Monday, September 13, 2010

No-Bull Book Review: Brave New Knits, by Julie Turjoman

I have to admit I've been kicking myself ever since I got a review copy of Brave New Knits: 26 Projects and Personalities from the Knitting Blogosphere by Julie Turjoman. I was caught up in something when the call for submissions came due and didn't submit anything. But lucky for us, 26 bloggers and designers did. It's hot off the presses, so let's take an in-depth, No-Bull look at Brave New Knits.

Brave New Knits (Rodale 2010; available as of this writing for $15.63 via the link above), is, in a nutshell, about knitting blogs. A devoted blog-reader and visitor to sites like Ravelry, author Julie Turjoman has collected 26 projects from participants in the on-line knitting world, along with profiles of their creators. You'll recognize many of the most famous names -- Stefanie Japel of Glampyre Knits, Wendy Bernard of Knit and Tonic, Clara Parkes, of Knitter's Review, to name a few -- but you may also find one or two bloggers that you've missed or haven't visited in a while. If you are fascinated with the world of knitting blogs, you'll enjoy reading the profiles describing how these bloggers got started, their knitting background, what they hope to achieve by blogging, and background about their designs.

Sockstravaganza, by Kirsten Kapur

In addition to presenting profiles of her subjects, Turjoman asked each of them to design a project. It's fascinating to see this collection of items, ranging from the small accessory (knitted pins) to full-size sweaters, with a range of styles and techniques presented. (More on the projects in a minute.)

Krookus Cardigan by Mari Muinonen

As for structure, the book begins with a forward by Ravelry's own Jess, followed by an introduction by Turjoman, where she describes how she got hooked on Knitting Blog-land, and why she chose to write this book:

Clearly, blogging has changed knitting, yet knitting has influenced its little corner of the blogosphere in equally potent ways. The knitting community is one of the most fortunate subcultures to benefit from the rise of social networking sites on the Internet. I wondered why no one had assembled the staggering talents of this group in book form. It struck me that the most successful designer-bloggers have compelling personal stories, and that the larger knitting community would love to learn more about them.

The remainder of the book is divided into two sections, the first containing sweaters and other full-size garments, the second devoted to accessories. In the first section, you'll find thirteen profiles and designs, ranging from this lovely cabled sweater-jacket

Jennifer Hagan's Global Knit Coat

to Stefanie Japel's short-sleeved wave-cable pullover.

(It Comes In) Waves Pullover, by Stefanie Japel

All but one of the garments are designed for adult women (there is one child's tunic), and I counted a grand total of 3 short-sleeved pullovers,1 full-length sweater-jacket, 1 vest, 3 short-sleeved cardigans, 1 3/4-length sleeved cardigan, a camisole with ruffles, one long-sleeved jacket-cardigan, and a shrug, in addition to the child's tunic. Interestingly, all but one of the sweaters are knit in the round (at least partially), with only one knit in pieces.

Seaweed Vest, by Angela Hahn

The accessories section contains 13 patterns and profiles, and among my personal favorites are Jared Flood's lace-edged scarf

Jared Flood's Woodsmoke Scarf

the lovely socks with fair isle panel shown on the cover, Wooly Wormhead's cable panel cap,

Lenina Cap, by Woolly Wormhead

and Sean Riley's swirling Helix socks:

Sean Riley's Helix Socks

The breakdown of accessories is as follows: a tam and mitts set, three pairs of socks,

Chutes & Ladders Socks by Chrissy Gardiner

three scarves/neckgear, two hats, one pair of gloves, a blanket, a pin and a shawlette. Most of the accessory projects are likewise designed with women in mind, although a few could be more unisex in nature, depending on taste and the yarn/color used.

Hydrangea Neckwarmer by Anne Hanson

The book is a whopping 240-plus pages, and the vast majority of it is devoted to the profiles and patterns. (There are a few pages in the back with the typical information -- contact information for the designers, abbreviations, explanations of special techniques, and so on.) It's worth mentioning that photography was done by the talented Brooklyn Tweed, Jared Flood. The book is nicely designed, and includes schematics and charts (all black and white except for the sock chart, which is color). It's a paperback, with fold-in book covers, and the size is just right for popping into your knitting bag.

So Brave New Knits gets two thumbs up, one for fans of the knitting blogosphere and one for fans of lovely knitting patterns. Just promise me, Julie, that if there's a sequel, you'll send me another call for submissions, 'kay?

Photographs copyright 2010 by Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed.


Anonymous said...


Elizabeth D said...

So, BB, how/why DID you start blogging?

anne marie in philly said...

dear friend sean has another of his designs published...that boy is going to go far! ah, we can say we knew him when...

Susan said...

This book looks lovely, definitely going on my wish list. Thank you Carol, for another clear and concise review. :)


Bridget said...

I'm curious about this one, I have to admit.

I enjoy checking out other knitting blogs, even if I don't stick with them.

PaperDollyGirl said...

Thanks for the review! I also added this to my wish list. I love the Krokkus Cardigan and the Global Knit Coat. I could see myself making several of these patterns.

Sarah said...

I love your reviews. Will you review Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders when it comes out? I love the idea of it, but I want to know what someone else thinks of it before I buy it. Your reviews are so thorough and give a great impression of what the books are like. Thank you!