Cheryl Oberle's Knitted Jackets: 20 Designs from Classic to Contemporary aims to provide a wide variety of knit jacket options to satisfy a wide variety of knitters.
Though all jackets are bigger when finished than most other garments (because they are made to be worn over clothes) these projects do include some that are slightly more fitted if you like that look, as well as touching on a variety of styles and knitting skills.
As mentioned in the subtitle, Knitted Jackets features 20 jacket knitting patterns, ranging from pretty basic, boxy shapes to patterns using cables, colorwork and lace. There are more unexpected shapes, too, like a cropped cardigan, a funky, slouchy bolero and another cropped style that features a lacy pattern and a chunky yarn.
There are patterns inspired by Japanese knits, the fashion sensibilities of the Edwardian era, Norwegian and Scandinavian knits and more. That's not a surprise given that the author's other books (Folk Vests and Folk Shawls) focus on knits inspired by cultures around the world.
The patterns are not rated by skill level, but most involve knitting the fronts and back of the jackets at the same time on one long needle from the bottom up to the sleeves, where they are then separated and worked separately.
The sleeves are often worked from the armhole down, eliminating the seam along the arm. Chart reading is helpful for many of the patterns.
Sizes range quite widely given that these jackets are meant to be worn over other clothing and some are closer fitting than others. Some patterns make size changes not by casting on more stitches but by using a bigger needle, which makes the patterns a little easier to follow.
Some of my favorite patterns in the book include the Wrapper, a super-simple ribbed jacket that looks perfect for long hikes in the fall; Northwest Celtic, a bulky jacket with Celtic designs knit onto a style of coat traditionally seen on Vancouver Island; the Edwardian Day Coat, a long jacket with easy cables and a Seed Stitch collar; and the Scholar's Jacket, another long cabled sweater, this time with blocks of Stockinette between the cables.
Many of these patterns are classic enough to really be worn as jackets through the cool seasons and through the years, while others would be great for holiday parties or special gifts.
The instructions are detailed, there are lots of good pictures, and a materials and techniques section at the back covers such things as substituting yarns, the bind offs and other skills needed to complete the projects, and tips on reading charts and two-color knitting.
This book is a good choice for knitters who like the idea or wrapping themselves or someone else up in a big cozy knitting project. Knitting a jacket allows you to show off your love of knitting no matter the weather, since the jacket is the piece of clothing worn on the outside.
While many of the designs are quite classic, and none or anything I'd call edgy, there are still some nice patterns here sure to please a wide variety of knitters.
Publication date: December 2008.