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French Girl Knits

Knitting Like a French Girl

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French Girl Knits

French Girl Knits by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes.

Interweave Press.

I don't know if women in France really use more circular and seamless construction techniques than people in other parts of the world, but Kristeen Griffin-Grimes uses such techniques throughout her book French Girl Knits: Innovative Techniques, Romantic Details and Feminine Designs.

The book offers knitters a bunch of cute, feminine and French design classics that are sure to please a range of knitters while educating them about the possibilities of seamless knitting and how to go about knitting garments largely circularly.

Classic Designs, Cool Construction

Griffin-Grimes has had a love affair with France from an early age, raised as she was with an appreciation for the New Orleans/Cajun culture and by a jazz singer mom who lived the classy ideal Americans have of a Parisian life.

Her pattern company, French Girl Knits, emphasizes sleek styles with great details and construction with as few seams as possible. The book takes the same approach, providing knitters with 18 patterns, all for tops and jackets except for one skirt, and offering a casual but feminine feel.

Sprinkled throughout the book are sidebars about different seamless construction techniques such as working from side to side, top-down seamless raglans, bottom-up seamless raglans, top-down seamless garments with set-in sleeves and bottom-up set-in sleeved seamless construction.

These sections provide a quick overview on the concept so you'll understand what's happening in the patterns that use the techniques, as well as tips to consider should you want to design your own patterns in this manner or convert a seamed project into a seamless one.

But they are merely overviews, and most refer knitters who want to get more deeply into these techniques to books by other authors for more information.

The Patterns

The 18 patterns in French Girl Knits are organized around themes: romantic and vintage inspired, rustic with a gypsy edge, innovative and unconventional and streetwear with style.

There are tanks, tunics, cardigans, a jacket, a pullover and one skirt, which is lightly fulled (as opposed to being fully felted) to give it a little more structure without a loss of stitch definition.

The patterns use a range of construction techniques to make them as seamless as possible. There's a lot of picking up stitches, grafting and other knitting skills involved, and some of the patterns get downright complicated.

Some of my favorites are Niobe, a bell-sleeved pullover with bits of flowery lace around the bottom and up the sleeves; Cybele, an asymmetrical lace-up tank top constructed of side-to-side cables; Wrenna, a bulky knit short-sleeved cardigan with an arrowhead lace pattern; and Simone, a cowl-necked beauty featuring eyelets on the neck, body and flared sleeves.

Sizes range from around 30 inches for the smallest size to 48 for the largest, though different patterns have different ranges of sizes. Most have four or five different sizes, though some have just three. There are tips in the book for working projects for a better fit, and one great thing about seamless knitting is that you can try on the work and adjust as you go.

Bottom Line

This is a lovely book full of great patterns for women who love romantic knits as well as those who like more of an edge. The book is a great way to learn seamless techniques if you're unfamiliar with them, or to use skills you already have to make these projects a breeze (but no doubt still entertaining).

Publication date: February 2009.

Publisher's website

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