by Jillian Moreno, Amy R Singer, Lynne Sosnowski, Beth Smith, Kate Atherley, Carla Kohoyda-Inglis, Katherine Ganzel
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
Ysolda's newest book, The Rhinebeck Sweater, perfectly captures the magic and myth that is Rhinebeck, the annual New York Sheep and Wool Festival. At its most basic, it's a book where twelve designers (including Ysolda) each developed a sweater for this book along with personal stories and tips about Rhinebeck and their pattern.
But, as with all of Ysolda's books, there is much more to it than that. Each designer models their own sweater, making these knitting designers more than just a name on many, many wonderful patterns. The stories they tell about designing and knitting to the Rhinebeck deadline, the shared fun and shopping make it warm and collaborative.
The photography is beautiful: rich and saturated, with texture beyond the sweaters. I love the touch of one sweater leading to the next visually. The last photo of each sweater also shows the next sweater in the book. It's one of the most thoughtfully designed books we've seen in years. The ebook looks just as good as the printed version.
Each and every sweater in the book is someone's perfect Rhinebeck sweater. There are a variety of styles, textures and gauges, but each one is a perfect cozy fall sweater. The sweaters that want to live in my closet are Pumpkin Ale by Ysolda, Artichoke French by Laura Nelkin and Pippin by Gudrun Johnson and Sugarleaf by Mary-Heather Cogar. Amy has a particular craving for Apple Cider Donut by Cecily Glowik Macdonald (oh, that collar!). Each design has a big range of finished sizes in small increments, which allows for easy customizing of patterns, as do the detailed schematics.
To make the Rhinebeck story complete, each sweater is knit out of yarn from vendors at the show. My favorite part of the book are the profiles of the yarn growers and makers that accompany each pattern. These aren't the typical paragraph-long mentions; these tell the stories, sometimes pages long, complete with pictures.
After reading the whole book once and some parts twice, I'm ready to swap my whole knitting stash for small locally produced, slow produced yarn.
Do you still have a gift or two on your list? Or do you need a little something to knit for yourself to relax into as the craziness of the holidays swirls around you?
The quick-to-knit cowl is perfect. The kit, from the multi-talented and seemingly inexhaustible Laura Nelkin, is a tempting treat.
Not only is the finished cowl lovely, the yarns are a dream to knit with.
Laura was clever to offer this kit in two yarns you may have heard of and have wanted an excuse to knit with: Freia Ombré Lace and Jill Draper Makes Stuff Esopus. Both are soft and wonderfully squishy. The Freia Ombre makes the simple stitch pattern seem far more complex than it is and the Jill Draper Esopus is the perfect semi-solid foil for the color-changing Freia.
Well, this is a first. This book came into the Knitty mailbox for review, and before I'd put it down after a first flip-through, I'd already been inspired enough by what was inside to start designing a new shawl based on two patterns I'd found in this book.
Clearly, I like it. And I enjoyed going back and reading the rest of the book, too. Melissa, did you know, was a knitwear stitch designer in a previous life? Hired by fashion houses to come up with the stitch patterns that they'd use to embellish their knitwear designs. Who better to write a stitch pattern book than such a person?
I have a huge pile of stitch dictionaries in my library, including the (expensive and elusive) Japanese treasuries. There are patterns in this book I've never seen before, covering the range from texture, to lace, to cables and crosses and even into novelty patterns. All patterns have both written instructions and charts, and stitch counts are clearly labelled near the pattern name, should you be looking for a specific count.
There are also introductory chapters that cover Shaping with Pattern Stitches, and Combining Patterns Within a Design. Very handy learning in these.
If you design knitwear in any capacity, this book should be on your shelf.
Gadget Trays by Chic-a
Set includes one each of 3", 4", and 5" trays
These little trays have saved me from losing things over and over. When I go away from my home-based knitting nest to knit, at a coffeeshop or at a class, I'm always leaving my little things behind -- stitch markers, needles, tiny scissors.
