Friday, August 8, 2014

New American Knits: Pretty Great and Just Plain Pretty

I got an email from the nice man who does the digital marketing for Interweave Knits about reviewing New American Knits a while ago.  I looked at the cover for about half a second and immediately wanted to check out this book because this looked like it would be full of some incredibly dadgummed beautiful knits.

This model is wearing the Nevelson Lace Pullover.  It's so pretty.  It's so pretty.  It's so pretty.

I was not disappointed.

Parrish Mitts.

I've flipped through this multiple times, sighing "They're so prettyyyyyy" each time.   There are twenty patterns for sweaters, vests, hats, lighter shirts, a cowl, and even a pair of fingerless mitts.  They're written for different weights of yarn, and with varying degrees of difficulty.  There's a little bit of every kind of project for every level of knitter.

The Jasper Pullover is perfect for those nautical look-loving knitters and worked flat, if you can believe it.

My favorite part is that each pattern is named after an American artist.  It doesn't take much for me.  Like how the Georgia sweater named for Georgia O'Keefe has a big ol' pink flower on the front of it.  I love it.

No, really.  I do love it.  It's beautiful, and if no one knew you were wearing a sweater with a motif inspired by the painter who was all about a certain type of symbolism, this would just be a cool update on florals.  And maybe that's all it is.  But really, this big flower right in your face makes me cackle a bit.  This very beautiful fitted sweater would be striking with or without the motif, which is actually made with crochet slip stitches and I like that little crocheted touch.

The Rockwell hat looks like something I could actually pull off, and I think I'm going to try to do so before Christmas.  It's all one color, and uses worsted weight yarn.  The patterning has an intricate-looking makeup without being fussy that I really like.


And really, that's what I love about nearly all of these patterns.  They're simple in a classy way.  (It's fine, I rolled my eyes at the use of "classy" too.)  They're not plain or boring, but they're not full of busywork, either.  So many knitting patterns have details that might be interesting, but can sometimes come off as just way too much on a garment being worn by an actual person.  The patterns are modeled after the style of the American Look from the '30s and '40s, and I think there is something about each of these that feels earnestly American, like Adirondack chairs or Depression glass or .... something equally super-American.

The Wyeth shrug is almost rugged, but not quite.  It's glorious.

I want to make these patterns and give the finished objects as gifts, but only to people in my immediate family because mostly I want to hoard the projects for myself.  I want to wear some of these sweaters while sitting on a porch and drinking and coffee and enjoying an autumnal morning.  God help me, I want to wear some of these hats on a road trip through mountains.  Can I make this Alvarez Hat in time for fall and make all of my Fair Isle dreams come true?  I don't know, but I'm certainly going to try.

There are some patterns in here that are way beyond my skill set, but they're certainly inspirational.

Like the Sargent Pullover. Boy howdy.

Other patterns, though, look like they might be attainable. 

And I am NOT just saying that because I now have an all-consuming need to make the Benton Cardigan in something neutral for myself.

The charts for all of them are clear, although I wish they were a little larger.  But that's why Jesus gave us copy machines with the option to enlarge and print off pages to mark up and annotate to our hearts' content.  Because I certainly don't want to make many notes in this book because it's just so pretty.  I know I've said it a lot, but this is a pretty book.

And the Tanner Cowl is unofficially reversible.

The photography is all sun-dappled and vibrant.  The layout is clear, and the different pieces of information--yarn types and yardages, measurements, needles, etc.--are all set out in their own little categories.  Smallish charts aside (and I have to say that no chart will ever be big enough for me), this is one of the best layouts I've seen for a pattern book in a while.

It's fine if you want to roll your eyes at that part, too.  But it's true! 

There is a lot to love about New American Knits.  I didn't say much about the camisole or vest-like patterns because I wasn't crazy about them, but there were so many other patterns to pore over in rapt, lovestruck idiocy because they were so great.  The book is retailing for less than $20, which I would consider a fantastic bargain in light of what individual patterns can cost.  I'm interested in at least half a dozen of the patterns in this book, and seriously planning to make 2 or 3 more of them. 

I think I'm actually going to try to get a start on the Parrish Mitts this weekend.

*Disclaimer: I was given New American Knits to review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions, thoughts, and excessive uses of the word "pretty" are my own.


Laine said...

I love all of these patterns! "Pretty" seems like just the right word to describe them. They all look so Americana...I love it.

Jen said...

Yeah, maybe Americana. Like, "My family has a vacation cabin by the lake' kind of vibe. They're gorgeous.