Monday, October 10, 2011

momentarily distracted, a Little Red review

This month, I'm spending more time oncall than usual.  Between that and some unavoidable obligations, I've not been making as nice with my blog as I'd like.  I think maybe I owe it chocolates and flowers.  Possibly a foot rub.  We'll see how the make up goes this week.

Last week, I spent a lot of time either trying to catch up on sleep or swatching.  Two equally brilliant, but mutually exclusive activities.  When I wasn't coordinated enough to swatch, I spent some time reading my copy of Little Red in the City by the insanely talented Ysolda Teague. 

She and I definitely do not share the same taste.  I believe that the projects included in the book are interesting, but I would not wear them.  HOWEVER that being said, this is the best write up of shaping and applied sewing technique to make a fitted knit that I've read yet.

I've been asked a few times offline how I managed to make my mother's sweater fit so well.  Especially considering that I knit it in secret and changed up the numbers without having her measurements.  I used a combination of comparative analysis and simple math.  Essentially, my mom is petite where I'm dead average.  I know where typical clothing is wrong for her, so I knit using my own body as a guide. 

This is a bit free-form, and I think it only works for me because I spent more than 2 decades sewing.  I tend to apply the lessons I learned while learning to sew crazy stuff that didn't have an extra boob in the middle of my back. 

Ysolda has written out instructions for grading a curve, for estimating ease in fit, for getting correct measurements....

This is all stuff that's handled by cutting away fabric when done in sewing.  In knitting, it's done through generating exactly the fabric you want, in the proportions and drape that you want it to be in. 

Little Red in the Big City is one of the best and most comprehensive studies on how to get the numbers you need to make any knitted garment flatter your specific shape.  What she has collected here is something it took years to learn, and information I'd only managed to gather together in 5 different books previously.

The instructions in this book are clear.  They are well enough explained that I would be confident in using this book to teach a beginner how to shape a garment.  And through it all, Ysolda's personality shines through.  After reading this book, I wish I could meet the woman behind it.  She seems to have a deadly sense of humor, and I think she would be the perfect knitting companion.

If you don't already have a copy of this book, invest in it.  It's that good.


  1. It is a great book, loads of info that I've barely skimmed the surface of. However, being in the middle of knitting something from it, I have to say that I'm not keen on the construction methods used on the patterns.

  2. Thanks on the heads up on the book - I will have to check it out.
    Got to your site when I was searching around for "Spotted Sheep" references, if you come by the shop - I may be hanging around sometime.