The trays come flat for easy storage in your knitting bag. The corners snap together to form the tray. Now when I'm out knitting or stitching, I set up my trays first, so I have a place to toss my bits as I'm knitting. When class or fun times are over, all of my markers and needles are waiting for me instead of spread all over the floor.
A bonus for stitchers or when seaming or blocking -- the tiny tray is magnetic.
This book is a beautiful and loving portrayal of a life raising sheep for yarn and fiber.
Barbara Parry owns the yarn and fiber company Foxfire Fiber and Designs, and produces beautiful Cormo and Border Leicester fiber and yarns. Her farm, Springdelle grows all of the fiber for her yarn.
The story of the farm follows the seasons, from lambing to shearing to the peace of winter. None of the hard work or hard choices are skirted in the book, but even when things are hard she clearly loves this life.
The writing is just about sheep but includes the variety that makes up her farm, vegetable gardening, growing and using lavender, a section on tractors, spinning, weaving and knitting patterns.
Many of the new era of farming books (is it a genre yet?) swing between sorrowful and humorous antidotes about their farms. This is a matter-of-fact telling that includes daily chores and seasonal rituals.
Beyond the hard and ultimately satisfying wor,k there is the clear weaving of community. Not one decision is made without consulting other shepherds or farmers who have more experience. The community around Springdelle Farm is one where everyone shares knowledge and resources.
This isn't a how-to book, or the book to read right before you start your flock, but for when you are just dreaming about it.
If you knit for a pair of larger feet or legs and despair that you'll ever knit a pair of socks that fit perfectly, this is the book for you. Chapter 2 alone is worth the price of admission. Entitled "Measure for Measure," Smith has included all the points of measurement along the foot and shows how to create your own personal measurements chart. There's even a chart to determine the shape of your foot -- and in a later chapter, how to shape your sock so it fits.
Then there are the patterns. Twelve truly gorgeous socks that you may want to make and hang on your walls to display your knitting prowess. Freya and Arundhati are on my list -- delicate little lace patterns that are going to look fabulous in my own Fleuvog shoes.
Even if you own every other sock book on the market, add this one to your library. You won't be sorry.
I love watching a designer get excited about a new structure or technique. Their enthusiasm is expressed shows particularly in their first designs. Hannah Fettig's new book, Yoked, is a collection very much of a new fondness for a structure.
Hannah Fettig, inspired by sweaters her grandmother knit brings her charm to the top-down yoke style sweater. The booklet has 6 patterns, 4 sweaters (one unisex) and a beret and mitts.
All are well thought out, balanced Fair Isle (some yoke sweaters look off to me) and pretty. The particular stopper for me -- I even said awwww out loud -- is the Birdie Fair Isle Cardigan.
Set of 3:
Small: 6.5"L x 1" W x 4" H
Medium: 9" L x 1.25" W x 7" H
Large: 10" L x 2" W x 8" H
Set of 2:
XL: 14" L x 2" W x 10" H
XXL: 15.5" L x 2" W x 13" H
$21 per set
These light, nylon mesh project bags are practical as well as fun. They come in a variety of sizes and five colors (Charcoal, Eggplant -- shown at left, Hollywood Pink, Pumpkin Spice, Red).
The material is an intense color but still sheer enough to see through. Snagging of yarn or fiber isn't an issues with the snaps across the top closure. The snaps allow you to feed yarn, leaving one or two unsnapped, so yarn balls don't go rolling off, like in the dark in a movie theater (cough).
I use mine to color coordinate a sweater project in process. I kept finished pieces in the one or more bags, current working piece in another and the extra yarn in a third. When the time comes to assemble I can easily find all of my bits, since I never work on a project straight through, start to finish.
Quirky and charming, this first book by Tiny Owl Knits designer (and musician) Stephanie Dosen is full of designs that celebrate the woodland spirits in all of us. Not your thing? Walk on by. If the idea appeals to you even slightly, come sit under the trees with me. The designs here are quirky and full of child-like possibility and wonder.
