Somehow I manage to occasionally get review copies of new books. This is probably one of the coolest things ever, since I am incredibly budget-minded (or at least kept that way by a husband who watches pennies like they're toddlers at the edge of the pool) and adore books in the extreme. I subscribe to Thumper's mom's theory on this topic - "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all". Today it's all nice.
I received two books from Potter Craft yesterday. Annie Modesitt's Romantic Hand Knits and The Yarn Girls Guide to Knits for All Seasons co-authored by Julie Carles and Jordana Jacobs.
This is, I am a little shamed to say, the first Yarn Girls book I've ever had my hands on. One of the first things I noted about this book was the presence of a clear glossary of standard abbreviations right smack in the beginning. No searching through back pages - it's all right where you can find it. The book then progresses through the seasons beginning in Spring, then heading through Summer and into Fall and finally Winter. These are good basics, most with a little twist that pushes them a beyond the envelope of 'average' but still would not intimidate an advanced beginner. There were a few things that caught my eye right off the top - Nancy's Knit is a simple boat neck pullover with a diagonal rib pattern that appears to be quite flattering. A Work in Progress reminds me of a very beloved sleeveless hoodie from my youth. The Nonconformist saddle shoulder men's pullover uses color to give a little punch to a classic style. There are skirts and some accessories (bags, headband, fingerless gloves, belts) which give versatility to the book. The Winter section is almost entirely bulky or super bulky yarns, and since I am not a fan the patterns don't catch my attention as much as they might otherwise. In general I find it to be well written with clear schematics and understandable terms. The Finishing Techniques section in the back is very well done with clear, large illustrations that don't force a squint. I would consider this a good value for an advanced beginner looking to cover a lot of bases with one purchase.
"Could it be that romance is integral to a well-rounded life? Is it possible that it isn't about being beautiful, or thin, or young, or rich - or even about love or sex? Romance, it finally dawned on me, is about dreams. It's an idealized vision of something and our attempts to attain it. Romance is wish-fulfillment...romance is hope..."
In spite of the reasons I have to be biased about this book, I don't need to be. Because I am not a novice knitter, I tend to buy project books rarely, and then only if something really stands out as being a must-have. Often it's purely eye-candy appeal. Romantic Hand Knits delivers enough eye-candy for me to own it. Although many of the garments are not suited to my personal style, there is something for everyone, and a few things I need to knit. The cover sucks you in with that lovely butt front and center - the flirty ingenue that lives in each of us. This is an ass we can all envy, unless you've already got one, in which case ... just don't tell me. If you have a good butt, please knit this. Like Everest - because you can. Do it for those of us who dream. We begin our journey through romance Above the Waist with a series of blouses, tanks, and tops. Saratoga is an easy ribbed tank in a flattering, body-skimming rib. Ninotchka, a youthful flirty spaghetti strap bodice. Dark Victory is a fitted pullover that takes "classic" right to "sexy". Below the waist we dive right in with An Affair to Remember. The rib, the cables, the godets all serve to flatter what is an already pleasing figure. It's like naughty thoughts - I want to knit this, but know I shouldn't. West Side Story - the kicky little ruffles land, for me, somewhere between cowgirl (in the best sense) and Anita, and I wish to golly I were 20. No, wait. 18. I was pregnant when I was 20. Accessories complete the package. I need Silk Stockings. I have no clue when I will wear them, and I really don't care. I just need them. We've got June Bride, a sweet fingerless mitt. Before the hats there is a section on millinery. For those who own Annie's Knitting Millinery, this will be a review of the basics. High Society is an adorable lacy little cloche with a narrow flattering brim. Gone with the Wind is a more classic wide-brimmed hat in black and white. The patterns are readable,with great schematics. I appreciate that each garment has a minimum of two photos - one detail, one full shot.There is enough in this book to make it worth having in the library. It's unafraid, embraces the feminine, and is sexy in a classy way which contrasts dramatically with some of the rather cheesy, stupid, slutty 'sexy'-knitting books I've seen of late. Did I mention that I also wish I were 5'8", 120 lbs, and possessed of a lovely butt? But seriously, I will knit more than one garment from this book. I think I am gonna start with that skirt, and some hope.