Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lace Style

I was really looking forward to this book. I love lace and I was hoping this would be the companion volume to Victorian Lace Today, only with more garments. Or failing that, a more up-to-date version of A Gathering of Lace. Nope. Not really. Perhaps I was expecting too much. (Quiet, those who are thinking “So what else is new, Damselfly?”)

It’s not that it’s bad exactly, just that it could have been so much more. It seems like an issue of Interweave Knits only a lot more expensive — 3 issues worth of more expensive. To be fair the patterns have more detail and there are more photos, but really there’s only about the same number of patterns as the Spring 07 issue of the magazine. The chapter on working lace, reading charts and fixing your mistakes is good but it could have been a much larger section of the book, at least for my money. I suggest you go read Eunny’s tutorials (under Techniques in her sidebar) if you want lots more lacey details. (Can’t hardly wait for her book!) I always want to know how and why. Not to mention when and where. I’ve already figured by myself out how to fix errors pretty much the way they describe. But that 2-page section could save many less-experienced lace knitters a lot of trips to the frog pond.

As far as the garment designs go, they are mostly Youthful. Don’t they know that there are a few knitters out here who are over 30? Alright. Over 50? I’m already thinking that shrugs (and there are two) are rather passé. And legwarmers were out but now they’re in again? Really? Ewww. I can’t keep up. And what’s with the Lingerie Dress? Would anybody ever wear something like that? It’s like a shawl slipped down to her waist! I also think it’s indicative of a big problem with a knitted garment such as the initially rather attractive cardigan on the cover, that the model is holding onto the fronts with a death grip. Does that mean that it doesn’t stay put on its own? Don’t we need to know that before we spend oh, say, several months out of our lives knitting it and then finding out it doesn’t hang right? Don’t we deserve the truth? The Just Right Wrap doesn’t look just right in one of the photos towards the back of the book either. The hem is totally out of whack and there is nothing holding that lovely lace in place on the right side so you can be sure it will not stay flat. For as long as it takes you to walk out the door. Maybe. Then it will fold up and hang funny and it will drive you nuts trying to pat it back into place.

I’ve already found an error or two in the book so you can be sure there are more just waiting to be discovered. There isn’t a corrections file for this book yet on Interweave’s website. I sent them a message about one of the things I found, a problem with the photo of Swatch 4 which matches Swatch 5 instead of being of the correct right-slanting double decrease. Page 137. Right after I did that, I found on page 53 that both charts are labeled Small Lace Petal when the right one is definitely the Large Lace Petal. Can we find more? Particularly something that will wreak serious havoc with your knitting? It would be helpful to know why it’s not turning out correctly before you start tearing out your hair or poking yourself in the eyeballs with your needles in frustration. Tell Interweave so they can get the corrections up where everyone can find them.

Quibbles aside, there are some lovely garments in here. I love the Katherine Hepburn Cardigan by Kathy Zimmerman and Lacey Waves Top by Nora Gaughan. They are lovely, elegant, timeless and worth spending your time knitting because they are eminently wearable. The Ooh La Lace Dress and Stole would make a great project for the bride’s mother to knit for her special day. (Don’t look at me. Mine’s getting married in Byzantine period costume. In purple.) I also like Laura Zukaite’s Essential Tank Top. You could knit it to the perfect length for you with minimal adjustment to the pattern. I think I would tend to make it in the round up to the armholes though. Or maybe leave side slits. It would be lovely in linen. But not doubled like the alpaca. Hmmmm…

…but I digress. I’m not really sure what Annie Modesitt’s knitted wire and beads bracelet is doing in this book. Along with her Garden Hat (which doesn’t fit the model!) it seems kind of out of place. Did they get left out of her specialty books or something? Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe I was expecting more of what I think of as “real lace” garments. Something more ethereal in fine yarns that might take some time to knit. But isn’t so up-to-the-minute trendy that it’ll be out of style before it’s off the needles. This book just doesn’t hit you the way VLT did. (That book actually made knitters run for the yarn and needles en masse.) And I don’t think this is just my opinion. I’ve heard others grumbling as well. It’s not bad exactly. Just not great.

So while we’re on the subject of lace, you can see how far I’ve gotten on the Cherry Leaf Shawl.

Ain’t it purty? Though I’m surprised that the “cherry” colour is really very subtle against the “leaf” colours. It looked more intense in the skein. After a whole lot of brightly contrasting multicoloured yarns, I seem to be on a more muted but still somewhat variegated kick lately. This one is very spring-like in feeling which I think most of us in the Northern Hemisphere are longing for about now. Look, ma — no stitch markers! I haven’t even looked at the chart since the beginning of the 3rd pattern repeat. What a relief after the Socks Whom We Shall Not Name Henceforth, aka #50. I think this shawl will be somewhat warmer than Swallowtail and I think I might make it somewhat bigger as well. I have lots of yarn. Still not up to much else besides knitting and reading but I am feeling a little better today. Off to knit another repeat.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your review of Lace Style. I bought the book for one reason and one reason only: to knit the Katharine Hepburn cardigan. For me, it was worth it, but honestly, there isn't anything else in the book I will knit.

Anonymous said...

An excellent review (which I read thanks to Julia at Mind of Winter). My copy came yesterday and my reactions echo yours -- esp. with that Lingerie Lace thingy! What were the editors (let alone the designer) thinking? The KH cardigan is lovely, and maybe one or two other items are viable, but ... We were spoiled by Scarf and Lace Style, which are a lot less off the wall, esp. for those of us over 20 (try 65). Many thanks.