I’m sure it’s been well established that I’m a big Annie Modesitt fan. So when I was asked to review her newest book, Romantic Hand Knits I jumped at the chance. But I then realized, once I received the book, that I’d have to put my Geek Girl aside and go through it with a more neutral eye.
My first impression is that the book is extremely visually appealing; beautiful models in breathtaking settings modeling a wide variety of garments and accessories knit, for the most part, in lovely yarns. Its lay-out makes sense and is very easy to follow. The patterns themselves are well written, the charts are nice and clear, and include schematics! In addition, Annie has included useful information encompassing a wide variety of additional techniques like embroidery, crochet and lace knitting applications.
The variety of patterns, yarns and application of knitting techniques will appeal to a broad spectrum of knitters ranging from the traditionalists to the trendy. Basically, the book’s got a little something for every knitter, of every skill level.
Now upon closer inspection, the patterns, for the most part, did not elicit a strong response from me one way or the other. Some were too embellished, fussy or frilly. Others were knit up in unappealing yarn, while still others lacked the proper shape to draw my eye. There were, however, several wonderful exceptions …
Casablanca – I love everything about this pattern, the the lace, the yarn, the color, the lines. Well, everything except for the neckline. I’m not so thrilled about the whole “sweater falling off my body” look, you know?
Dark Victory – In my opinion, Annie hit the ball out of the park with this one. I now have to go out and buy that exact yarn in that exact color to make that exact sweater, except that I will lengthen the body, and slit it at the hem. And I have to do it…Right. Now.
A Streetcar Named Desire – Oh, so romantic! My SIL who lives in Florida drooled on the book when she saw it and practically BEGGED me for one. I guess we know what she’ll be getting for her next hand-knit, don’t we?
An Affair To Remember – (on the cover) This is a beautifully curve-hugging skirt with a bit of flair at the hem. Yet another example of the wonderful shaping Annie is famous for. Remember her Corset Tank Pullover and her Red Carpet Convertible? Yup, it’s that good…just not on me.
Cleopatra – Though I would probably never knit this, it’s just so beautifully done! Love most everything about it, except for the prospect of knitting THAT long of a garment. And again, WAY too young and form-hugging for my 40-something-year-old curves.
In the Accessories section I love the patterns for Silk Stockings, and Some Like It Hot (lace opera gloves,which I might convert to just-above-the-wrist fingerless gloves for my MIL). She even has a couple of lace hats with a section on basic millinery techniques included.
Even in the patterns that didn’t appeal to me, I found bits and pieces of lace knitting and other techniques I could apply elsewhere, so those are not a total loss. Included in each design pattern is not only the yarn used, but the yardage needed of similar gauge yarn in case you want to substitute, which I almost always do. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being outstanding, I give it a 7.