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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For 15 years, Clara Parkes has been traveling the world in search of yarn. You all know the story: she left high tech-life in the Bay Area and moved to Maine with her love to start a career in yarn. Because of this leap, this bravery, we are lucky to have one of the most unique, honest and educational voices that speaks about yarn and knitters today.
This book follows Clara on her travels to New Mexico, Iceland, Portland, Edinburgh and always home to Maine. She teaches in person, she attends tours and fiber festivals and becomes a knitterly tv star. All along the way, she shows and tells about the curious and creative knitting community and about her own connection with knitting and yarn.
We learn about her fears and neuroses, about her successes and joy. Most importantly how all of this helped her forge her own company, her own way with dedication, hard work and an unflagging conviction in beautiful, useful yarn that is grown, processed, milled and dyed in the United States.
If anyone can finally break the curse of the media talking about granny knitting and "knitting is the new yoga", it’s Clara Parkes with this book. No other writer humanizes knitters and the knitting world like Clara. In her hands we escape the cardboard cut out that the media keep trying to make us.
by Donna Druchunas and June L. Hall
Double Vision Press
$34.99, hard cover
Lithuanian Knitting is a labor of love. Donna Druchunas and June L. Hall studied, visited, interviewed and detailed the knitting of Lithuania for years before ever starting this book. What started as a quest to learn about ancestry for both authors ended up changing their lives and enriching the lives of many knitters in Lithuania.
They traveled through Lithuania together and apart, visiting museums in cities and individual knitters in the country. They started craft co-ops and taught spinning. As they learned about their heritage, they reminded many crafters in the country of their history.
There is so much in this book. It’s part travelogue, part history of the country, part history of craft. There is a fascinating section on the sheep and wool of Lithuania and 27 patterns for mittens, gloves, socks and wristers based on knitwear they viewed in markets and museums. The book is packed with photographs historic and modern.
This is a beautiful book both physically and in what it represents. It is a tour de force in independent publishing.
Jennifer Wood’s designs are feminine without being fussy. She pays attention to fit and design and has a eye for charming details.
Refined Knits is her first book and it showcases the some amazing designs. The book is sweater-heavy which is what Jennifer does best – 10 of the 18 patterns are garments with the rest shawls and smaller accessories. The book is broken down into three sections: Cables, Lace, and Aran Lace. The patterns are on the complex side. There are a handful that a beginning knitter could make, but most are wonderfully detailed and shaped with intricate stitch patterns and multiple things going on at the same time.
All of the stitch patterns are charted, many with more than one chart. Jennifer talks about being influenced by Japanese stitch dictionaries and that is part of what gives her designs a fresh feeling. She has perfectly matched her yarns to her designs, semi solid yarns with depth of color that show off stitch patterns but don’t compete with the over all design. I found the studio photography for this book to be gorgeous, wonderfully matching the garments in feeling.
This is a book from which I would happily knit every design, and I could too, because Jennifer's sizes go up to 2x-3x.
If I had to pick a few favorites they would be the Idril Pullover with its neckline ringed cables and graceful waist shaping; the Ada Pullover – a completely reversible cable pullover; the Vivian Sleeveless Pullover with a perfectly draped neckline; and the Camelia Pinecone Cardigan with a complex lace neckline.
What a clever compendium of socks! Ann Budd gathered 18 designers and gave them the challenge to design socks in a direction of their choosing, top down, toe up or the always delightful and mind bending, other.
While most of the socks are knit in the usual direction – top down or toe up – there is something different about each pair of socks. It could be interesting color use, a crafty toe, knitting one sock inside the other, intarsia in the round, a heel without heel flap pick ups or a heel made of triangles.
The Other Types of Construction socks are mind melting. Not one of the 7 patterns are written in a single direction. Many also have intricate stitch patterns and color patterns and sometimes both. It was pleasure just reading the patterns and visualizing what was going on.
All socks are worked in a fine gauge and are written for at least two sizes. As you might expect from Ann Budd and the sock designers in this book, there are copious notes and tips to help you through each of the socks.
