Tales from the Woolly Side

The assorted ramblings of an obsessive knitter, fumbling mother, and overworked astronomer.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Book Reviews

It's been a banner couple weeks for new knitting books. I don't get them all, but I do get a *lot* of them. Here are the new ones I've looked through so far...

Mason Dixon Knitting
(Kay Gardiner, Ann Meador Shayne)
This one *far* exceeded my expectations. I've been a fan of their blog - although it's not in my top tier. But the book!!! I now get the point of the knitted washcloth and a knitted "quilt". Before this book, these were both mysteries to me. And now I want a knitted linen nightie. That may not sound like a big deal until I tell you that I don't wear nighties! (I'm pajama devotee.) Magic, I tell you, this book has magic. They hit a really difficult sweet spot of just enough patterns, unpatterns, and prose!
Recommendation: An inspiring addition to any knitter's library!

Big Girl Knits
(Jillian Moreno, Amy R Singer)
A mixed bag. After getting an advance copy at TNNA I was really excited about this book. But you've got to realize that the advance copy was basically a bad photocopy with a full color cover. The text I was excited about is still there -- and I still believe that the front sections on fit, measureing, altering, and flattering styles is worth the price of the book. I'm even hoping that their Boob/Belly/Butt classifications become standard! I also give the publisher (and authors) a big thumbs up for using big girl models. My disappointment is that some of the sweaters fit poorly (helloooo did the photo-stylist understand what the first section of the book was about?). Sleeves that are too long just make the whole sweater look sloppy. And as the authors point out, sweaters that are too big make the wearer look bigger! Some of the sweaters are poorly made - remember most knitters aspire to handmade, not homemade! Some garments just aren't flattering -- uh, bunched up linen, when does bunched up go with big and beautiful! And to top it off, some are difficult to really see in the photos. There are several sweaters that I still don't think I understand all their design features, because they just aren't *shown*. (I expect this from Vogue, but not from a book with an emphasis on flattering fit.) So in conclusion -- I think the text in the beginning is fabulous -- something *all* sizes of women, not just the big, can learn from. I just wish that the patterns, modeling, and garments followed through on the same standards.
Recommendation: Get it to learn about measuring your body, altering patterns and modern advice on flattering styles.

Knitting Nature
(Norah Gaughan)
A dark horse -- but a real winner! I wasn't expecting much from this one either. But I was blown away. Like last year's Loop-d-loop (Teva Durham), this book has wearable (and knittable) designs which open your eyes to new possibilities and new patterns. The similarity probably isn't coincidental since both books share a publisher. Also like Loop-d-loop, each chapter has a bunch of designs based on a visual theme. I now realize that what my knitting has been missing -- hexagons!
Recommendation: Buy Loop-d-loop first, but then when you want more inspiration, get this gorgeous one too!

Nicky Epstein's Knitted Flowers
(Nicky Epstein)
My least favorite Nicky Epstein book. I adore, adore, adore Knitting on the Edge. Knitting over the Edge felt like a bit of a rehash, but there was enough new in there, that I'm glad I have it. But Knitted Flowers is a pretty thin rehash of already published stuff. Save yourself some $$ and skip this one.
Recomendation: Skip it. If you want a reference with Nicky Epstein flowers in it, buy her older book "Nicky Epstein's Knitted Embellishments: 350 Appliques, Borders, Cords and More!" It's 7 years old, and not as beautifully photographed, but it has a *lot* more in it.


At 12:54 AM, Blogger Lilikoi Knits said...

If (when) you do decide to do any of the projects in Knitting Nature, I just started a Knit Along for the projects. You should join us.


At 12:53 PM, Blogger Carrie K said...

I'll have to check out Knitting Nature. I completely agree with you on Nicky Epstein's Knitted Flowers. I'm afraid if I buy her purse book, I'll knit that dumb swan.

At 4:09 PM, Blogger It's a Secret said...

I agree with you on the books and I love the yarn you chose for the exchange!
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At 8:37 AM, Blogger bernard n. shull said...

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