by Jillian Moreno, Amy Singer, Lynne Sosnowski, Kate Atherley, Maryla Hall Bianco, Kate Jordan
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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Kate Atherley's new book, Custom Socks, brings my sock book total to 10, and that's exactly the score I give the book. Kate doesn't mess around in this beauty. She has conducted in-depth research on oodles of feet and created a rock-solid sock recipe to empower and improve newbies and experienced sock knitters alike.
The photos are large and enticing, and the information is approachable and concise. This is one of the few knitting books that I allowed myself to write in as there is just enough white space on the pages to let you reflect or jot an inspired idea.
Perhaps my favorite aspect is that it is equal parts textbook and bathtub knitting, which speaks volumes about the versatility and usability of this treasure. Kate provides infinite resources and tips, but also offers a knitterly escape into juicy details of patterns and unique inspiration — which is perfect for a few stolen moments of tub soaking!
Custom Socks is full of hard data, numbers, and charts that make it a handy go-to and essential tool. I've knit over 50 pairs of socks in 12 years, and believe me when I say that I learn something every time I pick up this book. Custom socks with no bunching, no slipping, and no guess-work!
But wait, there's more! Custom Socks also has a companion video that complements the content beautifully. The video offering walks you through the steps of measuring your feet, choosing yarn, the nuances of gauge and construction for both top-down and toe-up socks. The book, e-book and video are available at most on-line book retailers or your local bookstore.
Custom Socks may be my 10th sock book, but it definitely ranks #1 on the shelf!
Perhaps non-knitters don't think this way, but I think kids of any age look more adorable in handknits. This collection features garments and accessories that are aimed at school-aged youngsters, a demographic that often gets underserved in good patterns while babies are festooned in handmades.
The patterns are great basics, featuring Fyberspates Vivacious yarns (either fingering/4ply or DK weights, all are 100% washable merino). The stitching may be straightforward, but that allows the yarns to really shine.
Austin contributed a hoody cardigan, a cable-panel pullover and a stripey dress while Coopey added hats, simple and cabled, mittens and a pair of socks. Accessories are offered in 3-4 sizes while the garments range from 2-10 years of age.
Great care is taken to show the same-size garment on different-size kids, to emphasize that knitwear has a range of fit. That the designers' own children are included as models means these designs are made by mums who know what it's like for a child to grow before the knitting gets done.
I love the collection for it's photos of children at play — wholesome, outdoorsy stuff, showing that kids need clothes that are fun while also being wearable enough to move.
If you've seen the footwear on offer in shops during gift-giving season, you know that slippers — the zanier the better — seem to have only increased in popularity. What better way to give something memorable than to make it by hand, custom-fit and custom-finished.
You won't find any patterns for Phentex pocketbook slippers here (not that there's anything wrong with that). Slippers in this collection are full-on ridiculous (well duh, they're Jester slippers), completely adorkable (Killer Rab-boots), and sometimes sublime (Turkish Delight, a Moroccan colourwork feast).
I found myself tossing the stash for some Cascade Magnum to whip up a gift pair of Flower Garden slippers (sans lovely embellishments, this is a great, quick one-skein project). And I'm pretty sure my Mister may be sporting the very charming Pennies from Heaven this coming holiday — knitted penny loafers, with actual pennies.
Some of the projects here are knit and then felted (Night Owls and Foxy seem cutest to me), and some are knitted and have nearly no finishing. There are great instructions for stitching on leather bottoms, or even re-purposing ones from commercially made slippers.
Roughly half the patterns are offered in adult sizing, the other half are mostly child sizing with a few covering both. But take note: there is some overlap in fit here, and older children & tweens may be very comfortable in the small adult sizes, while women with dainty feet may be able to fit into the larger of the children's sizes.
I find myself thinking inexplicably about how much of the perfect-coloured yarn I already own that might possibly become Carrots slipper socks.
Artistic Differences by Talitha Kuomi for Classic Elite Yarns
part of the CEY Viewpoints collection
Artistic Differences is a collection of four garments and six accessories inspired by a love of music. Each piece in the collection is offered in two versions, a "Rocker" style and a "Boho" one, meaning you're really getting twenty pieces in all. The photos are artfully styled to evoke the mood of each variation (though I'd love to see the back of my favourite sweater, "Forte"). Thfeatured yarns from Classic Elite make you want to reach in and feel the fabrics.
