I was really excited to get a chance to review a number of new digital editions of Melanie Falick/STC Craft books. I really love the quality, layouts, and gorgeous photography that they utilize for their knitting books, and I was very excited to get a chance to look at these books on one of my portable devices. The iPad is quickly becoming my favorite place to store knitting PDFs and books, as I can take it along with me and I don’t lose it as easily as I tend to lose paper patterns.
The first thing then to know is that, unfortunately, the file format of these books is currently incompatible with the iPad or the Kindle. The books have to be read in something called Adobe Digital Editions, and although they are saved in an epub format, they cannot be opened in iBooks. For me, this meant that the only place I can read the review copies is on my large desktop computer. I think these editions would be most useful to someone who owns a laptop, which I unfortunately do not. In the meantime, I’m just going to have to hope that Apple and Adobe hash out their differences and make it easier for the consumer.
If you do have a laptop, and you like to take it with you to coffee shops and knit (this is what I imagine people with laptops do, because it’s what I’d do if I had a laptop) then I think these digital copies of some really great books could be ideal for your purposes. You don’t have to lug around a library’s worth of hardcover books to be able to access the pattern you want, nor do you have to photocopy the pattern and risk losing a sheath of papers. Instead, you could be sitting at a table, laptop open in front of you, sipping a tea, and working on a cute little hat for a friend’s new baby. See how glamorous your life is?
The two books I looked at were Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson and Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick. Joelle Hoverson is the brilliant mind behind Purl Soho, and she’s a master of color and texture as well as elegant and striking simplicity. This makes her a really ideal author for a Melanie Falick book since their aesthetics are very compatible.
The colors of some of the photos were a little faded in the compression, but overall the images were clear, bright, and cheery. In some cases, an entire page of the publication was composed of a single picture, something that I think works better in a print format, since it’s more integrated into one’s view of the page spread. It wasn’t distracting, but I’d have preferred to see these photos moved into a page with text so I could mentally pair it with the words. All page numbers and pattern names were clickable, making it easy to navigate to a referred to example. In the case of pattern names, the navigation took me to the page on which the pattern started, often skipping a photograph of the item in question, so a little back tracking was necessary. This is something I think might be more seamless on a touchscreen device, leading me once again to hope for a resolution of Adobe and Apple’s differences!
Both books are excellent in their own right, and I enjoy the simplicity and elegance of the patterns. The Baby Bonnet from Last Minute Knitted Gifts is a gorgeous example of a simple concept made special through a combination of interesting textures and elegant color. Weekend Knitting has nearly 40 patterns including a couple of beautiful examples of two color brioche stitch. The nice thing about both of these books is that the patterns can serve as base recipes from which the knitter takes off and adds his or her own touch. The examples provided really show the effect color and texture have on a simple knit, so it’s easy to extrapolate and add a personal touch in a way that can be a little harder with a more complex pattern.
While I would like to see these books available in more formats, the quality of the patterns, photography, and the convenience of an ebook lead me to recommend them to those who have laptops. For the rest of us, our day may be coming soon! If you’re interested in trying a free pattern to see what it’s like, enjoy this pattern for the Airy Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts.