Knitting Reimagined by Nicky Epstein

Knitting Reimagined by Nicky Epstein

ISBN 10: 0385346255
ISBN 13: 978-0385346252

Publication date: 03 June 2014 by Potter Craft

Category: Adult nonfiction

Keywords: Knitting, crafts

Format: Hardcover, ebook

Source: Finished hardcover copy from Publisher

I usually avoid Nicky Epstein designs, as they frequently don’t match the kind of clothes I want to make. I’m a very practical knitter in general; while I love to knit complicated cables and lace, I also like the pieces I create to be things I can wear comfortably all the time, whether I’m going to the office, out and about, or just sitting at home knitting more things. Epstein’s designs tend to appear much more precious and frilly than I’d normally wear.

I took a chance that Knitting Reimagined would have at least a couple of projects I could envision wearing, and that’s about all I got. I’ll agree that the designs are imaginative, playing with construction techniques, turning oddly-shaped sections at weird angles, and utilizing just about every show-offy skill there is: entrelac, intarsia, you name it. However, considering the amount of time it takes to finish a project if your knitting schedule is hampered by things like a day job or other hands-on activity, I don’t think there are many pieces I would bother starting. On this very short list are the Crisscross Weave Tank with its braided back strap (p. 92), the dainty Edging Epilogue Dress (p. 162), and maybe, just maybe, the Directional Vest (p. 78), minus the swirly I-cord closure in front. 

One thing I do like about the book is that a “re-imagine it” section appears at the beginning of each pattern. It took me up to the third or fourth pass through this book to really take them to heart, otherwise I wouldn’t even have been able to come up with the handful of projects that I might want to make and wear. Even then, occasionally even these miss the mark; on the Quintessential Cable Pullover, for example, it states “You’ll want to keep the unique sleeve construction and the flaps…” No, no you won’t. This pullover is a busy mess of tight cables, ribs, and flaps that make it look like the upside-down parapets of a castle. Compiled with poufed shoulders, an additional band of cable over each wrist, and a collar (optional, the re-imagine section notes, you can leave it off for “a sleek V-neck”), it’s a hot mess of a sweater.

One project I’m still on the fence about is the Buttons and Bows Manteau (p. 124). It’s a dress-length jacket in a lightweight mint-green yarn, with tucks adding texture to the skirt of the piece. There are two pink bows adorning the front on either side of the buttoned opening, and another one in back over a pleat to shape the waist. The optional ruffled collar is in the same contrasting color. My first thought is to change the color scheme entirely. The “re-imagine it” note suggests, “Remove bows or add even more to create the look you want.” Add even more? Crazy talk. I really like the undulating shape of the tucks, but I’m already considering undertaking this piece in a purple sportweight yarn and replacing the bows with puffy stars to make a sort of deconstructed Lumpy Space Princess outfit for next year’s Comic-Con. In other words, I’m not seriously considering making this unless it’s part of a costume.

I’ll spare you and the designer my descriptions of the projects I didn’t like and can’t re-imagine into a marginally wearable ensemble; that would just be hurtful snark. I can’t decide if some of them are just tragically old-fashioned, or trying and failing to reach into the realm of couture. My modern/pragmatic biases aside, the book itself is fine. Photographs are taken from thoughtful angles and if nothing else, jog the imagination towards “this would look almost OK if…” The instructions and charts are clear, at least the ones that I read through completely for the handful of projects I think I might someday attempt. I can tell that this book really tried to stretch past the boundaries of the typical knitting pattern; it just doesn’t quite make it past the edge.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for review purposes.

The Giver - Movie Review

The Giver

Release date: 15 August 2014

Directed by: Phillip Noyce

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites

Based on the novel The Giver by Lois Lowry

Walden Media/The Weinstein Company

This review may lightly touch on some spoilers for those who have not read the book.

I’ve had my qualms about the film version of The Giver for some time now. First, the studio released a color trailer, when long-time fans of the book were expecting at least part of the film to be in black-and-white, since the community examined by both forms of the story has done away with the perception of color in the interest of maintaining equality as the highest ideal. It took the production several weeks to release the expected black-and-white trailer, but by then the damage had been done: the Internet’s buzz about the film had dissolved into a disapproving hum. Pre-release marketing was capped off by a fundraising campaign called The Giver 4 Good, which despite some nebulousness* managed to raise almost $20,000 for arts charities, and gave fans a chance to attend the August 11 NYC premiere of the film with the principal cast and production team.

I had hoped Jeff Bridges’s involvement and passion for the project would mean a better-than-predicted outcome, since he was co-producing as well as playing the titular character. I headed to the theater on opening night (husband in tow) in the hopes that the futuristic, aged-up adaptation would at least deliver the cathartic feeling I remember from reading the book. Unfortunately, while occasionally entertaining and exploding with color, the movie seemed to flatten itself against its own emotional payload to the point of muffling the reactions and understanding of the audience.

I really liked the futuristic interpretation and overall design of the film: the communities, the uniforms, and the stiffly cheerful way the characters conducted themselves in their utopian existence. The cast and the director, Phillip Noyce, did a passable job of recreating and interpreting the mood and characters of the novel. Meryl Streep is chillingly authoritative as the Chief Elder, all sharp edges and crisp lines. I also loved the sweet, haunting soundtrack.

