Monday, August 3, 2015

Knitted Wraps & Cover-ups - Book Review

Knitted Wraps & Cover-ups
Paperback; 132 pages; 8.5 x 11"
Publisher: Stackpole Books (July 15, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0811714446
Language: English
Trust the art, not the artist, so the adage goes. D.H. Lawrence believed it was the critic’s role to rescue the art (in his instance, the tale) from the artist. I’m pleased to let you know that no rescuing is needed for Knitted Wraps and Cover-ups, the latest book of hand knit designs from Annie Modesitt. These designs stand up just fine all on their own, no critical help needed.

The Fitted Lace Off-Shoulder Top, photograph
by Laura Neel, used with permission from
Annie Modesitt.
I admit to being a big fan of Modesitt well before my own crochet and knit designing career began. Additionally, given my own recently self-published freshman book of designs, it was hard for me to decide which hat to wear for this review – the fan hat, the designer hat, the book/maker hat, the artist hat? As you’ll see, I pretty much wore all of them.

My swatch of the lace pattern (one
complete repeat worked over 20 sts + rib
selvage) from The Fitted Lace Off-Shoulder
worked up in Patons Lace Sequins on
U.S. size 5 needles (and my gauge was good!)
Modesitt is known for designs with a dramatic and/or costume flair, and there are certainly several designs in this book to feed that appetite in any knitter. Lots of bold color (stained glass was her inspiration for three of the designs, and one other, the Morse Code Cowl, certainly veers in the stained glass direction from a color perspective), and those bold chunky cables on the cover pieces, worn together, would certainly fall into the above categories. 

However, I found myself drawn almost instantly to the lace designs in this collection. The Sweet Lace Bolero and the Fitted Lace Off-Shoulder Top are both pieces that if you’re a lace lover like me, you’ll definitely want to make. I’ve already worked up a quick swatch of the lace for the Fitted Lace Off-Shoulder Top with whatever appropriate weight yarn I had close at hand. It’s a pretty lace pattern, and combined with the back and sleeve ribbing detail, will make a beautiful top. Both of these lace designs can easily be worked in longer form for those who might not want a cropped cover-up.
Plaid Vest, photograph by Laura Neel, used
with permission from Annie Modesitt

There are, of course, other designs that appealed to me: the Lace Cuff Shrug (an easy piece with just a hint of lace at the cuffs), the Plaid Vest (and I’m usually not a vest lover), and the Basketweave Bolero all have great texture and color appeal, yet are easily constructed and quick projects that should provide knitters with reasonably instant gratification.

The designer in me was impressed with the number of pieces in this collection. Knitters will be pleased with such rich choices all in one book. The book/maker in me loved the written as well as charted instructions, the schematics, the strong terms and abbreviations section as well as the ending visual index. The techniques section I found slightly perfunctory (yet still crystal clear in the instruction department), although I can empathize with Modesitt. She saved it all for the designs!

While one could certainly argue that designing is a personal act, not all designers come from such a place. I found Knitted Wraps & Cover-ups a uniquely personal collection, and much of Modesitt’s personality shines through between, as well as on, the covers. From her use of models (one is a family member), to her introduction (when was the last time you read a designer’s description of pattern writing as “democratic?”) to the range of designs themselves, I came away with a composite sketch of Modesitt as inclusive, traveled, and someone who cares deeply about knitting techniques and process.

In the end, not only can you trust the art of the designs in Knitted Wraps & Cover-ups, you can and should trust the artist as well.