Kristin Knits is hot off the press from Storey Publishing. It’s a lovely book, hardcover, about 208 pages, and just bursting with color. The dust jacket features a montage of close-ups from the various designs; the cover of the book itself is a motif from one of the projects; and nearly every page has some photograph or motif or even a heading that incorporates color. The pages are sturdy and the book is laid out nicely, with clear type and enough white space on the page to balance all the color. MSRP is $24.95; it hasn’t been officially released on the on-line outlets yet, although you can pre-order it for $ 16.47 by following the link above. The book was at Stitches East last weekend, and Kristen was doing some book-signing there. (She’s as charming in real life as you might imagine from her work.)
The focus of the book, as you may have already surmised, is color. In the preface, Kristen notes: “What I hope to help you learn on the pages of this book is how to combine colors in a creative way to make a piece of knitwear that is more a piece of color art than anything else.” To that end, she begins with a few pages discussing color as it relates to knitting, including some ideas for stimulating one’s own color sense. I actually wish she had written a bit more about the subject (wouldn't you love to Vulcan-mind-meld her? I would.) but it’s a good introduction and motivator to get you playing around with color and observing different uses of color in daily life.
The first chapter is called “Sensational Scarves and One Afghan.” Although the first four scarves are pretty basic from a structure standpoint (garter stitch knit vertically), what makes them interesting is the way Nicholas uses them as a jumping-off point for exploring color. The first pattern gives the knitter three different options for adding polka dots to the solid-colored scarf: pompoms, bobbles and embroidered dots. The second and third scarves use stripes, embroidery, stranded knitting and other embellishments to add color and the fourth has a mitered edging all the way around in contrasting colors, along with tassels and an embroidered motif. The last scarf has a colorwork motif running vertically through the center, with stripes and tassels. These scarves are definitely meant to inspire the knitter to play with color, rather than to make a cookie-cutter copy of them, and they are simple enough so that even a knitter who isn’t entirely confident selecting color can play around with comfort. (Knit the lengthways scarf in a solid color and then you can easily lay strands of contrast-color yarn across it to see what colors work for you.) The last pattern is a striking afghan in six colors, with a Navajo-inspired motif, bold stripes and a fringed edge. Interestingly, the afghan is worked in the round and cut open, with stitches raveled to create the fringe.
The second chapter is hats. Again, the structure of the hats is secondary to the colors. You’ll find stripes, contrast edging, tassels and pompoms, embroidery and stripes, lots of options to give you plenty of practice in using and enjoying color. The most challenging pattern is the Kaleidoscope cap, which includes bobble edging, a multicolored garter-stitch brim and a charted diamond motif on the crown.
It occurs to me while looking at these hats, which would be perfect for using odds and ends of leftover yarn (eating up the stash while playing with color: that’s my kind of multitasking) that they would be wonderful choices if you enjoy contributing knitted hats to any of the charity knitting projects that look for colorful headgear (Afghans for Afghans, Warm Up America, Dulaan Project, the Ship’s Project, and so on). You’d have so much fun making them, you’d whip a bunch out without even knowing it.
The remaining chapters are laid out on similar lines. The sock chapter contains “boot toppers” (tubes that are worn at the top edge of boots to add color and keep the legs warm, as well as socks (all knitted from the top-down on double-points, in a worsted-weight yarn) – all of which continue the emphasis on playing with color rather than exploring, say, texture or structure.
Likewise, the handgear in the fourth chapter (fingerless gloves, mittens and gloves) are very similar in construction and feel, differing primarily in the ways in which the color is used.
I like these Nordic-inspired mittens.
The sweater chapter contains 3 pullovers, each knit in pieces and seamed, drop shoulders, with turtlenecks, but which use various motifs and embellishment (one of which is shown near the top of the review). There’s also a yoked turtleneck knit in the round from the neck down, and last, a wild cardigan with tons of colorwork and patterning.
- 5 scarves
- 1 afghan
- 5 hats
- 1 pair of "boot toppers"
- 5 pair of socks
- 3 pair of mittens
- 1 pair of fingerless gloves
- 1 pair of gloves
- 4 pullovers and
- 1 cardigan
As someone who is spending an increasing amount of time working with color, I really enjoyed this book. It is beautifully presented and full of bright colors, interesting embellishment and great ideas for playing with design elements. It’s not so much a book for those interested in garment construction or technique but rather a wonderful tool for developing one’s own sense of color and for overcoming any reluctance a knitter may have about her ability to work with vivid color. You could sit down with this book and some yarns from your stash pile, and end up producing half a dozen lovely, fun holiday gifts while gaining confidence and experience with colorwork. For that reason alone, it’s well worth the price.