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Book Review


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  Simply Beautiful Sweaters for Men
by Linden Phelps and Beryl Hiatt
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Finally, the moment many knitters have been waiting for: a book of attractive, well-written sweater patterns for men. With the exception of Rowan and a few others, it's been very difficult to find good, well-fitting and attractive patterns for men.

Whether you're a man or just like to knit for them, this book fills a major gap in the knitting pattern book market.

A Dynamic Duo

Brought to you by the owners of popular Seattle shop Tricoter and authors of "Simply Beautiful Sweaters," this new book features 21 men's knitwear patterns.

Shapes range from ribbed pullovers to multicolored or button-front vests, a sampler sweater, v-neck pullovers, and, of course, pom pom-topped golf club covers.

Most designs have classic silhouettes and are knit on pleasantly large needles. One exception is a pashmina muffler that knits up at 46 stitches per 4 inch square. Ouch!
Note: I stand corrected on the pashmina gauge (see reader email below). The gauge is in pattern stitch, which includes very large cables.


Major Splurges

Hiatt and Phelps spare no expense with the materials they use. Unless you're comfortable making substitutions, some of the patterns in this book may be out of your league.

The Cabled Cashmere Pullover uses 12 skeins of Filatura di Crosa Cashmere Tweed, while Heinz's Cashmere Vest calls for eight skeins of Filatura di Crosa's 100% cashmere.

The Pashmina muffler -- extraordinary for anyone, regardless of gender -- uses three skeins of Great Adirondack hand-dyed pashmina.

Other yarns represented are Noro, Garnstudio, Karabella, and Horstia, but the majority seem to call for Filatura di Crosa.

The book is lovingly dedicated to Stacy Charles, who gave the authors much support throughout their careers. His company, Stacy Charles, is directly related to Filatura di Crosa.


On the Other Hand

I found only a few surprises. The Dad's Vest calls for Mission "Hills" 1824 Wool, which should read Mission Falls. And Hans's Community Project Vest calls for Missoni Tweed and Giglio, both of which the authors acknowledge are discontinued.

They proceed to specify exact colors of each yarn, even though -- again -- you won't be able to buy them yourself. For a brand new book to publish patterns calling for discontinued yarn -- and not even provide specific recommended substitutes -- is surprising.


Layout

The book includes some nice design touches. First, the photography is delicious. Each pattern includes a good photo of the garment plus full schematics, charts if necessary, and a photo of different colors of the yarn specified for the pattern.

They also include useful tips and instructions written over the schematic, so you can see exactly where the increases and decreases fit within the total design scheme.

 Discuss this book in our forums

Previous reader Comments

"I eagerly waited for my copy to be delivered, and finally got it yesterday. I totally agree with your review. While I am happy to finally have some men's patterns that I can live with, the yarns are extremely pricey. My hubby immediately picked out the varigated sweater for me to knit, and I've combed the Internet for the past few hours looking for the yarn. The sweater calls for 2600 yds(!) of a combination of Garnstudio and Aurora Yarns. I found the Garnstudio at one site for $10/skein (I need 12), so that's $120. The Aurora Yarn I found a bag of 20 skeins for $139. Somehow, $270 for materials only seems a little extreme. They don't offer any substitutions for the yarn. While I agree that expensive yarn is worth the money, I can't afford many projects in this book. However, the golf sweater will become a Xmas present as it's knit on 13s and 15s. There's also a contradiction between knitting Evan's sweater (1560 yds for a 62" chest) and the varigated sweater knit in seed stitch. I don't think I will purchase any more of their books as I don't think they add any thing to my technique or pattern repretoire." lap, 7/29/01

"I hoped the book would be as nice as their first one, but I felt that the sweaters just didn't measure up. I especially didn't like the use of costly and discontinued yarns. I substitute all the time and am currently making a sweater from their first book with a substitute because the recommended yarn is not available (again, although I even contacted the authors)." Pamulla, 7/29/2001

"Your review of Simply Beautiful Sweaters has one small inaccuracy: while it is true that the 'muffler' made of the Great Adirondack Pashmina says that there is a gauge of 46 to 4 inches, that is while it is in pattern, not stockinette. There is no way humanly possible to get that gauge with (a) this yarn, and (b) US8s, which is what is called for. If one reads through the pattern, there are very very large cable twists (24 sts) and that is what causes the cast on of 80 sts to come out to 7 inches in width - so, I wouldn't want people to get the impression that this will be a bear to knit; in fact, it is very very sumptuous and easy and flowing to knit with." Mvelard, 7/29/2001

Thank you for pointing this out! Now I can add this scarf to my list of future projects! -Clara



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