Light & Layered Knits.
By Vicki Square.
Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press. 160 pages.
(This review is based on the digital copy and contains comments specific to using that format. I cannot speak to the physical attributes of the cover or quality of the print versions.)
Light & Layered Knits by Vicki Square is a welcome addition to warm weather knits patterns. These nineteen garments are designed to be worn over a light weight turtleneck or tank and leggings, or a skirt in cooler weather; and perhaps a slip or camisole and flowing skirt in summer. So, they can go from spring to fall in most climates. Many of these patterns are written for plant based fibers, such as bamboo which are more breathable than wool.
The layout for the e-book is well planned. All of the photographs are high definition and each illustration can be increased to full size with a tap of the screen. The author’s goal for this collection is to create a number of knitted garments that can be worn in different ways to enhance and expand your wardrobe while showcasing the skill and loving attention that goes into creating an outstanding knitted garment. And in this, she has succeeded.
When I consider whether to purchase a book instead of an individual pattern, I consider the retail cost over the cost of purchasing individual patterns. Most books are a bargain over buying patterns individually. The trick is, are there enough pieces between the covers that you would actually knit to make it worth the cost. At the original retail price of $24.95, you would want to love at least four of the garments enough to want to knit them. In my case there are six patterns that I would definitely like to knit.
Bear in mind your skill level, personal style and body type, too. Do you love the design? Would you enjoy knitting it? Is it within your skill level? And would you actually wear it? Light & Layered Knits is a book mainly for the intermediate or advanced knitter. Although there are a few pieces that are straight stockinette, you will need to have even tension all the way through to have your garment come out looking like the photo.
My favorites were: Tuscany Lace Tunic, Tailored Pleats, Kaleidoscope, Kathmandu, Sport Zip, and Celtic Queen
Tuscany Lace Tunic is the cover photo and I fell in love with it right away. The little striped yoke has just enough contrast with the big lace diamonds in the body to showcase the lace and the tent shape of the body. I also like the fact that the lace pattern is not complicated by additional increases to create the flared shape. The shape is created by switching between three needle sizes to make the skirt gradually get wider at the bottom. The pattern includes written and charted instructions.
This loose fitting style has been called a tent, a trapeze, and a swing style depending on the whim of the fashionistas of the moment. It’s a relaxed fit that can also be elegant, with the right amount of fit and flare. This piece is elegant enough to go anywhere, and you would want to show it off after all that lace knitting.
Pros: The two color striped yoke adds the stability needed to support the fullness and weight of the swing style body. The horizontal keyhole neckline is a clever detail that needs no extra short rows. It’s a good design choice because it flatters the bust line without being too revealing. It’s an elegant interpretation of a style that will look good on most women at any age.
Cons: You need to be an experienced lace knitter. These large squares are deceptively difficult to read. It would have been better to have top down instructions for the body, making it easier to adjust the length. With this method, even if the body stretches with wear, the extra length could be ripped back.
Tailored Pleats, its shimmering gold silk tape yarn, waist shaping, and gored pleats gives a dressy look to a top that might otherwise look like a knitted sweatshirt. The little rolled collar frames the face the same way a thrown back hood might, but without the weight and added heat of a hood on a hot day. Those gored pleats on the bottom emphasis the waist and create a beautiful line over the hips.
Pros: It’s beautifully balanced lines and fine details give it a couture look.
Cons: It’s all stockinette, so you’ll want to keep your stitches even all the way through. It looks like there is excess fabric under the arms. You will need to double check the shoulder width and possibly make the armholes smaller, so it fits over the bust, but does not add bulk in the under arms. The fit on this pattern is not for beginners.
Kaleidoscope is a partially open front cardigan with three buttons at the deep u-neckline. The ribbed collar wrapping around the upper half of the neck lies flat, as a neck ribbing would, but stops short at the collarbone. The color choice of the deep aquamarine collar and trim accenting the body in variegated blues makes this a cardigan that can be worn over neutrals or paired with any number of different colors as the perfect covering to give a polished look to a simple outfit.
