Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A handknit romance review


A while ago I wrote this post about (then) upcoming book 'A handknit romance'. Well, the book has been published and a week or so ago I received this book. I've seen some mixed reactions on it and I thought it be good to write my own opinion about the book here on my blog.

Designer: Jennie Atkinson
Published by: Interweave press

I love vintage and vintage inspired patterns. No surprise there. You should only buy this book if you're interested in these kind of patterns. Now this may seem clear to most of you, as it is clearly advertised as a vintage inspired book but I've actually seen this as a complaint somewhere. Now maybe this person just has received this book as a gift, or maybe there some knitters out there who just buy a lot of newly published books without looking at the description. But to me this complaint seems rather odd, given the cover picture & discription.

Cover!

What sets this book apart from other knitting books, or even vintage/vintage inspired books, is its focus on 1900-1930 inspired clothing, whereas other vintage-books usually focus on the later decades. This is what drew my attention and fired my enthusiasm about this book in the first place. Most of the pieces seem really inspired by the 20's, thought there are some earlier and later inpired pieces in the book. I truly love this about this book, since most vintage knitting books are inspired by the more popular 40's and 50's.  I happen to love those as well, so you don't hear me complaining, but some earlier inspired books are a very welcome variation.

pretty!
Most books I buy strongly rely on garment knitting. Since that's what I do most. This book is a little different. It has 22 patterns, it has 8 tops/blouses/shrugs , 2 dresses, 1 skirt, and 11 accessories. Normally I'm not very into knitting accessories but with this book I think Jennie Atkinson designed some great pieces, which I might want to knit. Also I think she did a great job with keeping the accessories vintage inspired as well, which I think some books have some trouble with.

The styling of the book is simply beautiful, I'm not only refering to the styling of the knitted pieces but the styling of the book as well. Go take a look at Jennie's site and you get an idea of the styling you can find in this book. Every pattern in the book has a little box with an illustration on the inspiration of the piece and throughough the book there are little pieces and how-to's on changing the pattern or adding things which are not in the original pattern. As a vintage fashion fan and a do-it-yourself fanatica I just love these little things and to me this gives an extra dimension to a book/pattern.



Some things you might want to take note of : (aka Not all that glitters is gold)

Needle sizes/yarn weights: 
 The designer has used some very fine weight yarns for some of her designs, fine as cobweb and even thread yarns. She explains that she did this in order to realise some of the effects for those garments. Now I'm used to knitting with fine yarns (though I've never knitted with thread yarns), so even thought I knew this I still bought the book. But I know not everyone looks forward to knitting with crochet cotton, so therefore I think this is very important to know before you buy the book. The designer has written a little piece in the book on substituting yarns and yarn weights, so even if you do buy the book, but don't want to knit with crochet cotton you might want to look into that.

Personally I think I'll go and use the cobweb yarns, though it may be more of an time investment then using thicker yarns. I just don't think you'll get the same effect when you use thicker yarn. Think of it as hand sewing in couture clothing, yes a machine might go faster but you just can't get the same look no matter how carefull you are with the machine. Also most yarn used back in the day (think +/- 1900) were indeed that fine...so I keep telling myself If they can do it... ;)

Back.
Few sizes:
Second, the sizes. The size range is bad. For the garments all sizes go from 32 inch bust to 42. Now this is not a problem for me, but I know this is a problem for a lot of people. I do understand a designer just can't take all shapes and sizes of every women in the world in considaration, I think stopping at a bust size in 42 is still just pretty small. It might be stupid, but when a designer includes a wide range of sizings for their designs, this greatly increases my sympathy for the designer.

Yarn availability:
This designer is UK based, and so are most of the yarns she has used. Now this is a nice change for a Europe based knitter, since I've a hard time getting most of the yarns availble in the USA, but apperently she has used some yarns that are not only not avaible in US...the whole yarn weight calculation is different there. She has written a piece on her website on which yarn Americans can use instead. 

Phew so far for my first proper book review! What did you guys think? 

xxx


5 comments :

Wendy said...

Great review, so much so that I need to own a copy, it sounds and looks fabulous!!

Nisse said...

That's what I thought when I saw some of the first pictures of the book ;) Great to have some early vintage inspired knitting books out there :)

Irma said...

Thx for your review, I bought a copy and it's truly great!
Groetjes IrmA

jennie atkinson said...

Very well written and informative review! Glad you like my book. I just want to respond to comments about the yarn and sizing.
I knitted the samples in yarn I bought in UK, then Interweave insisted I found US substitutes - which I did. All were checked for availability - but no-one pointed out the difference in UK and US crochet sizes!
The publisher decides what sizes the patterns for the garments will go up to, although I have to admit, I have a small bust and can't help designing for that!
Jennie

Nisse said...

Thank you for your reaction Jennie!
I didn't know the publisher usually decides which sizes to include, so thank you for letting me know.

xx