A friend named Jenn mentioned wanting a certain type of sweater to knit. Living Knitting ..... musings of a design-artist: Sweater for those not-so warm days wearing a sleeveless dress was the start of the conversation, within the comments section of this posting.
It seemed an appropriate time to mention a great resource. Ann Budd, a knitwear designer of note (and editor of Interweave Knits) has compiled a resource that should answer Jenn's query: The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd. This book would suit Jenn's situation perfectly. In this book Budd breaks down sweater design into about eight styles and then explains how to plan THE sweater you're wanting.
For instance, Jenn wants a short sleeved, not too tight, pullover with an easy neckline. Budd's book would have Jenn knit a swatch in whatever yarn she wants to use, measure and determine the gauge, and then gives the numbers for the stitches to cast on, the rows to knit, when to bind off for underarms, etc. Short set-in sleeves are explained as well as neckline variations. This would give Jenn a very simple, all knit sweater.
If Jenn wanted to get fancy, she could add stitch patterns (based on the gauge and number of stitches) or color work, or whatever she wanted to create HER OWN SWEATER!
Yes, knitwear designing is that easy, that basic. Budd's book could very easily become your one-stop source for knitting the baby a sweater, your niece a sweater, a nephew a jacket and dear husband a ski sweater! And all from one book!