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Book Review: Inspired to Knit – Creating Exquisite Handknits by Michele Rose Orne

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Knitwear designer Michele Rose Orne brings us an imaginative collection of knitting patterns, entitled Inspired to Knit: Creating Exquisite Handknits. This book contains 21 patterns, divided up by season. The idea behind the book is to help knitters explore their creativity, and draw inspiration for design from everything around them. Along with each pattern, Michele describes what her inspiration was for each design, and offers tips for “making it your own” (i.e. getting different looks with different yarns, adding or taking away embellishments, etc).

In addition to the patterns, each season includes a “workshop” that will help you design and knit your own pieces. Start with the inspiration workshop, which will help you keep an open eye — and mind — for things that could be adapted into patterns. Next is a color workshop, helping you set up your own color palette. Third is a design and sketching workshop – taking the ideas in your brain and transferring them to paper.

The final workshop gives tips to create your design, from creating a schematic, figuring out stitch counts, and coming up with measurements. While this is the most concrete and useful workshop, it is not very thorough, especially when considering there are entire books devoted to this topic, as opposed to four pages.

Inspired to Knit is not for beginners. Like most patterns from Interweave Press, these are intricate and complex. But it pays off with a collection of beautiful, feminine pieces. Many have a Victorian feel to them, like the Victorian Lace Blouse or the Seed-Stitch Poet Jacket.

One of my favorites from this book is the Tiny Twists Camisole, which takes a simple, geometric cable pattern over the bodice, and turns them seamlessly into straps. The Papillon Cardigan features short sleeves and a dark, “outline” trim – looks like something you could find at Anthropologie. The Vintage Lingerie Top is a versatile, lacy little tee. The Walk In The Woods Jacket features an extremely complicated intarsia floral pattern that is a bit old-fashioned. Simpler and a bit more up-to-date is the Frost Flower Cuff Pullover, which leaves the flowers to simple embroidery at the sleeves.

Almost every pattern incorporates cables or lacework. The cover design, Snowdrift Cardigan, uses oversized, asymmetrical cables to give it that freshly driven snow look. The Winter Wonderland Coat has a series of intricate cables that loosely resemble snowflakes. The Whisper Cuff Cardigan incorporates both, along with some ruffles to make a truly feminine piece.

If you are an advanced knitter looking for sophisticated and feminine designs that could have stepped out of an Anthropologie catalogue, then Inspired to Knit is the knitting book for you.

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