Today we're going to have a look at the newly released A Head for Trouble: What To Knit While Catching Crooks, Chasing Clues, and Solving Murders, by Julie Turjoman, AKA Ravelry user juliebean. The book is available on Amazon as well as via Ravelry, and I've also been authorized to offer a free e-book version of it on the Facebook page for this blog. I'll be picking a winner this Sunday, so be sure to pop over to the page if you want a chance to win the copy!
The book contains twenty patterns for hats and other accessories, each set of which was inspired by a specific character from a "lady detective" novel set in the 1920s, which is a fabulous concept for a knitting book. There is definitely something irresistible about the idea of a woman who can solve a murder and accessorize her outfits with style. Wouldn't we all like to either be or to date such a woman? Julie Turjoman provides biographical detail on each character as well as the name and the author of the book she is from. (Favourite detail: One character has a pet cheetah named Biscuit.) Given my love for both mysteries and 1920s and 1930s fashions, this concept is so on point that Turjoman may have hit one of my arteries.
My love of vintage style and detective stories was instilled in me at a young age. Back in the eighties I read the Nancy Drew books with the sixties-era yellow-spined cover designs, as exemplified by the The Secret of the Old Clock cover on the left. When, in my twenties, I first saw the original thirties cover art such as that on the right, I was very aggrieved. Why did I have to grow up with a flip-haired Nancy in prim little dresses when I could have been imagining her in clochés and thirties sportswear? Is there even a contest between these two covers in terms of style and visual interest? I think not. But let's get to the review.
The Daisy Cloche and Collar. I like the cloche on the whole, with its appliquéd beaded leaves and added emblem brooch, though I'm not liking that slightly unfinished-looking rolled brim. I'm not quite sure what to suggest in terms of an alternative, however. I'd perhaps add a full brim, borrowing the design from one of the other designs in this book. The collar is very pretty, even elegant. If the added scarf isn't to your liking, it can be left off completely as it's designed to be attached to the collar by way of slipping the scarf's loops over the cowl's snaps.
The Phryne Head Wrap and Wristlets. This set is quite fetching and looks like a good way to add some extra warmth while leaving a woman's hands free and her hair more or less unflattened, and how perfect is that little Art Deco silver brooch? (Though good luck finding one like it.) There might be better colour combinations for this set, though.
Kate Toque and Camera Bag. I love the toque, which is faultlessly stylish, but the camera bag (read: iPod cover) looks like something out of Knit Simple. I'd have designed the camera bag to more closely resemble the touque.
Georgiana Cloche and Scarf. I quite like this set. The hat has a good shape. It features another rolled brim, but this one is even and flattering. I like the idea of making embellishments by attaching a button to a crocheted flower. Julie Turjoman's eye for added embellishments is obviously very good, and adding things like brooches and buttons or other crafted touches is an excellent way to lend style to a knitted hat or other accessory. It's making me do some project planning regarding a certain vintage seed pearl and peridot brooch that's in my jewelry box and that I love but never seem to wear because I can't stand putting little brooch holes in my clothes.
The Verity Tam and Scarf. This is the most striking set of all those in this book and the one I would have chosen for the cover look. The tam is adorable and the scarf, which is practical because it will stay securely in place and not wind up in one's coffee, is so very thirties I half expect it come across it some old movie sometime. My one nitpick is those buttons, which aren't adding much to the look. I'd have found some buttons or beads that matched better, or left them off entirely.
The Jade Cap and Fingerless Mitts are perhaps the simplest and most easy to wear of all the accessory sets in the book, and they still have their share of style.
Mercy Cloche and Cuffs. Nice set. The hat has a very smart shape. The mitts can be worn flounce up or flounce down as you choose.
One modification I would make to this hat is close the slit in the back of the brim, because it makes the hat look like it's coming apart.
The Dandy Cap and Binoculars Bag. I'm anti-doily, so I can't sign off on the embellishments used here. I'd have gone with flowers, and done a more interesting shaped bag.
The Maisie Cloche and Driving Gloves. This set is one of my favourites in this book. The hat and gloves are both well-shaped and nicely detailed, and I particularly love the button tab detail on the driving gloves. They're perfect for driving your runabout off to the latest crime scene.
The Jasmine Pillbox and Scarf. Hmm. The ripple stripe here is more than a little afghan-y, and the embellishment doesn't quite work with it. The colours are good and the hat does look okay unembellished. I think I'd advise that if you want to stripe this hat, don't add anything too frou frou to it (i.e., buttons would be fine) and wear it with a parka, but if you do want to add a flower or a brooch and to wear it with a dressier coat, make the hat in a solid or at least merely variegated single yarn.