Monday Surprises

Why, you might ask, am I writing about Monday surprises on a Wednesday? When I arrived at my desk on Monday morning (after a weekend that included the Spiders' Annual Holiday Bash--good times!) a package awaited me:


Country Weekend Knits: 25 Classic Patterns for Timeless Knitwear might be a gift for the knitter(s) on your list. It was published last month by St. Martin's Press. As promised there are 25 patterns, divided into four chapters; each chapter is a small sampler of a traditional knitting techniques from the UK and Ireland.

I like the concept. If the economy has you canceling your trip 'cross the Pond, perhaps this book will be a small consolation. The overall color palate is quite subdued, with lots of earth tones and gentle hues. One might imagine wearing these on the estate, during a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of The City.


Yup, can't you just see me hopping fences at the country estate? No? Really? Huh.

Overall there isn't anything ground-breaking in this book. I think that's the point. The book highlights classic forms, designs, and techniques that are common in English, Scottish, and Irish knitting. These are sweaters that, if you like the designs, you could probably return to this book again and again.

There is one pattern I dearly, dearly love:


It reminds me a lot of that Rowan design that was sweeping through Blogland a few years ago. I can't even remember the name. I thought that it was Butterfly, but that turns out to be something different. I don't remember the name, but I remember that the sleeves were very similar. Or, maybe it was a Rebecca pattern? Does anyone know what I am talking about?

Anyway, this brings me to a small issue. The sizing is very inconsistent. The above-mentioned sweater? I'm, apparently, too large for this design. Even the newly svelted, just-lost-15-pounds, wear-a-size-6-pant me is too large for this knit. I can understand if a designer doesn't want to calculate every size from a 24-inch to a 44-inch chest, but inclusive sizing will help you sell more books. It's part of the reason that I could never get into Rowan's publications all that much. [Although I hear that they've gotten the sizing message and started to include larger sizes. Maybe I should give them another chance.]

If your bust is larger than 34 inches (which, ahem, mine is), then you'll find that many of the patterns are too small for you. Sure, some of the patterns go up to a size 38, and the mens patterns go up to about a 40. But, if I'm buying a book, then I want a broad range of sizes that will fit all the people in my life (most especially, myself!)

Secondly, the patterns lack schematics. Show me what the sweater pieces will look like, how wide the neck opening is, and how long the armhole openings are. Is this too much to ask? I wonder if this was a layout or an editing decision. Perhaps in the race to get this out before the holidays, some corners needed to be cut.

Getting back to the positives: the thoughtful photography is definitely a plus. You see the garment artfully posed, but you also see it posed so that you can figure out what's going on. Nothing bothers me more than a pattern photograph in which you cannot fully see the item in question. There's none of that here. Kudos to the art director/photo director/person-who-figures-this-stuff-out.

Let's face it, this isn't the most fashion-forward knitting book. But sometimes you just want an old favorite to knit.


Part of the reason for the issues on sizing and lack of schematics, I think, is that this is a reprint of an older book. It was originally published under a different name almost 30 years ago. I bought my copy in London in the mid-1980s and it was called (I think) The Traditional Sweater Book. It was issued in the U.S. with a different name. The designs are gorgeous and I made many of them. But it would be nice if the sizing were extended with the re-issue!

Ah, someone has already mentioned it's a reprint. Thirty years ago, all women were tiny, apparently. (Thank heavens for Big Girl Knits, etc. today)

I'm still going to knit a version of that green sweater you've shown.

It's just going to be... bigger.

Thanks for the heads up on the sizing. I have not purchased several books for that reason. If I have to do all the calculations myself, I might as well just do all the calculations myself! Although the photo on the cover looks just like something I'd like to make for myself.

Thanks for the thoughtful review. I thumbed through the book quickly yesterday and thought the designs looked quite appealing. Good to know, though, that some resizing might be necessary, even for a modest 36" bust.

Oh, I know the sweater you're talking about! It was a Noro design, called (you were right!) Butterfly.
It's from Noro Knits 2004, by Jane Ellison.
And I totally hear you on the lack of diagrams fro same patterns. It's a shame!


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