Learn to Knit

Learn to Knit by Penny Hill

Learn to Knit by Penny Hill

So you might ask – what the H – – – are you doing with a “learn to knit” book? Yes, dear reader, I asked myself the same question. This UK book published in 2003 somehow landed on my book shelf – magically I’m sure!

Learn to Knit - back cover

Learn to Knit – back cover

Since it won’t be staying on my shelf much longer and is most likely destined as a library donation, I will at least give it a review here. It’s an OK learn to knit book for a novice and covers quite an array of material to be sure. The simple projects shown on the back cover go from easiest to easy with some clarification along the way. It’s actually a good book for more experienced knitters, if one might be looking to knit simple projects.

Photo illustrations

Photo illustrations

I’m not usually a fan of photo “how-to’s”, but these are fairly clear. Usually drawn illustrations are easier to follow.

How to create stitch patterns

How to create stitch patterns

These are clear photos of simple stitches, but the UK version of stocking stitch vs. the US stockinette might be confusing to a beginner.

photo of sweater pieces

photo of sweater pieces

This was a clever way to show what the finished sweater garter stitch pieces will look like and more or less how they will be stitched together.

Finished sweater

Finished sweater

Here’s the finished sweater nicely styled. The book uses no live models which probably keeps the book from looking dated.

How to make a set-in pocket

How to make a set-in pocket

Towards the end of the book, this technique plus several others such as buttonholes makes the book more valuable in the long run.

http://www.amazon.com/Learn-Knit-Penny-Hill/dp/1580111750/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447521398&sr=8-1&keywords=Learn+to+Knit+by+Penny+Hill

Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch by Nicky Epstein

Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch by Nicky Epstein

Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch by Nicky Epstein

I’m on to a really easy book this week. Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch: Creating Gifts for the People You Love by Nicky Epstein is a combo of gift-giving designs and charity projects. Nicky has her own imprint (who knew?), a division of Sixth&Spring Books was published in 2009. It’s beautifully photographed as I would expect from Sixth&Spring. There are clear chapters and of course, easy-to-follow instructions.

I’ve already listed on Amazon so it’s a thumbs down on this book. I’ll give you my rational for a decision on this little gem.

Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch - back cover

Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch – back cover

Meow Kitty Cap

Meow Kitty Cap

This design is just what you’d expect from Nicky. She does whimsical projects to the max! I do love it, but not sure I would every make it.

Baby's First Hat

Baby’s First Hat

I think this first project is a winner. It is a design I might make, but not enough for me to keep the book.

Luggage Tags

Luggage Tags

Here’s another project I like, but again I don’t think it’s worth taking up space on my bookshelf.

A Charitable Gift Afghan

A Charitable Gift Afghan

I like this idea of this project, but not one that I would make.

Guide to Giving

Guide to Giving

Charity giving guide – this section makes the book really worthwhile. Some of the info may be a little outdated, but it is an excellent appendix of where to go when looking for places to give knitted or crocheted charity items.

One mystery that I haven’t been able to figure out about this book. Some of the copies of the book are listed on Amazon for really high prices. Out-of-Print? Nicky Epstein fans? First Editions? I’m not sure why the listed copies are worth big bucks.

I will end by saying that charity knitting and crochet is so important and I admire anyone who promotes it. Well done Ms. Epstein!

 

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Knitting-Kiss-Every-Stitch-Creating/dp/193302786X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439844575&sr=8-1&keywords=knitting+a+kiss+in+every+stitch

Quartet of STYLE books

Interweave STYLE books

Interweave STYLE books

I had a brilliant revelation this week. I first pulled out Scarf Style and Wrap Style to look a duo and then I thought – why not! I would look at all four of my Style books at the same time. Each time I seriously look at my bookcase, I realize that I’m really moving at a snail’s pace in trying to move my books along. Four books settled seems like a great idea!

Frankly as these books are mainly pattern books, it was pretty easy to whip through them. In full disclosure, Pam Allen, a designer and editor and I go way back to my early days at Vogue Knitting. As an aside –  Caitlin Fitzgerald one of the dreamy models in these books, is Pam’s daughter is now an acclaimed actress (notably in Masters of Sex on Showtime). She was once an intern for me at Lion Brand Yarns. History, history!

I’m going to try to cover these by the publication date.

Scarf Style - Interweave - 2004

Scarf Style – Interweave – 2004

Scarf Style - back cover

Scarf Style – back cover

Scarf Style is a nice collection of knit and a few crochet scarves. There were only two scarves that I thought I might make that follow. I’m going to make copies of these and move this book on to a better home.

Bright Stripes by Kristin Nicholas

Bright Stripes by Kristin Nicholas

I love this side-to-side scarf and will make it.

Zigzag Stripes by Debbie Bliss

Zigzag Stripes by Debbie Bliss

I’m a sucker for chevron patterns and this is a nice pattern for kids and adults.

