Book review – Knitting Architecture

Rest and be thankful – William Wordsworth

Over the last week or so I’ve been struggling with a cold which has now morphed into a slight fever flu type thing. I was told to take it easy for a few days, which I did, sort of. Never could do exactly as I was told. I think the turning point was vacuuming whilst dancing to Status Quo. The virus was obviously not a fan and decided to put a stop to the fun. It was probably the guitar rift at the end that did it!

So, I’ve been listening to this

Inferno - by Dan Brown
Inferno – by Dan Brown

whilst spending time on sleeve island. Somehow I managed to knit two cardigans for gifts and left all the sleeves till last – I wonder why. No, really I do because now I have four to knit, one after the other. I love knitting, but really, four sleeves in a row, what was I thinking.

Luckily I recently bought a copy of Knitting Architecture – 20 patterns exploring form, function and detail – by Tanis Gray which has nicely taken my mind off sleeves for a while along with Dan Brown’s Inferno (great book by the way) and so I thought I’d put in a little book review.

Knitting Architecture is actually a compilation of patterns from various well loved designers, Amy Christoffers, Grace Anna Farrow, Kirsten Kapur and Suvi Simola to name just a few and includes patterns where architecture has been the inspiration for the designs.

Knitting Architecture
Knitting Architecture

It is a good sized book – 159 pages, with three chapters: Chaper 1- Form follows function, Chapter 2 – The Details and Chapter 3 – The Materials.

All the designs are well thought out and none are ‘fillers’ that you sometimes feel they put into books to bump up the pattern numbers. Most are patterns for sweaters but there are also patterns for a bag, hat, mittens and a shawl if sweater knitting is not your thing or you want a quicker project.

There is a good section at the back for abbreviations and techniques which includes seven different types of cast on along with the usual short rows, increases etc. The Sources for yarn section obviously lists mainly suppliers and yarns from the U.S. but most of us are used to that by now and substitution is not always the problem it used to be. There is also a good section on all the designers that have contributed patterns for the book. I do feel that the title should have an ‘et al’ in it, but that’s just a minor point.

So, the patterns. I can’t show you them all but I would like to give you a look at three of my favourites. I’ve chosen three very different projects from the book so you can see the variety of patterns.

Beaux Arts Cardigan - by Cecily Glowik MacDonald
Beaux Arts Cardigan – by Cecily Glowik MacDonald

First up is the Beaux Arts Cardigan by Cecily Glowik MacDonald. This is just what we have come to expect from Cecily.  A stylish, timeless knit with interesting details that would keep you entertained whilst knitting it and be wearable for years. I really like this cardigan. For me though, I would probably knit it in a smaller gauge than the 15 sts to 4 inch it is written for, but that’s just my preference for finer yarns.

Another pattern I really like is the Wrought Iron Tote by Angela Hahn.

Wrought Iron Bag - by Angela Hahn
Wrought Iron Tote – by Angela Hahn

The mitred detail on the base of the bag is both surprising and pleasing. A small detail like this can really lift something out of the ordinary for me and the patterning is simple but extremely effective.  There are instructions for lining the bag too.

My final choice is the Hotel Tassel Wrap by Åsa Tricosa.

Hotel Tassel Wrap - by Åsa Tricosa
Hotel Tassel Wrap – by Åsa Tricosa

This surprised me. On my first look through the book I overlooked this piece. I love wraps and shawls but very rarely knit them as I don’t wear them, so paid it little attention. But, on closer inspection, this is such a clever piece it may even find its’ way onto my queue. It has a very clever use of a mesh pattern which is intersected by panels of garter stitch that flow up the piece.  Between these is an unusual cable that I don’t think I’ve seen before. Looking at it I am certain you would not execute this without a cable needle and at the point of each intersection the cable requires two cable needles to work all the stitches. A little complicated perhaps but well worth it.

Conclusion: Well. There are always going to be patterns in a book which you don’t like or are never going to knit.  I tend to feel that if there are at least three patterns I love, well, then I’ve had my monies worth.  Out of the 20 patterns, there are perhaps two which I don’t really like (not telling which ones though) and maybe another three or four which I like, but would never knit. That leaves 14 or 15 viable patterns for me which is well within my criteria for money well spent.  The patterns a varied and well thought out and there is something for every taste. As I said before, I think it would be nice for there to be a nod to that fact that the pieces are from various designers somewhere on the cover of the book but that’s just a minor quibble.

All in all, I’m glad that I have this on my shelf.

Another purchase I made recently was a set of these,

Knitted Basket
Knitted Basket

How could I not.  It actually took some time to track these down as my local store had them displayed near the bathroom section. Eh? If you are in the UK you can find them here.


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