First, the facts:
Title: Inspired to Knit
Author: Michele Rose Orne
Published by: Interweave Press, 2008
Pattern Size Range: Varies from pattern to pattern, but ranging from 34″ to 55″
The In-Depth Look:
Well, first off, if knitter’s eye candy is what you’re looking for, this is an excellent place to start. Full of romantic handknits to appeal to the woman inside (most of) us.
Okay, brass tacks…
The author writes in the introduction, “Those who create often look to the world around them for inspriration–to the work of other artists, to nature, and to their own creative spirits to come up with new expressions. … I want to show you how–even if you have no design experience–you can find inspiration in your surroundings and translate that inspiration into your own knitting.”
From there, the book is divided into four sections–one for each season of the year. She talks about what inspires her about each season, and each month, and encourages you to “take time to appreciate nature’s beauty” and “find your own colorful knitting ideas.”
Along the way, there are “Design Workshops” meant to give you some guidance for taking that inspiration and turning it into something concrete with your knitting. There are four: “Finding Inspiration,” “Building a Color Palette,” “Swatching and Sketching,” and “Styling and Fitting.” In terms of solid information, the fourth workshop is the most useful, mostly because it provides the most concrete examples. The others remind you to look around you and notice colors, or to remember shapes in magazines that you like, stuff like that Those are certainly good bits of advice, but not really “solid” information–mostly because trying to teach something “fuzzy” like Inspiration is hard. (grin)
No matter what the author says, though, this really isn’t a design book. She gives some nice ideas and some guidance for getting started, and some tips along the way, but really, it’s a book of patterns. Lovely, pretty patterns.
They illuminate what she was saying in the workshops beautifully–because they are inspired. These sweater patterns–and they are primarily all sweaters, blouses, halter tops, or something like that–are just beautiful to look at, lush and finely detailed.
The details are exquisite. I like the way the Tiny Twists Camisole‘s straps come right out of the bodice cables, or the peek of the wispy mohair/silk cuff on the Whisper Cuff Cardigan. The cable-gathered cuffs on the Coral Rose Jacket … and oh, be still my heart, the cables on the Winter Wonderland Coat! I do love an intricate, plotted cable, and these are just divine. The intarsia leaves on the Walk in the Woods jacket are divine, too, though it would be hard for a short person like me to pull off actually wearing it. (Not the jacket’s fault, mind you.)
Are you looking for a design to knit for your wedding? The Wedding Ensemble is beautiful–romantic without being frilly, ruffly or too fussy. (Although it looks unforgiving as to figure flaws in the bride.) Don’t want to do an entire outfit? How about just the Victorian Lace Blouse? It’s something that just about any bride would love to have.
Overall, these patterns are beautiful. Not all the colors in the photos are necessarily to my taste, but there isn’t one design that I hate. That said, however, they’re not really the most practical sweaters. Lacy edgings, belled cuffs, bits of eyelet to catch on things … They all look wearable, but not like they’re the kinds of sweaters you just grab because you’re cold, or you want to take a walk with the dog. They’re the kind of knits you wear to the office, or out to dinner–or, yes, a wedding. There are definitely sweaters in here I would love to have in my closet, but many of the sleeves, for example, would get in my way on a daily basis. It’s hard to wash dishes, pack boxes, type, cook, wash your hands with big, flouncy cuffs on your sleeves. Not that these are ridiculously so, but still … many of these designs are things I would wear when I didn’t have to DO a lot with my hands, but not for just puttering around the house.
Still, they’re not FUSSY kinds of designs. The extra details are knit right into the sweater, so it’s not a matter of forever having to adjust the way it falls or drapes–they look like (except for the sleeve cuffs when passing the gravy) they’re simple to wear, in the way a good jacket is simple to wear. Dressing things up a bit without making it frilly and difficult. Like putting your hair back into a french braid–it takes a little effort, looks complicated, but then you just don’t have to think about it the rest of the day.
Each pattern comes with a schematic (a must). And the patterns are listed in the Table of Contents, which you know I appreciate.
One thing I thought was odd? Most of the patterns have a little sidebar titled “Make it Your Own.” Some of them give tips on how to change or add embellishments on those specific patterns, but some of them just give general sort of advice like, “When things don’t turn out as you plan, don’t despair. Usually you can find a creative solution. If a garment is too wide, add a belt or tie to gather in the excess fabric; if a garment is too narrow, add gores at the seams. There’s a lot you can do to correct things without having to start over.” Now, that’s excellent advice, and all, but I don’t see what the connection is to the sweater on the page. If the sidebar were titled something like “Tips” or “A Bit of Advice” I’d have no complaint, but when you tell me that the text in the sidebar is supposed to help me “make it my own,” then I expect it to be relevant to that pattern. Some of them are, but not all of them. And … why not? It seems like such an obvious thing!
Does that sound like nit-picking? Probably so. But you’d think I was crazy if I told you the book was perfect. And it’s selling for $16.47 over at Amazon.