by Jillian Moreno, Amy R Singer, Kate
Atherley, Petra Bockus, Suzie Larouche
TNNA -- the National NeedleArts Association -- is the the organization
that most of the knitting companies who make stuff we love with
belong to. Manufacturers of yarn, knitting needles, bags, all
sorts of accessories, publishers of knitting books and magazines,
designers and distributors gather twice a year to show and see
what's new in the industry. Knitty has just returned from the
big fall show in Columbus, Ohio, and in this edition of Cool
Stuff, you get to see what we liked best from the show, fresh
from the show floor.
SR [Finished chest
measurement for sweaters] =
the smallest chest measurement to the largest
chest measurement we could find in
the book. There may be only one pattern
with the smallest or largest size, but it's in there. Books
are softcover unless noted otherwise. All prices USD unless
Iris by Offhand Designs
13"H x 16"W x 6 "D
Shown in Azul
Offhand Designs has been a Knitty favorite
for years for two reasons: style and quality.
These made-in-America bags are designed
with care and attention to detail by owner
Larisa Flint Snydal. This new bag, the
Iris, is no exception!
Loaded with generously sized pockets (5
on the outside, 4 on the inside), the bag
has room for a good-sized sweater project
on the needles, as well as all the pattern
pages and accessories you'll need. A snap
closes the bag -- no zippers to snag yarn
here. And as shown below, the bag easily
sits open on its own so that you can access
everything inside without struggling.
As shown, the bag comes in a thick, shimmery
blue fabric with soft green details and
sage green shoulder straps, and as you
can see on the Offhand Designs site, many
more limited edition textiles in a variety
of colorways are available to order.
Offhand Designs bags are collectible,
and her styles and fabrics sell out and
therefore change frequently. If the Iris
is your kind of bag, grab it now while
it's still available!
Ringletsand Ringers by
Ringlets (shown at top) fit up
to size US 8
Ringers (shown at bottom) fit up
to size US 10.5
Set of 20
Shimmeringly simple stitch markers with
a little bling, but none of the dangle that
can get caught in your work.
Confession here: I've had these to review
for more than a year, and saw them again
at TNNA and was reminded that I'd never yet
written their review. A few products have
had this happen to them in my care -- products
that are SO INSTANTLY USEFUL that they put
themselves into service in my knitting projects
and I forget that they're to be reviewed.
Knitifacts' Ringlets and Ringers are such
That should speak volumes for the utility
and quality of these markers.
Not one has broken or bent in all the time
I've been using them. They are, however,
pretty and shiny and make me happy as my
fingers move them from one needle to the
Snips(top) and Kitty
Snips(bottom) by HiyaHiya North America
Available in assorted colors
1 7/8" long
You may have seen the legendary Puppy Snips
at your LYS, and perhaps you even own a pair.
I have a few. They're insanely useful. I
make no claims for what you may experience,
but I have never had a TSA
agent even look at these, let alone confiscate
them. Teeny-tiny bladed scissors that look
more like candy than anything dangerous.
And they're not dangerous at all. They're
merely super useful.
Well, now the puppies have company. Due
to popular demand for equal time, HiyaHiya
has released their new Kitty Snips, and they're
just as cute, just as small, just as TSA-ignorable,
and just as useful.
I have used mine for every possible knitting
task, and they even work for removing labels
from new clothing bought on a trip (because
I hate labels in my clothes).
My pro tip: choose where you want them attached
permanently and then squeeze the ball-chain
clasp closed on both sides so it can't open
any more. I'm sure they're quite secure without
doing this, but after I did this, I've never
had to worry about losing my Snips, period.
And I like to attach them to my
zipper pulls for project bags, so they serve
double duty. Securing the ball-chain clasps
with a pair of jeweler's pliers makes sure
they don't go anywhere.
luxury hand creme by SOAK
Available in Aquae, Celebration, Lacey and
Comes in travel-friendly 3 oz. bottles
$10.00 per bottle
Handmaid is a clever and natural line extension
from the Heel foot cream. After all, it’s
true that hand-knit socks feel better on
soft and well-cared for feet – and
it’s even more true that knitting those
socks is more fun with soft and well-cared
It’s lovely hand cream,
light yet well-moisturizing, featuring a
selection of 3 of Soak’s
signature fragrances, and Amy's favorite
Scentless. It absorbs quickly, so it doesn’t
muck up your knitting or needles.
