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Review: Feminine Knits


First, the facts:

Title: Feminine Knits: 22 Timeless Designs

Author: Lene Holme Samsoe

Published by: Interweave Press, 2009

Pages: 127

Type: Adult, woman patterns.


1. One ‘chapter’ per pattern

Feminine Knits

Pattern Size Range: Varies widely, 30″ – 43″

The In-Depth Look:

Right up front, my very first reaction? My biggest worry about this book is about the photographs. They’re beautiful. They’re atmospheric. They’re lovely to look at … and almost without exception, they have the models leaning with their arms folded, carrying big bags, bent over, sprawled sideways. You get the idea. There are only a couple full-sized photos that show the sweater, rather than a “pose.”

Why am I mentioning that FIRST? What does that have to do with the book as a whole? It’s distracting.

The patterns in the book are prettily feminine. Nice shapes. Delicate details. Attractive shapes. Pretty. Like the title of the book promises. The V-neck, faux-wrap “Surplice Sweater” is lovely and looks flattering. The “Shawl with Leaf Lace” is a refreshing shawl, if only because it’s primarily knitted in stockinette stitch, with just a little lace trim along the edge. I like the non-boxiness of the “Aran Turtleneck” which transforms a classic into something a little more feminine. The cables in the “Jacket for Everyone” really do look like they’d look good on anyone, just like the description says. And, except for the fact that I personally don’t like to knit bobbles, the “Shawl Collar Jacket” is very lovely indeed.

All the designs (and they’re mostly all sweaters) are what they claim to be–feminine knits. A little daintier, a little more fitted than some other pattern books. They lean more toward “pretty” than “cool” or “cutting edge,” and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s a lot to be said for a lacy jacket you can pair with a flirty skirt on a summer’s day. Or a hoodie that’s got delicate stitch work along the edges to make it special.

There are pretty designs in here. Or at least, designs that look pretty, if pretty is something you’re looking for. (And yes, I am aware that I’ve used the word “pretty” about twenty-seven times. It’s hard not to.)

My problem is that it’s a little hard to tell on some of these patterns whether it’s the knitted object that’s pretty, or if it’s just the photograph. These kind of details worry me. I am highly suspicious of knitting patterns with stylized photos that could be deliberately hiding something–and no amount of detailed schematics can really convince me not to worry.

Do I have any reason to suspect that these patterns in this book are anything less than what they are advertised to be? Emphatically No. They do, in fact, come with detailed schematics, and Lene Holme Samsoe is a designer that I’ve heard of for years (even if I haven’t had great exposure to her work). I trust that with her reputation, the designs here are what they should be.

But the photos keep distracting me. And the fact that they chose to use photographs that are actually distracting makes me wonder if it was purely a book-design decision, or if there is a darker purpose. I’m sure it really is just a design decision, but um, aren’t sweaters equally photogenic when the model is standing straight and facing the camera?

The layout of the book is as lovely as you’d expect. The page layout and color scheme are perfect for the feminine feel. There’s a full pattern list in the table of contents, to make it easy to find a specific pattern later, and there’s an index for techniques at the back. I don’t see any sidebars in the main part of the book, except for the occasional “stitch guide” for specifics on a given stitch.

There are some basic techniques explained in the Glossary at the back, but for the most part, this book is pure patterns–no extraneous exposition by the author about inspirations or explanations about where a given technique comes from, or why she’s using it on any particular pattern. Nothing to actually read except for the patterns. That’s fine with me–not every book needs to teach you new things. Sometimes you really just want good patterns.

This book is available at amazon.com for $15.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

My Gush: Really pretty. Really lovely. But the highly-posed pictures worry me.

This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Chris June 1, 2009, 8:50 am

    Artistic poses make me nervous when there’s not at least one non-artistic, show the garment picture…

  • Jaime Guthals June 1, 2009, 9:29 am

    Deb, What may be unsettling to you is that the photography is not what you’re accustomed to seeing from Interweave. Interweave bought English rights to this book because there was such demand by North American knitters to bring it into this market. If you have any question about how the garments look on real people, check out “Feminine Strik” (the original book title) on Ravelry.com and you’ll see a lot of Norwegian knitters’ versions of the patterns. Some are simply stunning!

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