Thursday, September 27, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Knitting for Him by Martin Storey & Wendy Baker

When Martin Storey and Wendy Baker were approached to design a book of men’s patterns for Rowan, they “realized that most men prefer garments that are comfortable, and prefer colors that are not too ‘gaudy’.” Yet the knitters making these sweaters want a project full of interesting stitches rather than miles of plain stockinette stitch in brown.

Storey and Baker found the middle ground in their new book Knitting for Him: 27 Classic Projects to Keep Him Warm – garments knitters are happy to undertake and ones the man in your life will be happy to wear. This volume contains have many of the “standard” garments knit for men: the argyle cardigan, the fisherman’s guernsey, the tennis sweater and the classic ribbed cardigan. But this isn’t Dick van Dyke’s argyle sweater – the silhouette is elongated and relaxed, featuring a single panel of argyle on each side of the front and a single diamond on each sleeve. Edgings are in moss stitch and, rather than the standard deep v-neck, the sweater buttons all the way up and has a small, stand-up collar.

Storey’s attention to detail is most clearly illustrated in the “Plain Guernsey.” At first glance, this appears to be a very basic stockinette sweater; however, on closer inspection the interesting construction elements become clear. The front and back are basic squares with a garter stitch edging on three sides. Shaping is provided for the armhole and neck by using traditional gussets and sleeves have ribbing at top and bottom. Knit in a luxurious blend of cashmere and wool, the result is a garment that is fun to knit and a pleasure to wear.

All the sweaters in Knitting for Him are designed to fit chest sizes 40” to 48” (102 – 122 cm) and there are projects here for ever skill level. Patterns are also included for hats, scarves, mitts and socks, ensuring the man in your life is covered head-to-toe in hand-knitting.

Read the review at Armchair Interviews.

ISBN10: 1561589926
ISBN13: 9781561589920

Trade Paperback
128 Pages
Publisher: The Taunton Press
Publication Date: September 25, 2007


Monday, September 24, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Romantic Hand Knits by Annie Modesitt

Harkening back to Hollywood’s golden era, Romantic Hand Knits: 26 flirtatious designs that flatter your figure evokes images of a time when sexy didn’t mean skimpy clothing. Figure-hugging silhouettes and feminine styles are sure to turn heads, while satisfying even the demanding fashionista.

Divided into three categories - Above the Waist; Below the Waist; and Accessories – Annie Modesitt’s designs cover all skill levels and incorporate many different knitting techniques. Beginning knitters are provided several simple patterns that incorporate interesting details; the “West Side Story” skirt with its flirty ruffled layers or the sultry “Some Like It Hot” elbow-length lace gloves. Experienced knitters have the option to explore new construction techniques in the stunning tulip skirt “An Affair to Remember” (featured on the book’s cover) or face the challenge of the complex “Notorious” corset sweater. Truly adventurous knitters may wish to try knitted millinery, a specialty of Modeseitt, either with the cloche hat “High Society” or the wide-brimmed “Gone with the Wind” (for more on knitted hats, check out Modesitt’s earlier book Knitting Millinery).

As well as covering all skill levels, Romantic Hand Knits covers a full spectrum of sizes. Finished chest measurements range from 26.5” (67.5 cm) to 57” (145 cm), with the average falling between 30 and 48” (76 to 122 cm).

While taking their style cues from vintage fashion, and the films after which they are named, what makes these designs resoundingly modern is Modesitt’s understanding of fit. Her designs create fabric which drapes to flatter a woman’s curves and uses details such as an interesting yoke or ruffle to draw the eye away from problem areas. Most importantly, she encourages knitters to pull out their tape measures and knit for the body they have, rather than the one of their dreams. As she states: “When we wear clothes that fit us, we look better…Clothes that skim the body, not hug it, tend to be the most flattering.”

Read the review at Armchair Interviews.

Free Pattern for Notorious can be found here.

ISBN10: 030734696X
ISBN13: 9780307346964

144 Pages
Publisher: Potter Craft
Publication Date: August 7, 2007
Author Website:


Sunday, September 09, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Hooked by Jane May

Clarence “Woody” Woods is the assistant dock master at the Trade Winds Yacht Club, an exclusive enclave that serves the elite of Miami – some with more money than sense. A good natured man, Woody dreams of fulfilling a promise made to his Grandfather and fulfilling his dream of sailing solo around the world on the boat he’s painstakingly restored.

