When I saw Macoco’s fantastic Greta Garbo sweater, I became intrigued by the book it came from–Hollywood Knits, by Bill Gibb–so I added it to my shopping cart the next time I had an Amazon purchase to make. I didn’t know anything about the book aside from seeing that sweater, so it was a leap of faith to buy it. All I knew was what she’d posted–that it was a book of sweater designs inspired by classic photos of various Hollywood stars in knitwear.
(A brief long aside: I used to do this all the time back in high school. I found out about the Magnetic Fields from a friend from an online chat room and went out to buy a copy of Holiday based on his recommendation alone, having no idea what the band would sound like. I somehow obtained a paper catalog from Firebird Records and randomly ordered British folk rock CDs based on one-paragraph written descriptions of the music.
Nowadays, we depend so much on sample-before-you-buy, no-commitment purchasing, whether it’s downloading an entire album and listening to it for weeks before deciding to buy it, scarfing free samples at Costco, or buying 20 pairs of shoes at Zappos–something we discussed at knit night tonight–with the ability to return them all if you change your mind. We’re guarded, we’re picky, we use Metacritic to sort through dozens of reviews at once and can reject an album before ever hearing a single note of it.
But back in the day, I think I used to discover a lot more cool new stuff because of that necessary leap of faith. Once I had committed to the random purchase to learn about something new, I had an investment in it, and it was in my own best interest to give it a fair chance and find things to appreciate about the item I’d already bought. Sort of like an arranged marriage, maybe; once you’re committed, even if you might not have originally made that decision if you could have made a fully informed, consenting choice, you really try to find something to love.)
So, in that same spirit, I ordered the book. Oddly enough, almost all the listings for used copies of Hollywood Knits on Amazon have it as being by “Bill Gibbs,” but it should be Gibb, as far as I can tell, like this listing and this listing have it.
I’m kind of amazed that Macoco took her own leap of faith to make the sweater in the first place. The sweaters are all illustrated in two ways: 1) the photo of the inspiration sweater, and 2) a crazy 80s “fashion” line drawing of the sweater, very stylized and inevitably with gigantic, padded trapezoid shoulders tapering to a carrot-like waist. Some of the inspiration photos are sort of hard to see, too, so I guess you just have to read through the pattern and hope for the best.
Anyway, I thought I’d pay a little debt back to the Internet, and enable all you fickle noncommittal shoppers to get a taste of what’s inside Hollywood Knits. The Bill Gibb book, not the Suss Cousins one.
In no particular order, here are the photos of the patterns found in this book. There is interesting chatter about the patterns and the movie stars in all the facing pages.
Greta Garbo, in the sweater that piqued my interest in the first place.
Jean Harlow in a polo shirt.
Adele Jergens in a fluffy monstrosity.
Loretta Young in what might be a cute, classic cardigan. Who can tell?
Claudette Colbert in a pretty puff-sleeved blouse embroidered with flowers.
Vilma Banky in a tennis vest with flags on the chest. I would make one like this with two American flags and embroider “THESE COLORS DON’T RUN” across the stomach. I think that would be very classy.
Joan Crawford in a puff-sleeved sweater that’s sort of hard to separate from her overall suspendertastic, old-man-feeding-pigeons-in-the-park look.
Peggy Cummins in a turtleneck that might be very cute but also has giant shoulder pads for the Carroty look.
Cary Grant in a basic cabled V-neck. NEEDS MORE ANGORA AND SHOULDER PADS
Jane Greer in a sweet blazer, holding a giant tie
Jennifer Jones in a big textured coat I think I might love, if I could only see what the front of it would look like.
Dorothy Lamour in a bejeweled boatneck.
Jane Wyman in a shirt emblazoned with embroidered cigarettes.
Marilyn Monroe in a turtleneck vest thing with the neck pinned down by a brooch. It looks fabulous, but I suspect it loses some of the overall fabulous effect if you do not look like Marilyn Monroe.
Virginia Mayo in a bird sweater.
Robert Taylor, in a cabled sweater as boring as his name.
Gary Cooper, in a sweater with kind of an awesome colorwork band across the chest.
Errol Flynn. Yeah, baby!
crap, counting these now, I think I’m short one pattern, but I don’t know which one it is. Anyway, that’s at least 19 out of 20. Now you’ve sampled what’s inside, and can find excuses not to buy this book.