Book Review: Custom Knits

I haven’t bought a lot of knitting books lately, but since I found so little to love in the newest IK I thought it might be time to add to my library.  Custom Knits is written by Wendy Bernard, author of the “Knit and Tonic” blog.  I have previously made three of her designs – fad classic, the not so shrunken cardi, and something red.

I was predisposed to like this book, but I have to admit that at first my feelings were mixed.  I am not always a big fan of top down or one piece sweaters.  I don’t like having so much on the needle at once, and feel the designs are necessarily limited.

Having said that, I love this book!  There are so many designs that I want to make.  The patterns are divided into sections – top down raglans, top down with set in sleeves, round yoke, and a chapter with a few other ways of knitting.  I have not, in the past, had great luck with set in sleeves on top down sweaters.  I have small shoulders and have found the cap to inevitibly end up looking rather like a drop shoulder.  But I’m willing to give it another try!

The size range in this book is great – every sweater comes small enough for me, and sizes extend up to (I believe) a 52″ bust.  Almost all the sweaters are presented with two options, and a little box telling you how to customize the sweater that way that you want it.  I found this information very useful.  The back of the book includes formulas for the types of sweaters in the book, so that you might design your own sweaters.

My only real criticism of the book is a superficial one… the styling.  Although I haven’t shown any of them, I swear to you that half the sweaters in the book are modeled without pants – sometimes swimsuits, sometimes underwear.  Seriously, who lounges around in a swimsuit and a wool sweater?  It just seems strange to me…

That’s minor though.  I love the book, and I have already started a sweater – the lion necked cardigan in RYC Soft tweed.  This is a strange yarn – it’s like knitting with strips of a blanket or something.  But I’m happy to use up stash yarn, and I hope it will work out.  The sizing looks teeny, because it isn’t supposed to close in the front.  I’m knitting a medium, but my gauge is a little small, so we will see where I end up.

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15 thoughts on “Book Review: Custom Knits

  1. i bought her book and love it too! currently i’m working on the opulent raglan also designed by her in the fall knitscene and it is going pretty well…hope to see your lion neck finished soon! i always love admiring your FO pics :-)

    p.s. i also thought it was funny at the surprising number of pantless models in the book…according to wendy, on her blog, it wasn’t her decision but the person who styles everything

  2. Katinka says:

    Well, at least there are plenty of pool boys to balance out the women. ;)

    There are quite a few things that I want to knit from this, too! :)

  3. Renee says:

    I bought the book too and was a bit put off by all the bikini bottoms and underwear. That said, once I saw Ingenue I knew I was going to buy the book irregardless of it’s strange styling. I’m going to try to make the dress form from the book instructions too.

  4. I love this book too and am saving my pennies for it. I hadn’t really noticed the pantless models, but remembering back, I think I do recall at least 2 in sweaters and undies…haha!

  5. I really like this book, too. I’m planning on doing the skinny rib sweater. I even have the same yarn in the stash. (Okay, so I may have bought it on Ravelry after I bought the book and decided to make the sweater, but I didn’t technically buy it FOR that sweater, so that makes it stash yarn, right?)

  6. i wasn’t sure i’d love the book without seeing some of the patterns, but i appreciate your reviewing it and think it looks like one i might want to add to my collection. can’t wait to see how your first project from the book comes out!

  7. Trine says:

    I’ve been dying to get my hands on this book ever since it came out. It’ll have to wait till I get a job, though. But I’m glad you liked it and that it has patterns in (y)our size!! :) I’m also very happy about the one-piece thing, as I haven’t had much luck with sweaters that need to be seamed…

    Looking forward to seeing your finished sweater!

  8. Pat says:

    I too loved the Custom Knits Book! I was curious as to whether you had reviewed the new Fall Verena Knitting Magazine or the new Nicky Epstein book “Knitting on Top of the World”?

    I like your book reviews and have found that your opinion is usually similar to mine!

    Thanks for your opinions! I check out your blog every day!

  9. Katinka says:

    Also, FWIW, my sweater made of Soft Tweed seems to expand after a few wearings (and then shrink back to it’s original state after a blocking). So if your Lion Neck turns out to be a little on the small side, don’t despair!

  10. shihtzuma says:

    Boy do I agree with you about IK….nothing to fall in love with in the last issue is right. So disappointing — I really loved that magazine.

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