Despite all that was good about it, the adaptation overall seemed a little tone-deaf. The introduction of shaky-cam in the later scenes as Jonah (played by the ebullient Brenton Thwaites) flees the community jarred me in just the wrong way. It was hard to watch and really took me out of the action, even as it was supposed to drop the viewer right into the urgency of his escape. Adorable as he might be at other points in the movie, Jonah’s clumsy overtures towards childhood friend Fiona (portrayed by charming newcomer Odeya Rush) bordered on the smarmy, while also being unintentionally funny. Furthermore, Taylor Swift’s cameo as Rosemary doesn’t reveal any particular talent for acting; absolutely zero spark between her and the parental figure she shares the scene with makes the scene uncomfortably slow and quiet.

My husband, Jason, would occasionally laugh inappropriately and elbow me in the darkness of the theater, finding these missteps humorous. For him, since he had never read the book and was unfamiliar with the story, the scene which explains the concept of “release” to the audience (carried out in perfect stoicism by Alexander Skarsgård) fell fatally flat. What should have elicited a gasp of realization or horror from the crowd elicited no reaction at all from either of us; in fact, Jason’s strongest impression of the film was how happy he would be to give up anything if it meant he could live in their tidy, peaceful, well-organized community.

While not a total disaster, The Giver's film adaptation hits too many sour notes to be thoroughly satisfying, whether or not you have read the novel. If nothing else, it's a great tool around which one can build a discussion of film vs. print and the difficulties inherent in translating one form of media to the other. Hard-core fans will likely leave disappointed, while those with middling-to-low acquaintance with the material may find enough in the pretty visuals to keep them entertained. As for me, I must have gotten my injection that day; nothing about The Giver touched my heartstrings enough to move me to either laughter or tears.

New York Premiere, Monday, August 11, 2014

*As a participant in The Giver 4 Good campaign, I wondered what organization was going to benefit from the fundraiser, as the preliminary materials didn’t state any place in particular. I eventually got in touch with someone from the campaign and found out that American Repertory Theater (A.R.T) was one of them, based in Boston but with a supporting group in NYC. The organizer wasn’t able to name any of the other “arts charities”.

Lack of concrete information and all, I wasn’t able to convince anyone I knew to donate. However, I still “placed” high enough in the campaign to get a pass to the NYC premiere of the movie. Since I wasn’t about to spend $1300 on airfare to see a free movie (even if The Dude was going to be there, which to be honest, made me seriously consider the possibility) I figured out a way to transfer the ticket to an elementary school teacher friend of mine in the area.

Photo credit: Colleen Khachatourians. L to R: Meryl Streep (Chief Elder), Brenton Thwaites (Jonah), Odeya Rush (Fiona), Katie Holmes (Mother), Cameron Monaghan (Asher), Taylor Swift (Rosemary), Emma Tremblay (Lilly), author Lois Lowry, director Phillip Noyce, producer Nikki Silver (?), producer Jeff Bridges

Having just read the book herself, and having been moved so deeply by it, the film version was “a bit of a disappointment” in the way it rushed through the beginning of the story, failing to connect you to the characters. 

She wrote to me:

"Much of the important details are quickly explained in little soundbites or glimpses. At least the movie makes the most of the gray vs color detail. It seemed like the most potentially powerful details were glossed over or softened. This was a book that scarred the children who read it. I was hoping it would make the audience shit in their pants. It didn’t bear that same weight for people. I didn’t shed a single tear. The last half is almost completely rewritten.

My 13-year-old friend J.T., who attended a remote premiere, agrees: “At first they followed the book a lot but then BANG! They added a bunch of whatever they wanted. Also, there was completely different messages from the book compared to the movie. Overall I think it was worth seeing… since I didn’t have to pay a single cent. :P”

Colleen still seems glad the had the chance to attend the premiere, and at the very least she had a little fangirl moment when she walked past Lois Lowry.

The Giver Collection from China Glaze. I got everything except “Community”. Don’t ask me why CG seems to throw a poo-brown color into every collection.

My signed copy of The Giver (thanks, Amber :)

The Giver is currently in theatres nationwide, plus Canada, Israel and India. It will release worldwide over the next 6 weeks.

5th Blogaversary Giveaway

I’ve been blogging on and off since 1998. It’s been such a fun and fulfilling part of my life and though I slow down now and then, I never really stop, and probably never will.

Some big things happening on this, the 5th anniversary of my current blog, Read Now Sleep Later:

1) We are going to be switching over to a new blog! will remain where it is for now, but new posts will only appear on, so update your bookmarks! We have a new Twitter @rnslbooks, but Facebook and Email followers, no need to switch :) 

2) CleverBee began as a group blog experiment with posts written by myself, Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy, and David Yenoki from I’ve decided to continue on my own, and Read Now Sleep Later will still cover book reviews, events, and giveaways. However, I’ll also be blogging about other things I think are cool or interesting under the CleverBee banner. Interested? Click “CleverBee” on the menu above.

3) Giveaways! Oh my gosh so many giveaways. Thanks to all of our followers, new and old, for reading and following our blogs.

Enter with the Rafflecopter widgets below, depending on where you are. Please read our contest policy if you enter any of the giveaways.

Giveaway #1

For our US followers, we have $100 worth of books from the oldest children’s bookstore in America, Once Upon a Time Bookstore (winner’s choice)! Make sure you follow them on Twitter and Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2

For our non-US followers, we have $50 worth of books from Book Depository (winner’s choice)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #3

Open to all Etsy shop followers anywhere in the world, 36 Book Geek buttons (a random selection) from my Etsy shop!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #4

Open to all school- or library-affiliated US blog followers, a 10-pack of Live to Read posters (16” x 24”)! Keep one for yourself and give the rest of them away to your students, friends, colleagues. (Or keep them all for yourself; we won’t tell!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and thanks again for your loyalty! We love you!