Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Book review; The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet

The Knitters Curiosity Cabinet
20 Patterns Inspired by Vintage Botanical Prints - Hunter Hammersen

I first came across this book in a Ravelry thread bemoaning the lack of really original stitch patterns, on socks in particular. We've all done that rib/that lace/that toe, they complained. it's boring. It's frost flower again.

And then someone popped on and said nuh-uh; try this! and linked to the website for this book.
And I followed the link, for lo; that is what I doeth.
And my eyes, lo, they felleth out of my head and I cried with great joy; look here, ye sisters of Zimmerman, ye brethren of Bordhi.
And I spake loudly about my living room and saith, have you seen these?
And I was smitten. 

These are twenty patterns, mostly sock but also mittens, a shawl and a couple of cowls, designed from scratch, from fresh and new, without recourse to a stitch dictionary and drawing their inspiration from beautiful plant forms and botanical illustrations. You look at the delicate print, and then you look at the sock and it makes sense, it's just such a lovely derivation - like a single tune from a beautiful concerto.

Here's a great example; have a look at this mitten and see if you can see the ruffled inner petals of a daffodil;

Or this one, one of my favourites - a pine cone from a scotch fir;

The patterns are exquisite.

The only concern I have - and it's a really small one - is that the patterns can seem complicated. But, you know, that's the thing; they're unfamiliar and new, and you're not going to understand them straight away in the same way as you would perhaps another broken rib men's sock.

I like complicated, personally. If I want restful knitting or a beginner wants something simple, there's hundreds of thousands of patterns to choose from, hundreds of books. This is something a cut above.

I ordered the book online a few months ago when it wasn't in print yet, at http://www.knitterscuriositycabinet.com/, where there's a good offer to get the e-book in advance of issue, and then a print copy when it became available. Now of course you can choose between print or e-book. I received the e-book almost immediately in my Rav library and whilst I was still smitten, you just don't get a feel of how gorgeous these patterns are until you have a print copy. The production values are as good as the patterns, with lots of attention to detail and a lovely finish and size to the book, not too big to carry in your lap. My one gripe would be the number of patterns spread over several pages - but then they would look crowded if they were on one page, and I have heard of bookmarks. I can see myself getting used to the pattern style quickly, partly because the writing is very clear and direct, and partly because I want to knit all the patterns in there.

Just a note to aficionados - Silk Road Socks, the first book Hunter Hammerson wrote, is now a collector's edition retailing at somewhere in the region of $200 in the US. I expect this book to do the same.

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