by Jillian Moreno, Kate Atherley, Amy Singer, Lynne Sosnowski
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
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Let me start out in full-disclosure mode: I've been an early reader for Kate for all of her books, I'm quoted in this one and I contributed a couple of pages, and we're friends who spend online and real time together pretty regularly. That said, we who write for Knitty pride ourselves on telling you honestly about good stuff -- it's just a bonus that this time it comes from "family". And we'd be hard put to find someone to put together a review who hasn't been helped by Kate, been edited by her, or been improved by her expertise. Also, I don't have any financial interest at stake here.
This book is like the knitter's Missing Link. It's a thing that has been needed for a long time: a comprehensive guide to writing patterns that are coherent, consistent, thoughtful and thorough. Kate Atherley is uniquely qualified to be the person who tackled the challenge of writing such a guide. Her background includes an education in Pure Mathematics, an early career specializing in clear communications in the technology industry, and her current metier which spans work as Knitty's Managing Technical Editor, as a widely travelled knitting teacher, as freelance Technical Editor to a vast list of known and emerging designers, and as author of two previous titles "Beyond Knit and Purl", and "Knit Accessories: Essentials and Variations".
The goal of the book could not be simpler: to help knit designers to write better patterns so that knitters keep knitting happily. The spillover effect of that one simple thing keeps a whole industry chugging along. Happy knitters buy more patterns, yarn, and needles which keeps editors, designers, magazines, and yarn shops employed and in demand. Kate's aim -- to help knitters make things with no hair-pulling -- is something that sounds so fundamentally true that it's hard to argue with. Yet plenty of evidence that this book is needed can be found. (I've worked in local yarn shops for almost the last decade. I've seen first-hand how poorly written patterns can turn people away from the craft.)
There's so much detail here it's hard to give you an idea of the scope without reproducing the table of contents. The softer, marketing elements are covered, such as how to write an enticing pattern introduction and how to take and employ good photographs. The knitty-gritty is spelled out, such as how to write out yarn, needle and equipment requirements so that knitters are able to make substitutions when necessary. The numbers stuff is covered, such as how to give measurements and sizing and how best to use and create schematics. There's help with terminology and nomenclature so that tricky things like cable and lace stitch instructions are communicated clearly. Kate's pointers even go so far as to give advice on including a version number and other details on a pattern to better track changes and edits.
As a newish designer with a small-but-growing number of patterns under my belt, I've benefitted greatly from having Kate as my Technical Editor and occasional finger-wagging school marm. I only need to take a look back at my early attempts at communicating what was in my head to see how her guidance has immensely improved my clarity. I'm truly glad that any knitwear designer can now have this same good advice at their fingertips. The book will pay for itself many times over in just helping me get my first drafts in better shape, so that I will ultimately need less TE time per pattern to get things to the point where they're ready to publish, and then I can publish more.
There's been lots of buzz about the release of this book on social media, great things being said by designers at all levels. Possibly the best endorsement came in my Twitter feed this morning, a smart-alecky comment from Kate Heppell, Editor of Knit Now magazine: "If I had a limitless budget, I would start passively-aggressively gifting @wisehilda's (Kate Atherley's Twitter handle) book to designers who cause problems for my TEs."
This book is a vaccine against exasperation. Every one of us has run into patterns that made us throw up our hands in despair. Now there's a cure.
This book is a labor of love. I happily contributed to the Kickstarter fundraiser that helped bring this book about. Then eagerly awaited each update until the day the book landed in my mailbox. This book exceeded my expectations. I didn't want it to teach me how to knit Fair Isle; I hoped that it would teach me about color and motif. It does that in such a straightforward and thorough way that my brain just relaxed into Felicity Ford's thinking and something that can be a tense thing for me -- developing colorways and motifs -- was pleasurable and exciting.
Felicity Ford is constantly inspired by her surroundings. For years she's been taking the things from her everyday life and creating Fair Isle color palettes and motifs from them. This book breaks down the system that this clever woman uses.
Her program outlined is very straightforward. Working with it can be as complex or easy as you want to make it. She teaches a knitter to look and see, to break down an object, plant, scene, image -- anything, really -- into its components, colorwise and shapewise, for motifs. She shows how to refine both, to keep swatching until you are happy with the result. The book is filled with her own examples, handdrawn charts and miles of knitted samplers. It's one of the most inspiring knitting books I've read.
