Famed Rowan designer Sasha Kagan excels at creating knitwear patterned with repeating flower, leaf, and animal motifs. This book presents 20 of Kagan's "best-loved" designs that represent four decades of her work (1969-2009). The designs--the charts for the motifs--have all been published before, but the garment patterns have been updated and reworked in contemporary yarns.
Kagan aficionados will recognize the prowling cats and Scotty dogs from The Sasha Kagan Sweater Book; the spot tuxedo waistcoat seen in the "Cagney and Lacey" TV series; the acorn jacket commissioned by Hugh Ehrman (shown as the book's cover design) that also appeared in Big & Little Sweaters; the pansy chain from "Sasha's Flower Book" (published by Rowan); and the sweet William bouquets from Country Inspiration. Each pattern is preceded by a short paragraph stating where the design first appeared. Unfortunately, none of Kagan's flower designs based on roses are included.
Knitting history buffs will certainly appreciate the five background essays about both Kagan's development as a designer and the changing fashion milieu in which Kagan worked and flourished. The essays are: "A Stitch in Time" by Jill Piercy (all about Kagan); "A Quiet Revolution" by Sandy Black (about the birth of the designer knit); "The Welsh Connection" by Moira Vincentelli (about knitting as an integral part of the Welsh culture); "Yarn Matters" by Kate Buller (about Kagan's collaboration with Rowan yarns); and "A Vogue's Eye View" by Trisha Malcolm (about a knitting fashion magazine's view of Kagan).
The colorwork garment patterns call for Fair Isle or intarsia knitting; the basic techniques are briefly explained and illustrated at the back of the book. (There is an explanation of "woven intarsia" technique that was new to me.) The only things that I don't like about this book are: (1) the plain paper (not glossy paper) used for the color photographs, which washes them out; and (2) the grouping of the garment photographs in a gallery at the front of the book, so that the knitting patterns are illustrated only by line drawings and the motif charts presented in color.
I rate this book at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 stars. If you can't get enough of Sasha Kagan's designs, you might like another recent book, Knitwear, although I think that this book, Kagan's Classic Collection, is the better of the two collections.