Would you enjoy owning a brand new knitting stitch dictionary that also includes stylish color knitting patterns for women’s sweaters and accessories, some of which are also unisex designs? If so, the Alterknit Stitch Dictionary: 200 Modern Knitting Motifs is a book you’re definitely going to want to take a closer look at. The following is my detailed book review of the Alterknit Stitch Dictionary. The short version of the review: Definitely buy this book!
What You Need to Know About This Knitting Stitch Dictionary:
Author: Andrea Rangel
Publisher: Interweave Press
Copyright Date: August, 2017
ISBN 13: 978-1632505538
ISBN 10: 1632505533
This book is available in the following format(s):
- Hardcover Without Dust Jacket
Number of Pages: This book is 164 pages long.
Topics Covered in This Book:
- Stranded color knitting
- Color knitting patterns
- New knitting stitches in stranded colorwork
- How to read knitting charts for stranded colorwork designs
- How to work floats in stranded color knitting
- How to choose colors for color knitting
- Women’s knit sweater patterns
- Women’s and unisex knit accessory patterns
The Focus of This Book:
This book’s main purpose is giving you fresh, original stranded color knitting charts plus all the know-how needed to use them in finished projects. You can choose to make the projects that the author, Andrea, has designed for you — or you can incorporate these knit stitch patterns into your own design work.
This book is especially interesting because it incorporates insights and design work from a professionally trained artist — namely, Andrea’s husband, Sean, who has a fine art degree. Andrea and Sean collaborated to create the motifs and knitted fabric designs presented in this book.
Knitting Projects Included in This Book:
In addition to the colorwork stitch patterns, there are five patterns for complete wearable knitting projects included in this book. A female model is wearing all the sample projects photographed in the book, but I think most of them could also be appropriate for guys if you use suitably masculine yarn colors to do your knitting. The patterns included are as follows:
Stranded Colorwork Knitting Pattern for Deep Ocean Mittens
This is a mitten knitting pattern with interesting spiral and wave designs. The main body of the mitten includes two different stitch patterns from the book. This project gives you a fantastic example of how you can combine different stitch patterns in interesting ways to create incredibly beautiful finished wardrobe items.
Helix Cowl Knitting Pattern
This is a stylish, sophisticated knitted cowl pattern. The finished cowl is a versatile wardrobe piece that could match everything from dressy winter coats to ski gear.
Bikey Beanie Knitting Pattern
This hat pattern is a unisex design that cyclists of either gender are sure to appreciate.
Andrea shows you in-depth how to apply a different motif pattern to the same hat design. She gives you helpful insights about fitting different stitch repeats into a pattern so that they repeat nicely and logically.
Leaves in Water Knitted Sweater Pattern
This eye-catching cardigan features a colorwork design with striking graphic appeal.
Skull and Bones Knitted Sweater Pattern
This edgy sweater features a patterned band of repeating skull and bones motifs. If skulls aren’t your thing, keep in mind that you can replace them with just about any of the other motif patterns from this book. The author empowers you with lots of helpful information to enable you to do this.
Stranded Colorwork Knit Stitches Included in This Book:
There are 200 knitting stitch patterns included in this book, plus Andrea shows you how to do some simple variations of these in the projects section. For example, in the skull and bones sweater, she shows you how to isolate one of the skull motifs and simply repeat that out in a horizontal band around the sweater body, rather than keeping the skulls in an allover pattern with brick repeat as they are presented in the original chart.
Some of the designs are simple classic patterns such as Greek keys, chevrons, basketweaves, geometrics and waves that are similar to patterns you might have seen in other design references. Many of them are creative, innovative and unique designs that you wouldn’t be likely to find anywhere else.
The Best Things About This Book
The patterns in this book are fresh and on-trend. They look like they’d be worth both the time commitment and the yarn commitment.
The book’s playful name is both accurate and refreshing.
The book has a cohesive “personality” that is simply wonderful, despite the broad variety of stitches included in the collection. Every detail about it is in character, from the trendy fonts used to the hip fashions that accessorize the wearable projects that are featured.
While the book is mostly serious, with helpful insights packed into many of the pages, there are also hints of humor woven into its pages. For example, there’s a hilarious stitch pattern called “Cake or Death” featuring repeating birthday cakes with lit candles alternating with grim reapers. Then there’s a “Masked Bandit” pattern featuring a raccoon who’s presumably about to raid the series of trash cans that are repeated across the design. Another humorous design included in the collection is the “Poopin’ pigs” stitch pattern. The porkers depicted in this design have lifted their curly tails out of the way as they take care of business in neat, organized rows.
Imagine what a conversation starter a sweater adorned with one of these designs would be. These unique stitch patterns all have practical applications; the cake or death stitch will make amazing and memorable birthday projects for your friends or colleagues; just apply a little imagination to design your own playful, fun kitchen projects, scarves, or other projects using this fun design.
The poopin’ pigs can be combined with other barnyard animal stitch patterns from the same book to create a variety of fun, interesting and lovable projects. The book also includes charts for knitting chickens, horses, sheep, bunnies, cats and other wonderful animal designs.
I find this book’s graphic design and format to be compelling and user friendly. The charts are presented along with their corresponding swatches, which means that you will not need to do a lot of page flipping to knit these designs. The book includes schematics for the sweaters, and the visuals are all clear and helpful. The fonts are approachable and readable.
Other Observations About This Book
There is only one MINOR thing that worries me about this book: It appears to me that the team at Interweave decided to present the knitting charts using squares to represent each stitch, rather than representing the stitches with rectangles like you’d find on dedicated knitter’s graph paper. This is not at all a big deal as long as you are aware of the issues this can create for some knitters — and more importantly, the fix that I will share below.
Why I think it is important for you to be aware of this: Many knitters knit at a gauge which results in stitches that are slightly rectangular rather than perfectly square. This can vary dramatically from knitter to knitter, and it also depends on the yarns and needles you’re using. The result: If you compare your actual knitting against the charted designs, it is possible that, at times, your actual knitted pieces may look “squished” in comparison.
The main takeaway here: When you are designing with these charts, be sure to swatch first with the yarn you want to use rather than just diving right into your projects. If you do happen to knit your chosen chart at a gauge that is not quite as tall as Andrea’s, your swatch will reveal this to you in time to correct the issue — before you waste a lot of time and yarn.
If you happen to end up with a design that you think ends up looking more “squished” than Andrea’s sample swatches presented in the book, there is a super simple fix for that: You can simply repeat every 4th or 5th row on the chart, and the design will look more elongated as a result.
This Book Is Also Useful to Crochet and Cross Stitch Enthusiasts
While this book is fully intended to be a knitter’s resource, its usefulness can extend far beyond the knitting community. Many of these charts will work for crochet and cross stitch in addition to stranded colorwork knitting. Here are a few suggestions:
- Some of these charts will be useful to use for corner-to-corner crochet.
- Some of these charts will be useful for cross stitch on a crocheted background. Simply use the stitch multiple Andrea gives you to crochet a cloth using either single crochet stitch or afghan stitch. Then use a tapestry needle and a contrasting yarn color in the same yarn weight to cross stitch the charted pattern onto the crocheted fabric.
- Many, but not all, of the charts will be useful for tapestry crochet. I can’t wait to start incorporating patterns from this book into my tapestry crochet pattern designs.
- Some of these designs would be absolutely spectacular worked in filet crochet.
- I am likely to also give some thought to how these designs could be translated to bead crochet and bead knitting. The charted designs might or might not translate directly, but I think many of these designs could be tweaked to inspire STUNNING beaded fabrics — so if you enjoy applying creativity and brainpower to bead knitting and bead crochet designs, it is possible that you might find the designs in this book to be a useful jumping off point.
I HIGHLY recommend this book to other knitting, crochet and craft enthusiasts, particularly to other knit and crochet pattern designers — and even to those who only dabble in knit or crochet pattern design. For the knitter who wants to learn stranded colorwork or save time on charting colorwork patterns, this book is worth way more than its asking price. The same can be said for crochet pattern designers or crochet enthusiasts who work extensively with charted patterns.
Where to Buy This Book:
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About Your Book Reviewer: Amy Solovay is a freelance writer with a background in textile design. She has been crocheting and crafting since childhood, and knitting since she was a teenager. Her work also appears at AmySolovay.com, ArtsWithCrafts.com and Crochet-Books.com. Amy sends out a free knitting and crochet newsletter so interested crafters can easily keep up with her new patterns and tutorials. If you’re already an Instagram user, Amy also invites you to follow her on Instagram.
This page was last updated on 8-3-2019.