There are two patterns at the end of the book for knitting fingerless mitts and legwarmers with instructions to add in your own motifs and colorsways. Felicity is a clearly a knitter of passion. She knew I'd want to put those colors and motifs into something to wear now. All so I could strut my newfound confidence and skill and developing my own Fair Isle.
Hands down this is one of the two best Kickstarters I've helped to fund (the other is PLY Magazine)!
Three basic encyclopedias for knitting, crochet and embroidery translated from the Japanese. The design is spare and lovely; each is illustrated with black drawings on cream paper and the illustraions are washed with a single color per technique.
All of the books have exactly the essentials of their craft.
Knitting has casting on and binding off, basic stitches, increases and decreases, grafting, seaming, buttonholes and a few stitch patterns.
Crochet moves from holding yarn and hook through single, double, treble and double treble crochet, a few basic stitches -- net, filet, puff, popcorn and relief, shaping, edges, working in the round, joining motifs and finishing.
Embroidery is a basic and excellent guide to working more than 80 stitches plus information on tools, starting and finishing and transferring designs.
All three books are irresistible, full of first-rate useful information for each craft and printed and bound beautifully. They are visually accessible with large and clear illustrations. I look forward to having to look something up in them.
Now I am eagerly waiting to see if Chronicle translates any more Japanese craft books. Stitch dictionaries, anyone?
I started my writing by casting about for flapper-era adjectives to describe this collection, but really, one word does all the necessary telling: DELIGHTFUL!
The collection offers "20 hats and adornments inspired by lady detectives of the roaring twenties". There are 10 headwear pieces within, and each features a coordinating accessory -- sometimes fingerless mitts or gauntlets, sometimes neckwear, sometimes a clutch or the very necessary binoculars bag. (I say that cheekily; the text points out that this bag is sized perfectly to fit a Kindle for modern sleuthers.)
I found myself smiling at many of the pages, utterly charmed by the attention to detail within. The props, styling, make-up and hair, the wardrobe, even the Art Deco borders on some pages -- all were chosen deliberately to evoke the Jazz Age. I doff my cloche to photographer Zoë Lonergan who captured beautifully clear detailed shots that still contain loads of personality and theme.
Each feature begins with a description of the lady detective for whom it's named, a nod of thanks to the author responsible, and a few words that connect the tale to the inspiration for the knitwear. There's even a resource guide in the appendices to help knitters find the mysteries at the source.
This collection is not for the knitter who wants to whip up a simple beanie to gift in an evening. These hats and headwraps are all about their details: beaded leaf appliqués, bold buttons or pins, ruched or tucked brims, the occasional crochet picot edging. But paying attention to those details pays off in spades with finished pieces that allow the modern wearer a dash of bygone panache.
My review copy was an "Interactive e-Book", which meant that pattern pages contained embedded links to their Ravelry details page and resource listings out-linked to the publishers, yarn sources, and embellishments referenced within. Very handy.
The best part about this collection? The last bit of its subtitle reads "Vol. 1".
This book of patterns is a charming step up in complexity and coverage than the one-skein pattern books that have been popular for a while. I didn't think adding one or two skeins of yarn would be a big deal until I started flipping through the mostly accessory patterns. First, duh, it means colorwork! This book has stripes, slipped stitches, checks and Latvian braids. It also means deep and chunky texture, cables, twists and ribs in yarn bigger than laceweight. There are things of actual size, shawls bigger than a napkin, cowls that wrap more than once and a few garments -- a camisole, shrug and a bolero.
Just looking at Glenna Harris' Diverting Socks, Asa Tricosa's Eline Cowl and Romi Hill's Tanis Shawl makes me hope that multi-skein accessory projects are the next big thing.
This book landed on my desk on a particularly grey day and I instantly read through it, drinking in all of the bright colors and geometric shapes.
A lot of pattern books published recently tend to the romantic type of designs, lots of lace, intricate colorwork and softer colors. This book is a breath of fresh air. 20 patterns that are bright, and knit in interesting shapes -- either the designs themselves or pattern within the design. I like that none of the designs seem married to the colors they were knit in. I can imagine each in many different combinations.
The designs are fresh and easy to wear. Many are knit from alpaca and alpaca blend yarns which gives them gorgeous drape and flow.
The Engle Cardigan is fantastic. I love the finished piece, but the construction that makes me swoony -- you start knitting at the waist. The Trilogy Cardigan and the Burren Pullover both made me stop and read the entire pattern. Rounding out the patterns are hats and mittens, a couple of lightweight tops and a whole bunch of sweaters (yay!). Snap this book up if you are looking to add unique and very wearable items to your wardrobe.
