Modern Top-Down Knitting by Kristina McGowan, photography by Gudrun Georges, pub. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010.
Although this book includes simplified instructions (with color photos!) of a few choice techniques from Barbara Walker's legendary Knitting from the Top, it might be more aptly titled Modern Couture Knitting. Its reliance on seamstress techniques such as trim and elastic cord and its inclusion of a belt and jewelry which have no identifiable top (as well as a scarf and two pairs of armwarmers, one of which is worked in the opposite direction from the other) make the current title seem out of place.
But the book's 26 designs are lovely, simple, and classic. The simplicity of the knitting makes the sweaters, dresses, and hats a perfect introduction to top-down knitting, while the faux seams, trim, and other finishing techniques lend a dressmaker-like quality. McGowan feels that the time saved not sewing the pieces together can be used giving the pieces elegant final touches.
With chest sizes from 26 to nearly 54", hip sizes from 34 to 59", and three sizes for most of the hats, many knitters should be able to find a piece to make for themselves. McGowan also includes customization tips throughout the book.
I love the Pavement Jacket pictured below, which can be worn with the collar up or down. Described as tailored, the empire waistband is done in twisted garter stitch with no decreases. The hip shaping is all done on the same row.
Photo tutorials for both top-down and finishing techniques are well laid out and clearly explained. McGowan also works with dyes to get her desired effects, and provides clear instructions to guide the knitter.
The photography by Gudrun Georges is exemplary. Models are well-lit and backdrops well-chosen. The Chrysler Skirt was knit in a dark color and worn with a dark slip, which diminished the effect of the chevron lace, but McGowan recommends a bright slip in the introduction to the design if the wearer wants to highlight the yarnovers.
This lovely book, beautifully photographed, would also look at home on the coffee table of anyone interested in fashion.
Disclosure: Kangath reviewed a copy of Modern Top-Down Knitting from her library. 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 Kristina McGowan.
Reversible Knitting by Lynne Barr, pub. Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, 2009
Lynne Barr's dictionary of 50 new reversible stitches is a showcase for the virtuoso knit designer. In the first section of the book, chapter titles reveal her thought processes: Faux Crochet, Rows Within Rows, and Divide and Combine are just a few. 20 thrilling patterns by designers such as Lily Chin, Teva Durham, and Nora Gaughan fill the second section. The clear, detailed photography by Thayer Allyson Gowdy makes everything appealing.
I have already used these stitch patterns in my work, and I long to cast on for Lynne Barr's Folded Mini Dress and Debbie New's Double Wrap Stockings (right).
While some of the stitch patterns have 20 or more lines of instructions, this is no different from many interesting cable or lace patterns. And several, such as Linked Discs (below) need only 2!
Barr also suggests many places for knitters to branch away from her ideas and create their own motifs. The Special Techniques section at the back of the book is revelatory, including several new skills to master and an in-depth look at how to chart double-knits with completely different patterns on each side.
Stunning book, clear instructions, great photos. Just my thing!
Disclosure: Kangath reviewed her personal copy of Reversible Knitting. 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 either Stewart, Tabori, & Chang or Lynne Barr.
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