I'll admit I'm relatively uneducated about British Knitting. I know the names, but I don't know much about what distinguishes different designers or what's particular about their approaches to design (well, other than Kaffe Fassett and Debbie Bliss, anyway).
But when I looked through the book Vintage Knits, full of patterns from the Rowan archives, there was one designer I knew I wanted to see more from : Kim Hargreaves. Most of my favorites from the book were hers, so I knew she was someone I wanted to get to know better. Thanks tot he book Kim Hargreaves Vintage Designs to Knit: 25 Timeless Patterns for Women and Men from the Rowan Collection (edited by Kate Butler) I and other knitters around the world can get a closer look at this iconic British designer.
About the Book
- Pages: 136
- Format: paperback with flaps
- Number of patterns: 25
- Skill level: none given, but range from advanced beginner to intermediate
- Sizing: most garments have either three or five sizes but a couple are sized for both men and women or both women and children
- Illustrations: a mix of color and black and white photographs (and not all of them allow for seeing the garments very clearly)
- Knitting lessons: none, but there are tips interspersed in the patterns and a section on substituting yarns
- Publication date: December 2011
It would be wrong to say that all of Hargreaves' patterns look the same because that makes them sound boring, but there is a definite feeling that these pieces were all conceived by the same designer. They have a classic feel, minimalist but with the right amount of detail so they aren't too boring to knit or to wear.
They're the sort of projects that will become staples in your wardrobe, the comfort food of your closet. Calling the patterns timeless is right; though these patterns were designed over many years you can't really place any of them in a particular era.
The patterns are mostly sweaters for women, though there are three patterns for men (and two sized for woman and children) as well. They have clean lines and pretty simple shapes, often with a little special touch like stripes, ruffles, cables, lace or surface embroidery or beads. And some are completely spare, like the classic stockinette raglan turtleneck Garth or the cropped ladies sweater Alex.
Some of my favorites include Faune, sweet striped gloves that can be worked with out without fingertips; Bay, a girly striped number worked in Kidsilk Haze (I prefer the boatneck version to the turtleneck); Iris, the simple shrug pictured on the cover; Finn and Edda, a pair of simple-as-can-be cardigans for him and her; and the long cotton cardigan Jess, perfect for an evening on the beach.
Hargreaves has quickly become one of my favorites because she designs things that I would like to knit and wear: not so fussy that they take forever to knit but not so boring that you don't want to bother finishing them.
I imagine a lot of other people like that kind of project, too, which is why these classic patterns continue to be so popular.