This book proves that sock designers are the exquisite thinkers of the knitting world.
by Wendy Bernard
Stewart, Tabori and Chang
$29.95, hardcover over spiral binding
When I opened the package with this book, an old disco song (yes, I’m that old) popped into my head , the Andrea True Connection singing “More, more, more, how do you like it?” [need the earworm ?] While Andrea was singing about love, I feel the same way about stitch patterns.
I love this and its predecessor. Having stitch patterns at the ready to be knit in any direction is so freeing. More than once I have chosen not to use a stitch pattern because I didn’t want to monkey with it to change it from bottom up to top down. I’m lazy like that... it’s a gift.
Along with 150 stitch patterns written out and charted to be worked bottom up, top down, flat or in the round are 6 patterns designed by author Wendy Bernard. A pattern for each of the stitch pattern chapters: Knits and Purls, Ribs, Twisted, Slipped and Fancy, Cables, Lace and Mosaics. There are also 3 recipe patterns for socks a hat and a triangular shawl, plain patterns to insert your own stitch patterns. All three patterns are written for top down or bottom up construction.
Finally there is (thank you, Wendy) an index of stitch patterns by stitch count. Excuse me, I need to go swatch.
In her latest exploration of lace, Brooke Nico works with shape: circles, triangles, squares, rectangles. She has designed four projects in each shape – a garment or two, a shawl or two and an accessory.
In this collection, Brooke has some traditional lace pieces that use fine yarns which make the final pieces very open. The pieces that made me stop and read the patterns were the ones with interesting uses and placements of lace.
The Amaryllis shawl is designed with entrelac lace. The Montauk raglan sweater uses chunky yarn and lace in the raglan shaping, sides, cuff and collar only. The Primrose tunic is knit in alternating color panels. The Lea sleeveless top looks fitted but there is no shaping in the knitting – the lace motif does all of the work.
I like that Brooke doesn’t just use fine yarns for lace; she uses a variety of weights all the way up to bulky. The Wanderlust shawl, knit from bulky Cascade Eco, is just perfect for a quick lace knit with a lot of visual impact.
The frontmatter of the book proves again that Brooke is not just a fine designer, she’s an excellent teacher and a shop owner that interacts with knitters every day. She speaks thoroughly on lace techniques – cast on, bind off, nupps – and includes good information about yarn, gauge and lace.
The latest in Sixth&Spring Books' collaboration with Cascade Yarns is a collection showcasing Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima yarn. Ultra Pima comes in two weights – Dk and Sport – and is machine washable and dryable when label directions are followed.
A good mixture of patterns covers both the knitters that use cotton yarn to wear in hot weather and the knitters that use cotton year round because of wool allergies, ethical preferences, or just because they like it more than wool. There are tanks and tees, lacey shawls, hats and cowls. The designs that caught my eye are The Woven Back Tank, Slipped Stitch Bag, Candy Striped Hat and Floret Lace Shawl.
There’s not a lot of stranded colorwork or cables in the patterns. Color is presented mostly as stripes and in handpainted yarn; texture with all-over textured stitches rather than cables. Both good choices because of the inelasticity of cotton and the extra weight cables and stranded colorwork add to knitting.
I wish this book had a few tips about working with cotton yarns, to educate knitters and to keep them from possibly being frustrated. This from a woman whose first sweater was 100% cotton and a disaster!
Over the decades Debbie Bliss has been designing, she has gathered a lot to say about the hows and whys of knitting. All of that knowledge has been gathered into one chunky and well-thought-out book.
This book has gorgeous clear photos with lots of detailed illustrations. There is lots of white space around words and pictures to be able to see and read things while working on a technique.
Many technique books have things so tightly crammed in, it’s often hard to find exactly what I’m looking for or knit along while I’m following instructions.
The type of things covered in this knitting encyclopedia are choosing yarns and needles; basic color theory; casting on (9 ways); binding off (10 ways); shaping; how to do a variety of stitches – lace, cable, texture, bobbles, color knitting, finishing, embellishing; and trouble shooting.