We love the travel-smart 3 oz bottle size.
Perfect to put in your purse, and you won't
have to surrender it at airport security!
Pouch by Hadaki
14"L × 0"W × 14.70"H
Available in a wide variety of prints and colors
Shown in Floral Swirl
Hadaki made another great showing at this
year's TNNA. Lots of new products, but first
I want to review something I've been hoarding
(while testing it) like a knitting miser
for a while. Because it's that good.
sure if you can tell from the picture, but
this pouch is made of a laminated fabric.
I love laminated fabrics...they last longer
and resist messy people problems like spilled
coffee or being ruined after a drop in a
puddle or on a wet bus floor.
This bag is absolutely awesome. It's big
enough for sweater parts and the accompanying
bits, and it's durable enough to stand up
to needles trying to poke through. I've been
using mine for a year and with absolutely
zero sign of wear. It looks brand new.
The bags are lined in a complimentary colored
nylon with matching drawstrings. Eyecatching,
and you'll always know which one is your
bag out of the pile at your knit night.
Okay, perhaps I should explain why I make
this statement. It's simple: the new Sajou
has resurrected an historic company and the
best of their historic products, including
the absolutely exquisite packaging design.
And now we get to enjoy the same quality
products that our grandmothers might have
used (especially if our grandmothers were
This time, let's look at their little round
tins. Each has a unique decorative label
on top and a functional label on the bottom
that describes the contents. Soon enough,
I could note at a glance that the juggling
court jester tin was the one that held the
So yes, each tin has different contents,
from a variety of dressmaker's pins in different
weights, mending threads in pale and bold
colors, T-pins, hooks and eyes, snaps, and
even little buttons. And the tins are well
made, with a little lever on the side to
help you open it with a minimum of fuss.
These would make a great gift for a crafty
friend, or a useful treat for yourself.
New at this year's show were the tiny, clever
knitting patterns from Blue Sky Alpacas.
Shown at left in their custom rotating rack
(recreated from a vintage piece, and available
for yarn shops who carry the range), these
7 patterns are designed to make perfect use
of one or two balls of the Blue Sky Alpacas
Royal Petites (100% Royal Alpaca, 100 yards/35
Styled like a vintage sewing pattern, what
you get is a heavy cardstock folder with
two large pockets, one on each side. In
one side, an alpaca trading card (!). In
the other, a large, fold-out-able pattern
with a picture of the item on one side and
full instructions on the other. They've even
thought to print a ruler on the pattern instructions
so you don't have to search for one.
Good design of a printed thing
can add to the enjoyment of owning and using
it. The care and attention to detail that
has been put into these little patterns will
make knitting from them a perfect little
Laura Zander (owner and founder of Jimmy Beans
Wool) and 30 of the biggest names in knitwear
design have joined together in the name of
women’s heart disease.
Norah Gaughan, Nicky Epstein, Deborah Newton,
Barry Klein, Kieran Foley, Debbie Bliss and
others present patterns knit in red yarn. There
are gorgeous garments and accessories. I’m
captivated by Deborah Newton’s Lace Leaf
Sweater and Norah Gaughan's Cabled Cardi.
Each designer also talks about how women’s
heart disease has touched their lives and gives
their own tips for staying heart healthy.
5% of the profits of this book will be contributed
to the Foundation for the National Institutes
of Health in support of The Heart Truth® and
women's heart health education and research.
Given that knitting is a sedentary craft, it's
nice to be reminded and supported to take care
of our helath.
June Hemmons Hiatt’s “The Principles
of Knitting” is the knitting
textbook. It’s startling in both its
breadth – everything from casting on
and binding off to steeks to knitting with
beads to twined knitting and beyond – and
its depth – 23 pages on picking up
stitches, more than 30 methods for binding
off, and a whole chapter on hems, facings
pleats and tucks. The chapters on Gauge and
Schematics and Measurements are unparalleled
in their clarity and depth of analysis. Any
question you might ever ask is answered.
And a hundred more.
The first edition of the book was published in the 1988, and was revered
at the time. It went out of print in the mid-1990s, and used copies of
that first edition would sell for hundreds of dollars. Ms. Hemmons Hiatt
has been revising the book for years, and knitters in the know have been
waiting eagerly for this new edition. It took significantly longer to revise
than anticipated, as the original source files had been lost. Although
a massive setback for the author and for the knitters eager to buy the
new edition, I believe this worked to our benefit, as every single word
had to be retyped and therefore revisited; every single illustration and
photograph recreated. As a result, the book has been significantly expanded,
with over 100 new illustrations and scores of pages of expanded material.
