AlterKnits Review
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When I first heard about this book, I couldn’t wait to check it out. It promised innovative knit patterns using creative techniques and unusual materials. Since I’ve been known to knit with things like tulle cut from the hem of wedding dresses or strips of felt rescued from the remnant bin—and anything else that could possibly be knittable—it seemed like just the book for me.

Radford, art director for Interweave Knits magazine, fills her book with a number of unexpected designs and a-typical materials. Some designs use the yarn you can find at your local yarn shop. Others use anything from crepe paper to leather to nylon thread. And some designs mix the two—like a sheer mohair scarf with a fabric lining or a knit tank with sewn-on fabric ruffles.

Mixed throughout this beautifully-designed book are inspiring quotes and AlterExercises, activities and ideas that are designed to encourage knitters to think outside the knitting box. There’s also an AlterKnits notebook (a small book of graph paper) for taking notes and sketching designs.

In some cases, the designs found in the book are intriguing. I was immediately struck by the necklace strung with small squares knit with silver wire. There’s also a beautiful cabled shawl and a rug made out of T-shirt strips. And there are a couple of projects that require no knitting at all—just some hand-wash-only sweaters picked up at a thrift store. For the most part, however, the designs are impractical—like the seat cushion pattern that comes in just one size (designed to fit a chair that the author bought at a thrift store) or the knit screen door (which, my husband will tell you, has holes big enough for the flies to get through). And many of the designs, though creative and interesting to look at, just aren’t anything that I can see many people making or wearing (like the crepe paper crown, or the patchwork-y sweater with fabric strips hanging off the sleeves).

While I was excited about this book’s possibilities, I was disappointed with the finished product. Though there are a number of good patterns in the book, it’s not overflowing with projects that are both useable and truly creative. In the end, AlterKnits is a great book to look through to inspire your own creativity, but it’s not a must-have.

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