Cool and Crafty: Books for the Fashionable.

AuthorHallberg, Whitney
PositionBook review

Work Title: Cool and Crafty: Books for the Fashionable

Work Author(s): Whitney Hallberg

Art

Byline: Whitney Hallberg

Julia Roberts knits, Madonna crochets, and the cheerleader who lives next door sews her own clothes. Crafting isn't just for grannies anymore.

A typical knitter in this decade is as apt to be a college freshman as a Hollywood starlet. The freedom to create beautiful things in the perfect color and size, the pride of accomplishment felt when that last stitch is cast off are two powerful reasons that many have turned to the yarn crafts. Moreover, in Australia and the UK, organizations offer "Knit to Quit" classes to help people quit smoking by occupying their hands and distracting their minds. Some people insist that creating something with the hands provides much-needed contrast to the LCD screens and polyphonic ringtones of modern life. Others testify that 9/11 brought out a long-dormant instinct for homemaking and crafting.

Whatever the reason for returning to our homespun roots, the independent presses have responded in force with richly illustrated books of patterns for handmade garments that any woman of fashion will covet to create.

Knit Girl

Knitting Little Luxuries: Beautiful Accessories to Knit (Interweave Press, 978-1-59668-054-8) beautifully illustrates the aesthetic reasons so many have picked up needles and turned to this hobby. Delicate purses, cozy wraps, and funky hats are made truly unique by intricate patterns and adornments like buttons and flowers. Author Louisa Harding has designed knitwear for more than fifteen years and has a signature line of yarns. Her designs have appeared in Rowan magazine and Vogue Knitting.

Several Fair Isle patterns are included here, along with bigger projects like a vest and shawl, making this book suitable for advanced or intermediate knitters who like a challenge. "With the addition of vintage trimmings and buttons, each project reflects the knitter and the recipient, creating an heirloom of the future," the author writes. With chapters titled "Eclectic and Quirky" and "Pretty and Feminine," every item here is worthy of becoming tomorrow's treasure.

Knitting a sweater takes time, patience, concentration, and a lot of yarn. But when you end up with a one-of-a-kind piece like those in Fitted Knits: 25 Designs for the Fashionable Knitter (North Light Books, 978-1-58180-872-8) by Stefanie Japel, the result is worth the effort and expense. The sweaters here reflect knitting at its...

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