Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars A subtle journey, 13 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: AlterKnits: Imaginative Projects and Creativity Exercises (Hardcover)
I quite like this book. Although it doesn't quite achieve the level of originality one might expect from a book that aims to ignite the imagination and inspire creativity, it is nonetheless a lovely journey. The author states at the start that she wanted to inject creativity into her work without making it unrecognisable, and in my view she has done so. It is important to bear in mind both the age of the book (printed in 2005) and the age of the author (or at least her generation). Lace up gloves and bags made from felted jumpers are these days quite familiar, but they are still a twist compared to traditional methods. It is for this reason that I have called my review "a subtle journey", because it is a gentle twist on the traditional, and not a jarring yank into the bizarre.

Where the author succeeds, in my view, is in tweaking ideas to create something a little more interesting, while still being useful and wearable. A good example of this is the lace up scarf, shawl and wrap. This consists of two pieces of knitting which can be worn separately as a scarf and a wrap, or laced together to form a larger shawl. What appeals to me about this *is* its subtlety. The combined item still looks cohesive and timeless.

What lets this book down, is its now-dated use of mixed font sizes, and slightly over-stretched explanations of how the author arrived at her design. She rather overplays her excitement and ingenuity at creating items that these days are not really that radical. She makes up for it in part with some lovely inspirational quotes, most of which I have not seen before, and in making the attached notebook generic enough to be useful for designing your own modifications without slavishly following the creativity exercises. (I tend not to use notebooks with "fill in the blanks" exercises printed in them.)

A word about the creativity exercises - I agree with another of the reviewers that the exercises are a bit bland. The "invite three people living or dead to your dream knitting party" is ancient. But, I can imagine these activities being used to shake up a traditional knitting group that was truly stuck in a rut. Some people really are very traditional. *Some* people *gasp* may not even have heard of Ravelry! (And its wealth of knitters who will fearlessly modify patterns and share their creativity and their notes.) It is these people who would benefit from the exercises in this book.

In summary, I do like this book. I like a lot of the patterns, and although they are not jaw-droppingly original, they are tasteful (my taste, anyway). I see the narrative of the book as a story about the author's own journey, and as such it is a lovely description of how she opened up her eyes to being more creative in her work. If you are looking for avant-garde, truly original ideas then this is not the book for you. Similarly if you are very creative and stuck in a rut, the exercises here probably won't help you get your spark back. But if you are looking for some patterns you might actually make and wear, or you want to inject a bit of playfulness into your standard pattern-following knitting group, then give this a try.
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Location: London, UK

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