They are quick-ish-to-knit accessories and bigger projects, including a bear sweater knit from bulky yarns. Favorites are her delicate mitts, Catching Butterflies and Meow mitts; the fabulously cozy cabled Woodland Hoodlet; the flower encrusted Tiny Violet Hand Puff; the Oh My Bear Sweater.
Stephanie has an eye for color and detail, knowing exactly what little twist will make a design enchanting, capturing the wonder of the woods.
Anna Hrachovec has designed smaller and smaller cuteness for a while now, getting to the point that mere humans might not be able to see the wonders she was knitting. (Okay, that's an exaggeration.) So there was only one direction to go: BIGGER!
Clear instructions and photography, tips for the first-time toy knitter and lots of fun stories to go with each creature. The design of the book is just fabulous. Anna is a clever woman, and her sense of whimsy is contagious.
You don't need to have a kid to knit for to want to knit everything in this book. Knit the roly poly bug for an entymology student in college or the huge tube of toothpaste for your friend, the dentist. Absolutely adorable, on a big scale.
If you are a lace knitter, don't overlook this book. Its size may trick you into thinking it's a lace light book, or a beginning lace book or a book full of patterns that use Shetland lace motifs, but none of those are the case. This is an excellent primer on designing Shetland lace patterns. There are a few patterns, but mostly it's about the thinking and practice of designing your own.
The book walks a knitter through the history and materials of Shetland lace. It wastes no time in getting to the part that freaks out many a lace knitter: fixing mistakes. Focusing mostly on shawls, there is discussion of charting, combining motifs and shawl styles and shaping.
The greater part of the book, 68 pages (!), is of stitch patterns used in Shetland lace. It begins with a directory with small photos, including stitch and row counts. The stitches here are grouped by all-over patterns, insertions, edgings and motifs.
The stitch patterns proper are arranged based on stitch counts, smallest to largest. Each stitch pattern has prominent placement of how many stitches and rows each takes, difficulty level, close-up photos of a swatch against a white background and written and charted directions. Lots of knitting book publishers could learn a thing or two from this section.
The book ends with seven patterns using Shetland lace: shawls, mitts, a lovely layette and socks, each with suggestions for alternate lace motifs.
This is a great book for the aspiring lace designer or collector of stitch patterns.
Knitting Tool Pouches by Tom Bihn Size 1: for tools 3.25-4.25" (8-10.5 cm) long. Size 2: for tools 5.5-6.5" (14-16.5 cm) long. Size 3: for tools 7.25-8.25" (18.5-21cm) long. Size 4: to hold circular needles with tips less than 4" or interchangeable needle cables. This pouch measures about 4.25" (10.5cm).
Full disclosure: I was involved in the design of these pouches, so instead of a review, I'll tell you what our thinking was behind the product, and point you to feedback on Tom Bihn's own site, where you can see what real users think of them.
We started with this challenge: every knitter has a different set of tools and different needs when it comes to storing them. So we wanted a modular system. I am very fond of all the clear organizer zippered pouches Tom Bihn makes and when we laid down a series of different tools near their existing pouch lineup -- tools like DPNs, tips and cords from an interchangeable needle set, crochet hooks, notions -- we realized we were close to a solution. But the clear vinyl fronts aren't puncture-proof. In addition, I wanted to have some way to label each pouch with its contents, so you could see at a glance what was inside.
The design team at Tom Bihn solved both issues with one clever addition: side pockets, made of the same ballistic nylon as the back of the pouch. They prevent anything from poking through, and leave you room on both sides to slide in a label or even a keepsake, if you're not the labelling kind.
