Hitch: Patterns Inspired by the Films of Alfred Hitchcock, edited by Stephannie Tallent, photographs by Nick Murway, pub. Cooperative Press, 2013.
This book contains 29 knitting patterns by 27 designers. Mostly shawls and sweaters, with a handful of glove and mitt patterns and a few sock and hat patterns, the designs are inspired by the fashions of the various time periods as well as the graphics of Saul Bass.
Despite the inclusion of several strong designs, Hitch disappointed me: the book design, the photos, and the supplementary text.
I wanted the cover to be more reminiscent of Saul Bass---perhaps arranging the circle insets differently or substituting a solid color background for the trees would help. I love the strips of film which show up behind the table of contents, but putting them behind the italicized pattern intros makes the text difficult to read.
The photos are uneven. This is perhaps my biggest problem with the book. Some of them hit the mark: the model poses in a way that seems to be lifted from Hitchcock films, while details of the knitted item are clearly visible. But in many of these photos, the background is too close to the model or otherwise distractingly present, and the image quality leaves something to be desired. In the least ideal photos, important design features (such as the lace pattern of the Miss Fremont Shawl) become nearly invisible due to poor styling and/or lighting.
A couple of the projects and even one of the dresses donated by Deering Vintage are wrinkled. This amateur mistake is easy to avoid. The project photos set the tone of any pattern book, but inadequate photos are particularly disappointing in a book inspired by film.
Hitch is a pattern book, after all (although many of my favorite pattern books can double as coffee table books), so I'll discuss individual designs.
Dani Berg's Alicia Tam and Mitts, shown in one of the most successful project photos at right, make a lovely set. Stephannie Tallent's Exacta Hat is a clever, customizable take on Rear Window. All the hat and hand covering patterns in the book are sized for two or three sizes, which is excellent.
I had a tough time deciding whether to feature Stefanie Pollmeier's fetching Rio Gloves with their slip stitch ridges or Katherine Vaughan's Stella Gloves, (below right)---I admire both designs. The Stellas have a visually irritating jog on the palm, but the stitch pattern and the buttons are cute as can be, and there wasn't a photo I liked of the Rios.
The sweaters are all generously sized---many in seven or eight sizes, with a span of 27.75" - 60.25". But I had a hard time finding one I wanted to feature. Three Second Kiss features a Bohus-inspired color work band which to my eye just looks messy. Cypress Point and Greenwich Village don't fit the model well (look at Linda's photos on the pattern page for contrast) and the Eleven Hundred Dollars sweater is not shown at the most flattering angles.
Brenda Castiel's Riviera Nights Stole is lovely and simple, though I think more care might have been taken to avoid that weird bump at the bottom between the two halves of the shawl. I looked at the pattern but I can't tell what causes it exactly. It looks bigger than the one row of Color A called for.
Still, this piece deserved much better photography!
I loved the "Wear it like Grace Kelly" scarf-tying tutorial, and I wanted more of that kind of thing throughout the book. A filmography listing the ten films referenced in the book is the only other added attraction. I was sad. I wanted more. Nobody knits all the designs in a book, so we rely on these little tidbits to sustain us.
Barring that, the patterns could have been organized so as to tell a story. For instance, the Madeleine Gloves and the Judy Henley might have been placed next to each other. And the text for the Annie Pullover contains a shameless spoiler for The Birds. If we've seen the film the spoiler doesn't add anything, and if we haven't, well, it ruins part of the suspense.
Stephannie's Thornhill Cowl (right) is my absolute favorite piece in the book. There were several good designs besides the ones I named in this review, and the charts and generously sized schematics are all clearly done. But the photography was a low point, and the lack of supplementary material about Hitchcock and his films disappointed me.
Disclosure: Cooperative Press sent Kangath a copy of Hitch 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 the designers.
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