Runway Knits by Berta Karapetyan is a gorgeous book with gorgeous patterns in it. However, there are two important things a knitter should know before reading it:
1. None of the patterns are sized above a 42″ bust, and in many cases stop at a 40″ bust (for the finished garment, not for the body wearing it).
2. All of the patterns call for Karabella yarns.
All right, so the second thing isn’t quite so bad, particularly since I think most knitters are used to making substitutions anyhow when they choose yarn for a project, but the first thing is non-negligible. For goodness sakes, if a pattern book is only going to write up to 42″, then I would at least hope they would do that consistently. Many of these patterns stop sooner than that, putting me (a dress-size 10 with broad shoulders) in the largest size category in several cases. That just ain’t right, y’all, not when industry standard publications like Interweave Knits accommodate up to 50″ busts on a regular basis. So, I suppose this book is “runway” ready in more ways than one.
And really, this is absolutely a crying shame, because this book contains 30 beautiful patterns. There are very few things in here that I would not knit – even the knitted dresses – and they rely for the most part on sport-weight, DK-weight, and worsted-weight yarns that are used to their advantage in fitted, modern designs. I’ll include some pictures here from my own camera – please excuse this low-tech process ;)
The majority of pieces in this collection are sweaters – of 30 patterns, I believe there are 2 dresses, 2 scarves and hats, and 2 shawls, so that makes it about 2/3 sweaters, and I’ll admit this is just fine with me since I love sweaters and they are my default project. But these are not basic crewnecks or floppy cardigans. One of my first thoughts as I flipped through the book the first time was, “Clearly I have NOT been knitting enough shrugs. Get me yarn and needles, stat! I must knit these!” There are at least four “shrugs” in this collection, and we’re not talking about just basic shoulder-covers, either. The Seashell Shrug above left is one example, and there’s another called Springtime in Paris which fully covers the arms, shoulders, and back, and folds over in front in a lovely lapel collar. These are stylish sweaters that are made for comfort as well, without the fuss of buttonbands or zippers. In fact, most of the patterns are free of buttons or zippers, so most of the finishing work here involves seaming and blocking and that’s it.
The shawl, above right, is one of the few bulky-weight patterns in the book and I have to say that the more I look at it the more I love it. I did not think bulky-weight yarn could do that, crossing that unlikely divide between a shawl you throw over the edge of the couch and the quick cover-up you bring along to go out for dinner. I’m imagining it in a deep cranberry red or pale grey and thinking glamorous thoughts.
Something else that I appreciate a great deal in these designs is the way they use all-over stitch patterns, including cables and different textures. One of the hesitations I have with the patterns in Cables Untangled is that in many of the designs in that book, the all-over cable patterns are so arresting that they overwhelm the garments themselves. Here, though, the patterns are more muted and work with the shape and style of the garments. I think the Roman Candle turtleneck and Ultraviolet V-neck, above, are two good examples of this. The Roman Candle is another pattern that I keep looking back at and wondering if I could make with some of the yarn in my stash. And the miniature cables in the V-Neck would be challenging without adding significant bulk to the finished sweater.
I did mention that there are knitted dresses in this book – indeed, more than one – and the design on the cover is one of them. This “Little Black Dress”, dare I say it, is something I would be willing to make. It includes dart shaping in the front and back to shape the waist, and uses lace on the sleeves and hem which increase the challenge while still allowing you to retreat to the safety of stockinette in the body. (Am I the only one who finds stockinette reassuring and relaxing? Bueller?) This is a much nicer knitted dress than, say, the pilly red acrylic mini-dress I saw someone walking down the street in a few weeks ago. (Yep. And it had pink strawberries knitted into an applique.)
This turtleneck is the last one I wanted to mention. It’s one of the obvious “beginner” type of projects contained in the book. This Marbled Top uses aran-weight yarn and would be appropriate for substituting either solid or variegated yarn, and uses picot edging to accent the sleeves and body. What a great way to learn picot edging and add flair to what would otherwise be a pretty simple sweater.
On a technical note, all of the patterns are worked flat on two needles and then seamed later. This is also a book that will depend on careful swatching. Also, a few patterns rely on colours that are too bright for my taste. Overall, I congratulate the designer on the beautiful patterns – but please, more sizes next time?
Next week I will have a look at a very different book – Knits Three Ways by Melissa Matthay. And Clarabelle has asked me 5 questions which, by the laws of the blogosphere and memes, I must answer. I’ll try to get on that for the next post!