As in the previous edition, Ms. Hemmons Hiatt is fabulously and unrepentantly
opinionated – but she backs her opinions up with facts and reason.
You might not agree with her on everything, but you’ll understand
why (and how) your opinions differ.
She begins at the beginning, with a detailed discussion of the knit and
purl stitches, and an in-depth analysis of different methods of holding
the needles and yarn. Although the author says that she feels her book
usable by knitters of all levels and interests, this book will be most
valuable to and appreciated by curious knitters – those
who are ready to learn more, who are keen to understand how and why things
work, who relish knowing 10 different ways to do something and the pros
and cons of each. If you’re just coming to grips with garter stitch,
it would be utterly overwhelming. But once you’re past that and hungry
for more – no
matter whether you learned to knit last week or last century - it’s
simple: Buy this book. Read it. Reference it. Enjoy it. Treasure it.
My only real criticism of the book is her propensity to rename techniques.
If you’re looking for the Twisted German Cast On, for example, you’ll
be out of luck if you don’t know how Ms. Hiatt chooses to refer to
it (Twisted Half Hitch, by the way, of which there are several methods
I am a process knitter. There are many times
I don’t really care if a finish a project.
I like the swatching and figuring out of
all of the bits. When I first heard there
was going to be a book with nothing but cast
ons and bind offs, I did a little knit-geek
There are 33 cast ons and 21 bind off to sample and play with in this book.
The book is divided by cast ons and bind offs, then sub-divided into types – cast
ons: basic, stretchy, decorative, circular, double sided, multi color,
provisional, tubular and mobius; bind offs: basic, stretchy, decorative
Even though I was thoroughly jazzed to have this book,
I kept thinking , “Do knitters really need this many?”. As
I read through the book and worked some new-to-me cast ons and bind offs,
I discovered the answer is yes, and we probably need even more.
In each section and for each type of cast on or bind off, each individual
technique is shown photographed in a line, so you can visually
compare them. Each cast on or bind off is then treated individually. The
author discusses its characteristics and what each one is good for. Each
cast on or bind off is worked in a photographed walk through. I was able
to catch all of the twists and turns by following the photos. I loved the
addition of a photo that shows what the cast on or bind off looks
like from the right and wrong sides.
Part pattern book, part lesson in architectural
history, California Revival Knits is lush
and filled with delightful words, images
Please don’t just skip ahead to the
patterns in this book. If you don’t
read the introduction and about Stephannie’s
design process for this book, you will miss
out on so much detail and nuance of her knitting
She writes about the California Revival period
of architecture and decorative arts with
such knowledge and eloquence that I was moved
to do further reading on my own. She studied
the history and met with current master craftsmen
who create and recreate modern versions of
Revival tile work. The writing made the book
a much richer experience.
The knitting patterns are gorgeous modern
classics. Twisted stitches represent ironwork
and color knitting represents tile work.
The accessories are simple shapes with the
colorwork and stitch patterns taking center
stage. The Fringe Socks are brilliant – socks
mimicking tilework that mimics a woven rug.
The Peacock Cowl and Mitts are graceful and
beautiful. The garments may seem simple in
shape, but Stephannie has taken great care
to add shaping to each garment. These are
sweaters that a woman will look beautiful
in because the design is stunning and because
the garment actually fits a woman’s
body. I am in love with the simple
Tiles Sweater and complexly wonderful Wrought
Cardigan (actually, all of the Wrought patterns).
This is a wonderful book. The author shows
equal reverence for designing beautiful knitting
patterns and the architecture and craftwork
that inspired them.
This is one of those collaborations that
was just meant to be. Hannah Fettig has rereleased
9 of her most popular patterns reknit in
Quince & Co. yarns.
Her Wispy and Featherweight cardigans are
there, knit in fingering-weight yarn. Other
knits in dk and worsted are all beautiful
and a little bit more substantial than the
originals, but still with enough drape to
give them that feeling of effortlessness
in the wearing.
Hannah adds a succinct but thorough lesson
in drape. It was a light bulb moment for
my knitting brain.
