First, the facts:
Author: Melanie Falick
Published by: Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, 2005
1. Deck the Halls: Designs for the Home
2. Warming Up: Hats, Scarves, Mittens, gloves, and Socks
3. Dressing Up: Sweaters, Shawls, and Party Hats
4. Packing Up: Carryalls, Gift Bags, and Last-Minute Gifts
Pattern Size Range: N/A
The In-Depth Look:
This lovely book had my attention with the hood and gauntlets on the cover–patterns I’ve more or less been lusting after since the book came out. And it only gets better from there.
What a NICE book. You might think, with the title “Handknit Holidays,” that’s its main purpose is for making holiday gifts, but it’s not. It’s about the holidays. Period.
Decorating, for example. There are patterns for things like beaded candle holders–yes, they’re knitted, and yes, they’re adorable. There are Christmas-specific things like ornaments, garland, and stockings, but there are also lace photo mats–an idea so brilliant I wish I’d thought of it myself (but then, I’m no Veronik Avery). Then there’s the tablecloth from Annie Modesitt that’s made of linen napkins connected by knitted lace–another stroke of brilliance.
How about a pillow with a Menorah? A floral Christmas tree skirt? No? How about a cabled one? The Winter Solstice Table Runner is beautiful no matter what religion you follow, and the Frost Cushions from Jo Sharp don’t require any religion whatsoever. They’re just beautiful.
The second section is about Warming Up, and just about everything in this section would make a good gift. You know, if you could bear to part with the items once you were done. Cute little hats. Prettily beaded gloves from Betty Christiansen. Iris Schreier’s Stained Glass Scarf is a thick, warm, double-knit, reversable scarf. And, oh, Cindy Taylor’s Over the Knee Socks? They are just lovely–plain stockinette up the front, but with a lacy “seam” up the back. Perfect to wear with a dress on a cold winter’s day. How about some Holly legwarmers? Or Nutcracker Slippers that not only cover your feet but whose ties wrap around your legs like a ballerina’s slippers? Afghans? Mittens? Even convertable-mittens. This whole section will keep you warm, and not just because of the yarn. Just looking at them makes you feel all warm and cozy.
What else? Curly Ribbon Scarves by Jillian Moreno. A hat like a Hershey’s kiss–not to mention a snazzy Santa hat and a knitted St. Lucia laurel crown. A pair of a zigzag skirt with a zigzag dog sweater (for a coordinated walk through the park). Norah Gaughan’s Crisscross Shrug is unique (as you’d expect)–alternating arms and shoulders in a shrug/shawl/sweater combo to keep you warm. There are even sweaters and shawls–for you or for your giftees.
The last section is “Packing Up,” for last minute gifts and last-minute wrapping ideas. Like the Flower Pin from Nicky Epstein that you could use for your lapel or put on top of a gift. The Balsam Sachet is a quick little gift, and the knitted gift bags and wine bags? Well, they’re gift enough on their own, forget about once they’ve got something inside!
Honestly, there’s almost nothing bad to be said about this book. It’s beautiful. The patterns are creative and inspired. The photos are lovely and evocative but also give a good look at the knitted items (no weird camoflauge). There is a complete index so you can find patterns when you need to.
I’ve mentioned some of the designers. Well, they are top-notch and living up to their reputations. Alphabetically: Susan Alain, Suzanne Atkinson, Veronik Avery, Betty Christiansen, Amanda Blair Brown, Carrie Brenner, Cynthia Crescenzo, Sandy Cushman, Teva Durham, Nicky Epstein, Norah Gaughan, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, Kim Hamlin, Michelle Heyman, Penney Kolb, Faina Letoutchaia, Robin Melanson, Nancy Minsky, Annie Modesitt, Jillian Moreno, Kathy Pasusta, Leigh Radford, Michelle Rose Orne, Leslie Scanlon, Iris Schreier, Jo Sharp, Cindy Taylor, Jolene Treace, Gina Wilde, Anne Woodbury.
And did I mention it’s just a lovely, lovely book? I admit that I’ve owned this since it came out and have yet to knit any of its projects, but I have absolutely no excuse for that. I love the projects in this book and really couldn’t tell you why I’ve never made any of them. Because I could name you at least five things right off the top of my head that I’d like to have or to make, and while I may have my favorites, there’s not a single pattern in this book that I think is ugly or a waste of time. Everything is good. Everything is beautiful.
You know, just like the holidays should be.