by Véronik Avery
Stewart, Tabori & Chang 2010
This book is very clear about its intended readership: "Busy, passionate knitters". The idea is to provide projects that are portable, for those who like to knit whenever a brief opportunity presents itself. Furthermore the stitch patterns are relatively simple so that they can be easily memorised, and constant reference to a chart is not required. There are also one or two larger items, which make up for their lack of portability with ease of knitting.
At first I thought that this book probably wasn't for me, as I am not the sort of knitter who must always have busy hands and loves to knit in the queue in the Post Office. However, it turns out that while the patterns are great for passionate knitters, they are also great for less fervent ones. The qualities that make them suitable for grabbed opportunities mean that they are also ideal for those who like to relax with some knitting in front of the TV.
The book is divided into three sections: a.m., p.m. and weekend, according to when you are likely to use or wear the result. This is a fairly arbitrary division, and a case could be made for including most of the items in any of the three categories! The book contains 30 patterns. There are five hats/headbands, four scarves/shawls, four pairs of socks, two bags, five mitts/mittens/gloves, five garments, a cushion cover, a bookmark, a tea cosy and two variants on a pair of slippers. All are attractively stylish. The books contents page is pictorial, with a photograph of every item. This is a good looking feature that also makes the book easy to use.
The photography is wonderful. There's a clue that it will be good on the cover, as the photographer Thayer Allyson Gowdy is named. The photographs not only show the designs well, they hint at a desirable lifestyle - I'd like to live in this book! The atmosphere is enhanced by including photos that don't include the knitting - the model stares dreamily out of a train window or orange juice and a crossword puzzle glow in the morning light. Yes, I want to live there!
My favourite patterns are the Heilo Mittens (p105), which have a very simple but very effective colour scheme and the Cabled Gloves (p117). The Elemental Pullover (p67) is simply delightful - so elegant. I was also taken enough with the Pinstripe Slouch Hat (p77) to make one. I found the instructions complete and easy to follow, though I did decide to work the hat inside out compared with how the pattern was written to reduce the amount of purling required.
The author owns St-Denis Yarns, and St-Denis yarn is suggested for a few of the patterns. Overall however, yarns from a wide variety of companies are suggested. Some of the yarns are obtainable in the UK, and composition and yardage is given which will aid substitution. Several different weights of yarn appear. The designs have written instructions but patterns, such as cable and colourwork, are given only in charts. The charts are clear and legible. The book seems to be relatively well proof-read, with only a few errata listed on the publisher's website (http://www.abramsbooks.com/stc_craft_errata_knitting247.html).
This is a lovely book full of easy and attractive patterns. Avoid it if you want only challenging patterns, want more garment patterns or are an absolute beginner hoping for learn-to-knit instructions.
Disclosure: I purchased this book