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Monday, April 16, 2007

Kniterature - Men who knit and the dogs who love them

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Title: Men who knit and the dogs who love them
Author: Annie Modesitt,Drew Emborsky
ISBN-10: 1579908748
ISBN-13: 9781579908744
Format: Hardcover
# of Pages: 144
Publisher: Lark Books (NC)
Published: 2007
Book Source: Dymocks
Price: $39.95
Skill level/Audience: Beginners to Intermediate

I wanted to like this book. I REALLY REALLY wanted to like this book. But expectations set by the title were not met.

When I nabbed it in Dymocks, I thought - what's cuter than a man that knits? How bout a man that knits and has a dog?? I was looking forward to anecdotes a la Franklin, Brooklyn Tweed and Guido Two-skeins (oh - and of course, David)

In the bookshop, I saw these one sentence blurbs, and thought they were highlights from a larger interview or article which would tell you more about the "Men who knit". Sadly, when I got home I found these "purls" were the only wisdom from the Men who shared their knitting experience with the author, and they are sporadically and infrequently scattered throughout the book. And as for the "dogs who love them" - not one of the male knitters so much as mentions a Fido.

So then my next thought was that patterns were knitted by men, or that male knitters had a big input into the finished objects shown in the book - but a quick look at the list of test knitters shows that there were a surprisingly large amount of female names listed...

Which left me with the idea that, perhaps, rather than models - real knitters were used for the pictures... but I'm not sure. First of all, the author thanks all the models (male and canine) for their assistance. And look at how this guy is holding his yarn... You be the judge.. So I get my major gripe with this book is the title is very misleading. Perhaps "Sweaters for Men and Dogs designed by a Woman and a Man-who-c******ts-but-doesn't-knit" wouldn't have sold many books but it would have been a helluva lot more accurate.

So - lets re-assess our expectations and consider this as just a pattern book.

First of all - it contains the "learn to knit" section. Most of what I have learnt is from books and illustrations - and I have no idea what is going on in these diagrams

I can knit both English (western in this book) and Continental (Eastern) and I have never had my stitches sit on the needles back to front. I understand that Annie Modesit has a rather quirky way of knitting, and says that there is no right or wrong way of knitting - but it feels here that she is trying to justify her special brand of knitting as a traditional style. I wouldn't recommend the lesson in this text to anyone wanting to learn how to knit.

However, what this text does do well is explain how to size both people and dogs. It has clear diagrams and tables that allow the knitter to ensure that they can knit a garment that fits.

Which really only leaves us with the patterns. From my extremely scientific survey of approximately 5 men, the best quote I got about these garments is that "only a man incredibly comfortable with his sexuality would wear these". This is mainly a comment on the colours used - for example, this item wouldn't be worn by any man I know. Or even any woman I know...

However, even if you could get past the gaudy colours (that would still look out of place at a psychedelic 60s drug party) - the construction still a very simple drop shouldered sweater. (although the model in this picture does have yarn woven through his fingers - is this one of the fabled "men who knit"?)

This colour combination of this sweater made a hungover Lara reach for painkillers - however, I would quite like this knitted in subtler colours.

This sweater was the all-round favourite. Again, the colours are a bit bright for most men I know, but they aren't completely out-there. Yes - there are a lot of matching Man & Dog sweaters - needless to say, the sweaters look a hellava lot cuter in the dog version. However, I think the men's toe-up socks are great, but didn't need the matching paw-covers for the dog.

If you are keen for some great knits for your pet fido, this is a great book. This dog bed was one of the winners-

- and quite possibly would make a nice interesting throw cushion for a couch as well. There is also a great pattern for dog toys, and several of the doggy sweaters are quite dignified (however, the doggie "saddle-bags" were a bit crazy)

Grab "men who knit and the dogs who love them" if you are keen for some cute patterns for your pup, otherwise I'd suggest you give it a miss.

If you are looking for some great men's knits, I would suggest you hunt down a copy of Patons new Jet book - in fact, if you're female (or a gay man) I'd suggest you grab just for the eye-candy of the models. I haven't seen it in store yet, but the preview on the Paton's site will have me keeping an eye out! (although I am not entirely sure chunky cardigans for men are ready for a comeback) Below is the news from Patons - notice not one mention of the sweater-curse...

Book 1266– Jet Mens
There is nothing more special than hand knitting a sweater for the man in your life! Patons Australia has received many requests for contemporary mens hand knits. In response, our design team has produced the Jet Mens Book 1266 containing 20 hand knitting styles – to suit all hand knitting skill levels from easy through to advanced knits. You’ll find sweaters, cardigans, vests and jackets – from the ever-popular classics through to styles reflecting the latest fashion trends. Sizes range from XS to XXL.
Patons Jet knitting yarn is a relatively quick to knit 12ply blend of 70% Wool and 30% Alpaca – for luxury and softness. Patons recommends Jet is knitted on 5.50mm knitting needles.
To add to your confidence with the Patons Brand, we offer a free help assistance telephone service – from 9am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday EST Australia. Our toll free number is – 1800 333 642. Any query can be answered by our professional design and knitting team. The Patons quality is assured – trust Patons – to help you knit for the man in you life.

And a photo from a lazy weekend

we invaded Fink Chocolate Cafe in Lane Cove with our needles and yarn. As we come into colder weather I'd suggest you stop by for the bestest hot chocolate north of the harbour.


The Shopping Sherpa said...

I have that chap on the left of the Jet book in my Zhivago book making gooey eyes at his female model (and the camera). He's a bit creepy.

Ginny said...

Interesting review. Annie Modesitt seems to either get it really right (at least I like the twisted float shrug, f'rinstance) or really wrong (that skirt in an Interweave form last year - or the top with strings round the neck...)

The thing with the stitches is a bit different though - Western and eastern aren't the same as English and Continental, both different ways of Western knitting. Eastern knitting creates a stitch that is twisted, very firm, and does indeed look different on the needle; combination is just that - partly Eastern, partly Western way of knititng, but creates Western fabric. Annie Modesitt is very into it.


Jejune said...

Good to read your review of the book - as hubby doesn't knit, and my dog isn't a great fan of sweaters, I will give this one a miss... although that doggy bed does look pretty nice.

Fink Chocolate Cafe?! Whimper...
Don't think we have anything similar in Canberra. Curses!

Am going to try to find some SkullCandy earphones at Woden Plaza later on this week - there, I've been influenced by your Blog, and am even going to spend money! :)