Run Away With These
Upon first glance, the cover looked disconcerting. The perfection of the model's skin, her clear, glassy eyes, perfectly painted lips, and feathered hat, gave the impression of a store mannequin. Additionally, the dress––initially not impressive––didn't help. I thought, uh oh. I was relived when I turned the book over, and saw ten beautiful garmets on young women a bit more human. Whew, that's better.
Runway Knits, By Berta Karapetyan (Potter Craft, New York $32.50US) is a collection of knits, that combines New York style, with European sophistication. The author's claim of inspiration taken from the fashion runways is apparent, but there is nothing in this book that is frivolous or strange––like Aran knitted shorts in bulky yarn. Berta, instead references the designers she was blessed to work for as a technical knitwear developer: Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Club Monaco, among others. The work showcases her signature detailing, with a large dose of creativity thrown in. This is a knitting book you can literally build your wardrobe around. It's division into four sections, cover every aspect of your personality, or lifestyle. In other words, if you made one garment from each section, your clothing needs would be covered from day to evening. The photographs are clear and bright, and the and the classic styling shows off the knits to their advantage, without the use of weird lighting and action poses. The book's charm, is in its distinctly euro feel. Incidentally, my impression of the cover changed, when I saw this little black dress in the book––it and the model, are beautiful.
Berta's pattern instructions and schematics are proof of her technical mastery. She knows her construction methods can be unconventional, so you're given row by row directions, including the number of stitches. What you're not given are charts, even for lace patterns; there are only two charted outfits in the book. Now, don't become perplexed or huffy; the reasoning is very clear. In sweaters that have unique shaping or proceed in a peculiar direction, a chart isn't helpful. Berta's instructions are so precise, if you follow them exactly, you will obtain the intended result. That said, this is not lazy time knitting; these garments are designed to be interesting to knit and beautiful to wear––what more could you want?
Perhaps for them to be larger. And cheaper. Sizing is small––41" maximum, including ease for most garments. Its' a shame too, for many of the silhouettes are figure flattering. The cost to knit, speaks investment––possibly a factor in the sizing. Again, as a credit to Berta's considerateness, she includes a yarn substitution list in the back of the book. Of course, you won't get the same effect––Karabella Yarns are fantastic––but if you chose wisely, you can sport some fabulous outfits.
And trust me, there isn't a bad one in the bunch, for all skill levels, a common complaint with knitting books. Beginners, without giving anything away, the opening project is a shawl using an ingenuous combination of yarn overs, drop stitches, and knit stitches, giving the effect of a plaid-type woven. It looks major, but you can do this.
So, if your book budget is limited, Runway Knits is worth it for the sheer number of looks alone––thirty, for all seasons. That should last you quite a while.