There are projects for a range of skill sets here, from very wearable cowls in the beautifully soft and warm Chalet, socks and simple fingerless mitts in the natural colours of CEY's MountainTop yarn collection, through to gorgeously cabled pullovers (sassy and cropped for the Rocker, natch) in Inca Alpaca.
Sweaters are offered in a generous range of sizes, socks are given in three options and mitts in five.
Whether you're a hard-edged rock chick or a world-hugging bohemian, there's something here with a beat you can dance to.
Binkwaffle Bags — new prints!
Small Dumpling Bag: 6x 6 x 14", $35
Large Dumpling Bag: 9 x 9 x 21", $55
Binkwaffle Bags are a favorite around Knitty. They are roomy, reversible and cute enough to use as a purse, if you ever stop putting your knitting in it. (Amy sticks her wallet and lipstick in hers when she wants to travel light).
Originally made from just a few fabrics, they have expanded their color and print offering. Changed too from the early Binkwaffle bags are the grommets. My first one was black and the new bag has a silver grommet, which I like better. Everything else that I love is the same — generously sized, sturdy cotton, reversible for all of your knitting moods and killer cute fabric.
I love the idea of a yarn and a pattern picked especially to go together and sometimes designed and dyed to go together. This new monthly yarn and pattern subscription, Yarn Crush is just that.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on their very first box. It's a skein of Merino Silk Lace from Sweet Georgia Yarns ( I got the color Berry Tart), a beaded lace shawl pattern, Oroya, and beads that complement the yarn color. This month, there is a gift of a digital row counter that you can wear on your finger while knitting, a perfect extra for knitting lace.
As part of the Yarn Crush subscription you also get the knitting patterns digitally, for those who would rather knit with a tablet than a paper pattern.
This is a well-paired and well-planned subscription box!
Once again, June Hemmons Hiatt has expanded my knitting world and maybe even changed my life a little bit. First it was her book, The Principles of Knitting, and now it's an item she wrote about in her book: the Studio PoK Knitting Belt.
The Belt is Ms. Hemmons Hiatt's own redesign of a traditional Shetland knitting tool. It tells you all you need to know to say that the Victorian production knitters used them. The knitting belt makes right-hand-yarn-carry knitting faster and more comfortable, which is particularly notable for those who spend hours at the needles every day. And even if you don't gain in speed, you gain comfort.
(Although honestly, after a couple of days, I was knitting faster than I ever had before. It took a little adjustment in my movements, but it's a very natural change and not at all difficult to adapt.)
The belt sits around your waist, and forms a rest for the right-handle needle. It does require double-pointed needles — but works equally well with projects worked flat and in the round. The tip of the back end of your right needle sits in the belt's horsehair-stuffed pouch.
Although Shetland knitters would traditionally work with 16-inch long DPNs, I agree that a 12-inch length is a good typical length for larger pieces, and I was happily able to work my sock project with my usual 6-inch DPNs. Anchoring the right needle frees up your right hand to wrap the yarn and move the stitches, speeding the process and keeping your tension more even. There's none of that shifting of right needle between your left and right hands that the continental knitters make so much fun of.
This 'supported needle' method is closely related to the inelegantly named but very efficient 'armpit' knitting, but provides the additional advantage of being able to position the belt and needles exactly where you need for maximum comfort. It's more accommodating of shorter needles, and working on DPNs. Because the needles are lower down, it's particularly helpful for working in the round, as your hands are above the work, reducing needle wrangling even further.
If you are a right-hand-yarn-carry knitter, and are looking for ways to increase your speed and comfort, and reduce strain, this belt is a fantastic solution. It's also a really wonderful connection to knitting history. And the beautiful belts - hand-made in US from US sourced materials - are themselves a work of history and art. I'm overjoyed to have one — and the skills to use it — in my toolkit.
You can learn more on Ms. Hemmons Hiatt's website.
The Cocoknits' Sweater Care Kit is a very well-thought out addition to the knitter's toolbox. The manufacturer says it's primarily aimed at sweater knitters, but it also offers a lot of value to anyone with a sizable collection of knits.
The kit offers a number of helpful pieces for different types of care needs. Although at first blush, this might seems like a lot of complicated equipment, you'll find that the items will all very quickly become part of your laundry and blocking routines.
