Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Review: Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design

The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design (How to Keep you Knits about You)
Shannon OKey, 2010
Cooperative Press

Review by Cecile Renaud

The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design is aimed squarely at the budding designer thinking about taking the next step and wanting to publish their designs. As such it is a mine of useful information, covering every aspect of the process of going professional from who does what in the industry, to design software and advertising, also including alternative ways to earn money with knitting, whilst you wait for the design side of things to take off. It presents different options for many of the steps involved, with helpful indications on their pros and cons, notably on the different means of selling patterns. This is not a book with fancy fashion shots or even instructions on how to write a pattern, but the advice it dispenses covers a wide ground, and undoubtedly represent a handy shortcut to information which would otherwise have taken a long string of trials and errors to figure out.
This is, however, definitely a book you need to read with a handy Internet access, because much of its advice is illustrated by links to web pages. Although this leaves more space to cover a wider amount of topics in the limited space available in a book, it also means that if you want to get the full picture you often have to refer to the Internet (although a summary of the main points developed elsewhere is most of the time given). This might also be easier to access from the ebook version, which is also available for purchase, as the references might be hyperlinked in the PDF, otherwise, typing in URLs can be slightly tiresome.
The pattern design industry is constantly changing and Knitgrrl’s guide covers the facilities offered by the Internet thoroughly, starting with examining the possibilities of the different types of social media, but also giving or mainly linking to ‘how tos’ and sources of information.
It includes advice for people at different stages of their professional project, including a chapter on Further Education in textiles, covering many countries of the English-speaking world, which is a very nice change from national-centered perspectives. On a personal level, I was thrilled to find a reference to the knitting collection of the Winchester School of Art Library, which is part of my university.
Finally, the last chapter of the book consists of interviews with thirty professionals from the knitting industry: long established designers such as Louisa Harding, as well as more recent, mainly Internet based ones like Ysolda Teague, but also tech editors and magazine editors. The number and range of people interviewed adds to the variety of points of view, making it a rich and comprehensive read.
The book thus offers, in simple terms accessible to any knitter, a fascinating insider’s view of the workings of the knitting industry.

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