The styling is Quince-perfect modern vintage,
with exquisite photography by Carrie Bostick
Even if you’ve knit any of these sweaters,
this re-visoning will make you want to knit
This isn’t a collection of pastel fingering-weight
sweaters covered with ruffles and teddy bears,
but a collection of knits for girls (ages
3-8) that is heavy on style
and lightish on time.
Sweaters, cardigans, vest and wraps with texture
and lovely detail. Most are knit in dk-worsted
weight. The shapes are simple, with feminine
detailing in the stitch patterns and finishing
touches. What I think is wonderful and fresh
about these patterns is the combination of
large stitch motifs, like leaves or cables
with a gauge of 4 or 5 stitches to the inch.
The result is a look that is bold yet girly
without being saccharine.
There are pullovers,
cardigans, wraps, skirts, a dress, hats and
scarves. I can guess that more than one item
in this book will become a favorite for any
little girl in your life. I am wishing that
some of these went up into adult sizes.
Knits by Katya Frankel
Cooperative Press $26.95
Knitting patterns for boys garments are
hard to find. I asked my 8-year-old son to
help me review this gem of a pattern book.
Which sweaters do you like? Boy: That
one because the boy looks
fun to play with he looks
like he likes Star Wars.
And probably Captain Underpants. Mom: Would
you want to wear that sweater
or just play with the boy? Boy: Play
After assuring him that all of the boys
modeling in the book like Star Wars, Harry
Potter and every manga-based cartoon character
that has ever existed, he finally got down
His favorites are Dax – pattern and
color (Mom, it’s orange!),
any sweater with a zipper (he asked about
adding a zip to most of them), Landon and
the Epsilon sweater vest.
My kid likes color. Few of the natural colored
sweaters made the cut for him, but that is
easy enough to change.
From the knitter-for-a-boy’s perspective,
the patterns aren’t complex but have
interesting textures. The yarns are mostly
worsted weight. I might actually finish more
than one before he grows out of them. There
are great tips for sizing and altering the
pattern to fit growing boys.
Final tally, my boy liked and would wear
more than half of the sweaters in this book,
and I would like to knit any of them. Win!
Like her two books before this one, Custom
Knits Accessories is about so much more than
the patterns in it. It seems that most
knitters that I know have at least two accessories
on their needles at all times. They are portable,
not necessarily simple, and really easy to
customize. This is where Wendy Bernard comes
In this book, she teaches you how
to design your own or customize existing
patterns for hats, shawls and cowls, gloves,
mitts, socks and leg warmers. She dispenses
a wealth of teaching on gauge, sizing, exchanging
stitch patterns, fitting, yardage needed,
converting flat to circular, colorwork tips
and the behavior of different fibers in yarns.
One of the best parts is that she does a
lot of the math for you, or at the very least
points out exactly where you need to do math.
There are more than 20 patterns to knit as
is or customize as you see fit. I know that
several of her hats and at least two shawls
are going to be on my needles soon.
This book is like the first flowers that
pop up after a long snowy winter, always
a surprise and full of saturated color. Brit-Marie
Christoffersson has been studying color and
texture through knitting for more than two
decades. She works in bright colors and at
a fine gauge.
This is a book of swatches and stitch patterns – 23
categories with as many as 5 variations on
each. There are photos of some of the techniques
used as garments, and a schematic for a basic
drop-shouldered cardigan, but no line-by-line
There are geometric designs, many created
in garter or with slipped stitches, which
are a knitting interpretation of traditional
Swedish textile patterns.
There are edge treatments, braids, and knitting
stitches manipulated in simple but unique
ways. There is a section on surface knitting
- holes all over, beads, layers.
The color throughout is magnificent, bright
and wild. I couldn’t wait to turn the
pages to see the next variation. I didn’t
realize how sick I was of looking at the
same old stitch patterns until I opened this
In a knitting slump? Pick up this book and
it will be like a shot of caffeine to your
Eighteen top-down socks that are wild and
Charles Gandy, a two-time winner
of Knitter’s Magazine Think Outside
the Sox contest, has a remarkably creative
brain. There are no plain socks in
this book. They are embellished and encrusted
with whimsy – dreads, pom poms, ruffles,
bobbles, even snakes and tulips.
While the author lets his imagination run
free, he still attends to the details. Most
of the socks can be worn in shoes. All of
the patterns are written, thankfully without
a hint of whimsy or imagination. The socks
are sized (5 sizes!) and the patterns are
written with an excellent attention to detail.
