Saturday, 29 September 2007

Book review: knit knit

The pictures are taken from Knit Knit: profiles and projects from knitting's new wave, by Sabrina Gschwandtner (2007): Stewart, Tabori and Chang. The following designs - cover art, Fibreglass Teddy Bear by Dave Cole (the head alone weighs 400lbs), City of Stitches, Isabel Berglund, and Convertible Cardigan by Wenlan Chia.

I guess it had to happen sometime, knitting gets on the ascent, new designers are established, old designers are rediscovered and someone has to come along and document it. To paraphrase Derek Walcott, she's the scribe capturing moods and words while the knitting designers wrap their heads with yarn and draw blood with needles, so to speak.

On one hand, as an English graduate, I appreciate of the power of words, of the fact that paper is the perfect techology: easy to produce, easy to access and short of fire and acid it is relatively sturdy. I'm also aware of the fact that getting studies published is one way to give a hobby validity. On the other hand, I tend to approach such efforts with caution, because such offerings tend to veer on the stuffy and underwhelms one.

With Knit Knit, I'm glad to say that I'm wrong.

What helps is that Ms. Gschwandtner is a knitter, and the maven behind knitknit magazine, so the love for the craft is apparent and makes for easier reading. A caveat however, if you're looking for a knitting book with pretty pretty clothing patterns, this is not the book. You do get a couple of great garments by Anna Bell (Bridie) and Wenlan Chia (see cardi above), but the book isn't focused on garments. You get patterns for a 1000lb teddy bear, a knitted room calling for 150 balls of 50 g cottons (for a start!) and mini sweater earrings (about 1/44 of an inch).

Because I'm pressed for time, I'll just break the comments down into pros and cons.

Pros: Designers all, the great, the good and the quirky. Some designers have I haven't even heard of before (Catherine Lowe, with her 35 page knitting patterns) and other designers that I've seen around the internets, but never really investigated the scope of their work (Dave Cole's ginormous American flag done with earthmovers). There are the populist designers - Norah Gaughn, Teva Durham and Erica Knight - and other designers that you might not necessarily know, but you might know their patterns (the Knitta Please posse). The book is lavishly photographed, the interviews are interesting, and the patterns are inspiational.

Cons: The patterns are quirky, some of the designers probably shouldn't be in there (in terms of influence on knitters or knitting), and it's a book that would be more for the coffee table than the patterns actually being used.

Overall, I do see myself getting this book eventually (this is not my copy, it belongs to my friend, Pat) and I'm torn between giving it 3 or 4 stars out of five. I can't give it a five, because it doesn't seem like a book I could use, but it's really pretty.

1 comment:

JayJay said...

The book sounds fun, but I don't think I'll be adding it to my library anytime soon. Seems more like a coffee table thing.