Austen in August Review: Pride & Preju-Knits, Trixie von Purl

I feel it would be unfair to go through the whole of Austen in August without making mention of what is quite possibly my favourite Austen-esque acquisition of recent months.  A particularly lovely friend gave me this for my birthday – Jane Austen knitting patterns!  Subtitled ’12 Genteel Knitting Projects Inspired by Jane Austen’, it gives helpful instructions as to how one could go about knitting oneself a Mr Darcy, or indeed a Miss Elizabeth.  With suggestions from all six of the novels, the Jane Austen handicraft fan need look no further.

There is a standard pattern for the dolls, one for a regency lady and the other for a gentleman, but as all knitters know, no two patterns ever turn out identically.  Due to the way in which model-making wire is inserted into the ‘skeleton’ of the dolls, there seems to be a decent amount of flexibility in the design which allows for the dolls to be re-posed, a definite plus if you want to re-use.  As a major disclaimer, I am someone who regularly has to pull the knitting off the needle, rip out several rows and then start again.  Because of this, a lot of the knitting within this book remains something to aspire to rather than being actually achievable.  The clothes seem easy enough but the patterns for the dolls’ bodies requires working in the round with DPNs, something which I have yet to master.  That being said, earlier this year I learnt how to make teddy bears, something which at one point had felt like a crazy dream, so who knows?

So why am I so keen on a knitting pattern book full of patterns that I haven’t got round to making?  It’s incredibly pretty!  I don’t normally go for books based on something like that, but a book of knitted Austen dioramas is such a fun thing to own.  The scene above from Lydia and Wickham’s wedding?  See Darcy’s hand on Wickham’s shoulder in case he tries to run away?  The detail is fantastic – I particularly like the surprised expression on the face of the vicar.  A later scene has the same dolls walking happily out of the church arm in arm.  Still, my personal favourite is the scene where Colonel Brandon fights a duel to avenge his ward’s seduction by the despicable Mr Willoughby.

It’s a strange thing that this scene is so easily skipped over and forgotten – a bare three lines or so of text within Sense and Sensibility refer to it.  It’s impressive that Ms Trixie von Purl is such an avid Austen that she spotted it – she’s clearly no casual fan.  It’s this attention to detail that makes this such a lovely book quite apart  from whether I ever become confident enough on double pointed needles to actually attempt the patterns.  Given how commercial Jane Austen’s work has become, it would be easy to create a knitting book around her book – lazy even – with the simple goal of profit.  All one would really have to do would be to design a Lizzie Bennet doll and a Darcy but the author here has made such an effort to imbue the dolls with personality, to make them as realistic as possible and has ideas for all of the key scenes within the six novels.  It’s a true work of art and reminds me again of why I fell in love with knitting in the first place.  Pride and Preju-Knits is a book that is great fun to get out and look at no matter what one’s attitude is towards handicrafts.  Bravo to Trixie von Purl!

four-half-stars
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Pride & Preju-Knits by Trixie von Purl
Published by Search Press Limited on September 28th 2015
Pages: 112
Goodreads
ISBN: 9781782213130


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