Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton – Part 1

Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton

Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton

Instead of more simple books I’ve done lately, I thought I’d tackle a more “meaty” book. This one I realize will have to be done in a few parts. Love, Love Deborah with all her wonderful words of wisdom, but her book is what I like to call “text heavy”.

Designing Knitwear - back cover

Designing Knitwear – back cover

I love this wonderful photo of a vintage Deborah. Her smile is infectious and one of the many things I love about her. Designing Knitwear was published by Taunton Press in 1992. They are best known for the magazine Threads.

Designing Knitwear - autograph by Deborah

Designing Knitwear – autograph by Deborah

Thumbs up or down – This page seals it! I could never get rid of this book with Deborah’s wonderful autograph. Note her quirky illustrations. They are a signature look of all Deborah’s design submissions and often used in various knitting publications.

Chapter 1 - Learning to See

Chapter 1 – Learning to See

The first chapter is devoted to learning to use visual details to begin to create your own designs. Deborah talks about her design process and how to use the book. A good way to understand designing.

Chapter 2 - Designing With Yarn

Chapter 2 – Designing With Yarn

All designs begin with the most essential part of the design – yarn choice and swatching. She covers all the basic animal and vegetable fibers as well as synthetic and novelty yarns. Deborah also goes over various yarn weights. I wish there were a chart included, but the Craft Yarn Council Standards on Yarn Weights came out after this book was published. This packed chapter also covers basic stitches such as garter stitch and stockinette and also how to estimate yarn amounts.

Designing Knitwear - sketching and swatching

Designing Knitwear – sketching and swatching

Learning how to work with swatches to create designs is an important beginning.

Schematics and What If...?

Schematics and What If…?

Good charts and alternate ideas make this book a keeper. The Three-Part Shawl seems a bit outdated, but having other ideas of what to do with squares is very helpful.

I’ll continue with Chapter 3 with Fit & Silhouette for the next part. It covers 36 fully-packed pages!

By the way, I’m off for a knitting trip with Behind the Scenes Adventures on April 24th It looks like this book will take me most of May to complete!


Yarn and swatching



Another week has gone by and I’m happy to report that I’m up to page 177 out of 252. Progress is being made on the reading and observing part. Actually it’s a bit of a cheat as I only really covered 3-ply and 4-ply yarns sections (lots of projects to pursue in these sections). I now know that 3-ply yarns are perfectly balanced – amazing – who knew?

On to the project-making part that has been weighing heavily on my mind. Not really so heavily, but it sounds good. I feel like I’m going one step forward and two steps backwards.

Mistake 1: I purchased a lovely variegated yarn for the project and then realized that the mitts have a cable pattern. How will it ever show up with this yarn? Back to Michael’s for a pretty solid blue wool. By the way, this yarn has 3-plies.

Mistake 2: I actually purchased a set of double-pointed needles in size 7 (4.5mm) when I probably have at least 3 sets (since my last purge of needles and hooks). So I get home with my solid yarn and dutifully swatch a good-sized swatch. No good – gauge 18 sts and 24 rows over 4″.

Mistake 3: I tried a swatch with straight size 6 (4mm) needles (before I buy another set of dons). Well this gauge is 19 sts and 26 rows over 4″. Ugh! Not good. I can’t go much lower in needle size with this yarn.

Brilliant idea! I exchanged the size 7 (4.5mm) double-pointed needles at Michael’s. Forget that I had made a swatch with 2 of the needles (hardly used) for a set of bamboo double-pointed size 6 (4mm) needles.

The result: 20 sts and 26 rows over 4″. I give up! I’ve knit more swatting than one whole finished mitt. I’m going to knit the mitts with the bamboo needles and hope for the best. I know this is technically wrong – knitting gods, please forgive me!