There are two different size mesh laundry bags, for using in machine-washing your knits (when yarn and machine permits, of course!). The small is great for smaller pieces, kids' sweaters, shawls, that sort of thing; the larger size will nicely fit an adult sweater, or a few items (all the hats and mitts come spring, when it's time to put them away, for example. You don't put them away for the summer without giving them a bath, do you?)
There are two generously sized "super-absorbent" towels, ideal for squeezing moisture out of items — the old 'roll in a towel and stomp on it' routine is much more effective with these — and for drying items flat. I wasn't sure about the "super-absorbent" claim at first, but it's entirely correct! I took an utterly saturated dripping-wet sweater directly from the sink to the big towel and one good roll-and-stomp had it drip-free and ready for laying out to dry. The larger one, 60 by 60 inches, will hold your largest pieces. The smaller of the two, although still a generous 36 by 60 inches, is printed with a grid — inches on one side, centimeters on the other — for ensuring straight edges and properly-sized pieces. It's massively helpful for, for example, making sure your two sleeves are the same length before you sew up your garment. (The towels themselves are machine washable, of course.)
(These towels would be excellent on top of your foam blocking mats if you're pinning out a shawl, too. They'd speed the drying, and help with the pinning.)
And then once the items have dried to damp on the towels, transfer them to the mesh pop-up dryer. (Although, honestly, given the effectiveness of the towel, my sweater went directly on the mesh dryer.) This item alone is worth the price of the kit. It's a piece of nylon mesh with little 'belts' that hold it in a curve (see above), allowing air to circulate under the drying pieces for a faster overall dry. Brilliant!
The kit also includes a small bottle of Eucalan to get you started.
I am a huge proponent of blocking, and I believe that anything you knit needs a wash before you declare it finished. Washing before seaming is also vitally important part of the finishing process for garments in particular, and this kit makes it so much easier.
New booths at the industry trade show TNNA don't always stand out, but this one caught our eyes straight away. This booth was filled with gorgeous knit-textured cups, mugs, yarn bowls and dishes that fairly begged to be touched.
Charan Sachar makes functional and decorative stoneware pottery, primarily using slab-built forms impressed with texture and then often further embellished with slip designs.
The cup I reviewed was sturdy without feeling bulky. It's the perfect size for a glass of wine or a whiskey on the rocks, though I suppose you could put something boring like water in it. He also offers handled mugs and yarn bowls.
Sachar sells direct to consumers through his Etsy site, and was at TNNA to establish wholesale connections with yarn and fibre shops as they make perfect gifts for knitters — check with your LYS and support them with your purchase.
Love+Leche's solid lotion bars are made of good-for-you stuff including beeswax, almond oil, calendula and essential oils. This mix is good for all kinds of skin on all sorts of body parts, and absorbs reasonably quickly leaving no slippery residue.
I tried the new scents: citrus rose and cedarwood. (See our review of the original offerings here when the company was operating as Milk+Honey.)
The bar goes on smooth and silky. I found the scents enticing if initially strong, and they softened to a gentle hint of scent after a short while of wearing. (There are unscented products too.) Cedarwood seemed to be a hit with the fella who shares my house.
The clever Soakbox collection, featuring yarn and pattern alongside a coordinating bottle of Soak Wash, has a new and adorable limited edition line. The Erika Knight Soakbox contains two colours of British Blue Wool from the Erika Knight yarn collection with a coordinating travel-size bottle of Soakwash. Two project possibilities are included - either a striped baby hat or a pair of striped baby leg warmers. Once the kit is made, the patterns are great to hold onto to make gifts for other new little people who come along.
I knit up the largest size of the hat (sizes include 0-3, 3-6, and 6-9 months) and had almost a third of the yarn left over, so there's ample yarn for whatever size is chosen. There isn't enough yarn in the kit to make *both* of the patterns supplied, though local yarn shops who carry the kits may also be able to supply additional Erika Knight yarn.
The yarn itself is a double-knitting weight 100% Bluefaced Leicester, and it has a really lovely hand — soft and puffy, it's a great choice for baby wear. The yarn promotes British sheep breeds, and is worsted spun in a Yorkshire mill.
Soakwash comes in scentless as well as a selection of gentle scents, and is an easy no-rinse wash for handknits and fine baby wear.
