Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Book Review: November Knits

In Episode 22, we review the lovely book November Knits, by Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelley, published by Interweave Press. I am posting my written review here for you.
- Sharlene

The authors, Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelley are the distributors of The Fibre Company yarns, Kelbourne Woolens. I do not know what other yarns or yarn lines Kelbourne Woolens distributes, though from their website, they appear to only distribute The Fibre Company yarns. The authors only have a handful of their own accessories in the book, calling themselves “curators” to the collection.

First impressions
This collection of garments and accessories is full of casual, easy-to-wear pieces you will reach for day after day. I love the way the pieces are styled,  casually, but put-together. The cover sweater, the Burdock Cardigan–which I quite like–is styled with jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt. The model looks contemporary yet classic. I think it is a piece that can appeal to many age groups, and fit into the wardrobes of students, moms, and career women.

I believe all the patterns use different yarns, including:

- Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica
- Imperial Stock Ranch Tracie
- Rowan Felted Tweed and LIma
- Berroco Peruvia Quick
- Mountain Colors Mountain Goat
- Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted
- Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock
- Green Mountain Spinnery Local Color
- O-Wool Classic
- The Fibre Company Organik, Canopy Worsted & Fingering, Savannah, and
Road to China Worsted
- Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift
- Classic Elite Yarns Fresco
- Quince and Company Lark
- Schaefter Yarn Audrey
- Madelinetosh sock

The patterns are divided into three sections.

In Farm Hands, the focus is on texture. Ivy League features “layering pieces utilizing multiple color techniques, Fair Isle, stranded knitting, and stripes.” The Southern Comfort section uses decorative embellishments such as lace and beads. There are 20 patterns in total, including two that are 2-piece sets, most by designers that are known or recognized.

What would I knit?
From the Farm Hands section, I quite like the Burdock Cardigan, written by Maura Kirk. It is the green cover sweater, knit in a textured “Star pattern” stitch, and as I previously mentioned, styled casually, for my lifestyle.

I also like the Market Jacket, by Tanis Gray. Tanis also previously designed a cowl that I liked in the Knit Red book that Gayle and I have previously talked about on the show. Like the Burdock Cardigan, the Market Jacket is an easy layering cardigan, this one knit top-down, also 3/4-sleeve but with lace panels to add interest. The fold-over collar gives it a more traditional than modern feel, as do the wooden buttons used on the sample.

From the Ivy League section, I have previously mentioned in episode 19, the Cobblestone Trenchcoat by Veera Valimaki. The Cobblestone Trenchcoat is knit in one of my favorite yarns, Rowan Lima. The Trenchcoat has a little swing built into the skirt, a wide, almost ballet collar, and a big oversize hood. It looks very warm and very cozy. It sports 4 top-closure buttons, easily modified if you want closures all the way down the front.

The Trefoil Cardigan by Gundrun Johnston is a sweet, flower-yoked sweater, knit in colorwork, with side pockets that have a little peek-a-boo contrast lining. I personally love the little peek of lining, as I always feel if you are going to line a garment, try to make it fun. I think the pockets give it a more contemporary feel than the usual colorwork yoked sweater, and you could knit this one in a classic or a modern palette depending on your wardrobe or mood.

Favorite Accessories
The Hilton Field Cowl by Kate Gagnon Osborn is a reversible cowl, with Herringbone colorwork on one side, and stripes on the other. The Thistle Leg Warmers by Melissa LaBarre are knit with a simple cable and seed and rib stitches, in Imperial Yarns Tracie, one of the many yarns I want to try.

Pattern Writing
I love that the yarn weights needed for the patterns are all specified using the Craft Yarn Council yarn standards.

Sizes range from low 30’s to 40”, 48”, 50”, 52”, 57”, and 61”. If you are on either end of the size range, you will want to check the specific patterns you are interested in for your size. Not every garment has the same size range.

Lace and colorwork patterns are written as charts only.

Most of the garments could potentially appeal to a broad age range, and can be styled up or down. The accessories, though not as appealing to someone who doesn’t live in a mitten climate, are certainly beautiful, and similarly, can span age groups. The photography highlights the garments, and doesn't focus on moody models or stunning background scenery to sell the garments. As a knitter, I appreciate a book publisher that knows the difference. Overall, I think this book is a great value with patterns that are interesting, contemporary yet classic, and succeeds with "inspired designs for changing seasons."

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