Thursday, April 20

Review: Alterknits

If I were in the business of judging a book by its cover Alterknits would have me. The fabric covered spine looks delicious on any bookcase. When it's pulled down the wonderfully shot front cover begs you to open it up. Inside the projects are presented much like the cover. A blend of techniques, styles and materials.

I'm a big fan of introductions, both to books and patterns, that tell me what the designer was thinking. Radford gives out her aims as trying to 'reorder the way I… looked at knitting's potential'.

Some of the patters appear to miss the mark by a few years. The Zigzag Sweater Blanket is made from felted sweaters in a way that designers and craftspeople have been exploiting for a while now. The Recycled Sweater Totes is a more ingenious take on this.

The knitting you would have to do for some of the projects is hardly challenging for people past the advanced beginner stage, the difficulty in the pattern appears to be in the different techniques and materials. Some of the patterns call for crotchet, sewing, eyelet setting, and embellishment in a way that may be annoying to people who, by preference or ability, only knit. Especially in projects like Velvet-Trimmed Raglan Pullover which, aside from the velvet trim, is very plain.

The projects knit with different materials do not miss the mark. The Crepe Paper Crown looks stunning and I can't wait to try my hand at the Herringbone Leather Cuff. Even the more common none-yarn materials such as wire are given a new, creative twist.

The garments come in a range of styles so most people should find one to suit themselves but only three sizes are given for the adult project with no written guidelines about how much ease to give. Thankfully the pictures are very useful for understanding the pattern. They manage to be the perfect balance between artfully shot and practical.

Aside from the patterns there is a 'creativity notebook' and exercises sprinkled throughout the book. The note book may come in useful, if only for the graph paper, but the exercises seem quite tired and forced. Neither detract anything from the book or - more importantly - increase the price. Which is, at least in the UK impressive value for money.

Does the book show a new potential of knitting? In places. It is much like any other pattern book though. Projects you want to knit, projects you don't want to knit. There is something for every taste but definitely not everything for all tastes.

Links: Leigh Radford, eratta

1 comment:

ardchoille said...

That is one of the best craft-book reviews I've ever read. No, seriously. It tells me the things I want to know about it (whether illustrations are helpful, tone of book, general style of projects) and it doesn't have that awful bit where the reviewer has obviously thought, 'Er, yes, well, the publishers advertise in this journal, better find something nice to say.'

You should try sending it to a specialist magazine ('real' review magazines don't review craft books).

And even if the author read it, I don't think she'd do a Keats.