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Book Review: Boutique Knits – 20+ Must-Have Accessories by Laura Irwin

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Boutique Knits by Laura Irwin is a collection of over 20 knitted accessory patterns inspired by the chic, trendy pieces normally found in high-end boutiques. Irwin knows a little something about fashion-forward knits: she has her own line of hand-knit accessories, called Precious, that sell in Portland-area boutiques. And with the holidays coming up, these quick knits — many using just one skein of yarn — are the perfect gift for friends and family. Irwin's designs use luxury yarns — silk, alpaca, mohair, and bamboo — and she offers tips on how to add professional accents. Zippers, silk linings, and high-end hardware accents are all covered in detail.

“Pseudo Shibori Scarf” uses knits and purls to create a structural, textured scarf with light-as-air mohair – without felting. “Fawn Earflap Hat” uses extra-extra bulky yarn for this fast knit. Satin ribbons at the edge of the flaps create a feminine touch. “Softly Pleated Sleeves” is a simple pair of fingerless gloves, dressed up with Victorian-style lace appliqués. “Teak Bittersweet Gauntlets” are a (slightly) tougher fingerless glove, with a separate wristband to give the look of a driving glove. “Side Slip Cloche” is the cover look, a 1920s-style flapper hat with a hint of a ruffle, off to the side. Not a fan of the “Ruffled Neck Kerchief” – it is only a very slightly more feminine bandana. Reserve for cowboy parties only.

The “Half-Felted Bag” is truly unique. The center, main portion of the bag is felted. Either side has an unfelted pocket, each pointing outward from the side of the bag, and each cinched closed with leather strips. An indescribably modern shape makes this bag one to be seen. “Sideways Grande Hat” is a cloche-style hat, with a large, off-center faux-cable running brim to crown. “Raglan Wrap” is a slim-fitting garment with oversized, ¾ sleeves, a slightly exaggerated collar, and closes with an off-center buttoned placket.

“Hoodie Devoted” is an interesting item – as an oversized, lined, textured hood that ends just atop the shoulders, it's meant to be worn under a coat or over a dress. “Braided Cable Belt” has a nice zigzag texture, but very, very few people can pull off a knit belt. “Whiskey Felted Cap” is probably my favorite piece in this book. Based on the designs and techniques of milliners, this tall felted brimless hat with a knit band is accented with an oversized silk bow.

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