Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Giveaway & No-Bull Book Review: The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet, by Hunter Hammersen

What do you get when you combine botany, vintage prints from natural history texts and knitting?  You get The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet: 20 Patterns Inspired by Vintage Botanical Illustrations, by Hunter Hammersen (Pantsville Press 2012; MSRP $26.95 through the link above). Hunter contributed a wonderful pattern to my upcoming book, and so, knowing how talented she is, I was delighted to receive a review copy of her brand-new book.

hunter cover - Copy

Having consulted that eminent source, the interwebs (Wikipedia to be precise), I discovered that a curiosity cabinet was
an encyclopedic collection in Renaissance Europe of types of objects whose categorical boundaries were yet to be defined. They were also known by various names such as Cabinet of Wonder, and in German Kunstkammer ("art-room") or Wunderkammer ("wonder-room"). Modern terminology would categorize the objects included as belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art (including cabinet paintings) and antiquities.
It's a fascinating idea, and a perfect theme for a designer who has collected knitterly things--edgings, lace patterns, twisted stitches and cables--and used them to great effect in her patterns.

Speaking of which, let's take a closer at those patterns. Exactly half (ten) are sock patterns, while the other half are coordinating accessories. It's fun to see the same botanical inspiration used in two slightly different ways. For example,

hunter crocus vernus socks - Copy

the Crocus vernus socks use a gently-arching lace motif that echoes the lines of the crocus flower. The Crocus Vernus mitts use a slightly thicker yarn and a lace motif that reflects the shape of the leaves of the plant:

hunter white mitts

In another example of patterns that coordinate stylistically without appearing matchy-matchy, the Linaria bipartita socks feature a lattice-like petal shape

linaria socks

in a divine handdyed yarn colorway called Chocoberry, while the Linaria shawl is done in petal pink, with long vertical elements and a center motif.

hunter linaria - Copy

Other lovely socks that caught my eye are the Polypodium vulgare:

polyodusm socks

the Rubus suberectus (with "erectus" in the name, how could I not love them?):

rubus socks

the Loasa lateritia:

hunter loasa lateris - Copy

and the Narcissus pseudo-narcissus.

hunter narcisisus - Copy

I also was quite taken with the Polypodum cowl (love that handdye, too, with all those subtle gradations of color)

hunter polypodum - Copy

the Rosa mitts:

hunter rosa mitts - Copy

the Pinus silvestris cap:

hunter pinus hat - Copy

and the floaty Loasa cowl:

hunter loasa scarf - Copy

The book is a softcover, with tons of gorgeous color photos (taken by Brett Yacovella of Making the Moment), and all the amenities one would expect in patterns of this nature -- charts, close-ups of design details, tips, definitions of the stitches/symbols used, and reproductions of the lovely botanical prints that inspired the patterns prefacing them.

It's exciting to see relatively new designers putting out such high quality products, and it's fascinating to see how self-published books like this one are really raising the bar for all of us who publish patterns, regardless of medium.  This is a beautiful book full of appealing patterns, and if you are a knitter interested in:
  • sock knitting
  • accessory knitting
  • small portable projects
  • great uses for handpainted yarn
  • botanical prints and flowers
  • lace and lace motifs
then you will want to check out this book. Note that it is available in printed form, but also in electronic download format (for $18.95) and if you buy the print book via Hunter's website (linky link here), you will get a free Ravelry download of the patterns along with your purchase.

And bless Hunter's heart, she's offering a free copy of the book to a reader of this blog! Please leave a comment and make sure that there is a way for me to reach you (either via your Blogger profile or by leaving an email in the comment -- no way for me to get hold of you and I have to disqualify your entry until my psychic address-finding powers develop more fully). Leave a comment no later than midnight, Sunday, August 12th and I'll pick a winner the next day.

71 comments:

Willietattoos said...

Beautiful items! I particularly like the orange hat!
You always know how to reach Willietattoos!

KnittingReader said...

I love these patterns! lisgitt AT gmail.

Anonymous said...