There are four sizes, each created to specifically fit knitting and crochet tools. Size 1 holds very little things (see measurements above), like notions or the 4" tips of interchangeable needle sets. Size 2 is perfect for longer interchangeable needle tips, most DPNs and almost all crochet hooks (except for the super big ones, which fit very nicely in the size 3 pouch). Size 3 also holds super-long DPNs and super-thick, longer crochet hooks. The Size 4 pouch is perfect for all interchangeable cords, keeping them easily visible and preventing kinks. There's no puncture protection on the Size 4 pouch, because it's not meant for pointy tools. The pouches are sized to allow the items to fit inside without having to jam them in tightly, which means they're easy to get out when you need to, as well.
All these pouches come with a single o-ring in the top left corner, and they can be kept together with the very neat double carabiner that Tom Bihn has now released. Put your collection of pouches together on one side of the carabiner, and clip the other side to your bag. If you happen to be using a Swift, it's full of internal o-rings where these pouches will live happily. Because this system is so modular, you can buy one or two pouches now, and add more as your needs grow and change in the future. Just clip them into your double carabiner. If you have a lot of the pouches, you could buy a second double carabiner (they're only a buck!) and just bring the ones you need for a specific project.
I imagine people might buy several of one size and break out their collection of hooks or needles by size. Or buy one of each size, putting whatever notions fit into the appropriate pouch. I think they'd be great for anyone whose hobby involves small things that need keeping tidy, like painting (the long pouch for brushes!), beading, tatting, embroidery.
Me? I've put an entire set of Hiya Hiya crochet hooks in the Size 2/3 pouches. My Dyakcraft short interchangeables fit perfectly in Size 1 pouches, with a size 4 for the cords. This handy graphic, made up by a Tom Bihn customer and fan, shows what a variety of tools measure, to help you figure out which sizes of pouch you'd need. Word of advice: many needle companies offer their interchangeable needles in a variety of tip lengths, so be sure to check which length you have before you order pouches to fit. Putting a too-short tool in a longer pouch defeats the purpose of the puncture protection on the ends.
This compilation includes pieces from 20 different designers from various points on the globe. Some have been household names (to knitters' households anyways) for some time, including Cirilla Rose, Kirsten Kapur, and Cecily Glowik MacDonald. A few are earning that household name status by frequently making the Hot Right Now pages of Ravelry, such as Olga Buraya-Kefelian, Asa (Tricosa) Soderman, and Veera Valimaki. More than a few make me feel proudly Canadian, including Tanis Lavallee, Jane (Spilly Jane) Dupuis, Maria Leigh and Glenna Harris.
The collection's conceit is that each pattern is based on a piece of architecture or an architectural movement. The curved fins of the Sydney Opera House are evoked by short rows and welts in the Opera House Shell. The simplicity of Modernism is found in the colours and shapes of the Bauhaus Cardigan. The golden tiles of Detroit's Fisher Building are seen in the stranded golden motifs of the Fisher Building Mittens. I loved reading about the inspiration for each piece, seeing the knitting that relates to photos of places and buildings.
10 of the patterns are sweaters (you could make that 11 if you count the gorgeous Tower of Pisa Shift as a pullover), one is a skirt and the rest are accessories and shawls. Each offers a knitter a way to explore architectural elements through stitch patterns, materials or construction methods.
Folding pocket knife by Sajou
Closed length: 7cm
knife blade: 7cm long
scissors: 5.5cm long
Another top-quality tool from the French company, Sajou, brought to North America by the lovely folk at The Bagsmith.
Is it cheap? Not at all. This is an heirloom tool that will likely last as long as you do, and then serve the lucky person you leave it to in your will for their lifetime, too.
The knife is made in Eskilstuna, Sweden, by the company EKA, experts in steelwork and reputed to be the best in the world at what they do. The outside features a blue and gold enamelled motif (the one shown at left is the Cornflower), and inside are tucked away a 7cm knife blade and a pair of fully functional spring-loaded scissors. The knife is a mere 3mm thick.
The knife is very sharp, though not razor-sharp. Perfect for opening packages and letters as they arrive. The scissors are much sharper than I expected, and perfect for snipping fine threads or thicker yarns.
