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Another Collection of Previously Published Patterns From Vogue Knitting Magazine
on February 11, 2013
THE ULTIMATE HAT BOOK is another collection of patterns that were mostly published previously in Vogue Knitting magazine: this time the focus is hats. Perhaps to justify the "ultimate" title, the editors have added 10 pages of "Hat Basics" at the beginning of the book. The "Basics" topics are: History of Knitted Hats (interesting, but only 2 pages); Anatomy of a Hat (definitions of "visor", "band", etc.); Types of Hats (cloche, chullo, etc.); and Basic Techniques (knitting in the round, knitting back and forth, yarn selection, etc.).
The "Hats Off to Knitting" introduction states that the editors culled the magazine archives for "favorite and most enduring" designs, and also asked current designers to submit new designs for "their perfect hat". Unfortunately, there's no way to tell which designs are new, and which are reprinted (short of pulling out your old magazines). Some of the reprinted patterns were originally written for now-discontinued yarns, so the editors have substituted available yarns. To the editors' credit, the discontinued yarns are fully described in the "Helpful Information" at the back of the book.
When the VK magazine patterns were originally published, the hat designs were fresh and fashionable. However, as collected in this book, the reprinted patterns seem dated and somewhat dull, and the new patterns don't stand out from the rest. The book's layout doesn't help. A colored band on each right-hand page lets you fan the book pages to find the pattern categories (Basic Shapes, Cables, Lace, Color, Embellishments), but this restricts the full-page model photos to the left-hand pages, resulting in a predictable, boring presentation.
The patterns have clear, written-out instructions supplemented by charts as necessary. There aren't any patterns for very simple, basic hats (which I think should be part of any "ultimate" hat book). I like some of the hat designs very much--for example, "Brioche Swirl Hat", "Plaid Tam", "Cabled Pillbox", "Hood" (but my goodness, all that moss stitch!), "Beanie", and "Bowler". Nevertheless, because I simply can't get excited about this collection, I rate THE ULTIMATE HAT BOOK at 3 stars ("it's okay" on the official Amazon scale).