All his dreams change when he sets eyes on Romanian Madalina Dragoi, the new waitress at the Club. It’s love at first sight for Woody but unfortunately Madalina is infatuated with Todd Hollingshead, a wealthy Club regular. All hope appears lost until Woody meets “The Prince,” an enchanted fish he catches during an afternoon excursion. In exchange for his freedom, The Prince promises to make all Woody’s dreams come true. Can a talking tuna help him win the girl of his dreams?

Jane May’s newest book, Hooked, is a 21st-century retelling of the classic Grimm’s fairytale, The Fisherman and His Wife. Woody will be granted all his wishes if he releases the talking tuna. At first uncertain about accepting, Woody’s initial wish is simply a date with Madalina but simplicity ends once she discovers The Prince’s abilities. Soon the wishes are spiraling out of control as Madalina demands a South Beach lifestyle.

It is when Madalina becomes a stereotypical greedy immigrant that May’s story turns from charming to disappointing. May eschews character development for caricature, keeping Madalina and Todd cardboard cutouts. Tension and drama could have been added to the fluffy plot with minimal effort, making this more than a forgettable read.

Hooked is perfect for an entertaining afternoon on the beach or when you’re in the mood for brain candy. Unfortunately, it will be quickly forgotten rather than being the morality tale the Brothers Grimm intended.

ISBN10: 075821362X
ISBN13: 9780758213624

Trade Paperback
320 Pages
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Publication Date: September 25, 2007


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Samedi the Deafness by Jesse Ball

On a Sunday morning in a Washington park, James Sim – loner and professional mnemonist (someone who can memorize large amounts of data) - is witness to the aftermath of a stabbing. With his dying breath, Thomas McHale tells James: “I was one of them, but I left, and they didn’t want me to leave. Have you seen the paper? Samedi? The conspirators? I was one of them…You must do it. You must expose them.” The “them” in question is a group of individuals who commit suicide in front of the White House, one each day, all bearing a message from Samedi of doom to come on the seventh day.

McHale leaves James with a few clues; however, he is loath to get involved until a chance encounter with a young woman spurs him to action. James sets off to follow the dead man’s clues and, in the process, ends up a prisoner in an asylum for liars. As he searches for truth amidst the lies, James struggles to find out who Samedi is and what will happen on the seventh day.

Samedi the Deafness
is the very strange novel from poet Jesse Ball. His language is terse yet lyrical, evoking a feeling that each word is carefully planned for and placed. “He looked at the napkin. He felt then that there were two of them in the room, he and the napkin, and that one of them would have to go. He crumpled up the napkin.” Even when dialogue is of little sense to the reader, each word is weighty:

“James drew from his pocket a book, drew from the book a pressed flower, and shook from the flower a bit of stone shaped like a crescent moon.

- Here it is, he said. I found it in the passage by the cellar.

They were both silent. Grieve took the stone.

- You mustn’t got there again, she said. You might meet me there, and then we would be through.

A dark name like a walking stick broken in anger.

- When I am out on the wind, said Grieve, I wear four arms and the trails of my dress consume me.

- Before you say any more, said James, say no more.

And so no more was said.”

As Ball states in an interview, “
is an investigation of lies and responsibility.” Despite this clear statement of intent, and the ease with which it reads, reality is quickly undermined in Samedi. This is a novel which will frustrate, confound and challenge readers, who will quickly feel as if they’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, into a David Lynch film where political commentary is provided by Hunter S. Thompson.

This is not a comfortable read, just when the reader is sure they’ve understood what is happening, Ball flips the tables. He delights in misdirection. Not only is the main female character named Grieve, but many of the maids are named Grieve as well. Nothing in the verisylum is simple: characters’ dialogue can’t be trusted as this is an asylum for liars; the house is a veritable labyrinth with absurd rules of conduct; and it is often unclear which residents are patients and which are the staff. At times the confusion is such that readers may wonder if James is a patient of the asylum and early events are purely his delusions. Lies form the foundation of Samedi the Deafness – but can truth be found in the midst of deceit?

The character of Samedi has direct ties to “Baron Samedi,” the all-knowing loa of death from the Voodoo tradition, known for disruption, obscenity, debauchery. It should come as no surprise that Ball has chosen to take that disruptive influence for his work which undermines the very concept of the novel.

His underlining message is vital; readers who choose to fall into his dream world will find unexpected and important rewards hidden within.

Read a condensed review at Armchair Interviews.

Read the full review at Curled Up with a Good Book.

ISBN10: 0307278859
ISBN13: 9780307278852

Trade Paperback
304 Pages
Publisher: Vintage Original
Publication Date: September 4, 2007
Author Website: