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Book Review: Signature Scarves by Nicky Epstein

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Scarves are a staple of any knitter’s diet. Every knitter’s first project is a scarf. Oftentimes, their second and third projects are scarves. They are simple, a great way to learn basic knits and purls, and when you are done, you can wear it. But scarves don’t just have to be boring garter stitch affairs. They can be wild, crazy, complicated, and works of art.

Knitting master Nicky Epstein proves this with her newest book, Signature Scarves, a collection of over 30 scarf patterns for a variety of skill levels. Excellent photography clearly shows each scarf, and styles range from funky to sophisticated. Almost every age range and taste is addressed here.

Notable patterns: Winter Roses, a loose, open drop-stitch scarf covered in knit “roses.” Heathered Leaf Wrap uses a purple tweed in a large basketweave, and adds a sprinkling of green leaves – including leaf tassles. Tea Rose uses a classic houndstooth pattern as a backdrop for red knit roses. Bullets is an extremely simple pattern that creates a unique 3-D effect and is unisex. I’m not sure how I feel about Skull-Face Mosaic, an intricate intarsia pattern, because the skulls don’t really look like skulls. Yo-Yos, the cover look, is made up of individual rounds that can then be stitched together in any shape you desire. Chain Gang is a very unique scarf, with large circles knit together to resemble a chain.

Then there are some misses, as there always are. Patchwork Floral looks better suited for a child’s afghan than a scarf. Chakra is an odd scarf-vest combo. It’s a scarf with a zipper on either side. Might be good for kids, but I don’t really see adults wearing this. Kookie-Cutter Felt is one of those scarves that you don’t really need a pattern for. Knit in stockinette stitch until desired length, felt, then cut out wacky shapes. The excessive, random, and sloppy cuts make the scarf look ragged. Mouse Trap is a cleaner version – felt a yellow scarf and cut circles into it, making it look like Swiss cheese. Bonus points for the little mouse pattern included.

Workshops are also included throughout the book, to assist with more difficult or uncommon techniques. There are even several scarf-tying tutorials, revealing nearly a dozen different ways to wear your scarf, as well as instructions for a dozen different kinds of trims and tassels you can add. The interesting and wearable scarves far outweigh the bad, and there is enough variety and creativity to keep even the most experienced knitter entertained.

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