Fashions by Solange Brien: New Knitting and Crochet Designs for Fall and Winter


109 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-88794-154-0





Reviewed by Ann Tudor

Ann Tudor was the former Managing Editor of Canadian Book Review Annual and had her own Toronto-based crafts company, Honest Threads.


Solange Brien, known to Canadians for her work on Radio-Canada’s Magazine Express, is a designer and a consultant to the yarn industry. Her book provides instructions for some 50 knitted and crocheted garments, illustrated in a separate section of 39 color photos (ten of the garments are modelled by “well-known CBC personalities”). Most of the projects are sweaters, but leg-warmers, hats, coats, and vests are also included. Introductory matter covers fabric care and labels, abbreviations, knitting and crocheting instructions (illustrated with clear drawings), and instructions on making cords, fringe, and pompoms.

The garments require a wide range of experience — some can be done in a few hours even by a beginner, others are long-term projects. The instructions include diagrams with measurements indicated in both inches and centimeters.

Though books of knitting and crocheting designs are always valuable, providing ideas as well as specific projects, I have a few quibbles with this one. First of all, it is rare to find a craftsperson who likes to knit and crochet; most people prefer one or the other. Consequently, a book like this one will have too many knitting projects to please the crocheters, and vice versa. The other problem with the book is a less-than-meticulous attention to detail: “indispensible” in the caption to photo number 18; an unnumbered figure on page 15, labelled “Point mousse” and illustrating what books like a seed stitch — but no reference or instructions can be found anywhere in the surrounding text to seed stitch or point mousse. Though these are certainly not grave errors, they bespeak a certain insouciance that may or may not be carried over into the actual knitting instructions. Nothing is more annoying than finding an error in the instructions halfway through a knitting project; finding errors elsewhere in the book might deter a knitter from using a pattern from this book, just on the suspicion that there might be an error.

Finally, the captions to five of the color photos state that the pattern “can also be worked on a machine.” This statement is repeated as a lead-in to the instructions for one (!) of these five garments. But absolutely no mention is made of any adaptations that the machine knitter must make (not to mention that number 22, a sweater with a recurring garter stitch design, would hardly be an ideal choice for a pattern to adapt to a machine, since the garment would repeatedly have to be removed from the machine, turned, and rehung). In short, the casual references to machine knitting in the captions seem to have been just tacked on to attract the growing number of machine knitters in Canada.

Despite its faults, this will be a useful addition to library crafts sections, where it will provide users with inspiration as well as complete new projects.


Brien, Solange, “Fashions by Solange Brien: New Knitting and Crochet Designs for Fall and Winter,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,