Review: AlterKnits

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Some of you may remember that, while I’m chugging away on my Rocky Coast Cardigan (chugga-chugga choo choo!), I checkout out a couple of knitting books from the library. My first review is AlterKnits: Imaginitive Projects and Creativity Exercises by Leigh Radford. In the introduction, Leigh talks about her book’s philosophy, specifically how she envisioned the book as a the ‘next step’ in her design career, as she altered her traditional ascetic. God, I hope that makes sense, because I don’t know how else to explain it. There are 27 designs in the book, and they range from the generally unmakable (a knitted screen door, anyone?) to gorgeous garments and useful household items.

Alterknits, by Leigh Radford- joined by Mr. Sunflower

While there weren’t really any patterns in here that made me say, “wow, I HAVE to knit that,” there were several that were stretches for me, but that I could see someone with a different fashion sense making and wearing quite successfully. First of all, the Mohair Cables Pullover is very, well, pretty. Of course, part of that is the gorgeous photography. You see the model in a field with the sun setting at her back, and it’s a lot harder to notice the sort of strange neckline and the bulkiness of the sweater. It has more of a lounging around the house/boyfriend fit then something I would probably make, but it is really, really pretty. Especially in this picture.

Mohair Cables Pullover- doesn't the model look sad?

The other pattern I was drawn to was the Unisex Deconstructed Pullover. Now this is what I think Radford meant when she was talking about alter-knits. With a quick look at the schematics I’m not sure I quite understand the construction, but it looks like on of those projects that you do partly because you like the look of the finished garment and partly because you want to see how the magic happens. The mix of colors, stitching, and symmetry (or lack of) certainly creates a unique FO.

Unisex Deconstructed Pullover, joined by what looks to be a Mohair Cabled Pullover...

I took a quick picture of the schematics just to show you a couple of things. First, how big they are. Aren’t they beautiful? I always love it when the publisher (or the author, but I bet a lot of the discussion here involves the publisher) takes the time to spread out large schematics so that the knitter can actually see and use them while they are dealing with the wet wool. All of the projects have schematics like this, which is a major plus for this book. Secondly, isn’t this pullover complicated?

Schematics!

The verdict in this book is egh. It’s certainly not a horrible book full of 1980’s ‘fashion’ for knitters, and there is a lot to be said for it. The patterns are creative, and Radford adds little tips and activities throughout the book to increase creativity. Of course, the photography is also gorgeous, but that sometimes takes away from your ability to see how the finished object will really look on a real person. Finally, the projects veer heavily to the household area, which I’m not really drawn to. Most of the garments aren’t really to my taste- it was printed in 2005, so some of the newer styles that are invading knitwear design (shawl collars? open-neck cardigans?) aren’t really in here. All in all, I would strongly recommend checking it out of your local library to at least give it a flip through. You never know, it might spark your creativity!

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