Along with being pleasurable and satisfying, knitting can sometimes be frustrating: the turtleneck that looked so fabulous on the model is too bulky for your body, or the cardigan you spent countless hours on just doesn’t fit right Herein lies the beauty of Custom Knits, which teaches knitters how to use improvisational techniques to achieve spectacular results—and to unleash their inner designers Wendy Bernard, creator of the popular blog Knit and Tonic, providesoriginal designs for sweaters of nearly every type, plus variations, most knitted in one piece starting at the top, a method that allows you to try on as you go, alter as desired, and essentially design on the fly “Make It Your Own” prompts in each pattern suggest easy alterations to suit your style and body type And an indepth reference section teaches how to alter key sweater elements, for example, change a crewneck to a Vneck, add sleeves to a vest, and much For the truly adventurous, the book concludes with guidelines for knitting sweaters with no pattern at all Bernard’s friendly writing style and photographer Kimball Hall’s lively images create an inviting book of beautiful designs and key techniques that a knitter can use to customize nearly every garment she knits from now on


10 thoughts on “Custom Knits: Unleash Your Inner Designer with Top-Down and Improvisational Techniques

  1. Charlie Charlie says:

    Since I started knitting again I've been picking up various books that pique my interest. Most of them are simple pattern books. After I made my first cardi (a little sweater for a baby) I began to think about designing and the different techniques used to create some of the wonderful patterns that end up in my queue on Ravelry.

    I am not too terribly fond of seaming pieces together especially on larger projects like sweaters or cardigans so the idea of virtually no seaming using the top down method appealed to me very much.

    Every time I went to the bookstore I would pick this book up and flip through it debating if I should get it or not. After doing this three or or four times I finally gave in and picked it up.

    Wendy does a wonderful job of introducing novice knitwear designers to top-down construction and all of the variations that can be made. She provides some wonderful example patterns to try out as is and even gives advice on how to alter not only the trial patterns but any pattern to make something uniquely your own.

    She covers the different necklines, sleeves, and how to design knitwear on the fly. She even provides instructions on how to make a temporary dress-form. Which I have to admit, I have made, with the assistance of my husband.

    Custom Knits is a wonderful book to add to any fibre enthusiasts library planning on dipping their needles into designing. (And even if you aren't - the patterns alone are worth it)


  2. Yvonne Yvonne says:

    I like knitting books that not only have patterns, but that are also instructive. This book has great patterns and very useful information for sizing garments.


  3. Mckinley Mckinley says:

    Setting aside the weird camera angles on shots, nice variety.


  4. Nadia Nadia says:

    My favourite knitting book so far.

    I love the photography and setting, it has energy. Many knitting books are rather stiff and unappealing, not this one. The models are gorgeous and they look like they're doing something fun in the sun. For someone who lives in Stockholm it's a very appealing sight. It makes for inviting read and it fits the writer's voice perfectly, a knitting friend, not a teacher.

    The designs are great, I have bought several of Bernard's patterns and her design in the book doesn't disappoint. None of the patterns are frumpy or frou-frou. The lace and cables are well done, two of my most hated techniques. I found that cables add unnecessary bulk and lace is often overdone.
    One of sweaters that spoke to me was the updated fair-isle sweater, it's a rather obscure problem, feeling cold on your upper body only. It happens to me all the time when I wear a bikini, I wear a blanket or a cardigan but leave the legs bared. I love the photos for this pattern.

    Chapter 6 contains extremely valuable knitting information, it taught me a few things about necklines among many things. I'm knitting my first polo-neck pullover and I feel more confident about knitting it.

    This is a book for both the knitters that want design and technique, which can't be said about many knitting books. No heavy, squarish garments that add bulk to the female figure, no use of thick yarn, no girlish, cute fashion. This is for women that want to look great.


  5. Deirdre Deirdre says:

    An interesting book. It starts with the authors philosophy and a how to make your own custom dress form guide, then takes you on a journey through some patterns and then to how to adapt said patterns to suit yourself.

    This is all top-down construction, which suits some people and doesn't suit some others, but it does talk about adjusting designs and working them for yourself. This is a book for someone who knows something about what they're letting themselves in for. Definitely not a beginners book, though many of the patterns are mostly stocking (or stockingette) stitch or with a little bit of fairly simple design involved. It's a book to stretch you, to make you think about your relationship with your favourite jumpers and see how you can make them yourself, in your own favourite colours and with your own detail.

    Overall, I'm torn, it's a good book with interesting ideas but nothing really sings to me in it, except of course the guidelines.


  6. Laura Laura says:

    This was an interesting book. While there were some good patterns and suggestions in this book I felt like some of the photographs were a bit off. Who wears ONLY underwear and a hand knit sweater? Really? I thought it was a good idea to make their pictures of the knitted items different from every other knitting book out there, but I thought some of their pictures were slightly degrading to the patterns because they are focusing on the lack of clothing of the model rather than the knitted item. I thought the author was stretching too hard to make her knitted items seem fashionable or hip. The knitted item should speak for itself, you don't need skimpily dressed models to sell your book.

    *Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2010...


  7. penny shima glanz penny shima glanz says:

    I was all set to purchase Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top when I decided to take one last pass through various forums (such as Ravelry) to make sure I was making the absolute best purchase. I was surprised to see lots of positive reviews for a book I kept passing by for its unfortunate cover image. I figured all the designs would be super trendy and I didn't realize there was a wealth of reference material inside.

    I still hope someday soon to add Walker's essential reference to my collection, but for instant gratification, colour photos, clear diagrams, and lots of starting points, ideas for modifications, and inspiration in general, Bernard's book delivers.

    While I'm a little disappointed in a few projects which I feel don't fit well with the book (scarf and hat patterns), overall I am pleased to give this book a coveted spot on my shelf.


  8. Darceylaine Darceylaine says:

    I am a devoted top-down knitter, and it was really nice to see some new shapes and styles and techniques I haven't seen before. Her essay on gauge and size at the start of the book also talked me out of staring a sweater using a yarn that was just a tiny bit off the recommended gauge- as if I haven't made that mistake enough times already.

    Clearly these are California sweaters though. Many short-sleeve sweaters, shells and tanks. I don't need a beach cover up, I just want to be WARM. Did not end up knitting any of her designs, but I have a much better understanding now of some aspects of design that seem very useful.


  9. Lindsey Lindsey says:

    This book is great! I don't know if I'll make any of the sweaters in it... maybe. But I like how she talks about fit. In a lot of knitting books, they start right into the technical stuff and that works for some minds but not mine. I also like the detailed explanation for how to adapt patterns to knit them in the round and how to make a pattern your own.

    I think it's because I've been reading her blog forever but I can pick up on her tone and style and when she tells me I look bad in empire waist tops- I really believe her.


  10. Amanda Amanda says:

    I had to laugh at the photographs in this book. Women on the beach in bikinis and . . . long-sleeved sweaters. Or eating breakfast in underwear . . . and a fancy drop-neck sweater (alongside a tall, dark, built, topless guy, of course). Another example of trying to sell books with women dressed as little as possible. If you can get past the silly photos though, the book has amazing instructions for writing your own patterns and making up your own designs. It has helped me be able to construct a sweater from seeing only a picture of what I want.