Oh my. This looks as good as her last book (which was AWESOME!)

Anoush on Ravelry.

jlr said...

I've seen a lot of knitting books, but this one looks like it's in a league of its own!

Bonnie said...

I have Hunter's Silk Road Socks and love it. This new book is on my wishlist. I'd love to win it! Thanks for the review and giveaway.

Jodi said...

Oh, what a lovely idea for a book, and what gorgeous projects. I'm especially fond of the pink shawl.

yarntastic AT gmailDOTcom

Barbara-Kay said...

What a lovely collection. You're right- I'd love to have that book!

teabird said...

Please enter me in the giveaway! Thanks -
Melanie / teabird on Ravelry

littlelixie said...

Oooooo I'd love to win the book! My email is littlelixieathot maildotcom

Anonymous said...

Stunning book. I hope I'm luck enough to win a copy.

missmuffetnz on Ravelry.

Anonymous said...

THIS little piggy is having palpitations over this book. Wonderful patterns!!! (The review wasn't half bad either.)

Bridget said...

Really? You went to Wikipedia to find out what a cabinet of curiosities was, when you know someone who works at the first natural history museum in the Americas??? Sigh.

Looks like a lovely book, btw. :-)

Small and Moody said...

I LOVE this book!!! All of the patterns are so lovely that I can't decide which is my favorite!

Sheila said...

I would love to win a copy of this book!

Carolyn said...

I fantastic idea for a book! I can imagine that the book is even more beautiful than the photos that you shared!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review and giveaway.
deenamarshall@gmail.com

Pork with Bones said...

That does look like an excellent book.

Sheepinthemeadow at gmail

Christina Toppen said...

Wow! Beautiful designs. I really need this book ;) I can't wait to knit the loasa lateritia socks. Thanks for the chance to win.

Christina
christinapurls@gmail.com

That Clever Clementine said...

This looks like an exceptionally interesting and useful book -- I've already seen a couple of pairs of Crocus socks "in the wild," and they're wonderful!

ginevra said...

They look lovely patterns! I'm GinevraMakes on Ravelry

Mary Ellen said...

I'd love to win this! I'm MaryEllen on Ravelry, and my email is maryellenc AT gmail DOT com.

Liz said...

Gorgeous projects and fascinating topic
Liz knittykitties@gmail.com

Penny said...

I want to knit all those socks! This looks like a great book, please enter me into the drawing. Thanks!

Jersey Shore Deb said...

This book sounds amazing! I like that there are a lot of different types of patterns, not just socks--all are gorgeous.
JerseyShoreDeb on Ravelry.

Stitched Together said...

This book looks lovely. I'm Stitched-Together on Ravelry

scifiknitter said...

I have Hunter Hammersen's "Silk Road Socks". I haven't knit one of her patterns yet, but they look to be very well written. Her love of detail and pattern results in very, very lush results. This book is on my wish list.

Thanks for the review and the giveaway! I'm scifiknitter on ravelry.

sylphette said...

I've been drooling over this book for months! Count me in for the contest. :)

Ravelry: sylphette

Julie said...

What beautiful and intricate patterns! I'd love to own a copy of this one.

Donna said...

Thanks for the chance to win this beautiful book. My email is dmw222 AT gmail DOT com.wd

k said...

Great review - I really want this book since so many of the patterns are now in the queue.

Deena said...

wow, wow and wow! What an artist!

AllisonInPhilly said...

Holy moly, I hadn't heard about this book. Thanks for reviewing, as always! Wonderful motifs -- PHS should cross-promote it!

Anonymous said...

I think it looks like a lovely book - and my favorite pattern is the Crocus vernus sock. I even have the right color to make them in!

kwaltonAtrestaurantDOTorg

Elizabeth D said...

Well, of course I'd like to win this book!!

Your friend BadInfluence, also available right down the road

And my capcha boxes below are so weird that it appears I really must be a robot!!

Debbie said...

Beautiful patterns! I would love a copy of the book! thanks!
gussek at hotmail dot com

Karen said...