Passion is reflected in everything that Cirila Rose does: her knitwear design, her writing, how she dresses and her conversation. Her mind is always collecting and connecting. This is her first book and it captures that passion perfectly. A book of 25 knitting patterns and a treatise on how to approach your knitting and life creatively through color, style and detail.
The book is divided into three parts that she says reflect knitters' personalities: Magpies, the collector -- this section features patterns that use small amounts of precious yarn and has an essay on choosing and combining color and how to think like a stylist to best incorporate and feature your handknits in your wardrobe. Homebodies is full of the types of comfortable knits to wear at home, for your home or to just feel cozy. The essays in this section are on substituting yarns and surrounding yourself with inspiration. Nomads are knits perfect for traveling far or near; the essays are about thrift shopping and how and why Cirilia fell in love with Iceland.
The patterns are delightful. They have whimsy, wearability and, most of all, style. They are, especially after reading the essays in the book, easy to tweak to show the world who you are. The pattern I can't wait to add to my rotation are the Gezell Coat, a cocoon shaped jacket with deep pockets an exposed seam and a sprinkling of bobbles; the fitted vintage-style Isla Cardigan with the shaggy-locked Marion Collar; and the deliciously cozy cable and lace Loro Vest.
I don't know how, but Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark manages to make brioche knitting not confusing.
I think it's because she builds one little step at a time in both her directions for brioche and the complexity of her patterns. The knitting skills covered go from your very first brioche stitch to adding cables and multiple colors. It's all explained with excellent illustrations and close up photography so that I could understand it the very first time I picked up my needles to try.
The patterns are unique with the style that Mercedes is known for and, unlike what's found in most brioche knitting books, has very few accessories. The garments have lots of variety and interesting detail, some with all over brioche, some with brioche just in sections or panels. There are even two sweaters and a vest for men that are of a style that men would actually wear. I even asked a couple for confirmation. I'm intrigued by the Openwork Triangle Shawl, the tiny-bit-of-brioche Smocked Blouse, the crazily twisted Cabled Funnelneck and the two-colored Reversible Infinity Scarf.
If you'd like to knit along while learning brioche knitting, Mercedes also has an excellent Craftsy class that you can take right now: Brioche Knitting Made Easy.
I love seeing where a designer's influence comes from, and the link could not be more clear in these latest offerings from Stephannie Tallent. Comprising 5 separate volumes each containing 4-6 patterns, the Wild West Collection explores Tallent's experiences with the flora, fauna, landscapes and structures of Arizona.
The designs are worked in yarns from small or independent dyers, with links provided to their sources in the resource pages. (Very thorough information is provided to those wishing to make yarn substitutions.) The colours are clearly pulled from the inspiration photos that accompany each item, but care is also taken to use yarns that evoke the texture or mood as well. For example, the Bijou Basin Ranch 100% yak used in the Javelina Beanie (Textured) has a fine halo that reminds us of the short hair of the collared peccary pig in the name. The Blackwater Abbey 2ply tweed used in the Tucson Cardi (Cables) has the same dressy-casual feel of the city itself.
Lastly, the techniques in each volume add yet more dimension to the inspiration-turned-knitwear translation. The Painted Desert Hat is worked in changes of stitch patterns to mimic the "bands of colors exposed in the eroded siltstone, mudstone, and shale hills" while the "strong vertical lines of the ribbing directly mirror the shape of the Organ Pipe cactus" mitts so closely that I wonder why anyone would want to work them in something other than this perfect colour combination.
The patterns offered here are beautifully laid out with instructions for lace, cables and colourwork given in charted form with well-annotated instructions. All of the techniques are within the reach of an intermediate knitter; brief tutorial explanations are given for a few rarer skills such as placing beads, duplicate stitching, or working braids in their respective volume.
Cozy is the perfect word for this collection of winter knits. There is not one pattern in this book that doesn't make me want to slow down and snuggle up.
The designs for accessories, pillows, sweaters are a riot of color, pattern and warm fuzzies. The motifs are from Scandinavia, Estonia and northern Europe, some solo, but most combined for gorgeous effect like the Matti Gloves that mixes Latvian braid, and Fair Isle patterning.
I wish I still had a little one to knit the adorable Kettu Top that has Lucinda Guy's typical type of friendly foxes running around the bottom.
