Classic Knits for Real Women Review
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The first thing I have to say about Classic Knits for Real Women is that it contains many lovely, unfussy designs. Truly classic styles, but not stodgy—something like if Talbots had a knitting cookbook. The purpose of the book, as stated in the introduction, is to “offer a range of great designs for women of all ages, in sizes that start at size 12.” The photography is excellent, and the authors chose actual women to model the stuff, not the stick-like hangers posing as women that you see in many books.

The patterns are divided into three main sections by color: cool colors, natural colors, and rich colors. The cool section includes some gorgeous designs—like the Fringe-Trim Coat, done in a chunky merino, and the enduring favorite Chanel-style jacket in a hounds tooth check. My favorite in the cool section is the navy v-neck sweater with a ruffled neck and cuffs. In the natural color section, the authors focus on creams and beige and earth tones. The sweaters are clean and classy, and this section even includes a crochet bag and scarf. Unfortunately, it also includes a hideous fringed poncho—but hey, you can’t have everything. The last section of rich colors is what it says, filled with more classic styles in rich purple, burgundy, and red—except for the strange loopy scarf, hat, and purse set in a pale mauve, which doesn’t really fit in the book at all.

Many of the patterns include instructions to tailor the garment to suite the wearer’s particular taste and lifestyle. For example, the Beaded Jacket and Textured Jacket can be made either way, and the Bobble-Trim Sweater would look just as nice (or better) without the bobbles. The patterns are well written with detailed schemas and explicit instructions and charts for the lace or bead instructions. The patterns generally appear to be easily adaptable.

I have two small complaints about book. I’m not sure who these “real” women are supposed to be, but the bust sizes listed for the sweaters are 36-46 inches. The authors say that the sizes are from 12 in the introduction, or 14 to 24 on the back cover, but when I look at the sizes on standard garment charts, the 46-inch bust really only goes up to a size 16 or maybe 18, depending on who is doing the sizing—and I know from personal experience as a busty gal that this is generally true. However, the schemas do show the finished garment sizes, and they indicate a pretty fair amount of ease in some of the patterns. For example the size 46 of the Cable-Trim Jacket has a finished chest of 52 inches. Still, I don’t think this is truly a “plus-sized” pattern book—although it does offer some larger sizes that you can’t find in many of the usual fashion patterns.

My second complaint isn’t so much a complaint as an observation: the patterns use all Rowan and Jaeger yarns, which are not cheap. Apparently the “real women” also have really big yarn budgets. I looked around on the Web to find substitutions, and some of the yarns selected are challenging to substitute, so if you’re looking for something special from this book, expect to pay. That said, the yarns they use are gorgeous and of excellent quality—so if you’re going to invest all your time in knitting the patterns, it’s not a bad thing to invest in good materials, too.

In summary: this is a beautiful book, well thought out and executed. However, in my opinion, it really doesn’t cover much in the way of plus sizes.

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