6000+ Pullover Possibilities? Not quite.

When I toy with the idea of being a fulltime knitter I’m always reminded of what Nicki Epstein said to me when I told her I was a budding designer. “Don’t quit your day job!” This was not in response to my skill as a designer—she hadn’t seen any of my patterns—her point was that anyone trying to make a living of it would starve unless they had another means of support these days.

Though Knitting is now mainstream, and I credit Ravelry with being one of the bigger catalysts of this movement among the Internet savvy, making knitting your job would be hard in spite of the moving stories on various podcasts and blogs of people that have gone down that road. The fact is, most of them do have another means of support.

But I digress.

If you’ve read this blog before you probably know the only thing I purchase in larger quantities than yarn is patterns. Literally my Ravelry library is considerably larger than my stash–4200+ patterns at last count. I have books and magazines dating back to Vogue Knitting issues from the 40s. I collect patterns.

This might seem odd, given I can and often do create my own patterns. And despite being in high-tech and spending a lot of time (in the past) writing code, I do not use sweater designer software. Instead I prefer the creativity and error prone method of graph paper and swatching. In part, I attribute this to having inherited most of my stash.

I saw Melissa Leapman’s book 6000+ Pullover Possibilities, as a way to have my cake and eat it too. Firstly I love her designs—such attention to detail! I thought I could use her book to make my pastime a bit less frustrating—leaving more time for garment making and less time for scratching my head over pattern design and math. And I was half right.

On the positive, this book contains great sizing charts—so if I were to ignore Nicky’s advice and decide to become a designer—this would be a VERY helpful guide indeed. From XS to 4X they are completely spelled out and even over different gauges. Wowza! These charts alone make the book extremely helpful to folks on a stash reduction diet.

6000 possibilities-2

What this book doesn’t contain is 6000 sweater possible sweaters. There are 3 sweater silhouettes, four sleeve styles, 6 collars and some “treatments”. If you do the math you could say you have 72, but these are all so similar and completely classic that the “possibilities” are closer to 4-5 actual designs.

Is it worth the $24.95? I’d say so. Especially for reducing the trial and error of stash busting. But I am just slightly disappointed that there aren’t a few more silhouettes—especially for more fashion forward designs, to really make this a “must have” book.

When I compare that to Sequence Knitting, which I turn to as a great reference guide, I’d have to say I stack rank it a bit higher. But perhaps that will change the more that I use it.

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Sequence Knitting Charity Projects

I first learned about Cecelia Campochiaro’s fabulous book, Sequence Knitting: Simple Methods for Creating Complex Fabrics from the Woolful Podcast. And, like Ashley, being a techie, I was intrigued. Though I have decided to slow down on buying knitting patterns (um, well someday I will that is…) this was a must have buy. It appealed to me on every level.

Getting Started on the first hat
Getting Started on the first hat

Firstly, it is not, necessarily, a knitting pattern book. It has some patterns for knitting objects, but not many given its enormous size (and weight I might add). It is also not exactly a stitch pattern book, which usually disappoint me because they lack the breadth and thoroughness I expect. This book does not disappoint.

A few hats into the process
A few hats into the process

So if it isn’t those books, what is it? This is a book about the creation of fabric though pattern and repetition. Though it is not technically a stitch pattern book, it has the depth and thoroughness I have been looking for. Edward Tufte is probably Cecelia’s nearest neighbor—except she approaches her subject with considerable humility.

She says in interviews that she felt there was a gap in the literature and that she felt she needed the information her book contains. If she did, we might as well, and I could not agree more. This is the book I’ve been looking for and could not find.

Three hats I knit on the way to NYC
Three hats I knit on the way to NYC

The result is an encyclopedic array of interesting fabrics that can easily be created from knits and purls. I can only hope that she goes on to cover other topics as thoroughly because I’ll be the first to line up to own her next book—no matter what aspect of fiber work she chooses to catalogue and debunk with understated brilliance and, no doubt, beautiful photography.

Ten hats in all
Ten hats in all

The arrival of my copy, which I ordered from Hen Haus Boutique in Petaluma, CA, coincided with a charity campaign at work—to knit baby and premie hats for babies born with heart disorders for the American Heart Association. What better way to work my way through the book—especially for the patterns designed to be knit in the round! Babies get hats and I get to learn more techniques—a better than average win-win!

So instead of casting on a new project, I’m sequence knitting a series of them and for a good cause. What could be better?

Ruby baby slippers I made with the leftovers of the two skeins
Ruby baby slippers I made with the leftovers of the two skeins