The one thing I wish this lovely piece had was a built-in loop for hanging. It's pretty enough to wear on a cord around your neck.
What a great theme for knitting patterns! The movies of Alfred Hitchcock are full of all kinds of style from the literal style of costume designer Edith Head, the iconic style of Grace Kelly, to the dramatic lighting and angles of how he shot his films.
The 29 patterns by 27 designers in this book fit the bill nicely. Some are dramatic, some have the feminine flair of Grace Kelly and Kim Novak and some have the structured feel of the fashions of the 1950s. The designers really got into their inspiration, be sure to read the stories that accompany each pattern. The designs use the movies as a jumping off point, but never sacrifice wearability for literal interpretation.
My favorites are the Lina Vest Coat ( Suspicion 1941), Eleven Hundred Dollar Sweater (Rear Window 1954) and Thornhill Cowl. But there is such a variety and number of patterns, if you like vintage style knitting, you will find something you like.
A final note that photographer Nick Murway captured the high-contrast, moody look of Hitchcock's films wonderfully.
I think it's safe to say that most knitters are avid readers, so it's not surprising that many who choose to work among books are also avid knitters. Stitching in the Stacks is a fantastic collection of book and library themed patterns that any book lover would drool over. Many of the patterns are named after or inspired by real and fictional librarians and I learned a lot reading through the patterns. One story I had never heard was about the 'Book Women', women employed by the WPA for the Pack Horse Librarian Project in the Appalachian Mountains. Their mission was to take books by horseback to patrons who had no other access to libraries.
Some of the patterns are practical; shawls, cardigans, and fingerless gloves for those working indoors with temperamental heating and cooling systems. Some are useful, like a cabled book weight inspired by the arches at the Library of Congress or an e-reader cover designed to look like a traditional book plate. Some are whimsical, like a knitted bookworm holding his own little book, or the Dewey Decimal Hat, a beret with the Dewey decimal number for knitting worked into the design. But all of the patterns are beautiful and there were so many that had me itching to pick up my needles, it was hard to pick just a few to highlight.
The Oranges and Peaches Shawl is a short spiral shawl that can be adjusted to any yarn weight and I think it would look amazing knit in hand-painted or hand-spun yarn. The eye-catching Ms. Paroo, a shapely short-sleeved cardigan with a pretty stitch pattern and ruched pockets inspired by the librarian in The Music Man was a particular stand-out among the sweaters. I also fell in love with the intricate color-work designs in the small projects; an eyeglass case and a knitted cover for plain metal bookends that says 'Read'.
The patterns are well designed and the charts are large which is great for those of use who have read and knitted so much, our eyesight isn't the best. If you love books, or need a gift idea for someone who loves books, you will not go wrong in choosing this collection.
These project bags were clearly designed by a knitter. The seams are nearly non-existent and the zipper is the smoothest I've ever felt, both leading to snag free knitting.
The shape of the bag is simply perfect: the narrow top of the bag flares out to a fat bottom letting yarn balls and cakes to rest without squishing, so yarn can spool off smoothly with out yanking. The shape also helps the bag to stand up when it's full. The bag is designed with two layers of fabric and batting between, so only the very sharpest of needles will poke through.
I love the fabric selection, bright happy prints with excellent pairings for the inside contrast. Fabric is another place there's no skimping -- heavy cotton, not 50 cent fat quarters.
The small bag holds socks, a cowl or a scarf; the large bag can hold a big shawl comfortably or half of a sweater.
These bags are the work of a passionate knitter and an excellent seamstress.
An outstanding collection of interesting, unusual and challenging sock patterns, this book will definitely appeal to sock knitters looking for something beyond the usual! There's a nice mix of top down and toe-up designs, with some entirely traditional and some interesting tweaked constructions. The book provides a fun overview of the "optical art" -- op-art -- movement of the 1960s. To quote the introduction, "Op-art paintings and drawings intentionally break symmetries and regularities to create impressions of depth (a third dimension) or dynamics (movement, flashing, vibration) by optical illusion." The designer brilliantly uses colourwork patterning, knit-and-purl stitch combos and cables to create these effects, resulting in very clever, beautiful and striking designs.
