The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design by Shannon Okey, Cooperative Press: 2010.
The Knitgrrl Guide is a very useful reference book to keep handy for all (newer) designers, as it is really the only one that specifically deals with the business end of knitwear design. If you’re looking for a book to help you do the actual designing itself, you won’t find that here. This is a comprehensive read, going behind the scenes to show exactly what stages you’ll go through and things you’ll need to be aware of in getting your knitting design out there, from the concept, to publication and everything in between.
Split into two halves, the first part of the book contains eleven useful chapters on about the nuts and bolts of knitting design including a guide to social media, how to approach a magazines or publishers, advertising, contracts, design software, technical editing, copyright, distribution and wholesaling and lots more important stuff that you might not have thought of before.
The second half of the book has interview sections in which Okey talks to a wide range of individuals in the knitting industry from designers to teachers and technical editors who give their opinions on how knitting designers might go about things, with useful stories and tips from their own experience. Some of the knitwear professionals are very blunt in their opinion, which is refreshingly welcome, but in the end the over-riding view of those interviewed is that as a designer; above all you need to be professional.
Okey’s style of writing is informal, and very readable. She often includes links to pertinent sources of additional information, which emphasises her thinking that the internet must be embraced by knitting designers today. The Knitgrrl Guide is available both as a print book, and as an e-book (with an additional kindle-specific edition) so the links are particularly useful if you are reading on a computer screen. You’ll just have to make a big list for future investigation if you’re not.
The book ends with a sample book proposal, resource list and bibliography (although not an index). The majority of the resources cited throughout the book are US based, but since the Okey writes from her own professional experience, that is expected. However there are both interviews with British professionals, and also an overview of knitting resources and courses in higher education in the UK.
The Knitgrrl Guide is definitely a useful book to have on your shelf, whether you are thinking of submitting your first design to a magazine or you’re rather further along in your career. I’ll bet that after reading it through once you’ll dip into it again and again.
Review first published, in part, at knitonthenet.