Review: Knitting from the Netherlands

Knitting from the Netherlands : traditional Dutch fishermen’s sweaters 9780937274170 by Henriette van der Klift-Tellegen is a book I read a couple years ago when I was still just beginning to knit. I have Dutch ancestry and I love to learn about historic textiles, so I was drawn to the book as soon as I saw it.

By looking at photos, the author has found the Dutch fisherman wear sweaters, often of a regional design. The people in the communities did not think they had special sweaters, but because they came from a time where life was very local, the designs of course are unique to areas. The author provides some background on the sweaters and the materials and techniques. She then drafts a pattern for sweaters in photographs. The photos are identified by community when known.

The sweaters are one color (blue, black, dark grey) and made of Sajet, which was inexpensive yarn made from meat sheep (Dutch Texelaar). The sweaters were knit in the round, all in the same basic style. The and measurements are very simple; everything is divisible by three (e.g. 1/3 of stitches for one shoulder, 1/3 for neck, 1/3 for other shoulder). The gauge is 6 sts/inch. Most of the motifs are knit/purl designs. A few have a simple cabling.

I really enjoyed reading this book and plan to make at least one sweater from it someday.

Rating: 4

Review: Fitted Knits

Fitted knits : 25 Designs for the Fashionable Knitter 9781581808728 by Stefanie Japel. I really liked the sound of this book – knits that are made to fit one properly and aren’t designed as big sacks but are in more form fitting, stylish shapes. I had seen some things knit from the book on the web and I liked them (you can see some of the pictures here, esp. Boatneck Bluebell Sweater and Textured Tunic or on Amazon). So I had high hopes for this book.

Unfortunately, I don’t like the book quite as well as I had hoped. Pretty much everything is knit in the round, from the top down (with basic instructions for altering covered on 3 pages). This is fine, but it doesn’t show alternative ways to alter and fit a garment. I think I may be a bit mood dependent with these designs or else they are growing on me. When I first drafted this review, I thought, there weren’t too many projects I liked at all. Also, some of the designs fall victim to the photograph in the book. I do not like short vests over long shirts. I also am not too fond of most of the neck openings and I think there are too many shoulder buttons. A surprising number were made of chunky yarns, which is OK, but didn’t fit with my idea of fitted knits.

Looking at some of the pictures now, I realize I like more of the items more than I had first realized. I think that the book wasn’t as perfect as I had wanted it to be so it was a victim of failing my high expectations. With some modifications, I would like several of the designs better. this is another popular knitting book that has a KAL.

Rating: 3.7

Missing needles

I had been doing so well about posting everyday until last week when we started having network problems at home. Apparently moving some files to the other computer is a big enough impediment to stall my blogging. I am now on the “other” computer with the files, so I may finish up one of the book reviews tonight as well as this post.

A week ago I posted about works in progress and planned projects. Within half an hour, I started a hat that wasn’t on either list. Unfortunately, the yarn on hand knit up a little small for TH. We bought more yesterday, but I’m afraid it might be too big now. (No, I can’t alter the number of cast on stitches – it is a very specific pattern I am making).

The biggest problem is that I want to use my size nine double points, but I can’t find them. I couldn’t find them. I wanted to confirm I did have them so I checked ravelry (more correctly, since TH was using the laptop and we were watching TV, I made him check ravelry.) Yup, I own the needles. I dug some more but still couldn’t find them. The next question was when did I last see them – I knew I had them when I inventoried the needles last spring. So I checked the blog. I used them on DJ’s hat in mid September. I continued to look everywhere I could think of. Still no needles.

I really hate losing things. Grumble grumble grumble.

November knitters and provisional cast-ons

Today was the knitter’s group, so I took the afternoon off. It is nice to play hooky a few times a month. Unfortunately, I often cannot make it to various gatherings. B showed us several types of provisional cast-ons. I think I failed at all of them, but will try again at home. None of us (including B who does not use this method) were able to get the crocheted cast on out easily. These instructions (or video here) are a little different than what I understood her to be saying. I will try them after I find my crochet hook.

The next was like the magic loop method. I never saw B’s hands very well, but I found a clear video so I know I could do this in the future. There are some other techniques in Knitty.

The last technique B showed was actually a figure eight cast-on as used for toe up socks. I have used this. I won’t say I’ve used it easily or well, but I have used it, however it hasn’t been provisional when I have done it. I found it very difficult get the right tension on the center stitches, but I haven’t liked any other method for toe up socks any better.

ML asked about the blog at the meeting. I think I will send the URL to the group in case anyone else wants to look at it. If you are new reader (adding to the three or so other readers), please feel free to comment on anything, including giving a divergent opinion about a book.

B brought up Ravelry and I let her know I am on as WKate. I should check my email there more often – I had a messages dating back to mid-October, including one from someone I don’t know wondering if I would be willing to sell/trade something in my stash (the answer was yes since I have no specific purpose for the yarn).

