Review: Knitting in Tuscany

Knitting in Tuscany 9781933027753 by Nicky Epstein is a good book for an armchair traveler. She includes not only patterns but also information about Tuscany from a knitter’s perspective. Much of the information is also simply about Tuscany – her favorite places, sites and, of course, the food. I already wanted to go to Tuscany, and her book has only encouraged this desire. Nicki Epstein does a lot with embellishment and based on designs I had seen of hers before, I wasn’t expecting to like much in the book. I was pleasantly surprised. There are two items added to my possibly make list—the Cypress Capelet (looks really useful for wearing at work to block the cold breeze on me) and the Cashmere Necklette (although I’d probably skip the beads). However, some of the other items were still interesting and I can appreciate her skill as a knitter and her creativity. I thoroughly recommend checking this out from the library, especially if you are looking at the snow and wishing to be somewhere else.

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Review: Japanese Inspired Knits

Japanese inspired knits 9781596681149 by Marianne Isager has 12 patterns in it, one for each month. The author is Danish and she was inspired when living in Japan, as the title indicates. The patterns use fine yarn – often doubled, often a mix of wool and alpaca. It is all yarn in her line. Even with the doubling the needles tend to be small – size 2 is the most common but 4 and 6 are also used. Many of the patterns also teach a more advanced technique, such as double knitting. Because the yarns are fine, she is able to work in a lot of detail in garments that still drape and flow. Several of the construction shapes, such as the fan are unusual. In other cases the stitch patterns work with the colors for interesting effects, such as rice fields. I really like this book and it is now on my list to buy.

Review: Knitted Jackets

Knitted Jackets: 20 Designs from Classic to Contemporary 9781596680265 by Cheryl Oberle is a nice enough Interweave press book. However, very little seemed like something I would wear. Everything seems so loose and boxy and seems a bit heavy, but this is probably because they are jackets. I think this means knitted jackets may not really be for me. The author states that most of the fitting is in the sleeve length since jackets are meant to fit over the top of other garments. Each pattern indicates the Craft Yarn Council of America’s yarn weight and sizing. Most of the pattern use yarn of size 4, with some of 3 and 5. There is a pretty even spread of patterns for standard, loose and oversize fit.

L brought this book to knitters a few weeks ago, and I liked the book better then, so it may just be my mood. We talked a bit about wabi Sabi and how good it would look in Noro. It is made in panels-the back is in two narrow sections, so when you knit them, the colors will stripe in a similar fashion to the front pieces. I thought Northwest Celtic was an interesting take on a Salish style sweater. A few look comfortable, like the Wrapper and Three sisters, and possibly even the Bloomsbury jacket, so I guess I like the book well enough. The patterns have a mix of colorwork and texture and lace, and more dressy to more casual, so it is a reasonable overview.

Review: Knitting in the Sun

Knitting In the Sun: 32 Projects for Warm Weather 9780470416662 by Kristi Porter is a pretty new book. I perhaps would have been more receptive to it when there wasn’t snow on the ground. For the most part, I did not particularly like the patterns-they just aren’t me. One nice feature is that each pattern lists skills used. Also, you go to the publisher’s site to download some of the pattern, which as long as the links are permanent, is nice so you don’t need to photocopy them to mark your place in the pattern. My favorite item is the Anna Maria tank, which has some nice shaping and the lace accents the shaping. The author pairs it with the Quimper bolero, which looked fine in the side photo, but from the front is not to my taste. The Hollyhock tee is also fairly attractive and I could see making it. The Bordeaux lace shawl is nice, but I can’t say I like it better than other lace stoles. One of the items that I find most attractive is something I would never make-the Black sea gored skirt. So, not a book for my collection, but if you live in a warmer area, you may want to look at it (and JQ – I’m sure you need the smocked tube top).

Review: Handknit holidays

Apparently I am in the mood to look at knitting books….

