Sunday, 12 June 2011

Review: Knitting it Old School

Knitting it Old School
By Stitchy McYarnpants and Caro Sheridan, 2010

Published by Wiley

Review by Inny

Stitchy McYarnpants and Caro Sheridan's new book, Knitting It Old School is an absolute riot of colour, patterns and inspiration. The writing style is very jolly; rather tongue in cheek, and I really enjoyed reading the book for that alone.

The book is dedicated to the authors' mothers 'who passed on their creative genes' and in light of this, I reviewed this book along with my own mother, who is of the age to have worn and made a lot of the patterns when they were first in fashion.

There is a good mix of styles covering the decades approximately from the 1940s to the 1970s. Although not a vintage book in the strict sense of the word, these patterns are inspired by the vintage look but brought up to date for today. The patterns range in size from XS to 2X variously in the women's patterns which is a heck of a lot bigger than the 34" busts of many actual vintage patterns.

Knitting it Old School features a nice mix of both garments and kitschy items like Bottle Buddies. The book attracted some well known designers such as Annie Modesitt and Pamela Wynne and this is reflected in the high standard of the designs. Some of the garments we thought a bit too out-there for everyday wear, but there were enough included that we would knit for ourselves to make up for this.

We really liked the way that the book was divided into fun sections like 'Vroom!' and 'Sci-Fiber' [sic] although my Mum wasn't sure that my Dad would have appreciated her knitting him a Star Trek inspired sweater!

Despite the title, Knitting it Old School actually also contains 10 crochet patterns and 4 for sewing. Within the crochet patterns is a fabulous 1960s style granny square dress.My Mum claims to have worn one of these herself although I am still waiting on photographic proof of this...

While she wouldn't make herself a crocheted dress nowdays, my mother would like to knit herself the lovely 1950s-inspired navy and white short sleeved sweater, whilst I particularly liked the scoop-necked St Moritz pullover with its button details and clever waist shaping. We both agreed that that it was really positive in a general knitting book to see such a range of men's garments.

Each pattern has at very well shot photographs, although it would have been useful to see the back and some detail shots of some of the garments to get a better idea of how they sit when worn. There is a good description included of each garment or item with a little design story and ideas about how to best wear each.

The charts included are very good, and in colour, which is a real bonus. However lack of written word alternatives to the charts might have been been helpful in places for those who prefer to work that way.

Although not a beginner's book, we would highly recommend this as a useful resource any of us who have a good working knowledge of basic knitting. This book has such a lot of interesting techniques that it would make a great buy for someone who likes both the retro look and the challenge of learning something new.

So really, whether you love knitting, or are just a 1950s throwback, this book should be on your Christmas list. You'll dip into it again and again.

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