Book Reviews: Designer in You

September 10, 2010


Books Reviewed:

Design It, Knit It: Babies by Debbie Bliss, Published 2010  Sixth & Spring, ISBN: 978-1933027982

A hard covered book, spiral bound

Ch 1:  Sizes and Shapes: What sizes and shapes are suitable for babies and what should you consider when designing for babies?  Chapter One stresses these key points: Keep it simple, think comfort (rolled hem vs. ribbed), easy on easy off (shoulder fastening), positive ease. Designs: Striped pullover – simple, shoulder fastening, A-line cardi: rounded collar, raglan.

Ch 2: Soft and Gentle: This chapter covers the importance of fiber selection when designing for babies.  Soft and gentle, easy wear and washable vs. hand wash only are all factors to consider. Designs: Hooded cardigan: simple hooded cardigan w  rolled edges. Patchwork Blanket: A simple project which can be knitted quickly. Though not mentioned, this blanket can be worked in squares, panels or as one continuous piece.

Ch 3: Color Class: A strong reminder that pastels are not the only option for babies.  Don’t shy away from bold colors and consider color work (fair isle, intarsia, etc.).  A simple initial or motif alone can be enough visual interest when the size is exaggerated. When using strong colors, add a cool shade in contrast to tone it down a bit. Designs: Chevron Cardigan: great alternative to basic stripes.  Letter Sweater : Simple roll neck sweater featureing giant letter (initial) in center, worked in intarsia.

Ch4: Small and perfect: This chapter focuses on knitting and design for low weight babies and charity knitting.  Special considerations: no seams (or as few as possible, use flat seam when a seam is necessary), v necks, open top hats, socks, blankets, lace and openwork are undesirable as tiny fingers and toes get caught.*** Keep in mind for SFA CAL 2011! This chapter also lists ‘Knitworthy Charities’Designs: Incubator Blanket: small blanket intended for use within an incubator.  Garter st cardigan: A precious cardigan with no seams, ideal  for fragile skin.

Ch. 5: Rough and Tumble: Knitwear for active tots.  Here the focus is less on fuss (st designs) and more detail and function.  Patch and pouch styled pockets are perfect.  Add more visual interest by using a contrasting color at collar, pockets or hemline.  At this age group machine wash-ability is a must.  Designs: Hooded pullover: layered look by extra cuff and hood (looks like 2 pulls instead of one) and pouch pocket. Shawl Collar Jacket: traditional motifs at chest and arm, contrasting rib and chunky buttons.

Ch. 6 : Pretty Special: Sweet and Simple.  Details are key: Cast ons/offs make it special.. picots, bobbles, lace , etc. Designs: Ballerina Top: classic design, simple st st knit, what makes it special?  Bobble Edging.  Spanish Dress: Knitted bodice with picot edging paired with a fabric skirt make a unique (and special) dress.

Ch. 7: Artful Add-Ons: It’s all about the embellishments in this chapter.  Embellishments can dress up a piece, makes it special, unique and even personalized.  Ribbons, beads, buttons, fabric,  embroidery.. combined with a stitch, make a one-of-a-kind piece. Designs: Ribbon Edged Cardigan: Simple ribbed v neck cardigan dressed up with some frilled ribbon at edges.  Flower Girl Frock: a simple dress w moss st bodice, decorated with knitted flowers.

Ch. 8: Heads, Hands and Toes: Accessories.  Hats, scarves, mitts… all perfect gifts.  To keep a reluctant child from wearing knits, make them fun!  Animal themes, bright colors, pockets.. add visual interest tots enjoy.  Consider reversible designs for scarves.  Designs: Classic Fair Isle Beret: Vintage styling in subtle modern shades of lilac, pink and blue.  Striped Mitten Scarf: striped/ribbed scarf with sewn on mittens means the end of lost mittens! Button-On Mitts: Simple mittens with a button hole… fasten a button to the inside of each sleeve and you know your little one is warm and secure. Cabled Legwarmers: Cute!  pull them on for extra warmth.

