The book Boutique Knits written by Laura Irwin and published in 2008 by Interweave Press starts off by saying that a background in crafting, being comfortable improvising and really loving details is important to appreciating this book. The designs are quirky and fashion forward. The problem of course is that if you are too fashion forward and if it takes awhile to complete something, that something may be out of date before you complete it and that would be very disappointing to say the least. This books seems to allow the knitter to experiment with some very fun fashion ideas and the patterns are not so complicated that they cannot be completed in a reasonable period of time. In fact, with a little improvisation you could alter some of the patterns after the fact to keep them from being dated, since a lot of the fashion “trendiness” is in embellishments. If the embellishments were removed and updated the knitted item could be given new life.
When I look at a knitting book to purchase I look at a more than a few things, one of the first things I look at is whether I like the items that are featured. For example, if the book features a variety of items such as sweaters, scarves, and purses, I have to like at least half of those pictured or absolutely love more than one of them. Another thing I look for is whether the instructions, if appropriate, have charts or just written instructions for pattern stitches. One more facet that I pay attention to is whether the abbreviations used are defined in the book, some abbreviations are so common they do not need to be, but even so it is nice to have all of the information needed in one place. A final element that is important to me is to read through at least one of the patterns in the book and make sure it makes sense to me, if the designer’s pattern is frustrating before I even begin, it will make me pause.
Irwin’s book passes all of my criteria, there are more than half of the patterns I really like especially the Psuedo Shibori Scarf, the Raglan Wrap, and the Silky Wool Vest. The instructions for the patterns include charts where appropriate, there is a good glossary an techniques used section, and the patterns are clear (and though I’ve not knit any of the items seem correct-not always a given-be sure to check the publisher’s site for any corrections). The book offers a fresh take on old standby’s without succumbing to the ridiculous.