’s “Cables Volume 1: The Basics.”

This amazing book is available from Amazon.com.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

My Gush: A fantastic book with everything you need to know.

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