Book Review: Knitting the National Parks

America’s National Parks have inspired artists and regular folks as long as they have existed, and Nancy Bates found inspiration from the parks for her knit hat collection Knitting the National Parks.

The book includes mostly colorwork hat patterns for each of 63 national parks, from the well known (Yosemite, Arches, the Petrified Forest) to the obscure (Isle Royale, Kobuk Valley, Voyageurs).

Each hat includes design elements drawn from the park itself, such as the pink bands of pegmatite found amid the darker rocks of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, or the ancient bristlecone pine tress of Great Basin.

Embellishments like bobbles, textured stitches and surface embroidery add more details to many of the hats.

These patterns are best for intermediate knitters because of all the colorwork and the fact that all patterns are charted. Almost all of the hats call for worsted weight yarn, and while many of the hats use between two and four colors, there are several that use more. (You can see many of the patterns on her website.)

The notes for each pattern explain what inspired it. Out of the context of the book, though, these are just nice hat patterns that don’t always read like they were inspired by a park. Acadia’s birch-patterned hat could be a blue sky with clouds if worked in another colorway, for example, while Wind Cave’s calcite formations look like animal print.

These hats are a great opportunity to plan with colorwork and other design elements even if the hat you like isn’t tied to a park you’ve been to. And learning more about the parks might just inspire a bit of wanderlust as you plan your next national park outing. Just don’t forget to pack your knitting!

About the Book: 272 pages, hardcover, 63 patterns. Published August 2022, Weldon Owen. Retail price $35.

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