Although most are definitely best for experienced sock knitters, a couple of the textural designs are very approachable for a newer sock knitter, and an adventurous sort may well find herself encouraged to take on new challenges because of these designs.
My only grumbles about the book are that the size range for the designs is very limited -- although given the complexity of the designs, I can see that they might be hard to grade. My size 6 foot can only find two of the 19 that would fit, and the majority come in a single woman's and a single man's size. I'm also not keen on the designer's insistence on needle-configuration-specific instructions. If you're knitting for a foot outside the average, or you're not comfortable with two circulars (or converting patterns to work to your preferred needle configuration), you might get frustrated.
But if you've got an average-sized foot and a sense of adventure, or just an appreciation for art in sock knitting, this book is a must-have.
My first reaction is to get a bit prickly at the use of "grannies" and "knitting" in the same space. While yes, it's true, that lots of grannies do knit, at least as many do not. Those of us who have not yet attained our granny years sometimes rankle at being told our craft is only for those with silver in their hair.
Mowat comes at this confluence from a little different perspective. Having learned to knit while in college, Mowat conceived of an online service where folks could make design and colour choices and then have their knitwear custom-made for them by a pool of knitters. When Mowat placed ads to reach out to knitters whose sticks were in need of projects, she found that mostly "grannies" responded. She then launched granniesinc.co.uk featuring a granny-based knit-to-order service.
The book sets out to be a good general primer for anyone learning to knit. The book's terminology is firmly British-centric, especially with regard to yarn weights and classifications. For a new North American knitter there may end up being some confusion. There is a handy table of needle sizes that lists metric, UK and US sizes. There are clear diagrams for most maneuvers.
There are 20 patterns for mostly small projects that feature a range of skills. I find some of the instructions on circular knitting to be curious: the projects start with two hats that are knit in the round and specify 16 in/40 cm circulars, though no mention is given of how to handle the hat crown once it gets too small for the circular. Other projects which lend themselves to circular knitting (hand warmers, short-fingered gloves, slouch socks, legwarmers, even a "snood" aka infinity scarf) are knit flat and then seamed. The book could use a chapter on small-diameter circular knitting.
Lastly, Granniesinc patterns use their own bespoke yarns, in double-knitting and chunky (bulky) weights. There is information given to enable knitters to find substitute yarns.
This learn-to-knit book thinks very highly of new knitters. The easiest of the 10 "Learn to Knit" patterns include the requisite scarf and knit-flat-then-seamed handwarmers, but also include a shopping tote with an attractive dropped-stitch pattern and a boucle collar with embroidered details. The learning section then segues into a knit-flat raglan pullover (certainly achievable by newer knitters) and then leaps into a cropped cardigan with cables and bobbles on sleeves and fronts (many knitters who consider themselves skilled might find this a tasty pattern).
The 10 "Love to Knit" patterns are aimed at more seasoned knitters -- or those intrepid newbies who seem to be able to tackle any project right from the start -- include 6 sweaters (one of which is stranded knitting and then duplicate stitched to make plaid), one slip-stitch patterned cape, a pair of socks (one size only) and a few other small accessories.
Teachable basics and advanced elements are clearly photographed step-by-step. The colour choices and photography throughout deserve a round of applause, for the entire book is a feast for the eyes.
Madres large bag by Eweknit Available in pink tartan (shown at left) or pastel flowers
12.5" long, 8" high (without handle), 5.25" deep
Made by a cooperative staffed by single mothers in El Salvador, this soft-sided bag is sturdy and professionally constructed.
On the outside, three large pockets. Inside, creamy white canvas and a firm, reinforced bottom panel with quite a bit of storage space. This bag holds its shape and will sit up without help, which is something I really like in a bag.
