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The Sweater Workshop: Knit Creative, Seam-Free Sweaters on your Own with any Yarn Paperback – January 1, 2002
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From Library Journal
Knitting is a hands-on activity; it's one thing to read about knitting a sweater and another thing to knit one completely from sometimes cryptic patterns. First published in 1983, this book was written for knitters who have no desire to follow a pattern blindly but instead want to master the techniques necessary for sweater knitting, whether or not a pattern is available for the yarns they wish to use. Fee works the prospective knitter through a sweater sampler that includes every technique needed to master knitting seamless sweaters in the round, using any yarn and based on the measurements of the wearer. The finished sampler is a conversation piece that looks for all the world like a form-fitting pullover. This second edition features a more readable format, updated designs, and more sweaters, as well as a spiral sock pattern intended as a practice project for knitters not accustomed to knitting in the round on double-point needles. Recommended for all but the smallest knitting collections.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Fee is a founding member and past president of two knitting and spinning guilds, and she gives spinning demonstrations at various historical societies.
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Top Customer Reviews
I bought this book because I didn't consider myself to be a "real knitter" if I couldn't (a) knit a sweater and (b) knit socks. The primary reason I ever wanted to learn to knit was to knit sweaters for myself in fibers and colors and designs I loved, and that would fit me the way I wanted. When I bought this book I had no idea I would become an accomplished and confident knitter even *before* I knit my first sweater by working the Sampler first! This book didn't teach me to knit socks, but because I made the Sampler and followed that up with my first-ever sweater, I have since learned to knit socks too!
Do *not* do what I did when I got the book: read it with highlighter in one hand and a pen to take notes in the other. WORK through it with needles & yarn in both hands... and stop to take notes after you've worked through each new thing. I *completely* overwhelmed myself by "studying" the book instead of *using* it as the title clearly states that it is: a *WORK book*. Don't try to understand the instructions... work them. Stitch by stitch. They make the most sense when you KNIT them out rather than PUZZLE them out.
Seriously. If you *only* make the Sampler and nothing else from this book, you will be ahead. I personally feel that if you can manage any kind of a cast on, a knit stitch, and purl stitch, it is time to set aside the dishcloths, scarves, and baby blankets & make the Sampler. Few knitters will not learn something from the project, and given the number of knitters I've encouraged to do it that have, few will not find a new confidence to tackle any number of projects they've found intimidating before the Sampler.
In the Sampler, you'll not just learn how to knit a variety of ribbing stitches, but how to know which one will work best for the project you are making and the way you plan to use it. Do you know which ribbing is the *least* elastic? You'll learn that Garter Stitch & Stockinette stitch are not just different looking, but that you have to work them differently if you are knitting "flat" or "in the round," and that using both in the same fabric will require compensation... and why. You'll learn about knitting stripes... all kinds of stripes and how to make them look their best depending on if you are knitting them flat or in the round. You'll learn how to add a "sweatshirt pocket" into the project with *no* sewing required as you knit the body, or how to add a pocket to a knit sweater that is all done and ready to wear... even if you bought it rather than knitted it yourself. How to include a button band at the same time you knit your cardigan, and make the buttons rather than the holes the focus of that cardigan; functional buttonholes that are best for the yarn you are working with. You'll learn how to dress up your sweaters and other project with easy two-color knitting, or knitted-on lace, or drawstring tops or bottoms, or neatly finished hems... or even add your initials to a project for posterity. Along the way, you'll learn short rows, how to knit with both circular needles or DPNs (*double point needles*), and all kinds of great tips to make the construction and fit of any project you make in the future more fun and successful.
There is *so* much crammed into the Sampler project! There are still skills and techniques to learn, but you'll have mastered so many with the completed Sampler very little will intimidate you from there on. Choose any of the sweater projects from the book and make one of them as soon as possible. Approach that sweater solely as a *learning* experience. Don't use "nice" yarn and don't expect a "perfect" finished sweater. Look at that sweater as the "final test" for the Sampler. Plan to wear it to clean the basement or rake leaves in the fall... not to wear to go shopping or the movies. It may well turn out that nice, but don't approach it with that goal. That first sweater will "work out the kinks" about how a sweater is constructed and well fitted and will take about five or six 240 yd skeins of worsted weight fiber for a medium to large pullover or cardigan. Just use some from your stash to make a "work horse" sweater. When you've finished it, you'll have the confidence to make a "nicer" sweater in nicer yarn for nicer outings, and have the confidence to approach other patterns or dress up and customize those in this book.
