Knitting from the Center Out by Daniel Yuhas, photography by Jody Rogac, pub. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012.
This book appeared on my doorstep last week, and as you know, when I receive a book for review I don't just flip through it and look at the design photos. But that's what I do first.
I like pretty pictures in my knitting books (and cookbooks, for that matter) because they are inspiring. I can look at a pattern (or recipe) and decide whether it looks good. But it's so much more appealing to look at a shiny photo of a styled item and think, "I would wear/use/eat that."
On that first flip through, I saw that the designs had been beautifully styled and well photographed, that they were appealing but too simple to be interesting for a knitter of my exalted experience.
I have seen reviews of this book which said there was nothing new in it, that it was okay for beginners, but that anyone who knew an increase from a decrease would be yawning by the time they reached the last page. I have seen other reviews which warn that beginning knitters should not even contemplate knitting these designs lest the unwary crafters self-combust.
All I can say is they must not have read the book.
The lovely Geometric Shrug (above and on the cover) is a wonderfully simple way to show off handpainted yarn. The instructions are well written, with separate instructions for left and right (no short-cut "reverse shaping for left side" here) and a clear schematic. But the construction (which I won't give away, like the end of a suspense novel) is simply ingenious.
And indeed, each of the 28 designs in this book has its own clever, fascinating twist---not simply to be clever or fascinating, but to demonstrate the mechanics of a technique or to solve a problem posed by the object itself. For example, the starfish toys on the cover were knit without breaking the yarn. Whee!
But if all this sounds too intense, never fear. Illustrator Sun Young Park has rendered the rough sketches provided by Yuhas as charming and copious diagrams throughout the book. Anyone having difficulty visualizing one of his unusual constructions need only study these and all will be well.
Most of these designs are more interesting than they look and easier than they sound. I mean you don't really need to know about the Fibonacci series or Archimedian spirals to knit the items in this book. (But isn't it fun to read about them in Yuhas's enthusiastic prose?) On the other hand, the necklace at right isn't just a giant striped I-cord looped around and around. Get the book. You'll see.
All the patterns are accompanied by effective charts, sketches, and/or schematics. Yuhas also thought up variations for many of his designs (maybe he just can't stop) and included these at the end of each pattern. Sizing is generous for the most part, and tables or instructions are given for customization of many of the designs where sizing matters.
There's another thing that puzzles me about the other reviews. Most of them tout the starting place of the heel-up socks as unique. Have they forgotten about this by Kathleen Sperling? Her socks put the center at the back of the heel (not the bottom), but they look more like socks. Just had to mention it.
The photography in this book is really fine. I would like to see the back of the leaf-yoke sweater, and I want to see how the hood of the hood-down hoodie looks when it's worn. But these are minor issues. For the most part, models and pieces are well-lit, details easily discerned, and photo tutorials very clear.
I know I haven't gone into quite as much detail as usual about specific designs from this book. They're all amazing and useful. Garments are normal-looking (well, maybe not the cone hats so much) and wearable, yet fascinating to knit (I'll see if this is actually the case when I get around to working one of the patterns). I'm just running into the problem of not wanting to give too much away.
This book is a wonderful resource for designers, beginning through expert knitters, and topologists.
Disclosure: Stewart, Tabori & Chang sent Kangath a free copy of Knitting from the Center Out 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 Stewart, Tabori & Chang or Daniel Yuhas.
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