I’ve had this book for several months, but I’m only now reviewing it. Truth be told, I’ve been hoarding it just like I’m hoarding that last box of Thin Mint cookies in the back of my freezer. But it’s time to share it with you, so here I go.
Antidote to Blah
In a world of super-bulky scarves, knitted cell phone cozies and bikinis, and make-it-in-a-weekend sweaters (all of which are equally valid, mind you), this book is a beacon for those willing and ready to put more time into a project.
I’m a longtime fan of author Margaret Wilson, who—in her spare time—used to produce her own yarn, mostly Merino. Her writing is beautiful, sensitive, and sincere, making this book a pleasure to read from cover to cover. She wrote this book, with pattern support from Green Mountain Spinnery.
Inside you’ll find patterns for vests, jackets, cardigans, sweaters, pullovers, tunics, caps, bonnets, mittens, socks, and the like. All the patterns were designed for the Green Mountain Spinnery—using Green Mountain Spinnery yarns—over the course of its 20+ years in operation.
As such, they have been tried and tested to the point of near perfection. The instructions are clearly written, and the layout is easy to navigate. I couldn’t find a single confusing element in any pattern.
Stylistically speaking, these patterns fall in a mostly classic New England genre. They use the smooth, pure, richly colored yarns from Green Mountain Spinnery—there’s no novelty anything here, no fringe, no fluff, no bouclé, just pure beautiful yarn.
The designs focus on the artistry of the well-turned cable, the perfectly matched intarsia, the simplicity of a well-executed stockinette with subtle embellishments. They show the potential for knitted garments to be perfectly balanced architectural compositions, and they show what knitting can be.
Although several of the patterns in this book involve semi-challenging techniques, it still contains a reasonable number of easier patterns to inspire new knitters.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the exquisite color photography, which reminds me of the images in Melanie Falick’s Knitting in America (republished as America Knits). In fact, I could just sit and stare at these images for hours, even if I’m not knitting a single project from the book.
The book is, in part, about the Green Mountain Spinnery, an innovative regional spinnery begun in 1981 in Putney, Vermont. The spinnery pledges to maintain sound environmental practices and support social causes.
It was founded on the principle that the use of intermediate technology could revitalize rural communities. In this case, the founders did so by creating a spinnery to serve as a bridge between agriculture and knitting.
Wilson writes a beautiful and inspiring history of the spinnery, but it doesn’t stop there. At the end of the book, you’ll find photos of each yarn used in the book, with helpful details about yardage, fiber content, gauge, and how the yarn feels and behaves once knit up. Wilson even provides pictures of each yarn’s color card so you know what your options are.
Yes, that makes this book a bit of an advertorial for Green Mountain Spinnery yarns. But I confess I prefer this to a book of patterns using yarns that are no longer available by the time the book hits the shelves—something I see far too often these days.
And finally, be sure to spend some time reading the list of book references at the end of this book—consider it the required summer reading list for all inquisitive knitters!