A Good Yarn

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Romantic Hand Knits

I was lucky enough to get a couple of books to review, so I'll post my thoughts on them here. First up is Romantic Hand Knits:

The sub-title of this book is “26 Flirtatious Designs that Flatter Your Figure” and that’s a good overview of the book. Most of the designs in the book are very body-conscious, figure hugging garments, from spaghetti strap tops to skirts and accessories.

The book is divided into garments that are “above the waist”, “below the waist” and “accessories”, with each design named for a romantic film, which thrills a movie-lover like me. The designer/author, Annie Modesitt, suggests slipping the film the design was named for into your DVD player while knitting it up, which sounds like a lovely way to pass an afternoon.

My favorite section of the book is the first, “above the waist”. There are sweaters of many different styles and shapes – there’s a little something for anyone which also means everything isn't going to work for you. The sweaters include a couple of tank tops (one of them has a knit in shelf bra, which I’m intrigued by), a few pullovers that are all fairly tailored and close fitting but not immodest, an embroidered cardigan, a lacy cardigan and my favorite, a wrap cardigan. All of these sweater designs come in a very wide range of sizes, from around 24” to 56” bust sizes. As a big girl, I appreciate being able to knit anything that might catch my eye in this book. There are also a couple of tutorials on embroidery and crochet techniques, which are used in some of the designs.

Less enticing for me was the next section of the book, “below the waist.” Personally, I think knitting a skirt is a little nutty. In the 80s I wore plenty of sweater dresses and some fine gauge knit skirts, but it seems like knitting has a tendency to sag around the bottom once you sit in it a few times and unless you have a lovely, curvy bottom, a knit skirt isn’t all that flattering. My favorite of the skirts is the one on the cover. I wouldn’t knit it for myself, but that model does look lovely and curvaceous. Like the sweaters, the skirts are generously sized for petites and pluses alike, so if you would like to knit yourself a skirt, you can probably find one you’d like here. Besides skirts, there are also several dress patterns, if you’re really ambitious and want to clothe yourself in knits from head to toe.

Speaking of head to toe, the last section is “accessories”, with knits to cover your head, your toes and a few parts in between. There are lacy thigh high silk stockings, elbow length gloves, a couple of structured hats and a few other accessories. There’s a scarf made with Tilli Tomas Disco Lights that makes me wish I had waited to knit my Disco Lights scarf until I had this pattern! In this section there are a couple more technique primers – one for lace knitting and one for millinery techniques, to help you knit up those hats.

Throughout the book, there are very clear, pretty pictures of each project. Each garment is shown modeled in an artful, lovely picture, but there are also close ups of details. The pictures both help you see how the garment will look but are also beautiful to look at. Each pattern also includes a detailed schematic, so you can tell how your knitted pieces are shaped and what size they are.

Overall, I think whether you like this book or not depends on your own personal taste for the garments. It’s a very well put-together book, with clear photos and diagrams. The patterns come in a large range of sizes, which should work for almost every knitter. But the close fit and highly detailed features may not suit everyone. If you like something more simple and classic, skip this book. There are some technique instructions, but this book wouldn’t really suit a person trying to learn how to knit. There also isn’t a lot of prose, it is almost strictly a pattern book.

I'll review the next book, which is completely different, next time.