The three-button front is placed exactly where it should be to continue a smooth line down the front. It stays closed over the bust, where it should be. No need to clutch the front as you are walking. The fit is classic, yet the styling details make it a signature piece.
Pros: The classic fit with a little extra ease makes this a garment that is flattering to most figures and would be comfortable to wear in warmer weather.
Cons: The slipstitch texture does not photograph well in the hand painted yarn. I would like to see this piece in a solid or semi-solid photo. Perhaps a close up of a swatch would have helped. No matter, this cardigan would look fabulous in many different types of yarn.
Kathmandu – I was on the fence with this one. I love the princess line, the scoop neck and the embroidered accents. But the peplum cuts across the body at just the place where the hips start to get wider creating an illusion of wider hips, which would not work for most women. It might have worked better to show the garment on a more petite model. The reason I still include it in my favorites is that the waistline is the easiest place to adjust a garment and I could easily adapt the pattern for my own figure.
Pros: This little top has just the right amount of fit to look right for work or play. The princess line allows it to skim the body without clinging, which is a plus in warm weather. It’s also lightweight enough to be worn with a little jacket in an air conditioned office.
Cons: The waistline balance is off. It would be better if the waistline were lower, so the peplum disguised the hips rather than accented them.
Sport Zip: This is the perfect jacket for active wear. It takes the look of a workout jacket and translates it into a smart sporty jacket that could be worn with dress pants, a slim skirt, or a sheath dress. The exposed zipper and tab neck closure are nice accents. I can imagine this jacket with one of the new sequined zippers over a little black dress for a dressier look.
Pros: This jacket would be easy to pair with other knit pieces and mix and match with different outfits. It could be a go-to piece for days when you need a light jacket.
Cons: Best for advanced knitters.
Celtic Queen: This is one of the easier patterns in the book and would be a good first project for cables. Placing the cables on the cap sleeves makes them stand out just enough to hold their shape. It’s simple and easy to wear. And it lends itself well to personalizing with different yarns and colors.
The ribbed sides pull it in to give a fitted look without having to put in negative easy, a plus if you plan to wear it in warm weather.
Pros: The simple pullover style can be worn with a jacket and the cap sleeves offer a little surprise when you take it off!
Cons: Nary a one!
Overview: There are lots of different styles and fits in this book, so it will have something for everybody. Garment construction ranges from simple sleeveless tops to complex garments that require stitching a number of pieces together. Intermediate and advanced knitters will enjoy this pattern book. Most of the designs are quite wearable and could be adapted for day or eveningwear, depending on yarn choice. Overall the design and fit work well together and have a tailored or couture look. My favorites were all classic lines with a unique accent. I didn’t go for the pullovers with crew necks and box sleeves, but I think they would be perfect for the woman who likes a tee and wants the same fit in something with a smart look. There are a few designs that just didn’t work for me. I found the garments with diagonal styling missed the mark. I love a diagonal line when it slenderizes the body, but some of the diagonal neck and hemlines didn’t go far enough. For example, Lace Finery has a diagonal neckline with a wide ribbed flat collar on one side. It’s more of a scoop neck with a notch cut out of it. It would have been better to bring the collar all the way around creating a v-shape that enhanced the diagonal line and move the V slightly inwards towards the bust. Diagonal lines need to be long and end at a point on the body that you would want to accent, like the waist. The diagonal line here ends about mid-level with the deltoid, not a particularly interesting part of the female anatomy.
I have the digital edition, so I can’t speak to the binding, paper, or font choices. However, I think it’s important to consider digital editions in reviews. This edition is outstanding. The print is easy to read, the layouts fit the tablet format well and there is the added advantage of being able to zoom in on the photos. The descriptions, instructions, and diagrams all seem to be clearly written and I have not seen any published errata for this book.
Rating: I would rate this book a 9 out of 10. If you are an intermediate or advanced knitter, it’s a buy. It’s been out for a while, but the designs still have a fresh look and you won’t find them dated.
September 10, 2016