The embellishments are given extra care and
many have You Tube videos, if you need visual
There is an excellent section at the front
called Anatomy of a Sock, dissecting all
of the portions of a sock. Take the time
to read the introduction of this book. It
is a truly lovely personal account of one
journey from yarn-struck boy to an award-winning
designer and published author.
Chic.a's Yarn Keeper (a zip top pouch with
a smooth metal eyelet for threading your
yarn through) has been such a big hit that
they’ve made it into a tote. A Yarn
Keeper on the bottom zips to a tote on the
I have the 2-yarn tote and it’s great.
I’m using it for my Color Affection
shawl, which has 3 colors, but having two
yarns threaded and one loose has caused me
The bag is sturdy, made from oilcloth so
it’s water resistant too. Good thing
since mine will find it’s way to the
pool this summer. The material is stiffer
than I thought I liked – because I
wanted to stuff it into my purse. But I soon
realized that the stiffness of the fabric
is a big part of what makes this bag great – it
doesn’t fall over! If it were made
of flimsier or softer material, the bag would
fall over or bend over and the yarn wouldn’t
spool out properly.
I have had no snagging of my yarn on the
eyelet or the bag's fabric. The yarn spools
well when pulled from inside or outside the
ball. There was no skimping on the zipper.
Cheap zippers are a pet peeve – separating
or just breaking, and there are some that
seem to be magnets for yarn. The zipper in
this bag has not snagged, separated or eaten
my yarn once.
The handle is shorter than I like, but it’s
sturdy enough to clip on to other bags. It
comes is a big variety of bright fun fabrics
and is pretty perfect for poolside or anywhere
This is the perfect book for crafters new-ish
to photography to learn about taking photos
of all of the beautiful things they make.
Heidi has a way of explaining intimidating
photographic concepts in a way that anyone
can understand. She is encouraging and supportive
in her instructions. She explains how, with
no fancy equipment, you
can take better photographs (it’s true!).
What this book does that no other photography
book does is give tips and examples for specific
craft categories: Fashion & Fabrics,
Bags, Purses & Accessories, Knitting & Needlecraft,
Jewelry, Dolls & Toys, Ceramics & Pottery,
Art, Books, Magazines & Stationary, and
Home Accessories. Each category has
its special issues and problems. She
gives tips on set up and composition and
interviews a selling superstar in the particular
This is a practical and professional
book that is perfect for getting started
in photographing your own crafts.
This book is Chrissy Gardiner’s
love song to indie sock yarn dyers. After
attending the first Sock Summit, Chrissy
knew she wanted to do something do showcase
indie sock yarn. That is how this book
and its supporting CSK (Community Supported
Knitting) group was born. Members of Chrissy’s
CSK received a pattern every month, then
a copy of the book when it was all done.
Now all of the patterns are available to
all lovers of unique sock yarn and sock
patterns through this book.
The book is divided into 3 sections, Mild,
Flavorful and Spicy, spanning the gamut
of semi-solid to wildly colorful and strongly
variegated yarns. Through out the 24 patterns,
Chrissy sprinkles tips and tricks for fit,
needle options, resizing and working with
variegated yarns. Most fascinating to me
was any and all talk about matching stitch
patterns to types of variegated yarn. Chrissy
has been designing socks for many years
and her thought process on this really
enlightening. I know now why so many of
the socks I’ve knit end up looking
like doo-doo - wrong type of color style
for the stitch pattern. This would be really
useful for anyone designing socks or anyone
going freestyle on a colorway for a published
The sock patterns in the book are great.
I fell for some based on stitch pattern:
Calpurnia, Nuppy Diamonds and Pachinko,
and some based on the colorway: Nami, SeeSaw
and Soda Fountain, or both like Orange
I love that Chrissy took the time and space
in the book to give each dyer a full-page
profile. Independent dyers and independent
publishing at its finest.
I have more than a little crush on Buttonalia’s
ceramic buttons. They have that kind of easy,
breezy simplicity that I know is not easy
to attain in craftwork, and leaves you smiling
when you look at it.
The shapes, colors and embellishments are
organic with small variations in each button
giving tiny bits of individuality.
Each button is handmade, thin enough to be
lighter than average, but thick enough to
withstand wearing on your favorite sweater.
They are glazed on both sides to help make
them water resistant and smooth.
a flare and a casual grace that can transform
an average sweater or be the very inspiration
for the design of a spectacular sweater.