It's lightweight, but not flimsy. Inside, you could easily fit a full-size magazine or iPad, and a small sweater in progress.
The carrying handle fits comfortably over your forearm as you take this bag from living room to knitting night.
Knitter's Keep by Cocoknits
- 1 silicone slap bracelet in orange, green, blue or grey- 10 large round stitch markers (accommodate US 15 / 10mm needles or smaller)
- 10 small round stitch markers (accommodate US 9 / 5.5mm needles or smaller)
- 10 opening stitch markers (accommodate US 11 / 8mm needles or smaller)
- 2 cable needles (size US 1 / 2.5mm)
- 2 curved-tip tapestry needles
- 1 100% cotton pouch
This is a fascinating, functional tool! Instead of reaching for the things you're working with frequently, what if they were attached comfortably to a band you wore on your wrist? Well, that's what the Knitter's Keep does. It keeps a selection of steel tools close at hand, thanks to a powerful magnet that's attached to a slap bracelet (in other words, a big strip of plastic that naturally fits itself around any wrist).
You choose which tools you wish to use, and just sprinkle them onto the top of the magnetic platform.
Included in the set, beyond the handy bracelet, are a selection of 5 frequently used tools and a bag to keep the whole set in. The stitch markers are clever as anything, but I think the cable needle might be the handiest thing. How often do you reach for your cable needle while working a row of an aran sweater?
Will they stay on? Well, I sprinkled the large markers on the magnet and shook the thing like I was trying to get a pile of spiders off me. They didn't even budge. The darning needle and cable needle wiggled about a bit, but stayed attached. I have no worries about these tools falling off while I'm working my rows.
This is a book about answering questions. Sometimes the questions I had in my head regarding merging handspun yarns with hand woven fabrics are answered right in the book. Other times the answer that sara shouts from almost every page is "Sample". I'm fine with that because the hows of sampling for weaving are also covered and as a spinner I am used to sampling -- a lot.
The focus of this book is on spinners. It follows Sara's brain as she thinks about a fabric that she wants. It shows the path of experimentation with wheel and loom to get to that perfect fabric. One of my favorite parts of the book was showing wool fabrics spun from different breeds at different stages of finishing and how different amounts of time agitating in the washing machine changes the face of the fabric.
This book is encouraging and can take the fear out of using your own handspun yarns for warp.
Included are instructions included for Sara's method of warping as well as all of the basic calculations a spinner needs to find out how much yarn to spin. There are tons of pictures of fabrics woven from handspun yarns with photos of the yarns that were used.
There are also 11 projects in which handspun, handwoven fabrics are used. Some where the requirement is to cut that fabric you just made and others which may be less worrisome to the person just starting out down the path of weaving with their own handspun.
Finally, there is a gallery of woven objects by a few of Sara's friends, showing different fabrics that other spinners get. The gallery is inspiring and gives permission to go off in our own directions and make that fabric and project that sings to us.
Flat Pack Bobbins is such a utilitarian name for something that gives me such happiness. True, one great aspect is that they come apart and can travel flat and weigh 1.25 ounces, but the colors, the patterns – the ability to jazz up my spinning wheel makes me want to call them the Bobbins of Joy and Wonder! Exclamation point mandatory.
These gorgeous little tools of aluminum and plastic come in 3 different patterns and 13 different colors. Why has no one thought to make fun and colorful bobbins before? Right now they have them only for Majacraft, Hansen miniSpinner and Lendrum wheels. Please, please, please can Schacht be next? My Sidekick needs something besides the brown plastic bobbins.
Ok, they are beautiful and fun, but do they work? Wait, did I mention you can mix and match the ends? Not when you buy them, but once you have them, multihued bobbins are your destiny.
