The wonderful folks at One Peace Books sent me a copy of American Spun: 20 Classic Project Exploring Homegrown Yarn to review a little while ago, and I’ve finally had some time to peruse this copy. The book is written by Anna Sudo and it retails for $19.95.
Overall this book is very elegant. The aim is to highlight American yarn manufacturers, fifteen in all, with patterns created with those yarns in mind. I was especially curious to learn more about Brooklyn Tweed, Jill Draper Makes Stuff, Spincycle Yarns, and Pigeon Roof Studios. There is a short biography about each yarn manufacturer including what might inspire their process and yarn making. One of my favorite features of the book was the list of abbreviations available printed on the inside of the front cover. I haven’t seen that in a knitting book before, but it I can see myself flipping easily to it in the middle of a pattern, rather than flipping through pages that would take me away from my place in the pattern.
The pattern photographs have an element of the aspirational lifestyle feel with plenty of detailed shots of the beautiful projects. I loved many of these projects. Gannett is a lovely little pair of fingerless mitts that I could see myself making and loving with good tweedy texture. Though I’m not into head scarves very often, there is something very appealing about Colden. The cabling highlights the texture of the yarn very well and I’m especially fond of the way it looks with the tied end worn under the hair. Harriman is a hat with gorgeous embroidered details, but I don’t know if I would ever go to the trouble do actually do that kind of embroidery. Vallecito is a classic-looking men’s pullover with simple details that I could see many men wearing without objection, especially those that get fussy about details. Coeur d’Alene has fantasticly beautiful cabling details on the yoke of the pullover and I adore the color of the sample. Those five patterns were my favorite in the book.
There were several other patterns that were just a maybe for me, or were similar to things I’ve seen before and have disregarded. I won’t name names, but aside from those five listed above I would be unlikely to make any of the other patterns, unless I dived into a Ravelry wormhole of knitted examples and saw something really inspiring. I can’t see myself ever knitting Minnewaska with size 50 needles, though it is gorgeous and I know Matt has been lusting after some similar bulkier-than-you’ve-ever-seen-before blankets on Etsy that go for about $600-800, so I guess it’s nice to have a pattern for one on hand just in case. Also, I would have loved to see a sock pattern in the midst, rather than slipper socks. That being said, liking five patterns in a $20 book would probably be enough for me to buy it, and I think it’s definitely worth exploring. This is a book I would be more likely to buy for the information about the yarns as well. I love a knitting book that I can pick up and read too.
The whole vibe of the book made me want to be sitting by a fire with some wooden needles and something tweedy between my fingers. I’d give it a B+ overall. I love the theme and the content about the different yarns. I makes me more likely to seek out some of those yarns, by knowing more about them. I would likely make a few of the patterns, but as with most pattern books I own, this one might end up being something I flip through just because it’s lovely.