Alterknits: Imaginative Projects and Cool Creativity Excercises: Imaginative Projects and Creativity Exercises Hardcover – 1 Sep 2005
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About the Author
Leigh Radford is the art director of Interweave Knits magazine and an award-winning graphic designer with over twenty years of experience in graphic design and corporate marketing.
Top customer reviews
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.
The title says that it includes 'Imaginative Projects & Creativity Exercises'. You have to look quite closely to see how imaginative some of the projects are, as (to my eye) at first glance, a lot of the patterns actually look quite traditional. The 'imaginative' part seems predominantly to be in introducing some slightly less common materials, such as beads, ribbons and yarn cut from t-shirts, or combining with other techniques, such as crochet or felting. The only projects that really appeal to me are the laptop & PDA cases, and the T-shirt rug.
The creativity exercises were likewise a little disappointing - well, at least a little thin on the ground. Most of them are suggestions for how to use your notebook; several of them 'work best in a group' - which I guess is fine, if you have a group of like-minded knitting friends who have the inclination to explore their craft a little, rather than just do it. I'm half & half about the exercises themselves (always wary of anything that smacks of pop psychology) - only a couple of them gave me any food for thought, but I guess different people will respond in different ways. It's a nice idea, though.
This sounds like a bit of a disparaging review, but let me reiterate that it is a sumptuous, aesthetically satisfying book. The projects aren't very 'me' but they might well be more 'you'. I said many of the patterns are quite traditional, but perhaps 'classic with a contemporary twist' would be more accurate. I guess the bottom line is that I love the idea of this book slightly more than the book itself. Do check out 'Alterknits Felt', though, as that has a far funkier edge. I also highly recommend 'Knitalong' by Larissa Brown, which is by the same publisher as 'Alterknits', presented just as well, but actually exceeded my expectations rather than vice versa.
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