Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I have to admit...

...that I'm of two minds about Nicky Epstein's work. I've admired some of it (mostly older designs) and thought "WTF???" about a good bit of it. So I approach each new book of hers with skepticism. I really liked Knitting On the Edge, thought she plowed some of the same ground with Knitting Over the Edge, and by the time I saw the felted purse book (which title escapes me) I was thinking "dear lord, won't someone please take her needles away" -- I mean a felted swan bag? Does anyone over the age of six really want to sling a felted swan over her/his shoulder? And now we have "Knitting Beyond the Edge."

This book is organized into chapters dealing with collars and cuffs, necklines, corners and edges, closures, a few patterns (5) and brief instructions for various necklines, converting a pullover pattern into a cardigan pattern and some knitting basics.

Most of the collars in chapter one are to be knit as separate pieces, then (I'm assuming here) worn over a basic sweater. Not my cup of tea, but if you like that concept you may find something that pleases. The cuffs are cast on and knit bottom up and evolve into plain stockinette -- wherein you would continue on with a regular sleeve pattern, as no further shaping is given. It is assumed that you are knitting to a gauge of 18s/26rows and all the patterns she gives you reflect that gauge.

The neckline chapter covers some scoops, several v-necks, shawl collar, mandarin collar, a couple of plackets and plenty of turtlenecks. Most are meant to be sewn in to a finished edge. In all cases finishing instruction is very skimpy -- it appears to be assumed that you have your own methods for sewing trims to garment, fur or beads to trim, etc., etc.

Corners and edges does contain some worthwhile (to me) patterns for mitered lace trims, along with general instructions for mitering (i.e. turning a corner) in both stockinette and garter knitting. However, many of the trims are not mitered at all, but are simply instructions for knitting an ell-shaped piece. And the instructions for a ribbed edging for a rounded edge? Well, basically you're told to "pick up and knit" -- no special technique, no special instructions.

I like many of the cabled bands in the closures section, and some of the flowered bands would be cute for a little girl (again, though, the trims are knit separately and sewn on). One of these days I'll try knitted frog closures, and there's a couple here.

Patterns? Well, there are five, and two of them feature peplum waists. No, really. There's also a hooded shawl, a faux Fair Isle jacket, and a deep v-necked sleeveless sweater -- for the very toned I suppose, since the vee extends 13" down into a 20" (total) front piece, and is meant to be worn as the only layer over -- well, over skin I suppose, since the model wasn't wearing any undergarments.

I tend to buy knitting books first, then decide later if they're worth holding on to. If I had a tight budget for knitting books though, this is one I'd pass up. For me, the few techniques that I'd like to try just don't add up to the $29.95US price tag -- I'd have been better off waiting for it at our local library. As always, your mileage (and opinion) may vary.

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