Ever since I stumbled upon a mind-boggling little book titled Food Knit on the Amazon Japan website, I have been salivating over the possibilities of knitted food. Published by Toho Shuppan, by an artist/author whose name eludes me because I can't read Japanese, Food Knit greatly pushes the possibilities of materials and techniques . Never has eyelash looked as elegant as on the tiny cakes displayed within; or mohair as mouthwatering (pickled ginger, prosciutto, lettuce on a hamburger); or felting as worth the effort (small rolled pancakes rolled again in leaves, blushing-pink peaches).
Problematically, even if you could read Japanese, you'd never unearth the artist's secrets to knitting up a whole fish on a platter of roasted vegetables, or a giant chef's salad, or a prickly chestnut open at the top of its outer shell to reveal three smooth nuts within, or bento boxes filled with a host of Japanese lunch specialties. Because: the book provides no knitting instructions. And even if it did, well, they'd be in Japanese.
You could certainly wing it (provided you were able to track down the book first). Or, if winging it makes you break out in a cold sweat, you could start simple and sweet in the knitted food department, with a new book called Knitted Cakes by Susan Penny, published by Search Press and available now for pre-order. There are, as the subtitle promises, 20 sweets to make. And, relievingly, there are also 20 accompanying well-written sets of instructions, which appear right alongside the photo of the sweet in question rather than at the end of the book. The latter circumstance I always find slightly uninspiring - prefer to have the finished item in plain site as I am grappling with knitting it.
Most alluring of the sweets in the slender volume: a slice of double-layer chocolate cake with a fuzzy cream filling. A little square of pink birthday cake topped with a knitted candle. A fruit tart festooned with cherries and grapes and strawberries. Lemon meringue pie. A poof of a Viennese Whirl. And a Raspberry Heart Cake (note to self: a small, easy project to keep in mind for Valentine's Day). Those of you with sweets-loving children are advised to keep this book under wraps unless you are prepared to knit up the contents of an entire bakery shelf.
I'll be appearing at the end of February at Knitty City in Manhattan, with Sabrina Gschwandtner, author of KnitKnit, and Kathy Goldner, founder of Knitting Out Loud. Stay tuned for more info.