Advanced knitters will have to look to other books for their level of knitting knowledge; this book focuses broadly on the basics. This book is excellent for a new or newish knitter, and very good all the way through intermediate level knitting.
When I started reading this book, I fell instantly under its spell. I wanted to race through it in one sitting, but I made myself read only one chapter a day. Slowing down probably stopped me from booking a trip to Scotland right after I finished.
This is the story of Debbie Zawinsk,i a Welsh spinner, knitter and lifelong walker. She came up with a plan to trek Scotland seeking out sheep native to the country, picking their fleece in the wild, spinning it and knitting the yarn into socks.
The book is full of stories of a woman on a mission and a whole country of people who helped her reach her goal. It is lovingly illustrated with hand drawn maps and photos taken by Debbie on her trips to Scotland.
Each chapter of the book represents one part of Scotland and a sheep breed, and has a sock pattern inspired by the breed and the people she meets on that part her journey.
Her storytelling is straightforward, but captures the nuance and magic of history and place. She doesn’t sugar coat her frustration or the bad weather, but adventure is only worthwhile and transformative when there are challenges.
This book is an irresistible call to have your own fiber adventures.
These are tiny lightweight spindles for spinning luxury and fine, fine yarns.
I have a Honeycomb whorl (orange) with a 5" shaft & a Lotus whorl (blue) with 6.5" shaft. They weigh 10 and 11 grams.
These spindles are small and light enough that the whorls are pressure fitted on the shafts, but still easy to put on and remove.
If 10 or 11 grams isn't light enough for you, see the tiny ball bearings that rim weight the whorls? They can be removed and reconfigured to make a lighter spindle. I think that is crazy smart.
These spindles spin and spin fast. They are like little hummingbirds. I spun some alpaca silk on the 5" spindles and some merino/silk top on the 6.5" spindle. I had to speed up my hands to catch up with the 5" when it was a full spin. The 6.5" I had a little bit of an issue with wobble, but then realize that the whorl wasn't as snug as it should be - easy fix and super speedy straight spinning after that.
The are great take-along spindles, easy to break down and tuck into a bag or a pocket. The small one even fits into my planner.
This book delivers just what the title promises. If you want to learn to spin on a wheel, you can buy this book, follow the directions and have yarn at the end, yarn that you like and yarn that you can use. It is an excellent beginners' guide to spinning.
Beth takes you through treadling, drafting, how wheels work and how to adjust them, fiber preparations, drafting methods, plying, finishing and tips for yarn consistency. All of the big things are touched on, just enough to get the idea and practice the skill, but not so much that it’s confusing.
This is a wheel spinning book, no spindles here. I don’t want the spindle-excited spinners to be disappointed.
While this is a book for beginners on how to get started, it would make a great book for most spinners to tuck in their spinning bag for quick reminders.
In 90 minutes, you can learn to make art yarn. Esther gives the down and dirty to making highly textured art yarn and she lets her love for spinning and teaching shine in this video.
What exactly will you learn from this dvd? In a word, lots. It’s an overview of her greatest spinning hits. I was lucky enough to take a class with Esther last summer, and this is exactly what I needed as a refresher.
Half of the video is about core spinning. Esther starts with the basics and builds bigger and wilder yarns. She talks about cores and how to spin different types of fibers and preps into bold corespun yarns. After cores, she moves to tail spinning and plying including insertions like feathers and chains.
Most of this video is shot over the shoulder, which is perfect here – watching her hands while spinning along is my favorite way to learn with a video.
This is a great introduction to big and bold art yarns. Esther helps your creativity explode!
The thing I like the most about crochet is the visual and literal texture. Even the plainest stitches look alive. In this collection of 18 blankets there is a lot of texture. Most of the blankets are worked in worsted or sportweight yarn.
Blankets are practical things, but this collection shows that they don’t have to be boring or dull.
