Book review: Sweet Shawlettes by Jean Moss

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I first read about Sweet Shawlettes: 25 Irresistible Patterns for Knitting Cowls, Capelets, and More by Jean Moss via the Knitgrrl‘s post as part of the book’s 24 day blog tour in January.  It sounded great, so I immediately wrote to Taunton Press to see if I could get my hands on a review copy.  They were kind enough to oblige, and let me say that I’m very pleased with this book.

Sweet Shawlettes starts off with a well written introduction, and Jean’s writing style throughout is wonderful.  You feel as though you are sitting down for a seminar with a master teacher as she shares her knitting skills, and also her knowledge of fashion and textile history.  The patterns are overall quite striking.   I always try to list my favorite patterns for each book I review, but once I got up to 14 on my list (out of 25), I thought it was safe to say that the patterns are pretty awesome!  (Pictures of each project are posted on Jean Moss’s Ravelry Designer page, which is available even if you aren’t a Ravelry member.)

Ok, I’ll stop gushing for a moment and share some facts.  In terms of project breakdown:

8 patterns (32%)

11 patterns (44%)

6 patterns (24%)

9 patterns (36%) include charts in the patterns (for lace, cables, and/or colorwork).  11 patterns (44%) use some crochet (usually single crochet) for finishing or detailing.

The book is organized into four sections.

  • Country “designs look to nature but with a romantic, quirky slant.”
  • Couture designs have “an eye toward avant-garde minimalism.  The mood is cool and funky… with the spotlight on statement pieces that take you seamlessly through the day and into evening.”
  • In the Folk section, “time-honored textiles…inform [Moss’s] contemporary designs.”
  • Vintage patterns turn “to fashion through the ages for the design sensibility… [taking] us on a brief journey through costume history.”

If you’ve read many of my reviews, you know that I tend to prefer “technique” books over “project” books.  But Jean has done an amazing job of sharing many techniques through her projects.  Appendix I (Techniques and Stitches) includes information on attaching beads, directions for alternative cast on methods, and tips for colorwork and finishing.  There is also a section with pattern abbreviations and needle and hook sizes.  (Chart symbol keys are listed within the patterns using charts.)

I also loved the Project Index, which includes a small photograph of each project.  Jean’s introductions for each of the patterns are well written and informative.  She also sprinkles great information throughout the book, such as notes on the historical cultural significance of various colors.

Overall, the book is well organized and well written, with wonderful photography that actually allows you to see the details of each piece.  The projects are geared towards an intermediate knitter, but there are plenty of easy projects to help develop an adventurous beginner.  Although the patterns are, in a sense, limited because they are all neck coverings, there is such a range of projects (from scarves, to shawls, to capelets, to cowls, etc.) that the book feels quite varied.

I give the book 5 out of 5 stars for any intermediate knitter who is interested in learning new techniques, or enjoys making items for women.

I usually offer a giveaway for my review copy, but I’m not quite ready to part with Sweet Shawlettes, so for now the book will remain in my collection…

Full disclosure: A free review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.

Update: The wonderful folks at Taunton Press read my review and decided to offer a free copy to one of my readers (since I wasn’t willing to give up my copy!) This giveaway is open to anyone with a U.S. address.  The winner will be chosen at random.

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