The sweaters in the book are knit almost entirely in "one piece," practically seamless, on circular needles from the bottom up - so you can try it on and check the fit as you go. You will knit each sleeve to the underarm and the body to the underarm, then join and knit the rest of the sweater as a single piece; closing up a small gap under each arm constitutes the lion's share of "finishing" work to wear the sweater once it is off needle. Pick up a copy of Wendy Bernard's "Custom Knits: Unleash Your Inner Designer with Top-Down and Improvisational Techniques" or Custom Knits 2: More Top-Down and Improvisational Techniques" to learn to make a similar sweater knit from the top down, seamlessly, on circular needles that you can try on and modify as you go.
I made my first Sampler Jan/Feb 2009: [...]
I made my first-ever Basic Sweater right after I completed my Sampler: [...]
I made my second-ever Sweater 3 years later using these same instructions with my personal modifications in design: [...]
I'll finish my second Sampler by the end of Apr 2013: [...]
(*if these links work - or even show up - in amazon, you'll see a much fuller review of this book & help working the Sampler. If they don't, you can find me on Ravelry as Elianastar (Google it)... come find my two Sampler and two Sweater Project pages. I have a lot more to say in each project in my Notes. If you have any questions, or need any help with the Sampler, PM me on Ravelry.*)
I consider myself a "missionary" for this book. If you knit, it is unlikely you will not benefit from this book, especially if you make the time to knit the Sampler first. The skills introduced and mastered in the Sampler will be of great benefit in the construction of any sweater in the book, or any other sweater knit seamlessly from the bottom up you find elsewhere. (The only thing people consistently find confusing in the Sampler project is the "Sweater Sampler - Cardigan Border" for which there is a YouTube video.) Because we live in the internet age, you can always find a video on YouTube or KnittingHelp or GarnStudio or KnitPicks Tutorials if you find an to create a custom-designed, custom-fit sweater of your choosing, using the "designs" in this book to navigate the style elements you want to implement. You can take elements from *any* of the sweaters and put them together to create the sweater you want.
To this I would add one thing: I've read many comments in a variety of places that the "design" of the "patterns" in this book are "dated" or even "ugly." Which only emphasizes a complete misunderstanding of this book and it's approach. The "patterns" in this book are merely "skeletons" upon which you apply your creative ideas and personalized "borrowed" elements. You can take any yarn, of any weight, choose the fabric you prefer via gauge and stitch pattern(s), and *design* your sweater to your personal fit and purposes. You can take any element from any sweater in this book and combine it with any other elements from any other sweater in this book and *intrepret* the "designs" and "patterns" in this book to create the sweater of your dreams. Custom knit to your desired fit.
In other words, there are no "patterns" in this book. There are only *samples* of *potential* designs to help you navigate changes in the sweater you'd like to "design" for yourself. The "designs" are *intentionally* "plain" so they don't "get in the way" of your own creative ideas. The few details in these "designs" are there simply to help you "get going" designing the sweater *you* want to make. You are the designer and the master of your sweater's fate. Once you catch the vision, you will find this book to be an endless source of sweater "designs" and a constant resource for future knitting.
I found that this book was much simpler to use than some of the "knitter's handy guide" series. This book has the knitter knit with the yarn and needle size that produces the desired fabric, and use that gauge to create a knitted sweater in the desired measurement size. The "knitter's handy guide" series provides many different sizes of sweater, which I found hard to follow and less precise than using the knitter's desired gauge and tool to produce a fitted garment.
I have purchased several other "sweater-focused" knitting books, and this is the first one that actually assuaged my fears and convinced me to knit myself a sweater - I anticipate many more to follow!
This book takes Zimmerman's idea of designing sweaters using any yarn, knitting them in the round,and making them exactly as you want, but it uses a technique that doesn't require cutting. What a revelation! It's so simple yet so profound that I may never make a sweater any other way again.
Using this book as a basic template, you can change stitches and/or add color, thereby making make each sweater unique.
I recommend this book highly. My only wish is that it would be published with a spiral binding so that it would lay flat.