Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another book.

I forgot one yesterday, and I'm in a pollen-induced coma (as opposed to a drug-induced coma), so we'll go with that today.

"Andean Inspired Knits" by Helen Hamann.

This is a potentially fantastic book that I feel was knocked back to the simply okay level by some bad design and finishing choices.

It's got a whole lotta cultural information (for a knitting book), history of the Andean region, the Inca, etc. It's got pictures of textiles that inspired the knits, and the link between design and inspiration is very cool - she definitely uses the ideas, but doesn't slavishly copy the originals.

Unfortunately she seems to have this fixation for asymetric and downright goofy necklines and cardigan openings. My reaction to half the designs in the book seems to be "That's cool, but I'd have to change _____." (Fill in the blank, usually with 'neck' or 'weird front opening'.) There are a lot of really nice techniques and unusual-but-good construction methods, and it's sad that some of these designs will probably never get knit due to the funky fronts. The colors also leave something to be desired in a few cases -- she sticks with colors inspired by the original vegetable dyes, but if we're doing 'inspired by', can't we branch out a bit?? It's not like the Inca ever knit anyway and historical accuracy is out the door, so couldn't we at least see some swatches of other color suggestions?

Still, there are a few designs that are great as-is. I think I found my mother-in-law's Christmas sweater for this year - though I'd do it in different colors. (And it's on size sevens, not size ones like last year's insanity.) I think there's a jacket in there that would be fine, too, if the collar is simply left off entirely. I suspect I will also be using the schematics as a starting place for some of my own designs - she's good at hitting a balance between capturing knitting's great potential for drape, without it looking like you're wearing a sack.

Bottom line, if you don't mind changing around patterns (and don't feel you've been ripped off by the designer when you do it), you might like this book. If you're interested in South American textils, there are other books that are better on the subject, but the information that is here, is good. Otherwise, don't bother.

Oh. And I updated the shop. Someone already made off with the Mermaid Tail and the Easter Egg Rainbow, so don't swear at me.


Bells said...

i've lost track of how many planned gifts you've listed recently. I'm seeing a frenzied second half of the year ahead for you!

I saw some Andean knitting in a magazine recently and thought WOW, now there's some colour work!

Amy Lane said...

Yeah... it's getting so I really have to fall into total infatuation with a pattern to enjoy the book...

And what IS it with assymetrical necklines/cardigans etc. I mean, it's supposed to be cutting edge, but I swear if I ever made that for anyone in my family, they'd look at me sadly and say, "I thought you loved me!"

Louiz said...

I'm glad its not just me who hates those assymetrical necklines. My most common complaint about a pattern is either "horrible neckline" or "uneven fronts"!