From time to time, a knitting book is published
that is a complete surprise. This is one.
More than what is promised on the cover, this
book is filled with knitted interpretations
of botanical illustrations. Each of the flowers
is designated by its popular as well as botanical
(genus and species) name, and flower anatomy
is well explained. All flowers come with detailed
instructions for knitting each part. All can
be just knitted, or knitted and felted, and
the effect is stunning, with or without felting.
The overall impression of a garden in bloom
is skillfully emphasized by photographs worthy
of such beauties.
In addition to flower patterns, the book contains
ample details about the anatomy of a flower,
gauge, tools and all the techniques needed
to execute these incredible feats of beauty.
Degree of difficulty varies according to pattern
and is clearly indicated. At the end,
six flower-based projects are offered, with
more explanations on finishing and felting.
Interestingly, felting for these projects requires
a tighter knitting gauge and involves very
At long last, anyone with knitting needles
can compensate for the lack of a garden with
this book and learn more than a few interesting
techniques in the process. A must for
flower-loving knitters and an unusual way of
using all these little remnants of yarn from
This book is filled with little bits of
loveliness. Things to keep or give that will
keep you feeling pretty and maybe a little
warmer. Hats, mitts, shawls, bags, even a
pair of knitted wool tights out of Koigu!
All the designs are straight forward, but
interesting to knit. I’m knit-crushing
on the Croissant Bag, LuLu Scarf, Mrs. Lovechild
Shawl, Shiraz Slipper –because of that
brilliant tab on the back and Daisy Dachshund – a
knitted pencil case.
Interchangeable Needle Kit
$49.95 Buy now exclusively from Jimmy
A tiny palm-sized interchangeable needle
kit wrapped in happy cotton prints. What’s
not to love?
It’s filled with 6 of the most popular
US needle sizes: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10; 1
crochet hook, size US G4 ;3 cords: 14-, 16-
and 19-inch lengths; 2 end buttons and 1
All, of course, work with any other Denise
products you have.
A few years back, Denise came out with cords
that are different colors. Those are here
and match the cotton case, but now the needle
tips are different colors, too, also matching
the case. Love the quality and the cuteness.
This kit is perfect for travel, to take to
classes or as an emergency set in your purse.
Mine is already in my purse.
Marketing Yourself by Tara Swiger
$26.95 print+digital editions
$16.95 digital only
Tara Swiger has read all of the marketing
books so you don’t have to.
This book is a wonderfully distilled way
to create a marketing plan for your small
crafty business. Along the way, she helps
you figure out just who your business self
is, what exactly you sell and who and where
the tribe of people who will buy your stuff
She does it all through common sense and
experience with a minimum of marketing-speak.
She’s packed the book with worksheets
so you can go back and review, build on
or change all the aspects of marketing
There is not only one way to do or be
successful at business. In our current
world, the more personal every piece and
step of a business is, the more chance
of success it has. Plus it’s more
fun.This is one of the few business books
I’ve read that is focused on you
the maker and how you’d like to do
business within the framework of your
budgets of time, money and inclination.
When you feel in the mood for just a tiny
little book of accessories, this is it. Each
of the eight patterns are inspired by the
shape of a leaf, all of them different. All
the patterns are quick knits that advanced beginners can tackle
without too much trepidation. Most importantly,
these use just 395 yards of yarn or less. Great use of those skeins of
sock yarn that you may never turn into footwear.
More experienced knitters
will want to make these patterns too, just for the fun of it.
I love what happens when someone trained in
general textile design takes on knitting. The
most unexpected things occur.
This books looks at the structure of knitting
and the use of color and how it can effect
knitting design. Focusing mainly on styles
of knitting that can move in a variety of directions – modular,
entrelac and short-row techniques – there
is a great chapter on Stitches and How They
Work. The Colour chapter discusses color theory
and how stitches affect color and how color
affects stitches. The third chapter, which
I found very interesting, is all on joining – making
interesting blocks of color into a particular
shape, garment or otherwise.
There are more than a dozen patterns for jackets
and pullovers that are knit modularly -- unique,
but very wearable. There is an opening chapter
on the history of knitting. This book is for
knitters who are curious about pushing their
stitches in different directions and not interested
in just following patterns.
