she wrote the book

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events

as with last year’s TNNA, one of the standout booths at the 2011 fall show was ysolda’s charming summer tent. we found ourselves there a couple of times each day, almost unawares—lured by the promise of a little rest for our feet and fun conversation with sarah, rebecca, and the designer herself, among others.

the celebration this year of course, revolved around ysolda’s soon-to-be-released book, little red in the city (AKA “ysolda on sweaters”).

and i feel so lucky to have come home with a signed copy to share with you—thanks so much ysolda!

as with any book that focuses on such a huge subject as “knitting the perfect sweater”, this book has been some time in gestation. with a veritable mother lode of factors to explore (design, construction, fabric, yarn fit, etc), ysolda does a very respectable job of sorting, dividing, and delivering this material into bite-sized, illustrated chunks that knitters (intermediate and above) can use to guide their sweater knitting process.

i like the topics that she has chosen to highlight as important in the planning stages of the sweater knitting process. i know from my own sweater fitness classes that thinking about the influence of yarn type on a project’s outcome can be a total revelation to most knitters and i appreciate that the author spent valuable pages on this subject, with helpful illustrations of both yarns and knitted fabric.

with so many influential factors contributed by the yarn type alone, decisions about sweater knitting get confusing before one even leaves the yarn shop. here ysolda offers a short, concise overview of various yarn types and their behavior in sweater fabrics.

while not intended to offer the depth of a comprehensive volume on the subject of yarn alone, it certainly offers the knitter some guidance for shopping and swatching (and hopefully prevent a vegas marriage based only on looks and doomed to ultimate failure).

and so it is the same as the author moves from one preparation subject to another—from shopping to swatching and choosing a design.

at the heart of this book is a fairly-extensive section on getting a good fit by tailoring an existing sweater pattern to one’s own figure.

i like the illustrated spread above, where the author demonstrates with the use of a dress form, how very much “off” the standard size can be if one chooses simply by bust measurement alone.

determined to teach through the many challenges of getting a good fit while creating the very fabric of the garment, ysolda pulls apart the process of taking measurements and using them to make choices within the pattern that will result in an appropriate, individual fit.

expect to pick through a lot of information, some of which will be confusing and may need time to process (and much of which may not pertain to your own figure). unless you happen to fit perfectly into a standard size (and i find that many people actually do) expect to do some math as well (but there the author provides plenty of help.

when the process complete, one should have a fairly accurate picture of which size of a particular design to go with and where to make adjustments for the perfect fit.

the information in this section is pretty dense and the pages are quite busy with notes and illustrations, which could prove overwhelming for some readers. however, i think the content is very helpful, especially for certain specific figure considerations.

this is NOT the book to turn to in a panic, just when you’re ready to insert darts that you hadn’t considered before, to read up frantically on all aspects of darts; it has way too much going on for that.

this is a book plan with; to read several times in small chunks, encouraging your brain towards that “ah-ha!” moment about the subject under discussion.

ysolda has made a concerted effort to provide comprehensive guidance on bust shaping and tailoring for full or curvy figures (not the same thing). the information on special or added bust shaping is especially helpful and new, i think. i haven’t seen enough of this in other books and never with as many illustrations or examples of the math involved.

if a caveat could be noted, it would be that, like many books, the illustrated material is geared toward women who have a symmetrical, fairly youthful build; there is no section that specifically deals with issues that cause asymmetry, shortening of the spine, or humping across the shoulders. with a bit extra work however, these considerations could be tackled using the math provided.

while many times we may not require or desire such a closely-tailored look or fit in a knitted garment, almost every knitter would benefit from understanding the geometry of sweater fit and various design details discussed.

if you’d like to incorporate some fresh techniques into your sweater knitting, the next section of the book is for you, where ysolda provides several tutorials and illustrated instruction for techniques that will add a professional edge to your finished sweater look.

there are several short row methods offered with which to execute bust darts, should you need them.

and my personal favorite—the one-row buttonhole, which i use whenever the eyelet buttonhole won’t work.

and finally, it’s on to the sweater designs and patterns. though not an extensive collection, there is enough variety here to please a wide audience of ysolda fans, with some color work, a little lace, and a few classics.

