Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Review: History on Two Needles by Annie Modesitt

As readers of this wee bloggy might know, my daylight hours are spent as a museums professional; my degree in Art History & History is always pleased to be trotted out and put to some use.

So you can imagine that I was totally stoked when I first saw the new publication by Annie Modesitt and the wonderful Cooperative Press, History on Two Needles: exploring art history through modern handknits.

And then, even more so when I was approached to review it!

Full disclosure: I've been a fan of Modesitt's ever since my knitting days began, lo those seven odd years ago. Her Corset Tank Top is one of the first patterns I ever made twice, I loved it so.

So, herein lies my humble opinion on this accomplished designer's labour of love.

In the introduction, Modesitt reveals her long-time desire to create garments based on historical images, uniting her interests in history, art, and knitting.
Each of the seventeen patterns is accompanied by a handful of historic snippets, from the political and personal lives of storied royal and aristocratic figures to details about garment shaping, use, and manufacture.
With a Masters degree in Costume and Set Design, I can't think of who better to write a book on historical costuming and knitting patterns than Annie Modesitt!

One of the strengths of this book is in it's information regarding fashion history. Art's function in this book is as direct visual inspiration for the patterns, from the Ancient Snake Goddess with the impossibly corseted waist to the Woman in Red by Tissot (1864).
Modesitt takes you on a wonderful road from static garment images to vibrant (and in most cases) invitingly challenging knitwear, learning about historic fashion and garment design along the way.

Invitingly challening? Yes, indeed.

Check out what she does with novelty yarn in the beautiful Nottingham Hoyle Ruff.
I would wear this beauty in a heartbeat. I feel a bit shamefaced at any earlier anti-novelty yarn comments I may have made... That shows me!
Oh yes, and note in the same photo the beautiful colourwork hat, Admiral Anja. That's another on my list of faves.  I love the combination of texture and colour, and the fantastic functionality of an earflap hat.

Check out the Sutton Hoo Helm!  This is, in the designer's own words, "...a challenging knit, not to be taken on lightly!"

And I can't leave off this review without pointing out the very lovely and wearable Maiden Cape. In what I think is a stroke of total cleverness, this shoulder-hugging piece has built-in sleeves, to prevent it from slipping right off the wearer.
Clever and pretty!

So here's The Low Down
You will want to buy this book because:
-it has tidbits of costume-history, guiding its very interesting design
-you can purchase patterns individually, but really, $16.95 for all seventeen patterns? That's a steal!
(to receive both the print and digital copies, it's $26.95 + shipping)
-it has a vast amount of information for the knitter on how to read patterns
-it contains challenging knits, interesting techniques, and extremely unique patterns
-it contains a vast array of techniques and skills; from embroidery, beading, felting, bobbles, lace, zippers, colourwork (the list really does go on!

The folks at Cooperative Press have been kind enough to offer a giveaway of the digital copy of the book.
Comment on this post to enter: just please make sure to let me know your Ravelry ID, and which of the seventeen patterns from History on Two Needles would be your first to knit!
The giveaway will remain open until Thursday, December 20th.
The winner will be drawn with a Random Number Generator, and announced on the 21st.
Good luck!


piggie1230 said...

How awesome! I the Pembroke Jacket is probably my favorite. My rav id is Piggie1230

Thanks for the lovely giveaway

Elo said...

I would like to knit the Sutton Hoo Helm for my DH. Rav id dingledaisy
Thanks for the giveaway.

Anonymous said...

Wow! As a fellow history nerd, I'm so excited by this book. I love the Gloriana Jacket- it just looks so modern and wearable, yet it completely fits the historical context! I'm gnomesbeatfaeries on ravelry.

Sheila said...

I love the Pembroke jacket.

SheilaOKeefe on Rav

Natalie Servant said...

I like lots of the patterns, but I really like the Black Prince Hood & I hope it's something my kids would like to dress up in.

Anonymous said...

I just love the idea of the maiden cape! you could wear it to the office but also to a renaissance fair, which is an incredible feat of versatility. LollyDesigns on ravelry :)

Michelle said...

I really like the Admiral Anja Hat! The Lady Margaret Scarf pattern is also quite creative; all of the patterns are unique! My ravID is mikao.

Vilja said...

I like the Gloriana Jacket - I'm lubitel on ravelry.

meredith MC said...

It looks like I picked a good day to resume my knit-blog reading after months of being absorbed by my new job. I love the colorwork hat you profile- it is perfect for the icy day we're having here. My rav ID is mersknits. Thanks for the heads up on this book. I'll wait til after you announce you winner (with fingers crossed) until I buy a copy.

Nancy said...

What a great sounding book. I would probably knit a number of patterns, but start with the Minoan Surplice. Raverly ID: imagizt

ruthmcbratney said...

What an amazing book. The Maiden Cape would definitely be my first knit from this book. I'm starting to become more confident in lace knitting, and this could be a wonderful challenge. Thanks for making me aware of this combination of history and knitting. Can't get better than that! ruthmcbratney

Unknown said...

I would definitely start with the Admiral Anja hat. I love the colorwork and sturdy ear flaps. My ravID is ferventknitter