Knitting Book Reviews

Knitting it Old School: 43 Vintage-Inspired Designs
by Stitchy McYarnpants and Caro Sheridan

The flap says, “Love ‘old’ but want to be ‘in vogue?’ Welcome to Knitting It Old School where you’ll find patterns for knitting and crocheting everything from cheeky hot pants to his-and-hers sweater sets, all drawn from the fashion trends of the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s."

Hmm. Sounds pretty thorough … but what doesn’t that tell you?

The first thing you do when you pick up this book is make sure your sense of humor is handy. There’s a fine line between “retro" and “kitsch" and this book plays on both sides of it. Some of the designs are “serious" retro–the vintage-inspired sweaters, for example, are almost all stunning and lovely and wearable by people who do not go through life with a playful wink to the fashion gods. But then there are designs that lean decidedly in the kitsch direction. (Not exactly surprising considering Stitchy McYarnpants’ last book was The Museum of Kitschy Stitches.) There’s a raffia bag made to look like a giant pineapple, for example, and yes, a few items I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. (But then, I’m never been that adventurous with my clothing choices.)

Of the forty-three patterns touted on the cover, I count ten crochet patterns, with the rest being knitting. (In fact, most of the crochet patterns are specifically noted as such in the table of contents, and there’s a “Crochet" category in the Index … but not one for knitting. So, crochet is the exception, not the rule.)

The [other] important thing about this book? It’s hilarious. How can you resist a section intro that starts, “If we could write this intro in a monotone robot voice, we would. If you could read it that way, we would appreciate it."

Or, how about the apron pattern (one of a few sewing projects added in as bonuses) that begins, “1. Scour the earth looking for the most amazing vintage cafe curtain ever. 2. Stand befuddled in the ribbon aisle of the craft store laboring over the momentous decision and rows of ribbon before you. Bring snacks–this could take a while." You have to appreciate the realism, eh?

I wouldn’t say the entire book is written tongue-in-cheek, but it leans in that direction. The authors are having FUN, and it’s to our benefit that they’ve provided some great designs to go with the nonsense. The designers, in alphabetical order: Snowden Becker, Adrian Bizilia, Kelly Bridges, Cheryl Burke, Robyn Chachula, Tammy George, Jodi Green, Amy Herzog, Stephen Houghton, Kirsten Kapur, Melissa LaBarre, Caryn Lantz, Diana Loren, Marnie MacLean, Kellie Middlebrooks, Annie Modesitt, Claire Moore, Paola Navarro, Staci Perry, Regina Rioux, Cirilia Rose, Maryse Roudier, Erin Slonaker, Tamie Snow, Christy Varner, Julia Vesper, Pamela Wynne.

The photos are a treat, too, and hit just the right note for a book like this. Playful, colorful, with models with just the right “look" for the designs … and yet still good pictures of the actual designs. (A pet peeve of mine, you 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
http://knittingscholar.com .