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Knitting Book Reviews

Simple Style: 19 Innovative to Traditional Designs with Simple Knitting Techniques
by Ann Budd

This is the latest installment in the “Style" series of books, and definitely one of the good ones. Per the introduction,

“Simple Style is a book about ways to simplify your knitting as well as a book of appealing projects designed without tedious or complicated techniques. It’s a collection of inventive designs from sixteen renowned knitwear designers, each of whom has mastered the challenge of designing a garment that is as simple to knit as it is simply beautiful. Each design offers an individual lesson in inspiration, technique, and, of course, style."

How can you argue with a book like that?

Really, it’s hard to come up with one. As said in the opening pages, these designs stick to the basics, usually only having one real “design" element to each, but even those are subtle. The seams in the cover sweater, for example, or the ribbing that adds just the right amount of shaping to the Tailored Vest. They’re not fancy, elaborate design elements that make your eyes pop and your jaw drop … and that’s exactly the point. They’re elements that you don’t even see unless you’re looking, because they’re seamlessly integrated into the designs.

Do I think all the designs are successful? No. I thought the Drawstring Bateau, while nice enough, was too complex for a book built around the word “simple." The Stay-Put Wrap looks fine while it’s wrapped over your shoulder, but the long, hanging edge when it’s not seems disproportionately off-kilter. And the Kimono Classic is perhaps a little too boxy (though, of course, it’s based on a kimono).

Those are the exceptions, though. I really loved the Sixteen Button Cardigan with it’s basic shaping at the neck (and the fact that it can be worn with the buttons in front or in back). The Kazumi Pullover is classy with its simple ribbing with just a touch of lace at the bottom edge. I liked the Twisted-V Pullover a lot, and the Guernsey Skirt is one of the few skirt patterns I would seriously consider knitting. The Best-Fit Jumper is charming and fun.

Like I said, there’s really not a lot to dislike, here. The designs all seem very wearable–not the kind of garments that get folded away until special occasions. All the patterns are listed in the Table of Contents, so they’re easy to find. The graphics are clear (as they usually are with this series), and the photos are helpful, with no real camouflage to be seen. The Design Notebook at the end is handy, too–giving tips and guidance for making your own simple designs.

Ultimately? A successful book, one that definitely hits my “I’d knit at least a quarter of these" criteria for a good pattern book.

Reviewed by Deb Boyken

Deb has been knitting since 1987 and has accumulated quite a collection of knitting books over the years. Her website, Knitting Scholar, can be found at
http://knittingscholar.com .

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