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April 08, 2009

Book Review: Mother-Daugther Knits by Sally Melville

Mother-Daughter Knits: 30 Designs to Flatter and Fit by Sally Melville

Mother-Daughter Knits

[A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review].

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Hey! A book review that actually has something to do with knitting!

This book is a joint project of Sally Melville and her daughter, Caddy Melville Ledbetter.  The title captures the two themes of the book.  First, it is written with both older (mother) and younger (daughter) knitters in mind.  However, I think focus on the mother-daughter aspect overshadows the other theme, which for me is one of the better features of this book--a detailed discussion of the fit and style of knitted garments. Chapter One, Knit to Flatter & Fit, provides a nice basic introduction to the principles of sweater styling and addresses the mystery of the ages: Why do we knit sweaters we never wear? This topic has probably been covered in other knitting books, maybe in other books that I own, but I haven't read all the knitting books that I own any more than I have knit all the yarn that I own.  [Any recommendations for other books that go into these topics in more detail?]

Thirty patterns are presented with the design duty is more or less equally shared between Sally and Caddy. The patterns come in a range of difficulty with most in the middle range and a handful each of beginner and experienced designs. There are pattens for small accessories like headbands, cuffs, and spats/legwarmers (!), as well as for some more substantial garments like sweaters, a coat, and even a couple of skirts. Not all the designs are hits for me (spats?), but there are some definite 'yeses' in the bunch including a shirt-style cardigan and a shaped hoodie.

Keeping with the inter-generational theme, there is a mixture of younger and more mature models (including Sally and Caddy), which was nice to see. However, all these models (with the exception of Sally and Caddy) still represented only one body type. It would have been helpful, in a book addressing fit, to see at least a couple of the garments reworked for a few different body shapes in order to illustrate the principles discussed in Chapter One.

At the back of the book there is a section of techniques and abbreviations that could have benefited from a couple figures. There are also charts for CYCA yarn weights, standard size, and needle (US and mm) to hook size comparison--all nice to have in one place. 

I like this book for the range of pattern difficulty and variety of designs; knitters of varying skill and experience could all find something to like here. What I like even more is the attention to the topic of fit and the friendly and accessible discussion about making changes to knitting patterns so that we will wear the sweaters we have created.  More, more!

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