This looks like a wonderful book. Can't wait to see it.

I'm tinkarenknit on Ravelry.

Maryanne & Duke said...

These patterns look awesome! I've never seen ones like them.

wil4ds at verizon dot net

carrie said...

I love the cowl too!

Caity M said...

Wonderful patterns! I truly love lace knitting.

Laura said...

I love the incredible detail she puts into each of her designs!
culabrat on ravlery

dana said...

i was predisposed to like hunter when i started reading her blog "Violently Domestic". what a great name! wonderful designs seem to drip off her needles. although i know desgning is not that easy, she makes it seem effortless.

danamary on rav.

Eileen said...

What beautiful patterns! Would love to win. I'm Fizbin on Ravelry.

Anonymous said...

Glorioski, those photos are making me drool ... I'm putting this book on my wishlist right now, in case I'm not the lucky winner - don't want to lose track of it before Giftmas rolls around!
JullesT on Ravelry

The Bon said...

Looks like some gorgeous patterns there!

Anonymous said...

I have been eying this book. very cool stuff.

suenapse on ravelry

janita said...

I have been stalking the blogs to enter to win this book! It is really beautiful.

Rhian Drinkwater said...

Gorgeous book!
(Rhian82 on Rav)

ikkinlala said...

This looks like such a gorgeous book!

ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

purlewe said...

see. This is why I like your no-bull reviews. They review books I want to see, but don't have access too since they are typically self published/ebook. THANKS! I am more in love with this book now.

Pat said...

Would love to win a copy of this book.

pnconverse(at)hotmail(dot)com

Nancy Jo said...

Nice! I like most of the socks, especially the suberectus ones! nancyjborn at charter dot net

Amy said...

These are lovely patterns. I am particularly smitten with the Rubus suberectus socks.

dclulu on Ravelry said...

I love Hunter's patterns! What a nice giveaway.

katie metzroth said...

The Chrysanthemum socks are Ah-mazing!

Roseclear99 said...

I have been wanting to get this book since it came out I am Roseclear99 on Raverly

petit purls said...

Beautiful book and her designs are amazing! Thanks for having a giveaway.

Josiane said...

Ever since I've learned about cabinets of curiosity in my anthropology classes, I've been fascinated by them, so of course I am attracted to that book. That it contains so many lovely designs doesn't hurt either!
(I'm kimianak on Ravelry)

tattva1knits said...

I always love her patterns. Thanks for the great giveaway!

slmiller8 said...

I love those crocus socks!

slmiller8@hotmail.com

bentneedle said...

I would love a copy of this book! Even if I don't win I'll probably end up buying my own. Hehe. emwall24 on Ravelry.

Natalie Servant said...

It's a lovely looking book.

Val said...

Those Polypodium vulgare socks are amazing. This shade of golden yellow is one of my favorites too : this might just be one of those patterns where I have to do them exactly like the picture. I love Hunter's designs : she really masters intricate designs that are not overtly fussy. Thank you for the giveaway!

Croquette on Ravelry

blogless grace said...

Fabulous patterns! I want to dive right in!! On Ravelry as tully.

Beth said...

Beautiful patterns - love all he socks! SpinningPhoenix via gmail.

Dawn said...

Very pretty I'm knittedhat on Ravelry

Pam said...

the patterns in here are incredible. would love to get a copy of this book

Shaz said...

Socks? There are TEN PAIRS OF SOCKS? How could I not want this book? Count me in on your drawing! I assume you still have my email address since I won a signed copy of your book that I'm still waiting for with bated breath (it's getting closer!).

LeslieAnn79 said...

I love the shawl pattern.

Liz said...

What a beautiful book!

KittyD said...

Evocative title, delightful patterns. Perhaps a second volume could reference the Victorian notion of a "capacious hold-all."

Virginia Woolf: "What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something looseknit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk, or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through."

Happy (sock) knitting.

kd3339@gmail.com

cantlivewithoutewe said...

what beatutiful patterns and what a unique idea for a book - jealous i didnt think of it but really glad someone did!