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Book Review: Picture Perfect Knits by Laura Birek

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Intarsia knitting is the art of knitting pictures into fields of flat knitting. You may recognize this technique in those hideous snowman sweaters your grandma used to give you. With the new wave of knitting comes the new wave of intarsia. Picture Perfect Knits by Laura Birek is a book dedicated to intarsia. There are a dozen stand alone projects, and over 60 graphs for you to insert into your own projects. I love that this book gives clear, concise instructions on intarsia techniques — something I have had a difficult time finding elsewhere — and instructions on reading the charts. There is even an explanation on the differences between intarsia and Fair Isle techniques.

Patterns! “Jolly Roger” is a skull and crossbones pocket scarf that is at the top of my list to knit. Simple, unisex, and utilitarian. “Old School” is a felted messenger bag with a sorta-kinda argyle pattern on it. “Hearts and Bones” is a dog sweater edged with — you guessed it — hearts and bones. I don’t believe in dressing dogs, but this is pretty darn cute. “Armchair Revolutionary” is a throw pillow with the infamous Che Guevara portrait on it. “I Heart Mom” is a baby sweater with tattoo-style flash on it. “Kitty Hat” and matching mittens are adorable. Your now-common kitty hat has a set of mittens with paw prints knitted in. I know it’s for kids, but I want one, too!

“Geek Chic” is a knitted vest with an old-school argyle pattern. I’m not much of a fan of the vest, but would love to adapt the pattern to a scarf or even socks. “Sweet Treats” is a pillow with a cupcake graphic. “Snowflake” tears down the aforementioned snowman sweater, and turns it into a chic bolero with delicate snowflakes along the shoulder blades.

Then we come to the charts. Pages and pages of charts. Favorites include: Union Jack flag; argyle pattern; flock of birds; a mushroom reminiscent of Super Mario; skull & crossbones; nautical star; tiny black cat silhouettes; robot; an adorable owl; a whale reminiscent of Fudgie; peacock feather. Some less intriguing charts: ice cream cone; a Scotty dog that looks like it is howling at the moon; a sparrow; a poodle; a selection of fruit including strawberry, lemon, pear, and pineapple; and a few that I can’t even identify (the face chart… is it Anton LaVey? And a black silhouette… could that be an oil rig?). I love that there is a blank charting page in the back – simply photocopy and create.

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  • misswinterhill

    The index lists the face as Vladimir Lenin.

    I couldn’t identify it either… so I went hunting 🙂

    I love the gnomes and the angry squirrel chart.