Alecia at Madbird has a great eye and a knitter’s
heart. Her selection and combinations of
fabrics are wonderful; things I would never
guess coordinate not only do, but look really
cool together. Full disclosure: I have stalked
her site before I got anything to review.
I was already excited about the look of her
project bags before one landed in my mailbox.
So let’s talk about not just the look,
but the quality of the Mini Clutch I got.
There are so many ways to cut corners when
you sew, to make it quicker, cheaper. But there
are no corners cut with these bags. The fabric
used is a tight cotton weave, the bag is
fully lined and lightly padded,
knitting needles would have to work hard
at poking through or be razor sharp. There
are no raw seams, and it has a really
high quality zipper. Design-wise she didn’t
have to (but she did) give the bag a flat
bottom (it stands up when it has
yarn in it), give the bag a little clutch
carrying loop, add a piece of satin ribbon
on the zipper (I know!). Even her Madbird
tags are cute.
Here’s where the knitter’s
heart part comes into the design, this bag
isn’t what I’d call mini – mini
is just big enough for your stitch markers,
tapestry needles and a measuring tape. This
bag is 100% perfectly sized for a sock project,
plus knitting do dads. Perfect.
In her first book, The Handmade Marketplace,
Kari Chapin and her well-chosen Creative
Collective, taught us the how and where of
creating a crafty business. In her new book,
she and her band of successful merry makers
walk us through the nuts and bolts, of maintaining
and expanding a craft-based business.
Who wants to think about marketing, P&L
statements, licensing, lawyers and business
plans? You do if you want to make a living
at your business. This book makes it almost
painless. You still need to do the work,
but Kari has cut through the puffed up, polysyllabic
language and posturing that most business
books spin that makes it all seem like some
secret society. She makes the
big stuff all seem doable. Plus if you are
still stuck, she introduces you to a whole
bunch of people who can help.
Just like her in her first book, she gathers
experts in each topic to share their experience
and advice. I love the feeling of working
community this gives, that no one is alone
doing their work, even if you are in your
pjs on the couch.
A stunning book created by 5 friends,
a talented photographer and a yarn store.
As soon as I pulled this book out of the
envelope, I knew it wasn’t just another
average independently published knitting
book. I’m a sucker for the look and
feel of knitting books, fonts, paper, styling,
photography, and the knitting designs,
all of the bits that make up a book. This
book is so lovely, it never made it to
the "to review" pile -- I sat
down with it instantly.
Look at the cover of the book, clean,
modern and engaging. That feeling runs
through all aspects of the book, especially
the patterns. Each design delivers
on the promise the cover makes.
I would knit nearly everything in this
book and I would enjoy every one. These
are the type of patterns that answer your
questions and comments as you read through.
You know, this type of thing: "Oh
my husband would love those socks, but
his feet are so big I hate knitting him
socks." The book answers: "the
gauge is 26 stitches to 4 inches and the
yarn is Cascade 200 – totally doable"
I am in love with that cardigan, but Kidsilk
Haze with my hot flashes?" and the
book's sages reply, "How about
a merino or a linen yarn?" The book
has answers for lots of things, gifts,
variations on color and fit, knits to just
sit and be happy with. This is a collection
that clearly communicates the joy the designers
feel knitting and designing.
More smarts are seen on the book’s
page. Here you can buy the book retail
or wholesale, shop the yarn, see variations
on the patterns, meet the design team and
visit The Yarnery. I wish all books made
it so easy to love them!
This CD, the brainchild of opera singer,
knitter and podcaster Melanie Gall (of the
SavvyGirls), captures for the very first
time on CD performances of WWI-era knitting
songs. It’s a fascinating snapshot
into a long-ago world, with songs of knitters
working for husbands, brothers and sons – or
unknown soldiers. It gives you a sense of
the world of these women, for whom knitting
may have been the only way they could concretely
contribute to the war effort, and their sole
connection to loved ones far away. But it’s
not all melancholy and seriousness: I particularly
loved “Knocking at the Knitting Club”,
a song about gossiping at a knitting circle.
The instrumentations and performances are
period-appropriate – often just Melanie’s
lovely voice with jaunty piano accompaniment,
and they are all the more charming for it.
But this CD isn’t just a historical
document. The songs are catchy and fun, and
I dare you to not sing along.... “Gertie
get on with your knitting, Gertie get on
your with socks!”
