Knitting Reimagined by Nicky Epstein
ISBN 10: 0385346255
ISBN 13: 978-0385346252
Publication date: 03 June 2014 by Potter Craft
Category: Adult nonfiction
Keywords: Knitting, crafts
Format: Hardcover, ebook
Source: Finished hardcover copy from Publisher
I usually avoid Nicky Epstein designs, as they frequently don't match the kind of clothes I want to make. I'm a very practical knitter in general; while I love to knit complicated cables and lace, I also like the pieces I create to be things I can wear comfortably all the time, whether I'm going to the office, out and about, or just sitting at home knitting more things. Epstein's designs tend to appear much more precious and frilly than I'd normally wear.
I took a chance that Knitting Reimagined would have at least a couple of projects I could envision wearing, and that's about all I got. I'll agree that the designs are imaginative, playing with construction techniques, turning oddly-shaped sections at weird angles, and utilizing just about every show-offy skill there is: entrelac, intarsia, you name it. However, considering the amount of time it takes to finish a project if your knitting schedule is hampered by things like a day job or other hands-on activity, I don't think there are many pieces I would bother starting. On this very short list are the Crisscross Weave Tank with its braided back strap (p. 92), the dainty Edging Epilogue Dress (p. 162), and maybe, just maybe, the Directional Vest (p. 78), minus the swirly I-cord closure in front.
One thing I do like about the book is that a "re-imagine it" section appears at the beginning of each pattern. It took me up to the third or fourth pass through this book to really take them to heart, otherwise I wouldn't even have been able to come up with the handful of projects that I might want to make and wear. Even then, occasionally even these miss the mark; on the Quintessential Cable Pullover, for example, it states "You'll want to keep the unique sleeve construction and the flaps..." No, no you won't. This pullover is a busy mess of tight cables, ribs, and flaps that make it look like the upside-down parapets of a castle. Compiled with poufed shoulders, an additional band of cable over each wrist, and a collar (optional, the re-imagine section notes, you can leave it off for "a sleek V-neck"), it's a hot mess of a sweater.
One project I'm still on the fence about is the Buttons and Bows Manteau (p. 124). It's a dress-length jacket in a lightweight mint-green yarn, with tucks adding texture to the skirt of the piece. There are two pink bows adorning the front on either side of the buttoned opening, and another one in back over a pleat to shape the waist. The optional ruffled collar is in the same contrasting color. My first thought is to change the color scheme entirely. The "re-imagine it" note suggests, "Remove bows or add even more to create the look you want." Add even more? Crazy talk. I really like the undulating shape of the tucks, but I'm already considering undertaking this piece in a purple sportweight yarn and replacing the bows with puffy stars to make a sort of deconstructed Lumpy Space Princess outfit for next year's Comic-Con. In other words, I'm not seriously considering making this unless it's part of a costume.
I'll spare you and the designer my descriptions of the projects I didn't like and can't re-imagine into a marginally wearable ensemble; that would just be hurtful snark. I can't decide if some of them are just tragically old-fashioned, or trying and failing to reach into the realm of couture. My modern/pragmatic biases aside, the book itself is fine. Photographs are taken from thoughtful angles and if nothing else, jog the imagination towards "this would look almost OK if..." The instructions and charts are clear, at least the ones that I read through completely for the handful of projects I think I might someday attempt. I can tell that this book really tried to stretch past the boundaries of the typical knitting pattern; it just doesn't quite make it past the edge.
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for review purposes.