A Good Yarn

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Knits for All Seasons

The other book I got to review was The Yarn Girls' Guide to Knits for All Seasons:

This is the newest installment in the “Yarn Girls’ Guide” series. These books are pattern books of basic, classic knitwear designs for newer knitters. The first book was aimed at the brand new knitter and this book gives that knitter slightly more challenging garments to knit up as her skills have increased over the years. Unlike the previous entries in this series, this book is strictly a pattern book, with only one section at the back on finishing technique. That section does include very clear, easy to understand instructions with nice illustrations of sewing techniques and how to pick up stitches.

As the title implies, the book includes designs appropriate for all weather and the patterns are organized by season. Each section has six women’s patterns (mostly sweaters, though there is the dreaded knit skirt and dress too), two accessory patterns and two men’s sweater patterns (like most men’s sweater patterns, they would be perfectly nice for a woman, also). I always hear complaints that there aren't enough patterns for men, so it's nice to see this need being met. These are the type of sweaters the man in your life would actually be willing to wear, too.

In each section, the designers change the color palette and materials they knit with, to suit the season. Spring and summer have silk blends, rayon, linen and cotton, with the summer designs a little more revealing. The fall and winter sweaters are the more traditional wools and alpaca. All of the designs use high end, beautiful yarns.

The majority of the patterns are knit in worsted weight or thicker yarn, calling for size 7 – 9 needles. There is one funnel neck, raglan sleeve sweater in Blue Sky Alpaca that calls for a size 5 needle. The designs range from a halter top for summer to pullovers and cardigans. Almost all of them are strictly stockinette stitch, although there are some basic cables and a little bit of color change on a few of the designs. These are very basic, classic designs that would be good for gift knitting, since they would be relatively quick and safe – I don’t think anyone would object to wearing most of these designs. My biggest objection to the designs, though, is the size range. Most of the women’s sweaters are 32” to 40” in the bust. That’s pretty small. Since the designs are pretty basic, upsizing them wouldn’t be that difficult, but it’s disappointing that the designers didn’t include those larger sizes in the book.

The instructions seem to be pretty straight forward and easy to understand. Each pattern includes detailed schematics, giving measurements not only for chest width, but also shoulder to shoulder width, neck width, armhole length, neck depth, total length and sleeve length and width at cuff and upper sleeve. These detailed schematics really help with blocking and customizing fit for yourself. Each pattern is accompanied by a very clean, clear picture of the garment being worn by a model – these are not artsy, beautiful shots, but it allows you to clearly see how the garment looks on a real person and what details you may want to see. Most of the designs have more than one picture showing different views of the garment.

If you’ve been a fan of the other Yarn Girls’ Guide books, you won’t be disappointed by this one. All of the designs are very classic, wearable garments. They are easy to knit if you have a basic understanding of knitting. There wouldn’t be a lot of challenge for an experienced knitter and the women’s sweaters do not go up beyond a 40” chest. However, I think this would be an excellent place to start if you’re looking for something to knit for a holiday gift (it’s almost that time, you know!).