Thursday, April 19, 2007
Book Review: Runway Knits
Runway Knits by Berta Karapetyan
Reviewed by Iris G, April 19, 2007
The name Berta Karapetyan belongs to the short list of extremely accomplished high-end knitwear designer. Over the past twenty years, in addition to her work for top American fashion houses, her own house brand Karabella has become synonymous to luxury yarns of fashion forward colors and textures, supported by sophisticated and feminine patterns. It is somewhat astonishing that she had not published any knitting book until April 2007.
Runway Knits, Berta's new book, is a hit in every sense. The thirty patterns cater to different tastes, yet they are consistent enough to fit in one woman’s wardrobe. This consistency lies in several aspects: style, construction, and detail.
The overall style of the book reminds me of fashion magazines. The color and layout are bold and clean-cut like Vogue and Elle; the photographs are in the line of Vogue Knitting and Karabella patterns, which means that the knits are modeled by young slim models in clean indoor settings and that the details are clear. Now comes the best part: the pattern pages have the (our old favorite) Interweave Knits layout. Love that.
The book has four sections, namely spirited, playful, demure, and driven. To me, the lines between the sections are subtle. The major differences I noticed are the color and size options. Spirited and playful are full of fun colors such as hot pink and vivid green, and are written for bust sizes range from approximately 89 cm to slightly over 100 cm (knitted), or XS to L. Most pieces are body conscious yet with enough ease. Demure and driven are absolutely classic and slightly understated, wear-to-work pieces, in neutral tones, and size from XS to XL. For instance, there is a beautiful tweedy/boucle A-line jacket that sizes up to 117 cm (knitted).
Great taste simply exudes from the designs. Most knits, in my opinion, are so uniquely beautiful and so well tailored that they can only be found from the best design houses. The fine details and smart shaping are amazing.
The patterns are written in Berta’s usual style which she is obviously proud of. The sweaters are done in flat front and back pieces, and clear charts are given for the lace works (needless to say, there are many of them). The patterns are of the line-by-line style, which are often found in British knitting books.
As you would have guessed, the yarns used in the book, from lace weight mohair to the beautiful aurora merinos, from mercerized cottons to cashmere blends are all from Karabella. Brief suggestions are given to yarn substitutions at the end of the book.
I almost forgot to mention that there are several accessory sets in the book; all are unique and functional. I particularly admire the Russian style hat and scarf set, made with cashmere and fur. There is also a lovely hat and scarf set with cables and laces, done in white Aurora bulky.
There is no chapter of knitting basics; and Berta suggested that the readers try and learn new techniques from the book, be it a stitch pattern or a beautiful and functional construction. Most designs require intermediate knitting skills.
In short, this book is a rare breed: a well-planned high-end designer knitting book. I would love to knit most of the pieces, and in doing so, I would become a better knitter and designer.
Brava Berta! I salute to you.