Version tested: Hector the Baby African Hippopotamus
When I first spied these kits at the TNNA tradeshow, I think you might have heard my squee clear across the exhibit hall. In the way I've come to associate with Blue Sky Alpacas, the six critter kits were put together with a great deal of care and thought about their packaging, their ease of assembly, and their cohesiveness as a collection.
The kits are designed to be coordinate together — each features a different animal worked in it's specific yarn colour — there's even a little window in the box to give you a preview of the delicious Royal Petite Alpaca inside. You can choose between Marcel the Monkey, Hector the Hippopotamus, Emilie the Elephant, René the Rhinoceros, Lisette the Lion or Georgette the Giraffe.
Each kit contains all the materials needed (except knitting needles and a darning needle), as well as thorough and very well-illustrated instructions. I love LOVE that complete instructions are provided for both knit-flat-and-seamed as well as knit-in-the-round options. The animals are beautifully thought out; all the shaping increases or decreases lend character, and even tricky things like placement for the provided safety eyes are knit right into the fabric.
My hippo has a little different personality than Hector (have you ever seen identical hippos?), so I believe I will call him Harpo. He was great fun to make over a couple of leisurely evenings, and will be treasured by a little person in my family.
On the heels of being charmed by Red Gate's cross-stitched pendants (Amy reviewed this one, but I had a few of my own!), I fell for more folk-art accessorizing. The leather cuff project promised to be more stitching than the quick-to-complete pendant, and a much bolder finished item to wear.
Kits come complete with pre-drilled leather cuff, a fine embroidery needle and five colours of embroidery floss. The instructions offer four possible folk patterns to choose among, but with a little imagination and even a small stash of floss, nearly limitless patterns can be made.
I was really taken with one of the suggested colour combinations, so I just followed the map provided. Stitched over the course of a couple of hours, I can feel this is a perfect gateway drug to more cross-stitching in my very near future.
The cuff has two sets of snaps, so it will fit wrists from 7-8.5 inches (approx 18-22 cm) quite comfortably. I found the snaps quite stiff to start out, but they got easier to work after a few wearings.
I've got at least a dozen ring-and-pin style shawl pins of varying sizes and weights, and they all suffer from the same thing: I'm always fussing with the pin part to keep it from falling out.
Jennifer Lippman-Bruno created her series of shawl pins to address just that problem. The each measure between 2.5-3" in height (they're handmade, so there are slight variances from piece to piece) and made in one piece — there's nothing to slip out! The decorative turns keep the pin firmly wedged in the fabric. I tried them on a light fingering weight shawl, and the turned ones didn't budge. The more open shape that looks like half an oak leaf was slightly less secure on my flimsy fabric, but I could make it stay put by threading it through the fabric more than twice, and it would be really great for a DK to aran weight piece.
Each of the pins are made from "jewelers gold" which is a brass alloy. The ends are well filed and rounded to ensure no snags, even on very fine yarn.
Lippman-Bruno first became beloved to knitters with her GoKnit Pouch. These project bags are made of ripstop nylon and offer really useful features like an interior loop to keep your yarn from tangling and an exterior one to attach your project bag to your belt loop so you can knit on the go! GoKnit Pouches are available in three sizes and more than 12 colours plus the fun limited edition FUR and ZEBRA as well as the Jewel Collection including Amethyst, Champagne, Gold, Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire and my new favourite: steely Platinum (shown at left).
The smallest size is perfect for socks or a scarf, the medium holds a sweater in progress plus spare yarn, and the largest will smuggle an afghan along for a weekend getaway.
I now own three of the smallest pouches (I'm a sock addict) and one each of the larger ones, and I covet more.
I love that my needles don't poke through the ripstop like they do on some of my fabric bags, and that if I drop it on the messy floor of the train a quick damp wipe clears it up.
This really is a complete guide to knitting. The first half of the book has information and techniques to get you started: types of needles, how to select yarn, cast on and of course very detailed pictures and instructions.
As well, the book also covers, in just as great detail, more advanced techniques: finishing, sewing, button holes and felting, just to mention a few. The rest of the book is full of projects, from simple to more advanced.
The photos do help to follow the written instructions, and in some cases you just need to follow the photos. I particularly like the idea of making your own knitting needles, and customizing them.
This book would make a great gift to get someone interested in learning to knit.