Ch. 9: Design Workbook: Includes basic garment shapes outlines: several shapes and necklines drawn for your designing pleasure, intended for photocopying.  Also included, knitter’s graph paper, also intended for photocopying, graph paper presented in different gauges, representative of the knitted stitches (rectangular vs. square).  One set of capital block letters, charted and 8 charted motifs, suitable for child’s wear.  Info on Debbie Bliss yarns, blocking, care, how to make pompoms, instructions for a basic beanie, abbreviations, glossary and reproducible gift tags.  In the very end of book a nifty stitch and needle gauge tool with info on yarn weight system and answers to some FAQs.

My opinion:  More a book of suggestions for designing for babies and toddlers, accompanied by patterns which apply these suggestions.  A very sweet book and a good springboard for any aspiring knitwear designer.


A three skein rating =  worth looking into.

The NEW Knitter’s Template: Your Guide to Custom Fit and Style by Laura Militzer Bryant  and  Barry Klein, Published 2010 Martingale Publishing, ISBN: 978-1604680102

A hard covered book, spiral bound.

Ch 1: How to Make This Book Work For You: This chapter is presented as steps of the design process as follows: Step 1, Yarn and Gauge, Step 2 The Style, Step 3 What Size am I?, Step 4-7 Pattern Writing

Ch 2: With You In Mind, Custom Fitting Techniques: Quite likely the most valuable portion of this book.  A heavy focus on body measurements and how to take them as well as a worksheet which illustrates these points as well as provides you with a place to make notation.  Also featured in this chapter, a chart of bust sizes 30-60″ along with corresponding ‘standard’ measurements for several design templates.  Finally, this chapter offers a Blank Pattern Worksheet, which is essentially a pattern to fill in the blanks.  This is an excellent way to learn to write a pattern as well as groom your own pattern writing style.

Ch. 3: Feelings, Gauge and Hand: A reminder of the importance of careful fiber selection, the act of knitting a swatch and finally, taking accurate gauge.

Ch. 4: Changing the Tone, Ten Tricks for Custom Knits: Really, this chapter presents the idea and application of designing and knitting with stitch patterns and in color work, providing a few stitch patterns.  Most useful in this chapter is the answer to, “What if I am working in a stitch pattern and the pattern repeat does not match the template stitch number?”

Ch. 5 & 6: Working with the Templates, Your Guides to Great Knits: Organized by stitches per inch (6-2 sts/in) several template charts for sweater design by bust size (30-60″) for pullovers and cardigans of various silhouettes as well as several neck shaping, armhole and sleeve styles.  An excellent resource and starting point for designers.  All sizing is ‘standard’ and it is important to remember, though one might have a 38″ bust, she may not have 14″ shoulder width.

My opinion:  I think this is a great book and excellent starting point for any new designer.  The charts and templates would serve both established and new designers.  This book is to the point and without extra discussion, giving the designer just what they need to start designing.


A four skein rating = Must handle, pet, peruse, test drive, borrow – Check it out!


Of course, there is a theme to this post: Design.  In my recent fervor and confidence to release my own designs, I wanted to extend the gusto to all.  Knit design is not a mystery and I will bet you yourself have designed ‘from scratch’ on at least one occasion.  Do you remember the excitement, …, the joy of finding the ‘right numbers’, and the thrill of your finished piece?

Autumn is turning here in Germany.  It began with some cooler mornings, extended by more wet days and now, I do believe it is official:

Autumn in Germany

Product Review

Knitter’s Therapy by French Girl Organics

copyright to French Girl Organics

Smooth Cuticles and Nails: A liquid formula, applied by dropper to soften and smooth cuticles and nails.

copyright to French Girl Organics

Organic Hand Salve: A balm for thirsty hands, perfect for your purse or knitting bag.

copyright French Girl Organics

Lotion Bar: A gorgeous, luscious lotion bar for all rough spots and keeping hands smooth.

A four skein rating = Must handle, pet, peruse, test drive, borrow – Check it out!



  1. Ooooh this looks wonderful! Just what my hands need :D

  2. I found you from Ravelry and I am so glad I did. I love knitting books and usually borrow them from the library because I am unsure how much I would use them. Your reviews are very helpful.

    lotsofhermies on Ravelry

  3. love the bees on the lotion bars.

  4. I couldn’t wait to see if I got it in your drawing — I had to buy Knitting MochiMochi. I’ve made the Baby Gator (one of several to come, I think) and have a little list. What a great book.

