Everyone knows about the well-known knitting books – everything from Mary Thomas Knitting Patterns to Principles of Knitting but there are not an inconsiderable number of others that either never made the "big time," or made very little splash. Lots of theseexist in library collections and on home bookshelves even though they are out of print (OOP).
While no book is unformly perfect in every way for every reader, many of these older overlooked books do have worth. Don’t turn up your nose at them just because the fashions illustrated are now stale or funky, or because they are lacking in color illustrations.
I recently received a copy of The Knitting Design Book: Using Color, Pattern and Stitch to Create Your Own Unique Sweaters. It was written by ank Bredewold and Anneke Pleiter, and was published by Lark Books in 1991 and 1998. The original was in Dutch: Breinen naar eigen ontwerp, and came out in 1985. It’s a slim paperback volume – under 90 pages, illustrated with both black and white and color photos and drawings.
No patterns are presented, rather this book is meant to be an inspiration and guide to creative thought. There are some general formulae for armscyes and collar shaping, but not in the detail shown in other books dedicated to pattern drafting. There’s also a color composition and motif placement minicourse, delivered from the "rules are meant to be broken" standpoint.
This book is a great snapshot of the styles and thoughts that were rebounding across knitting in the 1980s – mostly in European and Japanese designs. Many of the concepts it explores are current again. These include modular knitting, mixed fiber types and weights in one garment. It also discusses directional knitting (meaning knitting that proceeds in a direction other than bottom-up or top-down, with lots of attention paid to knitting on the bias. Shapes are cropped, many with deep or Dolman or kimono style sleeves. There are even a couple of patterns that play with adaptations of early computer-generated or computer-inspired graphics.
It’s no surprise to note that many of the ideas being touted as new and different right now are reiterations of earlier concepts.Modular knitting is discussed in this book under the heanding "Composite Shapes." The approach is rather free-form. The examples cited are made of triangle units, worked off each other either in in spirals or as more randomly placed motifs. Elongated stitches and mixing very light yarns with heavier, fluffy or textured yarnsare stressed throughout the book.Other ideasthat pop up hereinclude mixing gauges and directions; creating garments from multiple strips or draping pieces from larger units (like making a sleeveless raglan surplice top from several large triangles).
Now I’m not saying that this book was the first to introduce these concepts. Almost all of them appear elsewhere in sources that predate this one. Nor am I saying you should run out and buy this one right away (it is interesting to note that the European used book market valuesthis book more highly than it is in the US). What I am saying is that you can find excellent ideas and resources in these older, overlooked items – many of which are available for free borrowing at public libraries.