After the meeting, I went to my LYS and bought yarn (yes, as if I needed more) for a hat for TH. (Yes, I am already working on one that isn’t on my list of current projects or planned projects, started within half an hour of posting the planned projects.) It is yarn for the hat from Never knit your man a sweater that he wanted. L gave me a ride and she came close to buying a kit for a sweater made out of Trekking sock yarn held doubled. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a picture of it on the web. The sweater is striped – two different yarns used in each stripe. The kit has 8 skeins (2 each) and is knit on size 6 or 7 needles. It is a basic sweater design. The variations in the trekking sock yarn and the stripes are the real design of the sweater.

Review: Vintage knits

Vintage knits : 30 exquisite vintage-inspired patterns for cardigans, twin sets, crewnecks, and more 9780743224567 by Sarah Dallas with Yesterknits has several fun patterns in it. The designs are from the 1940s and 1950s in the UK. I really like seeing the original pattern and the updated version. I wish there were bigger pictures of all the originals. In some cases, I really like the reinterpretation. In other cases, the new pattern makes what I consider large changes in the original, giving it a completely different feel.

I can definitely picture making several of the designs, either for myself or for DJ. Surprisingly, I like the beaded sweater. If I ever make it, it will need to be in a color that would work for DJ as well because I have a feeling if I put it on I would realize it was not my style. I also like the silk ribbed camisole, lace cardigan, short-sleeved ribbed lace sweater and diamond stitch sweater. I also am not sure if I would wear a short sleeve sweater—it might work for spring/fall and look more grown up than my usual schlumpy look. There is also a pattern for a bolero, which is similar to a shrug, but nicer.

This was one of the first knitting books I checked out. I have not made anything from the book so I do not know if the instructions are clear. However, I still like several of the patterns, which I think, is a good sign.

Rating: 3.8

Review: Knitting with beads

Knitting with beads: 30 beautiful sweaters, scarves, hats & gloves 9781579902506 by Jane Davis was not a book I expected to love and I was right. Beads on clothing usually are not for me. However, my sister goes for a bit more bling and so I had hopes for some good ideas. I also thought it could be useful since I need to learn how to spin with beads (another spinning group assignment). It looks like the author gives clear instructions, but I haven’t tried the techniques so I can’t really assess this aspect of the book. The designs were uninspiring to me.

The book includes two different techniques—beads sewn on (including embroidery, fringe and appliqué) and beads on the yarn (including beads over slip stitch, beaded knitting and bead knitting). Based on the pictures, the embroidery is of little interest to me. The beads decorating a felted cloche and the small beads at intersections of a felted vest are OK to me as concepts, but the rest does not appeal to me at all. In part this may be because she often uses fairly large beads and this gives some of the designs a bit of a 70s look, which seems dated (but for all I know may have been trendy in 2003 when the book was published). The beads over slip stitch also do not attract me.

The other two techniques require the beads to be pre-strung on the knitting yarn. First comes beaded knitting, in which “you slide one or more beads between stitches, traditionally in garter stitch, so that the beads hang at the back of the current row.” Beads are on both sides of the knitting in this technique. If you knit on both sides of the bead, the bead will sit in back and if you purl on both sides it will sit in front. The Cascading diamonds scarf is an attractive example of this technique.

The last section is devoted to bead knitting in which “you slide a bead into the stitches you knit. The beads are all on the front of the finished knitting, sitting on one strand of a specific stitch.” I confess I do not understand the difference between these two techniques. I think bead knitting may use with stockinette and has beads only on one side.

Overall, I am glad the library has this book because it probably has a couple of techniques I could look up if I ever decide DJ need more beads in her life. I doubt I will be checking the book out again in the near future.

Rating: 2.6

Review: Never knit your man a sweater

Never knit your man a sweater unless you’ve got the ring! : 22 handsome projects for every level of commitment 9781580176460 by Judith Durant has a variety of patterns for men, ranging from easy to complex. The theory of the book is to make something for your boyfriend that is appropriate for the level of commitment of the relationship. This gives the book a somewhat lighthearted structure. I also found it entertaining to see which models made it further in the book – the youngest guy only made it to the “He’s really cute Beanie” (Apparently he is too early in one’s dating life to be worthy of real commitment.) The book has coasters, 3 scarves, laptop cover, iPod cover (do non-knitters actually use these?), 3 hats, a headband, 3 socks, 3 mittens/gloves, 3 vests, and 3 sweaters.

Just because a pattern is at the beginning of the book does not mean the items would be poor choices for a long-term relationship. TH likes close to half the patterns, with at least the “Let’s go away for the weekend Ski hat” being high on my project list. However, of the 3 vests and 3 sweaters, only 2 patterns were ones he liked. This means that many of the good patterns were some of the easier things that might not require this book to make. I have not actually used any of the patterns, so I don’t know if they are well written or not. After I make the hat, I will let you know if there are any updates.

Rating: 3.3