Monday, November 1, 2010

Book Review: Design It, Knit It, Babies by Debbie Bliss

After buying and enjoying Design It, Knit It published in 2009 by Debbie Bliss, I was excited to check out her "sequel" for babies which came out Summer 2010.  My interest was definitely piqued in the first volume by several inexplicable photos of darling baby garments not included in that book, which proved to be teasers of patterns in this book.  Clever marketing idea, along with several other novelties which are included in this book.

PROS:  I like knitting books that feature a spiral wire binding like this one - it easily lays flat and is infinitely more useable than a regular binding when referring to pattern instructions.  The pattern instructions are clearly-written and easy to follow with plenty of diagrams and photographs to illustrate each.

The eighteen projects included in the 158-page book range from easy (tiny unisex Garter-Stitch Cardigan with minimal shaping) to more complicated, but still not overly difficult (boy's Shawl-Collar Jacket with clever northwoods styling).  My favorite pattern is the precious Hooded Cardigan which is charming in its simplicity or as a blank slate for design customization.  I can see using this pattern again and again.

There are also several baby afghans, accessories like a fair isle beret, several dresses, cardigans for boys and girls, and imaginative pullovers.  I'm intrigued by the colorful little girl's Chevron Cardigan as it is similar to a design idea that had been floating around in my head and appeals to my affection for ripple stitch patterns.

The photography is soft and beautiful, a hallmark of Debbie Bliss books and showcases the pretty babies and muted colors of the Debbie Bliss yarns utilized in the designs.  Really makes you want to grab some needles and whip out a baby project on the spur of the moment, even if there isn't a baby to knit for right this minute.  Even though it may be purely staged, I enjoyed the glimpses of Debbie's design studio (and Debbie herself with a tape measure around her neck) sprinkled throughout the book.

CONS:  If you are into designing patterns for babies (like Debbie Bliss clearly is), there is some helpful creativity advice, but little about the actual mechanics of calculations and the like, as she mentions herself in the book's introduction.  This is purely soft core knit design information.

When I buy a knitting book, I calculate the value of the book by dividing the cost by the number of usable patterns in the book.  Only 18 patterns in this book is a little on the skimpy side (although I found few page fillers) and the value of  "design inspiration" is subjective.  I admire Debbie Bliss and what her talent has accomplished in the knitting world, but I either want my knitting books to be either a knitting pattern book or a design inspiration book.  Or, contain enough of each in a hybrid to make me feel like the book was a good investment of my knitting dollars.

The jury is still out on whether the 15 pages of "Design Workbook", composed of grids and sweater outlines to embellish with one's own ideas was all that necessary.  I don't like writing or drawing in my books, so that was not something I would ever use.  Including a tear-out tool in the back for measuring knitting needle, gauge and knitting abbreviations is an interesting idea.  The flimsy laminated page clearly won't take the place of any of these more permanent tools you currently own.

Overall, I give Design It, Knit It, Babies by Debbie Bliss a 3 1/2 * rating (based on a 5 * system).


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