Handknit holidays: knitting year-round for Christmas, Hanukkah and winter solstice 9781584794547 by Melanie Falick is a pretty nice book. As the subtitle indicates, a variety of holidays are included. And as the subtitle implies, the book is not full of last minutes gifts. Some of the items could be made on a deadline, but others are quite complex. The book is collection of about 50 patterns from 30 designers, including Veronik Avery, Nicky Epstein, Norah Gaughan, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, Annie Modesitt and Jolene Treace. Some of the patterns are fairly standard fare, some are not at all to my liking, but there are some that have some nice elements. The Stained glass scarf looks like an easy introduction to double knitting and is probably the item I am most likely to make from the book. I may also make the snowy triangle and hat — I have been contemplating making a scarf like that and it is nice to have a hat pattern to go with the modular triangles. I enjoyed reading the short blurbs before each pattern and looking at the book, but now it can go back to the library.

Review: Great Knitted Gifts

So I was waiting in the public library for a friend and so I was filling in time looking at the knitting books. I started on the new shelf and then moved to the recently returned section. Needless to say, several had to do with knitting for gifts or holidays. I flipped through a couple and was so disinterested I couldn’t even pretend to do a review (if I had more time I would have gone to one of the library computers and given them a big ol’ yawn. I did check out a couple, so without further ado….

Great knitted gifts 9781402713231 by Andrea Shackleton & Gayle Shackleton is not a book of quick knits. It is not a book of holiday items. The projects are gifts only in that the authors think they would make good gifts. There are 4 chapters – Circles and Dots (5 patterns); Flowers (7 patterns); Squares and Stripes (8 patterns); Kids and Holidays (11 patterns). Many of the patterns use intarsia. Most of them are quite different from what I’ve seen elsewhere. Despite being attracted to “dotty” patterns lately, nothing in the dot chapter grabbed me. In fact, only one pattern grabbed me, and the more I look at it the less it is grabbing me.

One interesting thing, as a handspinner, all the yarn is handspun, in sportweight wool. Yarn weights (not yardage) are actually listed at the back, not with the patterns. I expect this might make it harder for a non-spinner to make the items.

So, overally I’d give the book a pass, but if you see it on a shelf it is worth flipping through.

Review: Knitting and Tea

Knitting and Tea 9780307352217 by Jane Gottelier combines information about tea and knitting in one book. All the writing is about tea, not about the patterns. The pictures are nice and it is really fast read, so not a bad one to read in the aisle at the library. The introduction states “In keeping with the wistful, evocative feel of this book, the styling is deliberately retro and many of the garments accompanying our designs are vintage.” Ravelry has little on it, but there again are some images from the book on KnitPicks.

It is divided into 6 sections – Ceylon, Somerset Single Estate Tea (with the text primarily about Strawberry Tea served during cricket), Green tea, Afternoon tea, Builder’s tea and Rose pouching tea. Each section has one recipe (Clotted cream biscuits, Bakewell tart, Mini meringues etc.).

There are some interesting tidbits of information about each of the teas. For example, Anna, Duchess of Bedford allegedly started the afternoon tea phenomena in the early 1840s when she started requesting tea and cakes be sent to her boudoir during the long stretch from a light lunch and a fashionable late dinner. Another odd bit is that because of the slightly curved lip on a porcelain tea cup, the tea goes to a different part of the tongue so some tea allegedly tastes better out of a cup than a mug. It also describes Builder’s tea, which is basically cheap and strong and usually quite sweet.

As to the knitting, a large proportion of the 25 items are embellished with beads, sequins, embroidery or tassels, not really my style (and you really need to see the tea cozies). In several cases if you remove the embroidery or beads or weird yarn loops (such as on the Flowerdew evening tank), the item is quite nice. I also thought the Girl’s argyle cardigan was rather sweet, using beads as part of the argyle. Other items use somewhat different stitches, such as the Builder’s cable sweater, which uses bound purl stitches in the cables, not a look I like, but interesting to see.

In the end I was surprised there were as many patterns I was noting, at least for ideas, including the Somerset cable sweater and the Striped gloves, and a few others that would be nice without the embellishment (e.g. the aforementioned tank), but this is definitely not a book to own.