Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design - Review

As part of Knitgrrl's Kickstarter campaign for Cooperative Press, I got a digital copy of The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design. This was a real bonus, as I was intending on buying the book myself. :)

Shanon Okey Cooperative Press Knitgirl guide to knitwear design franklin habit sheep schematic cover

The book starts with some marketing nuts and bolts - social media. With such a rapidly changing field, it's difficult to keep on the cutting edge in a book. The data is mostly up to date, but with a few minor things that have changed since publication (like automatic re-tweets on Twitter, for instance, and several references to the now-defunct AKD - Association of Knitwear Designers). There are also a few mentions of flash-in-the-pan internet phenomena - for instance, a subscription service which was started last year (!!), Patterndraft, which now has disappeared!

While the core ideas of the book are solid, I worry that parts of it will be less and less relevant as time goes on. Unless there are plans to release a new edition every so often, some sections will no longer be relevant, say, five years from now. Think about it: a little over five years ago, Twitter didn't even exist (it was launched in July 2006). Luckily, a digital copy can be easily updated as trends progress.

The book also covers more timeless topics, such as maintaining a professional persona, setting up multiple streams of income in addition to selling patterns, copyright, and formatting patterns. It's all really useful information - a lot of it I already knew, but some of it was new to me. Intriguingly, tucked in an appendix at the end of the book is a Book Proposal Template - a sample book proposal with notes about writing your own. If you dream about submitting your own knitting book to a publisher, this is a heck of a start.

To me, the real gems in the book are the interviews in the back. Here you can read multiple perspectives on being a designer from some very successful ones such as Ysolda Teague, Amy Singer, and Annie Modesitt. There's a huge trove of fascinating and helpful information to be found here. It ranges from practical bits of advice to startling insights (Annie Modesitt suggests, for instance, that sock knitting is hugely important in the popularity of more challenging patterns - since many sock patterns are fun to knit and hard or impossible to buy in stores, it inspires new knitters to take on more ambitious projects). The interview section spans over 100 pages, and is well worth the price of the book in and of itself.

The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design is a great book to flip through or read cover-to-cover. If you want help on a certain topic - advertising, or pattern layout, or the dos and don'ts of social media, you can easily skim through just one chapter. Or, you can read the whole thing in a few sittings and come out significantly more knowledgeable about the design world. The dozens interviews after the main text with designers, editors, and yarnies, are fantastic reads, each and every one of them.


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