(Full disclosure: the performer is my husband’s
Organic and weighty, these fasteners are
the perfect accompaniment to any collection
of knitted shawls or special cardigans. Inspired
by nature, artist Laurie Gilbert is clearly
passionate about the work she creates. The
knit fasteners in her collection are simple
and lovely. All of the edges are absolutely
smooth they didn’t even catch on silk
yarn. Clearly time and care was spent on
fastener with closure (shown at right), Wave
above, closes like a safety pin and stays
closed no matter what. The hook-shaped closure,
like Hydrangea (shown at left), uses its
heft to stay in place. This closure would
be great for cardigan and jacket closures
or for heavier shawls. All of Laurie Gilbert’s
hook shaped closures can be threaded on a
necklace and worn as jewelry – for
the days you don’t want to leave them
behind with your knitwear.
This book is a great addition to the library
of any spinner wanting to spin art yarns.
For the first couple of days, I just looked
at the photos, over and over – those
alone were huge inspiration to spin! I particularly
loved the section on putting techniques from
different section (and even her past two
There are more than 20 spinning techniques
to try, many variations, and some that were
in Lexie’s last book, Intertwined,
but with much more how-to detail this time.
There’s a section on fiber prep, incuding
a great part about making crazy batts.
There are 18 projects to make with your art
yarn, easy to do and all entirely riffable,
"wait what if I did..."
For me, this book feels like the Barbara
Walker Knitting Pattern Treasuries but for
art yarn techniques: how to, stories to go
along with the techniques, variety and variation,
collaboration, and a great feeling of community.
Oh, how I love this DVD! I want Interweave
to do a whole series of DVDs just like this:
one topic and several spinning experts weighing
in on how they approach the topic.
hand-carding DVD, Carol Rhoades, Maggie Casey,
Norman Kennedy and Rita Buchanan demonstrate
and dissect their style of hand carding.
It is wonderful and fascinating to watch
these powerhouses of spinning, one after
another, carding with the ease that only
experience can bring. Each one does it differently
and each one would only do it that way after
years of study, practicing and learning at
other spinners’ sides.
This is the heart of spinning for me -- not
the arguing about which way is right,
but the sharing a variety of ways that work,
and letting each spinner decide what works
This is the only spinning book devoted
to support spindling. It also has information
on a whole lot more – spindles aren’t
really addressed until over halfway through
There is information on fiber for spinning – wool,
non-wool and other – discussion on fiber
preparation and color. The book has great
photography, gorgeous glamour shots and
clear and close up for working shots.
Like all authors, she speaks from personal
experience and opinion. I didn’t
agree with everything she said in the general
spinning part of the book, but spinners
not agreeing is standard in the land of
The book really sings for me when the spindle
part starts. Supported spindles (the kind
where the tip rests in a bowl to spin,
rather than dangles) don’t get much
attention in most spinning books. Fleegle
corrects that oversight in her book.
It is a comprehensive guide to supported
spindles – spindles around the world,
spindle makers, how spindles are made,
types of supported spindles, spindle bowls,
traveling with spindles and a great big
fabulous section on how to spin on a supported
spindle – complete with video. It
is wonderful to have the video option to
watch at speed and in slow motion how to
get started, draft, spin, wind a cop and
If you spin supported, want to learn or
are even curious about supported spindling
this book is a must.
The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool, Alison Jay (illustrator)
This is a lyrical children’s book
featuring a talented spinner and weaver.
A boy spins yarn from the clouds and weaves
it into beautiful cloth. This boy is careful
to use only what he needs, not a puff of
cloud more. His yarn is colored by the light
of the sun on the clouds: gold,
white or crimson. Enter a greedy king
who wants an entire wardrobe from the celestial
cloth. Soon his entire kingdom is suffering
a drought because of his greed. This book
captures the magic of creating. There is
no spinner that hasn’t considered spinning
The illustrations are beautiful, detailed,
saturated with a light hand and washed with
a crackle effect.
What happens to the kingdom? You'll just
have to read the story to find out.
for fiber reviews?
They're on their
own page, right
small: 8x8" $20.00 [shown at left]
large: 11x8.5" $29.00
gadgety: 9x9" $34.00 [shown above in yellow]
Keep your yarn and your iPod or phone in
the same pouch, with no tangling! Gadgets tuck
into their own zippered pocket, and if you
need headphones, slip the cord into the dedicated
grommet and plug it in, away from your yarn!
Small and large bags also available without
the additional pocket. Fun prints!