First, the facts:
Author: Sabrina Gschwandtner (founder of KnitKnit magazine).
Published by: HNA Books, 2007
Type: Designers, with some patterns–Inspiration, really.
1. Introduction • 2. Lisa Anne Auerback • 3. Anna Bell • 4. Isabel Berglund • 5. Risto Bimbiloski • 6. Wenlan Chia • 7. Dave Cole • 8. Liz Collins • 9. Jim Drain • 10. Teva Durham • 11. Norah Gaughan • 12. David Gentzsch • 13. Aimee Hagerty Johnson • 14. Joelle Hoverson • 15. Erika Knight • 16. Knitta • 17. Catherine Lowe • 18. Bridget Marrin • 19. Tina Marrin • 20. Rachael Matthews • 21. Cat Mazza • 22. Mandy McIntosh • 23. Althea Merback • 24. Annie Modesitt • 25. Debbie New • 26. Eugene Ong • 27. • Freddie Robins • 28. Beryl Tsang
Pattern Size Range: Um… hard to say!
The In-Depth Look:
I wanted to review this book because it seems like it flew under most knitters’ radar when it came out last year–probably because it’s wholly unique.
Primarily, this is a collection of designers. Not the designs, mind you, the designers.
The author says in the introduction: “The people in this book are not the only creative people working with knitting today, but are the ones who I have come to know and work with through KnitKnit, the knitters I have long admired who were available to take part in the project, or the knitters I found through a very pleasant research process.”
So, this isn’t really the kind of book you pick up because you want a knitting pattern–although there are definitely some good ones in here. (I bought it myself for Anna Bell’s Bridie cardigan pattern.)
What you DO buy this book for is sheer inspiration.
Every chapter is devoted to a specific knitting artist. It tells a little about him or her, visits their home, shows pictures of their workspace, or some of their more well-known projects. Like, Dave Cole’s knitted American flag constructed by John Deere excavator machines. Or Beryl Tsang’s knitted prosthetic breasts for breast cancer survivors. Or Althea Merback’s microscopic knitting which is astounding not so much because it’s so small (gloves the size of a dime), but because it is so detailed and so small. And I’m still flabbergasted at Debbie New’s knitted, functional coracle boat.
Clearly, this book isn’t limiting itself to knitted sweaters and socks and baby booties. No, this book explores the possiblities of knitting.
To quote the author again, “This book is not just a presentation of knitters and their projects; it is also a profile of a medium as it exists today. Knitting can be clothing, gift, sculpture, therapy, protest, graffiti, or performance … you chose.”
Yep. That pretty much sums it up!
Am I going to rush right out to my local hardware store to buy enough insulation to knit the Fiberglass Teddy Bear? Um, no–though the pattern is thoughtfully provided. I really don’t have the storage space for the 362 rolls of fiberglass insulation required. But the concept? It just blows me away–the sheer creativity to think of doing that.
I don’t really think I’m going to knit new walls for my bedroom, either, like Isabel Berglund did (though, think about how warm it must be in the winter!). My car doesn’t even have an antenna for one of Knitty’s Antenna Cozies. So, really, a lot of the included projects are just a little … impractical.
But … just knowing that the possibilities are there somehow makes me feel braver about my knitting. We can talk all we want, these days, about “Knitting isn’t just for grandmothers anymore. It’s hip. It’s cool. It’s trendy!” But still, most of us stick to making things that our grandmothers would at least recognize. These designers, though, are not only pushing the boundaries, they’ve blasted them wide open–which can only be a good thing for those of us who are generally happy making mittens and hats and other familiar things.
Books like this make me more open to the wealth of possibilities–make me aware of possibilities I hadn’t even realized existed.
Okay, so what about patterns that don’t require forklifts, large empty rooms, and industrial equipment?
Well, this book has those, too. There are definitely patterns in here for those of us whose knitting vision isn’t quite so … advanced.
I already said how much I liked Bridie by Anna Bell–a slim little asymmetrical cardigan that I’d like to knit one of these days. Lisa Anne Auerbach’s Geodesic Hat is a creative use of triangles (and much more practical than a geodesic dome for a house). I like Norah Gaughan’s Missing Piece Hobo Bag, but then, her knitting architecture is always intersting. Joelle Hoverson’s “Favorite Yoke Sweater” is a pretty, cap-sleeved confection, and who wouldn’t want a pair of knitted boxing gloves, or to fill their closet with knitted ankle boots?
The top made out of old stockings, though? Um…
Ultimately, this book is about Knitting-As-Art, and it does it very, very well. Some of the projects and designers are a little too avant garde for my taste, though. (I never claimed to be an enlightened art appreciator.) But as a trigger to expand my knitting possibilities and explode my sense of adventure? That’s never a bad thing.
KnitKnits is selling for $19.77 over at Amazon.