I'll be honest. I wanted this book to be brilliant.
Annie Modesitt not only created the designs, knit the garments, and wrote the patterns, she had a few additional hurdles with this book. The historical research and image licensing contributed to the four and a half years it took to get this book into print.
And she has fibromyalgia, which involves pain and deep fatigue. A project of this size seems a Herculean task. But she is reasonable about taking it piece by piece.
And History on Two Needles is indeed brilliant.
History on Two Needles: Exploring art history through modern hand knits by Annie Modesitt, pub. Cooperative Press, 2012.
When I first saw this collection of designs, I sincerely admired them. What the author refers to as "a labor of love" resulted in 17 gorgeous and varied patterns inspired by statues, paintings . . . even a helmet and a shield.
After actually reading the book I can appreciate more deeply the construction of these garments, the details that don't appear in photos but make them even more exceptional and useful.
I'll explain that last bit more. But first, here are some of my favorite designs from the collection:
Modesitt has a wonderful, conversational writing style. I don't know her personally, but I can imagine her facial expressions as she puzzles out the purpose of the Minoan Snake Goddess or describes the artistry of Joseph Karl Stieler. In addition to the introductions to the book, each chapter, and each pattern, she includes a helpful page, "Reading the Patterns," which also partially explains her take on pattern writing.
And now for the interesting garment details.
This cape looks like it wouldn't stay put with vigorous movement---it might hike up or fall off. But it actually has ingenious little sleeves built into it so it stays put.
And the Tissot Bolero, below, can be molded to your body as it dries for the perfect fit.
There are several such aspects to the designs in this book, and I suspect we would only discover the full range by making each one. There are three hats, nine tops, two belts, two capes, one scarf, two skirts, and a ruff (okay, that's more than 17, but you can't argue with more), all in a range of sizes and skill levels.
The first one I'm going to knit is the Sutton Hoo Helm (chosen by my son). I'll keep you posted about the clever details of this piece, which comes in a luxurious range of four sizes (my son's head is even bigger than mine).
In the meantime, which one are you going to make?
Disclosure: Cooperative Press sent Kangath a copy of History on Two Needles FREE for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Cooperative Press or Annie Modesitt.
Hi! I'm Kangath---
knit designer, musician, writer, and mother
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