February 2010

Vivian Hoxbro, "Shadow Knitting"

The legacy of Vivian Hoxbro's invention can be seen in the ever popular "stunt knitting" called Illusion Knitting.  This began with the Alien Illusion Scarf in the first Stitch 'N Bitch book, and continues today by the clever folks behind Woolly Thoughts, a math-related knitting pattern website where they have recently been taking Illusion Knitting to truly amazing extents.

Hoxbro was inspired by a trend called "optical knitting" or "Japanese fine knitting," which was popular at the time in Japan.  It's worth considering the gulf between Japanese knitters and Western knitters, a gulf far wider than it ought to be in this day and age.  Japanese knitting patterns are just AMAZING, and my understanding is that Japanese knitters work hard to challenge themselves and perfect their craft.

Suss Cousins, "Hollywood Knits Style"

This is the follow up book to Suss Cousins' popular first book, Hollywood Knits.  As with Hollywood Knits, the cover of Hollywood Knits Style promises a tease of Hollywood gossip, but it doesn't have much - not really, anyway.  But can you blame her?  Cousins' yarn store is apparently popular with the Hollywood glitterati, and no doubt specifically because she doesn't go blabbing about which famous movie star couldn't figure out how to do an SSK.  (Or whatever.)  

Sharon Brant, "Finishing Techniques for the Hand Knitter"

This is another single purpose knitting book, and you know how much I love those!  In a world awash with "all things to all knitters" lowest common denominator beginning knitters books, anything even remotely advanced really turns my crank.

Someone once told me that knitters in Japan excel at pushing themselves to try new techniques, and perfect the techniques they already know.  Now let me be clear: it's your hobby, and you can do it however you like.  I mean, that's kind of the point.  But at the same time, my observation is that most American knitters do not push themselves.

The Knitting Olympics/Ravelympics is an excellent example of this, by demonstrating the opposite.  Knitters pledge to challenge themselves for the brief time when they Olympics is on the air.  Sadly, many of them go back to their regular old knitting once the Olympics have passed.

Wenlan Chia, "Twinkle's Big City Knits"

Wenlan Chia is a fashion designer first, and a knitting pattern designer second.  Her designs are instantly distinguishable - even a fashion dolt like myself once spotted a knit dress on a sample rack and thought "Twinkle!"

Twinkle is technically the fashion line created by Wenlan Chia.  The Twinkle fashion line includes a lot of stuff, and the hand knitting patterns are just one small branch of what we might call "the Twinkle empire."  

This is a strong argument in favor of Twinkle's patterns for some people, and an argument against for others.  If you are always looking for classic timeless designs that you can wear for the next 40 years without comment, then Twinkle designs are not for you.  But if you are tired of the same old frumpy patterns, then you should pick up a copy of Twinkle's Big City Knits right away!

Veronik Avery, "Knitting Classic Style"

Veronik Avery is one of the true stars of the knitting world.  Her patterns tend to be fitted and ornate, with tons of cabling, twisted stitches, and texture.  She also has a decidedly old-fashioned style, a… "classic style," if you will.

The subtitle of Knitting Classic Style is "35 modern designs inspired by fashion's archives," a project which suits Avery's designing style perfectly.  Avery is coming from a perspective of fashion as art and history, a venture which means that not everything will be perfectly useful - how useful is sculpture, for example?  It's not useful at all - but it's awfully attractive.