    These design books look interesting. Of course, that’s where you’re going right now. Me, I’m just trying to finish my list for this fall. Great niece’s dress almost done — had to rip back one sleeve where the variegated yarn didn’t work right (see photo on Ravelry — it’ll be obvious which one). Have to make her hobby horse (like the one I made a few years ago for DGS#1). Got white alpaca yarn for a short shawl for my mother, haven’t started it yet. Have one shrug to finish for DDIL. Need to cast on for Wonderful Wallaby in red for DGS#1 (maybe it’ll fit this time — small one is being saved for DGS#4, his little brother). Etc. There’s a long list.

    Yes, it’s looking like autumn. Temp when I get up is not already 80 F. My favorite season!

  5. The French Girl Knits collection looks really great! My hands sure could use it! Happy to hear from you!

  6. What a neat website. Thanks, I’ll be back…….

  7. This looks like it smells wonderful! Do you know if this product tests on animals?

  8. I am in need again of a good lotion bar and I’d love to try the lip tint. I don’t buy this kind of stuff often, but enjoy these kind of products now and then.
    I also like lotion and lip balm on hand, especially in colder seasons. I will let her know when I place an order that I heard of her shop from you.

    I have lots of baby Girl projects queued for my 3rd child due in Dec. I didn’t know how to knit when I had my boys.

    Enjoyed the episode! Great prize for Oct.!

  9. Wow these sound wonderful thank you

  10. Those look wonderful! And I bet they smell great! (Do you know if they are available in the USA?)

  11. I saw your announcement on the Ravelry thread, lovely blog, I’ll subscribe to your RSS.


  12. Hi Kerrie, Thanks for sharing the info on the wonderful products from French Girl Organics. I took a class from her and had no idea she also sold skin care products. Can’t wait to try them!

  13. That looks so cool

  14. Hi Kerrie,
    Just saw the new reviews.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Sona aka ssri17@ravelry

  15. I’m glad I found you on Ravelry too! I just started my first “two color” project and your book reviews have led me to a book that is sure to help! I also want to try the French Organics cuticle oil. I was originally drawn to your site by the give-a-ways. But I’ll be a frequent fan now for all the good info and reviews! I love your skein rating system!

  16. Glad to see a new podcast, Kerrie. I’ve been wondering about you and how you are managing with the beginning of the new school year. No doubt there will be adjustments, on all fronts. Keep up the great work!

  17. Great reviews, by the way. I enjoy the detail.

    Also, I checked out the French Girl Organics site. They’re away this month, according to their site, but will make up and ship on their return. The products look really interesting. Even my sister might use the lip stuff — she doesn’t like almost anything I’ve suggested because she doesn’t like the ingredients, such as beeswax — which these products do NOT include, so maybe…. I can’t tell if they test on animals, but from the descriptions, I would bet they do not.

  18. Oh that Organic Hand Salve sounds great!

    Actually, this episode is the first of your podcast I’ve listened to :-)

    Greets, Steffi

  19. I love your podcast. I love the reviews. I love everything about it. Thanks so much Kerrie.

  20. These products sound wonderful, thanks for sharing.

  21. I have been looking for stuff for my hands I will have to look into French Girl Organics. I enjoyed your books review.

  22. Enjoy your podcast. Picot is pronounced pee co.

  23. I checked out the French Girl’s Etsy site right away! I’m going to wait to see if I win the lotion bar b/c that’s what I REALLY wanted then I’m placing an order. Thanks for all your wonderful reviews. :)

  24. Great podcast! Thanks! I want to try some of the French Girl products. Thanks for your review!

    WiscKnitter on Ravelry

  25. I loved the podcast, especially the reviews. I just ordered the “New Knitters Template” and I can’t wait to receive it. Thanks Kerrie!

  26. Loved your Sept 10th Podcast. I enjoy the reviews of your books, your very clear and give the highlights. I like that. And I wanted to tell you that I bought a small bag from Ruddawg and I just loved it for my sock project…that I went back and purchased a med. bag and a circular needle pouch. Her work is so nice! I plan to continue to buy more bags for each of my works in progress!

  27. What a great episode! I loved the thorough book reviews, and appreciate that you do both the positive and negative aspects. Thanks! This lotion bar looks like the coolest thing — perfect for my bag while I travel to work (it won’t spill, unlike all the other stuff).

    Imabizzybee on Ravelry

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