Marianne Isager's Classic Knits: Marianne Isager Collection features 25 patterns originally published in her native Danish. this book brings Isager's European design sensibilities, including basic shapes and designs made more interesting through yarn combinations, stitch patterns and colorwork.
The book is a great choice for people who like their lines and their designs simple, but who don't think that simple has to mean boring.
Learning as You Go
One of the really cool things about this book is that it introduces a variety of techniques to make otherwise plain shapes a little more interesting, from cables and moved stitches to several different color knitting techniques and textured patterns.
While this isn't particularly revolutionary, the interesting part comes with the gauge swatches included with each pattern. Instead of just taking the dominant pattern used in a design and having you knit it for four or six inches, these swatches actually introduce all the techniques that you'll use in a project.
They're bigger and more interesting than the swatches you usually dread doing, and by the end of one you'll feel comfortable with all the techniques being used and you'll be sure that you like the designs and the colors that you've chosen before you get started on the big project.
Classic Knits includes 25 patterns, all for tops, sweaters and jackets except for one knit bodysuit for a baby (there's also one pattern that has a matching hat). The projects are for men, women and children, though the majority are for women.
There are no skill ratings on the patterns, but most could be tackled by advanced beginners. Just remember to knit the instructional gauge swatch first to ensure you're comfortable with everything you'll have to do on the larger project.
There's not a huge range of sizes, usually three for each design, and though there's guidance on designing knits that fit, it doesn't really speak to altering published patterns to suite your size.
Some of my favorite patterns include Sugar, a Garter Stitch and cabled cardigan; Pearls, another cardi with Seed Stitch and slipped-stitch patterns to add color;the Zigzag Top, a tank accentuated with chevrons; Mie's Jacket, a kid-sized jacket with Garter Stitch zigzags and fun color sections on the body and arms; and Fisherman, a ribbed men's sweater with a cool slip-stitch treatment on the cuffs and collar.
All of the designs are written with Isager's yarn in mind, but there's also information here about substituting yarns. Additional sidebars deal with color knitting, working cables, measuring gauge and incorporating short rows into a design.
To me this book seems like a great choice for a knitter who is looking for classic designs, who doesn't want to look incredibly trendy but doesn't want to knit a bunch of plain Stockinette Stitch garments either.
The patterns offer a range of techniques that should be interesting to skilled knitters but not too difficult for newer knitters to pick up. The sample swatches make it easy to learn any new techniques on a smaller scale, which should help newer knitters gain confidence in their ability to finish the sweaters.
Including projects for men and kids is always nice, too, and the options provided here would be great for gifts or to knit for your own family.
I have to admit that some of the projects are not my style, and in a couple of cases still feel a little unexciting despite the addition of texture and color. That doesn't mean it's a bad book, it simply means there are a fair number of projects I personally would skip.
But for people who like a classic, streamlined design to their knits, along with a little something extra to keep it interesting, you're sure to find at least some patterns you like in this book.
Publication date: May 2009.