Knitting Book Reviews

Fresh Fashion Knits
by Kate Buller

When you think of Rowan, you probably think about their gorgeous yarns, but you can’t ever forget about their patterns, too. (And with their magazines, how could you?)

This book gathers 20 designs from their in-house designer Sarah Hatton. According to the press release, “This collection of fashion-conscious designs features the best of the Rowan Studio collection with playful skirts, sexy tops, chic dresses, and delicate cardigans. These fashion trends straight off the runway translate perfectly into the innovative knitwear designs found in this book.”

What that means is that these are very fashionable patterns. Meaning, not exactly “classics,” but more like knitted translations from the chic styles you might find in Vogue or In Style magazines. Which means that some of the designs are exciting, innovative, but definitely leaning in the “trendy” direction.

Not that that’s a bad thing. My first thought, flipping through this book, was that everything was way too “high concept” to be wearable, but that’s not actually the case. On my second pass through the book, I realized that a lot of them were, in fact, nice, basic shapes, but with an extra detail, an extra flair that made them stand out. Instead of being classic (which can sometimes translate to “boring”), they are fashionable–which often can translate to “weird,” but which here means “Stylish and interesting.”

I can’t really speak toward how fashionable the designs are. I’m more of a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl, so can’t tell you which trends from Milan are being represented here. Or whether these designs follow any trends at all. I can tell you that most of these designs have grown on me as I’ve paged through the book. They’re pretty much all sweater patterns (even the one dress could sort of be defined as simply a particularly long sweater), and if some could best be worn by skinny models, well … whenever is that NOT the case?

The layout of the book reminds me of a knitting magazine. All the pattern photos are grouped at the front of the book, with the actual patterns at the back. The photos are artistic, as you’d expect, but seem honest in that they’re displaying the designs fairly, without trying to hide unfortunate details in the photo shoots.

Also, refreshingly, almost the entire book is devoted to the patterns. There is a page introducing the book, and about 5 pages at the end with details about the yarns and some really basic notes about the importance of gauge. Unlike some books, though, it’s not all “filler” telling you how to cast-on or decrease. (Hey, some people like having references right in the book, others hate paying for instructions on things they already know.)

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

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