They can be bursting with color like Maryse Roudier’s Happy Hexagons. They can have mixed texture like Marly Bird’s Damask Afghan. They can combine color and texture like the mesmerizing Urchons and Limpets blanket by Kathy Merrick. They can play with color like Leigh Radford’s Behrens Colorblock.
Crochet often looks more complex than it is, but many of these are suitable for a determined beginner. This collection is perfect keep away spring’s chill and for on-the-go motif making.
Fun & Fantastic Textured Crochet Stitches is a seven-part class that teaches stitch patterns that add texture to your garment or accessories.
The written PDF instructions included in the class materials give 20 stitch patterns, including puffs, bobbles, ribbing, popcorns, and more. I was actually surprised at how many there were.
You definitely get a lot of bang for the buck with this class. The written instructions also include patterns for two dishcloths, and a scarf or cowl made using combinations of the stitch patterns. I was especially taken with the cowl which Beth shows in the class. It’s gorgeous, crocheted in a beautiful shade of orange with fingering-weight yarn. I must make one!
Beth is an excellent teacher and provides lots of tips and advice, including how not to get lost in a pattern or lose stitches (some can be difficult to find), and she demonstrates each stitch using clear language about what she’s doing and why. While I watched her teach the different patterns, I couldn’t resist picking up a hook and yarn and working them right along with her. She suggests while practicing the stitch patterns, to work them into squares to make a set of colorful dishcloths, or sew them together to make a blanket.
Because she explains each pattern so thoroughly, this class would be perfect for beginners who know the basics and want to branch out into new frontiers with their crocheting. But more experienced crocheters will learn a lot too, and may be inspired to create their own designs. I know I was!
Granny squares may have a reputation of being, well, ‘granny-like’, but there’s a good reason why they’re the bedrock of the crochet world. The squares are small and self-contained, making them a great take-along craft when you’re on the go. And with an infinite number of color combinations and textured yarns available, you can completely transform the look of each one, giving you endless possibilities for projects.
In 10 Granny Squares 30 Bags, you’re given 10 granny square patterns in both written instructions and charts. Each square is then used in three different variations of bags. The projects range from small amulet bags requiring just two squares – cell phone and tablet holders, – with larger handbags and totes using up to twenty squares. At the back of the book there are detailed instructions along with helpful photographs that show you how to join squares (something I used to struggle with as a new crocheter) , techniques on adding zippers, several ways to line the bags so they keep their shape, and more.
If you’ve got the basic crochet stitches under your belt, there is a lot to be excited about when looking through the projects in this book. First, gauge doesn’t really matter. As long as your crocheting is consistent, you should be able to make any of the beautiful bags here. But even a seasoned crocheter like me is inspired when I see projects using techniques I’ve never tried before presented in such a clear and instructive way.
I was especially taken with the zippered pencil case made with the Pretty Posy square. It would be a cute gift for the students in my life, but I want to make one for myself to hold all my crochet hooks. I also loved the market bag made with Popcorn and Lace squares crocheted with cotton crochet thread. Not only would it hold a lot, it would be the prettiest bag at the farmer’s market. In addition, I appreciated the many different styles of bags, from boho chic, to sophisticated, to whimsical. There’s definitely something for everyone here.
This book is filled with adorable and funky things to stitch: animals, food, office supplies, borders, plants, tool and lots more. Sarah’s style is loose, exciting and fun.
I can tell that Sarah stitches as well as draws – her motifs leave enough space for thread of all sizes and enough room for the stitcher to be inspired by different stitches. While most of these would work best on fabric, there are a few big and open enough to stitch on knitting without enlarging them too much.
The frontmatter of the book is 30 pages that cover the basics: thread and fabric, tools, transfer techniques, basic stitches, choosing colors and how to get started without being overwhelmed (hint, start small).
There are 750 objects to stitch and the book comes with a CD containing all of the drawings, making it easy to print and transfer.
What will I stitch first: the spinning wheel, the light bulbs or the skeleton keys?