ysolda has carried through this section her desire to show the sweaters on at least two very different figure types, which helps to give a sense of how the details, fabrics, and colors will translate when sized up or down.

the patterns are laid out in workbook style; the knitter is given a chart of numbers from which to choose those that most closely pertain to her custom size. she then plugs those into the framework of the pattern (blanks are provided).

this is where having the e-book file is so handy; you can print off a specific pattern file, plug in your numbers, stick those pages in your project bag and go. if you try the sweater on while it’s in progress and decide to make changes, you can print the fresh pages you need to do so. neat, huh?

curious enough to want a copy of your own? you can order the book by clicking here and begin your own sweater odyssey as soon as your copy arrives.

22 thoughts on “she wrote the book

  1. I was in the “thinking about” stage regarding this book – I think you just pushed me to the “must have” stage. By the way, I store your patterns on a portable drive and print only what I need when I need it also. Especially handy for patterns like Inky Dinky where the same chart is utilized for two different sections – I marked one up for the sleeves, and then printed a clean one for the body. I’ll store all in a page protector for next time so they’ll already be prepared!

  2. did you mention ebook? I like the idea of being able to print pages to use and reuse. better yet if they had spreadsheet capabilities to do the math for you but then that would be going too far. heh.
    I think I will buy the book if only for the fact that I see women in it that are round. like me ;0

  3. Thank you for the review. I have been thinking about buying this book but wanted a look inside first. Now I have a good idea what it is all about and will add it to my “wish list”.

  4. Thank you for the detailed review and glimpse into Ysolda’s book. Like Anita, I was at the thinking it looks like a book I’d like and now that I’ve seen your review it’s going on my “must have” list.

  5. Thanks for the great review. Another person who was on the fence about purchasing it. However, as I want a signed copy I will wait until she comes through town to get one.

  6. this is such a great review – thank you!! especially from your perspective as a longtime sweater designer, it’s so helpful to hear your take on it 🙂

  7. Fabulous book! I’m getting it. I’m obsessive about a well fitting sweater.

    My own dressform has an old bra of mine on it. It took TWO PAIRS of my husband’s cotton socks stuffed into the bra to bring the dressform bust up to match mine, LOL.

  8. Wow! A really in depth review for a book that is firmly on my must have list. Thanks.

  9. Thanks for the helpful review. This looks like a helpful addition to every knitter’s library! Helpful math is a big selling point for me.

  10. I just started reading my eBook of LRitC this morning – it’s a terrific book, already learned a couple of things, and I’m a pretty expert knitter! Can’t wait for the real deal to come in.

  11. Thank you for such a brilliant review. I have often bought books blind and cross my fingers that the book will be all it promises. This obviously is a wonderful book. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  12. I think it’s a fair review but overall I have found the book to be a big disappointment. All the info is great but then you look at the actual samples on the larger model and none of this information has been taken into account. The garments not only don’t fit her properly they are terribly unflattering. Even Ysolda looks odd in a couple of them, with lines that cut right through the bust and bizarre hoods! You can’t take a basic size 8 garment and simply size it up to a size 20. Too many proportions change and the garment that flattered a smaller frame will be unflattering on a larger body and vice versa. I think the book is a wonderful idea but it has been poorly executed. Money would be better spent on Ann Budds Handy Sweater Book

  13. My PDF arrived at my Rav account this morning, I am looking forward to the physical book’s arrival as well. This is hands-down the very best book I’ve read on the subject!
    Her information on bust size and relationship to the rest of one’s form is invaluable, and I think the sweaters on the gorgeous plus model fit wonderfully well.

  14. how wonderful! so happy to see it is out now and available! Have loved her patterns and being self taught this will be a valuable guide as well!

  15. What a good friend you are….. I hope this will kick start the sale of the book…. I intend to get a copy after seeing your great review… looks like a very important addition to my library.

  16. Thanks for the great review. I’m delighted to see that the author speaks to those of us who don’t quite conform to the 20-something, size 4 sweater at this stage in life. One of the reasons I took up knitting was to have sweaters that actually fit! Now, to think about how those notes may adapt a KnitSpot project. ;^)

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