I got two bobbins for my Lendrum. I was sure they wouldn't work; they were just too great to be functional too. They fit my Lendrum perfectly, no problems with length or with the brake band fitting. The other aspect I was worried about was my leader slipping on the aluminum shaft, so I picked a slippy superwash merino to try. I did my standard tie on and sat down to spin. Nothing, not a slip. Next on my worries list was how my singles would act on the edges once the bobbin filled, I had concerns the decorative edges would catch or somehow my yarn would poke through. Nope. Though a bouclé or other textured yarn might poke through, but I doubt it.
I ran my hands and fingers all over the bobbin and couldn't find a rough spot. The ends pop on and off easily and are snug enough to not fall off. They come with a carrying bag, which make them even more perfect for traveling. Fun times aside, these are well though out and skillfully crafted bobbins.
I'm a new crocheter, so I don't always twig right away to what is awesome when I see it in print. In the case of Madder Triangles, I saw one of the samples in person at Yarndale (a new wool festival in Yorkshire, England) this past October. It took my breath away from across the aisle. That's it there on the left...
It's Spyro, and can be found on page 34 in the new book from The Natural Dye Studio, Madder Triangles. In the UK, everyone knows Amanda, Phil and their daughter, Daisy -- the team behind this home-grown UK yarn company. This was my first introduction to their work in person, and I was gobsmacked. How Amanda gets such intense colors out of dyes only from nature -- using the gentlest mordants possible (alum and cream of tartar), I cannot fathom. As beautiful as the colors above are, you must see them in person. Her raw materials are Cochineal, Cutch, Fustic, Indigo, Logwood, Madder and Pomegranate on a variety of yarn bases from laceweight to aran.
So, back to the books. Madder Triangles features a variety of triangular crocheted motifs, in both written and charted form, as well as filler circles that pull the motifs together. The rest of the book shows a variety of ways to put these brightly colored units together in shawls, scarves and blankets. The photography is bright and clear and each design is mapped out for you. These books use English crochet terms, but thankfully also have US stitch, yarn and hook size translations for us North Americans.
Their earlier book, Into The West, features motifs in a variety of shapes -- several different modern-looking squares, a delicious 6-pointed lily, a hexagon and a 6-pointed star, all worked into unique designs that show off the variety of rich, saturated colors that Amanda is able to achieve on wool, alpaca, cashmere, and silk.
These books are a delight and a great introduction to the work of The Natural Dye Studio of Devon, UK.
When I was starting to learn crochet, these were the first hooks I was urged to use. Lightweight aluminum, solidly built, well designed and super affordable.
Buying them in a set like this makes the price per hook a ridiculously low $3.23 each.
They come in assorted colors of shiny aluminum. The two largest sizes are in sparkly transparent acrylic (presumably to cut down on the weight, since they're quite thick). They come in a pretty rollable brocade case (case colors vary) that has room for more hooks, even, should you want to add to your set.
These are my workhorse, go-to crochet hooks. I love them.
There is definitely something in the water in Austin, Texas the people there are a whole different kind of creative.
Take this book for example, when it came in the mail I thought, "why aren't there more books like this? It's so smart."
So many knitting shops have rigid heddle looms and weaving classes now, it seems perfect to combine the two.
To me, one of the most exciting creative things is to make connections between two (or more) things that seem obvious once you've done it. This book feels exactly like that.
I love the combination of textures and drape of knitting and weaving together. The projects in this book also use crochet. The colors and projects in this book, are rich and brightly colored and just complex enough. There lots of wraps and scarves, but there are throws and even a cool skirt. My two favorite patterns in the book are the simple Wine and Roses cowl and the more involved Constellation skirt. Each design in the book seemed to make even more ideas fly into my head; I love that in any book.
This isn't a book for an absolute beginning weaver; there are instructions for warping, reading, and using drafts. A newish weaver would feel more comfortable having a beginning rigid heddle weaving class under their belt. The designs in the book were all woven on a Schacht Cricket loom.
So while we wait for the flood of weaving and knitting books, or at the very least, the second volume of Kismet, yarn shops selling looms should be using this book for classes. And all weaving knitters should have this book for that extra spark of creativity that making connections brings.