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Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Review #7: Knitting the Perfect Fit by Melissa Leapman

Happy Friday :)

Usually Fridays are reserved for FO Friday posts but I have nothing new to show and I'm running late again so I've decided it's time for my seventh book review.

The intention is that once a month I'll pull out one of my knitting/crochet/fiber books and write up a review about it. The book(s) in question are books that I have purchased (or someone bought me for a Christmas and/or birthday present) for my own fibery library. I have been given no money or other non-monetary forms of payment for my book reviews. The reviews are based on my own experience(s) and opinion(s) and may not necessarily coincide with the thoughts and opinions of other fiber enthusiasts (though they certainly may). I may also throw in some other fun information, if I can find it or if I know of any. We'll see where we end up...

However, for this review, I'm borrowing a book (from Angela over at KnitLuck). So, in this case I'm borrowing a book from a friend's fibery library instead of using one of my own.

Today's book:

Photo from Amazon

The Basics
Author: Melissa Leapman
Publisher: Potter Craft (August 7, 2012)
Softcover: 160 pages
Language: English
Cover Price: $22.99 US/$26.99 CAN (though it's listed on Amazon right now for $16.59 US)

Melissa Leapman was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and plays piano...when she's not designing and knitting...and crocheting (yes, she designs for crochet, too, which means she probably knows how to do it). She's a widely-published designer (no, seriously, it seems like she's been published in everything)...she has fifteen pages of patterns listed on Ravelry, which is more than 700 patterns. No, I'm not kidding. Aside from designing patterns (and writing books), she does commission work for yarn companies looking to promote their new yarns each season, she's been on TV, and she has her own group on Ravelry. To date, she has designs published in 124 different publications (magazines, books, pamphlets, etc.).*

*Most of this information was taken from her bio page on Ravelry (found here).

I'm sure I've come across her patterns before but after looking through the list of books that she's published in, I don't believe I own a single one (though I know one is on my Amazon Wishlist). I do, however, own a couple of the magazines where she's had patterns published. I have to say, though, I'm pretty sure I've never knit one of her patterns. That probably says more about me than her, however.

In short, my knowledge of Melissa Leapman's patterns is pretty pathetic, to say the least.

Now, you may remember that last month, I reviewed Sally Melville's Knitting Pattern Essentials. I had many good things to say about it (go back and take a look). This book is along the same vein. The idea that we all have different body shapes is essential to making our handknits look good on us. Being *ahem* not tiny, I have no desire to wear a skintight, every-curve-hugging sweater. No one wants to see that and it won't look good on me. But, let's get back to the book...

The first chapter is your basic introduction: decreases and increases in knitting, common mistakes (like reading charts incorrectly), a glossary of common knitting symbols in charts, etc. She also goes a little bit into commercially produced sweaters and why the cost can vary so much, even though they're machine knit. It has to do with something she calls "fully fashioned" sweaters. Some sweaters are machine knit in big blocks, cut like you would cut fabric for sewing, and sewed together similarly. Others have actual sweater components (like decreasing, waist shaping, cabling, etc.) and although they may be sewn together on a machine, they take greater care in emphasizing the pseudo-handknit quality. So, those increases/decreases I talked about? That's where you get that fully fashioned aspect. There's a section on figuring out your own body shape. Now, Sally Melville goes into much greater detail about this (including how to take all the measurements) but the section that Melissa Leapman gives on body shape is still helpful, if a bit basic. If I were a new knitter wanting to try my hand at knitting a sweater, I'd be more inclined to look at this book because it's not as overwhelming. There are five basic people shapes: triangle, inverted triangle (upside down), round, rectangle, and hourglass. She has everything laid out in a chart to figure out what kind of sweater you want to knit (relative relationship between physical measurements, wardrobe tips, sweater dos, and sweater don'ts).

The second and third chapters go into those decreases and increases in a bit more detail and it gives you the opportunity to swatch for each of them. Each chapter is followed by sweater patterns that use the swatches to their advantage. Those patterns have a guide for which body type they would best suit.

The last chapter goes a step further and discusses how to take your body shape and use tricks of decreases, increases, and angles to compliment each body type (and patterns follow, of course).

I think if I were a new knitter, I would be more inclined to knit directly from a pattern of something I liked, regardless of whether I truly believed it would look good on me in the end. In fact, I'm pretty sure I did just that. My first sweater is folded up in a drawer right now. I have no need for it here in California. However, when we were living in Wisconsin, it was a big, boxy, bulky sweater. I loved it but I highly doubt that it looked "good" on me (of course, it was winter and we were all wearing so many layers that the idea of looking good was trumped by the need to be warm). But, if I wanted to make sure it was something that would look good on me, I would probably go to a book like this (since I'm a bit fashion stupid).

I think some knitters need a reminder of body shapes and types and this book gives you a good foundation for that. I'm kind of sad that I'm going to have to return it (there are a bunch of decreases/increases that I think I need to try - beyond the "normal" ones). Perhaps I'll buy my own copy :)

So, in sort: good book, worth the price, but I don't own it :(

1 comment:

  1. A flattering fit is always welcomed. I'm glad this is being addressed in today's books and workshops.