Saturday, September 14, 2013

A spate of new knitting books! Part 1

It's that time of year. The days grow shorter... ... it's too cold to swim... Christmas decorations are already in the stores and Halloween is six weeks away.

But there is very good news. Autumn brings in bright leaves, cool breezes, and a spate of new knitting books. I've got a stack on my desk now and I'm going to tell you all about them.

Let's start with scarves and shawls, always a favorite for knitters - although not usually for me. When I see a scarf,  I automatically want to turn it into a sleeve. Shawlettes morph into cardi hoods in my sweater-laden brain, and cowls... I don't know about cowls. I barely have a neck so I don't usually wear them.

But I do like several of the patterns in Ann Budd's Scarf Style 2, a fresh collection of 26 scarves, shawls, and cowls by famous designers like Lucinda Guy, Mags Kandis, Jared Flood, Pam Allen, Courtney Kelly, Deborah Newton and more. There's something for everyone. As Ann writes, "Whereas scarves were once uninventive garter-stitch rectangles, they now include rectangles, tubes, and mobius strips knitted from every direction and in ever imaginable stitch pattern." My particular favorites include:

Jared Flood's Cottage Scarf, a classic cabled muffler made two separate strands of fingering weight yarn, one brown and one gray that results in a thick, tweedy and warm scarf. This would be a great project for someone who wants to learn to knit cables and it's beautiful, too.
If you're up for learning fair isle techniques, then you'll love the Sylvie Scarf. As the book says, "In an attempt to capture and counteract winter's bleakness, Courtney Kelley chose a pattern reminiscent of snowflakes and flowers for one face of this reversible scarf and a simple salt-and-pepper pattern for the other." This technique is often used for Scandinavian fair isle mittens, too. The scarf is knitted in a tube with slipped stitches on the sides which lets the scarf lay flat.

If you can't find something you love in Scarf Style 2, check out Free-Spirit Shawls by Lisa Shroyer. This book offers 20 shawlettes, as well as tips on shawl construction and yarn selection. My favorite pattern is Bethe by Angela Tong, a traditional Shetland shawl made with only one skein of fingering-weight yarn. I like the drape and the trellis lace detail. Designed as a shawlette, I'd love to make this piece larger and add another row of the lace to make a full-sized shawl.

Basilica, one of the most popular designs in the book, uses mosaic colorwork to create a stylish, easy-to-knit triangular shawlette. Hilary Smith Callis employs a slipped-stitch technique that only uses one color of yarn at a time. If you're reticient to try fair isle but would still like to knit some color, make the Basilica. 

Next up: The Art of Seamless Knitting by Simona Merchant-Dest and Faina Goberstein. Seamless - I know you all love that!


  1. Nice reviews, Julie. Can't wait to hear what you have to say about the others!

  2. Great review on the blog ,Julie.
    I am looking forward to the seamless review next.
    I am looking at the quality of the yarns used in these photos(just by sight) and they seem to make such a difference. It would be interesting to know in a poll how many of us use the yarns recommended for the patterns we choose!!! I personally opt for the affordable yarns and they make such a difference in the outcome..even in a simple cowl. When people say Malabrigo, Lorna or Bijoux, they are not only saying $$$ but refined looking garments in the end. Perhaps others will disagree. An excellent professional knitter could probably knit something just as refined looking out of Vanna's as from a pricey yarn some will say.
    Where do you get those funny photos??!! That baby looks like Doc Martin when he was a baby!! LOL LOL
    Anyway, looking forward to the next installment of this review.