Romance is alive and well in the sweet and sexy clothing and accessory designs you’ll find in Romantic Hand Knits. Exquisite drape married with figure-hugging silhouettes show off a woman’s curves in a most ladylike manner, creating flirtatious and flattering fits to please any knitter. Loosely based on ultra-feminine styles from fashion history, the designs in Romantic Hand Knits have an undeniably modern appeal.
• A lace camisole is lengthened and reinvented as a lovely summer slip dress
• A late-eighteenth-century corset cover inspires the design for a lacy fitted top with elbow-length sleeves
• Silk stockings favored by Elizabethan ladies of the royal court return in a sexy and fresh incarnation
With the new fibers available today, knitting guru Annie Modesitt knits up fabrics that cling delicately to a woman’s body, creating an elegant hand-tailored look. Now every woman will be able to create fitted garments that make her look as pretty, desirable, and sexy as she feels.
For knitters who want to heat things up in a whole new way, the alluring designs in Romantic Hand Knits will help them light the fires.
An interview with Annie Modesitt
What’s your philosophy on the “romantic look”?
There is a certain cultural shorthand that implies that “romantic” means lots of lace, billowy skirts, low-cut bodices, and a little more leg than usual–sexy with an extra layer. But I think that, like everything deeply personal, romance has its own specific look for each person. Romance is not so much about being desirable to another as it is about reveling in and celebrating our own hearts’ desires.
In the introduction to Romantic Hand Knits, you say that romance is about dreams and hope, and how in knitting, as in romance, much of the joy is in the dream. How has knitting brought romance into your life?
Knitting allows me to enjoy my time, my imagination and my mind more than I might without needles and yarn. When my mind is free–and powerful–the way it feels when I knit, then my soul soars a little and all of this adds a layer of joy to my life. Not to put too fine a point on it, this makes me love life, and love love, in a much deeper way, which in turn makes me more lovable. Nothing is more attractive than a quiet self confidence, which is what I get from knitting.
You say in Romantic Hand Knits that the garment that dresses the top of the body sets the tone for the rest of your ensemble–and that this is perfectly demonstrated in the piece you’ve named Ninotchka. Can you elaborate?
It’s hard to get away from the fact that the bust area–being the most important fit point on most women’s bodies and also being so near to the face–can send very strong signals. Usually we want these to be good signals: “this is a woman in control of her life and her wardrobe,” “I can trust what this woman tells me,” or “I feel this person is sympathetic and kind.”
In Ninotchka, the well-supported bust area adds strength and stability to the design, allowing feminine details like the lace below the bust line and the thin twisted-cord shoulder straps to relax and soften, not weaken, the message this piece sends. “Here’s a woman confident in her femininity, but with a strong foundation.”
Any stories to share from the development of Romantic Hand Knits?
One of my favorite pieces, Streetcar Named Desire, was briefly a disaster! It was worked up quite beautifully by my knitter, who then attempted to block the piece. I generally like to block and finish most of the garments, and I hardly ever wet block, but in the blocking of this piece an interesting thing occurred.
The fitted, springy little cardigan that I designed began to drape and hang in unexpected ways. The piece went from Sandra Dee to Blanche DuBois, and I couldn’t have been happier! It altered the way that I recommended caring for the piece (machine wash instead of dry clean), which, quite honestly, is how most folks want to deal with their clothing.
With the addition of a waist tie, which can be moved to different eyelet rows to create a high, low, or natural waistline, the cardigan had an entirely different aspect–a sexier, “floatier,” more intriguing look.
Is there a particular type of yarn that works best for this look? Why?
I tried very hard to use a variety of fibers that represent a wide variety of price points. I do understand that not every knitter will be able to afford the silk to make Cleopatra, but I felt it was an important, inspiring piece and had to be included in a collection of romantic silhouettes. A firm, machine-washable Egyptian cotton might be a good substitute. One of the most useful skills to develop as a knitter is the ability to substitute yarn–this skill can only be honed with experience.
This is why I suggest to new knitters that when they see a ball of yarn they like, they should get it and swatch it right away. Don’t wait for the right project to come along. If you swatch a yarn you love, you may just see that the right project’s been in front of you all along–perhaps in this book–just waiting for you to see the true beauty in the fabric knit from your new skein.
Whenever possible I tried to use machine-washable yarns–especially for the skirts! I know that the idea of a hand knit skirt can be daunting–we’re all worried about the stretchy butt-pouch–but knit fabric is resilient and generally bounces back to its original drape. Machine washing a skirt ensures that it will return to its original silhouette.
Is there a philosophy or attitude that each book shares? How is this book different from your other books?
If there’s one philosophy that all of my books share, it’s that we all have a bit of genius–of brilliance–in each of us, and if we choose to show it through our knitting, so much the better! We’re all individuals, so we may do things in unusual or nonstandard ways, but that doesn’t make us any less legitimate when we’re knitting (or cooking or sailing).
This book is different in that it focuses specifically on clothes for women, and clothes that are intended to be flattering and a little body-conscious at that. My heart is most definitely in this book, which has been in me for a long time. I’m so happy to see it out and looking so beautiful!
Do you have a favorite pattern in Romantic Hand Knits, or one that has a special meaning to you?
I would have to say the cover skirt is very special to me. I’ve shown that photo to many knitters, and I’ve heard some women say, “I’d make that skirt, if I had that butt!”
I really want folks to understand that it’s not so much about having a tiny butt, or the “perfect” butt, as much as it’s about liking the butt you have. There are a lot of ways to get to this Zen place, but if you have the greatest looking figure in the world and you’re not liking it, you may as well wear a sack.
Likewise, if you have a less than perfect shape, but you love all the amazing things your body can do and have a fondness for your shape, you’ll look good in an amazing number of things. Confidence is a terrific butt-lift. Plus, the skirt is designed to help trick the eye into seeing the derriere in the most flattering light . . .