Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer reading that lasts all year

Reading Knitologie by Lucy Main Tweet (Glitterati, 2012) is like listening to a thoughtful, interesting  friend who happens to knit really well. Written in a cordial manner that blends personal narrative with lucid directions, it's the kind of book that gives you ideas by the armful, many of which are incidental to the book's principal topic--how to incorporate alphabet letters into handknits--but all of which are absorbing, practicable, and life-enhancing.

For example, some of Ms. Tweet's good ideas are about basic, knitting-worthy colors--she favors blue and white, blue and yellow, certain neutrals--that work well with almost anything and provide a canvas for the imagination. It's a relief to find someone who isn't obsessed with black, tangerine tango, or kelly green.  She also has great ideas about storing yarn oddments and ball bands (in glass jars, so they're visual incentives).

Then there are the clear graphs of letters you can knit, plus a couple of icons, a paw print (inspired by the author's Coton de Tulear) and a heart. While many people could graph their own alphabet, how nice that these are already charted, saving knitters valuable time! Most of the photos show these letters in monochromatic designs, an embossed or damask effect, but a few are in contrasting colors, and those letters really pop. Since some of the patterns are for useful kid items, like scarves, caps, and mittens, I'd prefer to go the CC route, so garments can be quickly identified when rummaging through the nursery school Lost-and-Found box.

The book itself is beautiful, thanks to the teamwork of Ms. Tweet and the book's designer/principal photographer, Sarah Morgan Karp. It says something good about the publishing company--Glitterati--that they'd encourage such close collaboration, and that's one of the reasons the book is distinctive. The layout of letter charts, pages for notes, the patterns themselves which showcase the letters, even a clever integrated ribbon bookmark--all express the care and attention that distinguish a fine book from one that is merely packaged.

One last point--by focusing on the knitting of integrated letters, Knitologie delivers what it promises; that is quite satisfying.  Many knitting books covering a lot of material end up being uneven in content and technical advice.  Knitologie suggests a range of possibilities, offering, as it does, a basic tool kit rather than a project-based format.  Its pattern options, like pillows and mittens, have the dual purpose of teaching a knitter to do the basic work, and making her aware that that she can transfer the technique to her own designs.

P.S.  I almost forgot to mention that Lucy Main Tweet lives in Massachusetts. Hurray, New England!

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