Shawl Book One by Kirsten Kapur
Print Book (comes with a digital copy), $21.00
Digital Download, $18.00
This book is a collection of Kirsten Kapur's ten most popular shawls from her blog Through the Loops. I have always been a fan of Kirstin's designs, and this book really showcases her talent as a designer. When patterns come out one at a time, I got bursts of her fantastic designing brain, but having her shawl designs gathered all together in a book caused an explosion. It was my stash, begging to be knit into these shawls.
My favorite thing about Kirsten's shawl designs is how she can put things in combination, using colors and stitch patterns that I'd never guess would work together. She makes them sing.
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the other stars of this shawl show, the photography by Gale Zucker and the effervescent models. The photography, modeling and setting are the kind where you wish you could step into the book and hangout with the models for a day at the shore.
My stash is lined up waiting for fall shawl knitting of my favorites: Nefertem, Cladonia and Roma.
This book is a celebration of Susan Cropper's knitting dream: her world-famous shop in London, Loop. Susan hand-picked and brought together dyers (to craft special colors for this celebration) with designers to create 12 designs that expressed the uniqueness of Loop.
10 is evocative of all of the things that make Loop an amazing shop — creativity, attention to detail, texture, comfort. It is an oasis for people who create.
The designers chosen are all long time collaborators with Loop: Kirsten Kapur, Ysolda Teague, Stephen West, Pam Allen, Claire Montgomerie, Paulina Popiolek, Juju Vail, Meghan Fernandes, Donna Higgins, Rachel Atkinson and Tif Fussell.
Patterns are mostly accessories with three sweaters, four shawls, two pairs of mitts mitts, a caplet, a scarf and a crochet garland with interchangeable motifs Standouts for me are, the Islington Shawl by Kirsten Kapur, the Sprinkle Cardigan by Juju Vail, and the Rosemaling Mitts by Tif Fussell.
Yarn and dyers are showcased in the book by getting their own photos side by side with the pattern and dyers profiled along side the designers in the back. The styling and photography are glorious they are the kind of images that stop time and lower your blood pressure. They are photos saturated with color and a revelry of visual texture.
The second foray into the Yarn Woman mysteries veers a bit from the first; it takes us out of San Francisco, into the woods and steps slightly away from intense fiber talk.
Ruth M is called to a redwood forest in Northern California to consult on the skeleton of a child found wearing a fragment of a knitted vest. This is a mystery filled with the history and politics of a once-vibrant logging town, and tied to a local ghost story. A mystery that threatens nearly everyone that has any ties to the past by the time the mystery wraps up.
Being out of her regular element and partnered for the most part with a local newspaper woman hasn't put Ruth off of her game. She adapts and digs out the truth.
Wailing Woods is a single full-length mystery (the first Yarn Woman Mystery was three shorter mysteries gathered together) and the feeling has changed a little, for the better. There may be a little less fiber talk, but in exchange we get a more complex mystery and deeper characters. Not to say that there is no fiber talk — the knitted vest found with the skeleton plays a significant role in the solving of the mystery and there is a wonderful passage on dyeing yarn.
I gladly traded the fiber talk for what Menchler did for the characters in this story; they are fleshed out in a satisfying way. Both the mysterious Mr. Kasparov and Ruth get enough background questions answered that you understand their motives much better. Every character in the book seems more solid and interesting than in the first mystery.
I enjoyed this book, especially as a summer read. The setting was wonderfully creepy and the mystery was filled with juicy historic detail. I can't wait for the next one.
There is something so appealing about these needle and knitting gauges. Perhaps it's the vintage-style artwork that makes having them in your knitting bag an aesthetic joy? It might be the elegant precision with which they were laser etched and cut from a solid sheet of hardwood.
I think, though, it's the combination of the two. Juxtaposing vintage images with modern technology makes me really happy.
These needle and knitting gauges are beautifully made and really affordable. Retromantic also offers magnetic needle minders, thread organizers (for the embroiderers among us), rulers, necklaces (!) and deeply covetable boxes and wooden trays, to catch all these beautiful tools up in one tidy place.
I spin and I knit and love wool more than someone probably should, but I have never wanted to raise sheep.
How then could I fall so hard about a shepherding book? This became one of those books I carried with me everywhere, yet I wouldn't let myself speed through it. I read slowly, savoring the vignettes about the shepherding life.
The book tells the story of the history and daily life of Rebanks' family and the shepherds of the Lake District in England. His writing conjures the life he lives. He doesn't shirk from the hard work or putting himself in less than favorable light.
This is a book about place and tradition and the bigger thinking on how to preserve both worldwide.
If you are feeling a little blah about your stash or about spinning ounces of the same fiber, consider a Jar of Inspiration. A cool idea from Andrea Mielke, Jar of Inspiration is 4 ounces of hand selected wool fiber.
The fiber is all in the same color family, but not the same breed, preparation or type of fiber. This stuff is fun to put on a blending board, to spin as it comes, or to make into cool coils or corespun.
I'm considering suggesting these for a SAL with my spinning group.
Spin Thin: How to Spin Fine Yarns by Beth Smith
$19.99, digital download
Thin yarn is relative. Your thin yarn isn't my thin yarn. I'm not interested in spinning thread I can use in my sewing machine although some spinners are. But I would like to know how to spin finer than I do now.
Full disclosure: Beth Smith is my friend, but I haven't ever taken a class with her.
This hour-long video gives a great overview of how to spin thinner. Beth starts with wheel adjustments, including a fascinating discussion of drive and brake band materials. For me, this is what I think about least as I'm changing sizes of yarn. But now I want to experiment with different type of drive bands.
There are demonstrations of how to work with your hands and feet for a finer yarn...which goes slower and which goes faster. As part of hands and feet, Beth talks about what a yarn needs to go from thicker to finer, and how to have control and consistency. There is a whole section of the video devoted to different fibers and different ways to hand prepare your fiber to spin thin.
This video is a perfect place to start if you want to spin finer than you currently do. With many years of spinning and teaching, Beth Smith makes it all look so easy.
I imagine the Ackerworks studio to be like a big playground for spinning. Their colors and design sense have brought much joy to my spinning.
I have several of their bobbins for my wheel and I was really excited to learn they're now making spindles.
Modular is the key word for these bobbins. You pick the size of your whorl (and the color!) and the length of your shaft to make a spindle perfect for your type of spindle spinning.
The hub that the whorl secures to is moveable with just a twist and slide, so you can spin with your whorl high, low or in the middle. The whorl and shaft come apart easily for storage or travel and the spindle comes with a hook protector.
The whorl is made of the same 3D printed plastic as their bobbins and are rim weighted by the addition of weights inside the edges. The shaft is made of a carbon fiber making it smooth and light. The hook is shaped like a shepherd's crook and is made of stainless steel.
I got two sizes of spindles to try, the smallest and the largest:
The small weighs .7 ounces, with a 6" shaft and the whorl measures 1.5" across the top from between two petals to the tip of one directly across.
The large weighs 1.65 ounces , with a 12" shaft and the whorl measures 3" across the top from between two petals to the tip of one directly across.
They both spin without a wobble. The small spindle is zippy. It spins very fast and unspins just as fast. It took me a few tries to figure out the rhythm of the spin, but when I did, when I figured just when to grab it before the back spin, I went on to make yarn ranging from DK to lace-ish. I didn't notice that the whorls don't have notches until another spinner asked me. I just slotted my yarn between the petals of the whorl and it never moved.
I was initially worried about the shaft. It is very smooth and I thought it would be slippy when winding my cop, but it wasn't. It has that magic balance between grippy to hold the yarn while spinning and winding a cop, and smooth enough to easily slide the cop off. I slide my cops onto drinking straws for storage and plying.
Don't tell the tiny one, but the big spindle is my favorite. It's big and heavy, but it spins forever. I was able to make yarn that ranged from DK to chubby easily with no back spin. And plying on this spindle is a dream, it just goes steadily until you tell it to stop.
Another excellent product from the playground for spinners, Akerworks!
Embroidery on Knits: 4 Easy Needlework Stitches by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark
$19.99, digital download
If you are a knitter wanting to take your first steps embellishing your knits with embroidery, this video is a terrific place to start. Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark walks you through four basic stitches, yarn, needles and ways to transfer images.
In about an hour, she had me feeling good about adding chain stitch, French knots and backstitch to knitting. She even cracked duplicate stitch for me. I've never been able to figure out how to make it look right, but now it does.
Mercedes talks about tension and embroidery, stopping and starting without adding bulk. She shows embroidery in her own knitwear designs and proves even the most basic stitches can make knitting look amazing.
This is, hands down, one of the top two fiber books for me this year.
Written by Kristine Vejar, who has devoted most of her adult life to learning and working with natural dyes, The Modern Natural Dyer is a unique and spectacular book.
It is clear, yet concise. It makes natural dyeing look doable, even for a dabbler, even indigo. It is a book full of inspiration and beauty; I would hang most of the photography on my walls just to stare at and soak up.
Here's the nitty gritty on the book: Kristine explains about dyeing, the with what, on what, how-to and all about using it, complete with projects. The beginning of the book is about the plants and bugs that make color, 20 of them, shown in luscious photography with an overview of the plant (or bug) and what color or range of colors it produces.
There is a chapter about what to dye on, protein or cellulose, what the difference is between the two and how they are dyed and take dye differently. The section on dyeing with natural dyes is so informative and accessible that I am no longer intimidated by natural dyeing. It's broken down into the most important parts: tools, safety, scouring, mordanting, dyeing and washing — all with the attitude and idea that this is something that any fiber-happy person can do, no degree in art, science or botany needed.
There is a whole chapter on indigo. Approach with caution: it is the best kind of rabbit hole to fall down.
Interspersed through the book are 20 patterns, to sew, to knit or just to dye — tops, dresses, a sweater, a pillow, a sewing kit, a onesie, a quilt — all utilizing natural dye in different ways. They range from quick and easy type of projects — dye them and done — to projects that require time — dyeing then using, like the quilt and sweater.
The book finishes with and excellent resource guide.
What really made this book exceptional for me is that it managed to teach me how to dye naturally without losing that mythical magic that natural dyeing always has held for me. It is different than chemically dyeing: it's ancient, it's surprising, it's capricious. I've been drawn to it just for those reasons and Kristine brings all of that to life as well as making it seem possible.
The Modern Natural Dyer is so inspiring, the photos, the stories, even the how-to, that even if I never get around to natural dyeing, the book will have touched and sparked my creativity.
Have you been weaving up your stash and are ready to try something beyond a scarf? Simple Woven Garments may be the book you want. Intended for a beyond beginner weaver, it has 20 patterns that are a mixture of garments and accessories.
All of the projects can be woven on a rigid-heddle or shaft loom. The projects are mostly wraps and tops, but there is a lot variation within those simple ideas.
Projects have some sewing and knitting, both additions are at the beginner-ish leve. Even if you might feel insecure about the cutting, sewing or knitting with your weaving, the results will push you through. Plus the instructions are excellent.
Every time I go through the book I see something different or in a different way. Projects that don't particularly appeal to me as presented have infinite potential when I think about different yarn or a different finish. This thinking is helped along greatly by each pattern having a section on different fabric, yarn and style variations. While I know, like me, you'll spend the majority of your time with this book flipping back and forth through the patterns, don't miss the front part of the book. The first 20 pages addressed so many of my worries about making a garment out of my weaving: selvedges, cutting (!), using a pick-up stick in a pattern, and substituting yarn.
Sarah Swett is as tricky as she is talented. This little booklet may look like the directions to a fun, easy weaving project, but it's really part of a bigger nefarious plan to get the world to fall in love with tapestry weaving.
Don't get me wrong: the bag is a fun and easy weaving project presented by a squirrel named Phineas and a dog named Crow, but it is so much more. By following this charming story/pattern you will learn to weave a bag. You will also have a good mental and finger foundation for tapestry weaving. See what I mean? Tricky.
Make sure to read every little bit to get the most out of this book, it's like a treasure hunt, the more you find the clearer it all becomes plus you'll find a lot of great resources.
I consider myself a beginner at knitting, with lots and lots to learn. However, looking through The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet, I am now excited to learn how to crochet. The book guides you through learning the basics to more complicated techniques.
I like that there is a page or two of instruction for a technique with an explanation of the terminology and then a pattern to try that uses those techniques. The next technique and pattern is a little more complicated and so on.
The step-by-step photos are very helpful, especially as a quick reference. As well, there are many helpful tips. The projects are modern and geared for kids of all ages, something for everyone.
I recommend this book for someone like me that just wants to get started on a project without reading a whole lot first. The photos provide all the information you need to get going.