Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I gots books

A few weeks ago I ordered books from Amazon because I wanted some books. The anticipated shipping date was may 22nd but I got them on April 8th and have been trying to write a review of them ever since. Wheeee.

I tend to be leary of knitting books that have the words hip, funky or not your mother's in the title. Invariably, these books are filled to the brim with all manner of useless items made from novelty yarn. So when I read that there were 2 punk knitting books coming out this spring, I was afraid, very very afraid, as it seems that in the knitting world the word 'punk' has become synonomous with fugly yarn. However, I did a little research on the internets and after seeing a few of the images from the first book I decided I was curious enough to order both of them for 'inspiration' purposes. That is my story and I'm sticking to it.

below are my first impressions of the books since I haven't had time to go through them comme il faut

Pretty in Punk; 25 Punk, Rock and Goth knitting projects.

This book was written by Alyce Benevides and Jaqueline Milles who have a company called knit head, and after perusing their website I'm wondering when and if I could start charging 100$ for handknit scarves. Perhaps I need to get Martin Gore to start wearing my designs first, but I digress.

The flap on the side of the book states that the designs were inspired by 'fashion icons Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano and legion punk legends' (which I'm assuming is a typo) In any case I would say that the designs in the book tend to be 'punk couture' as opposed to 'down on the street'.

A large proportion of the patterns call for Lamb's pride yarn but other companies and fibres are represented and in fact a couple of patterns call for mid range to higher end yarns and cashmere blends because as we all know, cashmere is synonomous with punk. Actually I lie, as we all know Mohair is the punkest fibre of them all. Perhaps because itchyness = suffering = punk. I am happy to report that there is a complete lack of novelty yarn in this book, in fact, most of the patterns focus on basic but elegant shapes with solid colours or colour work.

The projects are separated into sections depending on what body part they're for and many different subcultures are represented: punk, goth, mod, ska and rockabilly and I would say that the selection is diverse enough that one should be able to find a few things to peak their interest. Also, excitingly there is also a graph for camoflauge intarsia (for armwarmers) which I know will come in handy the next time I need to hide out in the junle with nothing but my knititng to keep me safe.

pros: The book has a great design and a fun but edgy aesthetic. The layouts are well thought out and the instructions seem to be clear, the models are attractive and the photography is fantastic.

cons: there are quite a lot of patterns for 'bumflaps'. Also the mohawk seems to be an oft repeated motif. This is obviously because the mohawk at is their signature piece, however I'd say that it's a bit over represented. One very big con is that the patterns call for specific yarns, but the yardage of the yarns is not listed making yarn substitutions difficult.

I am considering making this sweater, although thinking about it I did make myself a mesh sweater out of sock yarn this one time and have misplaced it somewhere, so I think this doesn't bode well for the mesh sweater

I'm not sure where I'd wear this, but it sure is pretty.

I just think this picture is 'neat'

forget the hat, I want the bike...actually I want both

Punk Knits: 26 hot new designs for anarchistic and independant spirits by Share Ross

I was unsure about whether or not to order this book because of the scary looking model and clashing colours on the cover. After receiving it I realized that my fears were not unfounded as this book written by the former guitarist of Vixen is closer to those dreaded too hip for your mother type knitting books than the elegant and well thought out style of the previous book. The first thing that offended my senses was the author's repeated insistance that knitting is a 'truly anarchistic statement' and list of why the book is or isn't for you. ie: "you like music and think the Sex Pistols were a great band" vs "You hate rock 'n' roll music and think the Sex Pistols are some sort of gun." Personally I like music and think the Sex Pistols were mediocre musicians with a great manager. I'm not sure if that means the book is for me or not.

Each pattern in the book has a 'punk' inspiration. Some examples include The Runaways, Blondie, the New York Dolls, Woodstock 1969? John Lennon?!? I think the book is misnamed and that perhaps a better name would be the aging L.A. rocker knitting book. Also the punk knits rating system for pattern difficulty is very confusing. (ie: garage, coffee house, night club, theatre and arena) Although I guess there is some sort of logic to it, I can never remember which 'venue' is which.

In terms of patterns, it's really a mixed bag. There are a few fun things that I am considering making, but there is also quite a bit of fug. The sweaters all tend to be shapeless and boxy and yes there is novelty yarn, in fact you can knit sleeves for your jean jacket out of novelty yarn if you want to (Just like Led Zeppelin!?!) ...and I won't judge if you do this. Well ok, I will judge a little.

Also, in comparison to Pretty in Punk the models in this book are considerably older, more haggard looking and rather depressing. In fact, the models were probably punks the first time round, so I guess it's good that they are getting work now as those pvc shorts and eyelash yarn are not going to buy themselves.

The book does have some pros.

The good: I like the spiral binding, also there instructions on 3 different ways to make holes (which are apparently very important to punk knitting)
and with a little... ok, alot of tweaking the patterns could be improved and apparently punk knitting is about improvisation, so this ties into the 'theme' of the book. Also the patterns and schematics seem clearly written and laid out.

The bad: well everything I mentioned above.

the fugly. (Inspired by Patti Smith) although maybe it could work in a better yarn. Ok, maybe not

check out more pics from the book here. I will admit to liking the legwarmers (Siouxsie Sioux) and the shrug (Bjork) however I don't really think the book has anything particularly edgy going on, and frankly if one is looking for 'punk rock knitting', they would be better off getting Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation because at least you could make a Joey Ramone doll.


At June 10, 2007, Blogger Rocketbride said...

i insisted on reading parts of your reviews out loud to james, who responds to your last point: hey ho, let's go.

also, i look massive in that picture, but at least my smile is cute. how's the rash, girlie?


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