The patterns are a nice mix of quick-to-knit worsted-weight yarn patterns and the little-more-patterning-allowed finer-gauge knits. The motifs are multi-colored and twisted-stitch textured with detail like braids and embroidery adding additional pops of color. She even tackles twined knitting in a fresh way with a two-color scarf inspired by Madelinetosh colorways.
I could happily knit through this book all winter.
Millamia is a Swedish yarn company, run by two sisters, that embraces both modern Scandinavian design and their own line of high-quality yarn. This book of 25 patterns showcases their yarn and design style. The patterns are mostly children's garments -- beautiful dresses, sweaters, vests, mittens, booties, all with colorblocking or a two-color pattern.
The theme of the book is Winter and Christmas. The book fills in around the children's patterns with accessories, cozy pillows and other home dec patterns and some adult patterns: mittens, socks, wristwarmers and a few garments. The feeling of all of the designs is serene and understated. All but a few of children's patterns are 2-color with an emphasis on a soft colors like light blue with white; they do offer brighter color combinations as substitutes in each of the patterns. The motifs are all traditionally Scandinavian. Many reindeer cavort between snowflakes and trees.
If you need some calm, fine-gauged knitting for your winter holiday, these may be the patterns for you.
The Handwork Hardware DPN Sorter and gauge is a brilliant and brilliantly simple solution to the problem of DPN storage.
It's a very smart upgrade to the cardboard tube that you're probably already using for DPN storage (a discarded whiskey bottle sleeve in my house). Even before I'd unscrewed the top, I was impressed -- it's compact and attractive, and the case has a ruler printed on the outside so you can measure your needles for length.
But then you open it up, and the true magic is revealed. The case has an insert that allows you to measure, sort and store your needles by size -- slide them through the holes to ensure that you’re never misfiling them. (Who hasn't found themselves partway through a sock before noticing that one needle was the the wrong size?) It's got slots for the crazy-tiny sizes (US#000 to 0/1.5mm-2mm) right up to US #5/3.75mm.
The case is well-designed and well-made, and handily solves several problems at once. If you're a sock knitter, you need this thing.
There may be little gimmick behind the concept of the book, but the knitwear is gimmick free. Each sweater is emminently wearable and absolutely beautifully designed. The Grace Kelly tributes include the perfect sexy tee-shirt sweater with capped sleeves and a deep scoop back by Susanna IC who needs to design more sweaters (!), a lace sleeved v-neck gem and an etherial lace shawl. A preppy vest is pulled from Gene Kelly's wardrobe in Singin' in the Rain and there's the iconic cable-knit v-neck pullover from the original Great Gatsby, as worn by Robert Redford. Yummy. More in the style of Sophia Loren, Lauren Bacall and Brigitte Bardot. All stellar.
Love how well the sweaters fit the models. Love how functional these books are -- large pictures, readable text. Love the whole series.
This new Craftsy class from Jacey Boggs Faulkner is one of the best online spinning classes I've watched. It is targeted to a specific topic -- drafting -- and is comprehensive within that topic. She covers the basic drafting styles within worsted and woolen: short forward, short backward, from the fold and long draw, including wheel set up and how best to use your hands and feet. She demonstrates that the type of fiber prep makes a difference, how to join, how to ply for each drafting style and how best to finish your yarn based on drafting style.
Her teaching is full of facts all the while demonstrating, with great detail, each nuance of drafting and the effect on your finished yarn. She shows a ton of gorgeous samples that make the connections concrete between what you do and what you get. She does it with humor and warmth. It's all about loving the yarn you make and shortening the learning curve for spinners. I learned a lot about whys of drafting and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Jacey.
No matter what spinning level you are, you will learn something from this class.
Are you a spinner that struggles with the type and amount of twist to put into your yarn? This just may be the tool you are looking for. It's a pocket-sized plastic card that helps measure WPI, twist direction, and angle of twist. My favorite part? It comes with a small magnifier, which helps to take a lot of the guesswork out of measuring.
The measuring tool is just part of this kit to making happier yarn. There is also a 20-page book that is half reference guide to the Twist Eszee tool and half yarn planner. From direction of twist to the calculations needed to make a 2 or 3-ply yarn (including corespun and chain ply), it gives a spinner the steps needed to make the yarn they want.
The only thing that was different on this tool than the way I measure is the twist angle gauge. Eszee Twist tool measures from a vertical 90 degrees and works down to 0 degrees, when I measure I work from a vertical 0 degrees to 90 degrees. I put little stickers on mine and was good to go.
I found this tool really useful. It's great to have all of the measuring tools in one spot and to have a magnifier is icing on the cake.