In my interviews I ask the question "Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?" I ask this question because one of my test knitters told me about another designer who never looks at knitting books or magazines because of this fear. I look at everything. When I teach creativity one of my workshops tasks is for students to pick out a sweater design that they don't like and fix it so that they do like the end result. I do this myself regularly as a creative exercise in my head. Usually by the time I'm done the garment is no longer recognizable and it often proves to be a jumping off point for a totally different design.
I live in a condo so I don't have the room (or the budget) to buy all of the great knitting books out there. I do buy technique based books as I use them over and over again. I take the pattern books out of the library so I can look at them. Last year when I was deciding on a style for Robin Hunter designs I looked at every book and magazine I could before deciding that I would use a mannequin to photograph my knitting.
Last week I got Pure Knits from the library. It's a collection of patterns knit in shades of white. I've seen runway designers use this strategy of only one colour in the past. It allows the viewer to be more focused on other details. It's a good choice for hand knits as the stitch definition in the photo's is great. The clarity is so good that in a few spots I was able to critique the finishing or see some uneven stitches. I think that's a good thing as many Knitters are far to critical of their own work setting impossible standards that no Knitter could live up to. Often they forget that some detail is lost in photographs and then compare their own work and see it as inferior.
The book went around the table at my Thursday night knitting group to somewhat mixed reviews. I rarely knit from patterns so I won't critic specific designs. I will note that I did not like the stying very much. The garments were often layered over other clothing in ways that did not do them justice. As an example a camisole over a tank. To my eye this looks heavy.
I really liked Erika Seelinger's Pilatus Hat and Scarf set. It was shown two different ways and I could see many men wearing them proudly unlike some designs for men that read like mummy dressing up a little boy. There are a few garments that appeared to have stretched out necklines so I'm not sure if they were meant to be that way or not. One garment that I especially liked was photographed poorly with the model twisting her shoulders back, I know many Knitters will pass a good garment if they can't visualize it on their own body. The photo made it appear that the garment hung oddly on the body, fortunately the two detail shots were better.
I did see a problem with with a few of the schematics. The proportions seemed out of whack with the garments, as an example the Nicole Cardigan. The torso on the schematic had a measurement of 21 inches long for the body but proportionally with the armhole it looked far longer. The width was also narrower. When I measured it was .714 of the length but the actual ratio of the measurements was .809. It was inconsistent as some schematics were proportionally correct. This is a pet peeve of mine as it I think that's part of the reason Knitters feel that their garments don't turn out the way they expect. The book is a compilation of 16 designers tied together with the single colour choice. Sometimes it felt as though the designs were a little too far apart from one another to be showcased in a single book.
If anyone has knit any of the patterns please feel free to post comments about your results.