Wrap Style - Interweave - 2005

Wrap Style – Interweave – 2005

Wrap Style - back cover

Wrap Style – back cover

I’m not wearing and probably not knitting wraps and shawls these days so this was an easy pass.

Wandering Aran Fields by Norah Gaughan

Wandering Aran Fields by Norah Gaughan

If you love cables – this is a beautiful piece. I just wouldn’t have a place to wear it.

Lace Style - Interweave - 2007

Lace Style – Interweave – 2007

Lace Style - back cover

Lace Style – back cover

A nice book, but no “must have” patterns for me!

Folk Style - Interweave - 2007

Folk Style – Interweave – 2007

Folk Style - back cover

Folk Style – back cover

A lot of color work. There is only one pattern I really love and it follows.

Modern Quilt Wrap by Mags Kandis

Modern Quilt Wrap by Mags Kandis

Bottom Line: I’m going to pass on all these books and make more room in my book shelf. I failed to say at the beginning that these books have good Design Notebooks at the end of each and the designers who created the projects are a “who’s who” of creative designers from the knitting world.

Love the wraps and shawls, but I don’t think I would make any of them. One that I love by Norah Gaughan follows.

http://www.amazon.com/Scarf-Style-Pam-Allen/dp/1931499543/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436471128&sr=1-1&keywords=scarf+style

http://www.amazon.com/Wrap-Style-Pam-Allen-ebook/dp/B00DH40SRG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436471173&sr=1-1&keywords=wrap+style

http://www.amazon.com/Folk-Style-Mags-Kandis-ebook/dp/B00DH40YVG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436471207&sr=1-1&keywords=folk+style

http://www.amazon.com/Lace-Style-Pam-Allen/dp/1596680288/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436471245&sr=1-1&keywords=lace+style

Kaffe’s Classics – soft and hard cover – Got both!

KF_cover_duo

I’ve done it again – duplicate books. This was more of an honest mistake. I think I might have gotten the soft cover as an editorial copy at some point and already had the hardcover book. I tried to give one to a friend, but she had already ordered it online. I’d definitely like to keep one. It’s kind of a toss up.  The hardback weighs more, but it’s ultimately more stable. Also, I do love the hardback cover with the pic of Kaffe (on the right above) and the famous tumbling blocks throw. The soft cover version is off the shelf!

It would be a thumbs up for Kaffe’s Classics – if only for sentimental reasons. I’ve known Kaffe for many years. Actually since before he was “a knitting rock star” and simply a friend of my BFF, Sally Harding. Sally said that I should take a workshop from her friend who turned out to be Kaffe.  I think that might have been in the mid ’80s. The rest is history!

Houses Vest

Houses Vest

I hadn’t looked at any of Kaffe’s books in a long time. I got an email from a friend who was looking for the Houses design so I looked through my books and found both copies. It seemed like great fodder for my blog.

colorful_trio

 

The Windows Coat makes a beautiful spread. The coat is definitely a bit late ’80s/early ’90s styling, but what an amazing piece of work!

Kaffe's Classics back cover - soft back

Kaffe’s Classics back cover – soft back

Kaffe's Classics back cover - hardback

Kaffe’s Classics back cover – hardback

Color, color! Beautiful garments that spell Kaffe Fassett. Who could not love them!

Lattice pullover and Mosaic vest

Lattice pullover and Mosaic vest

A beautiful duo. Geometric and colorful. Pure Kaffe and truly classics.

 

Kaffe Fassett - chart

Kaffe Fassett – chart

Here’s the chart for the Lattice Pullover. A two-page spread. That’s where the “rubber meets the road”. I call this a knitting nightmare or a test of patience. Obviously there are knitters who love a challenge, but sadly this kind of knitting isn’t my favorite.

Tumbling Blocks Throw

Tumbling Blocks Throw

I wanted to save the best for last. I love the tumbling blocks design that has been knocked off many times in many ways. Another “Kaffe Challenge”.

Knitters who love color work knitting will have a field day with this book. I love the photos and the designs, but I might not get around to knitting anything in this lifetime!

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Kaffes-Classics-Glorious-Knitting-Desings/dp/1561584134/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416436516&sr=1-2&keywords=kaffe%27s+classics

Sculptured Knits – Jean Moss

Sculptured Knits - Jean Moss

Sculptured Knits – Jean Moss

Thought I would continue along with my quest to rid my library of books of patterns and review Sculptured Knits by Jean Moss (published in 1999 by XRX Books). This book is out-of-print, but used copies can be found on Amazon.

I’m giving this a big – Thumbs Down.

Before I’ve completely lost you my dear readers, let me tell you a bit about the book and the author. This is a book of 48 designs for women, men, kids and some home decor pieces. It is divided into decorative arts of the 20th century chapters, although I found it a bit confusing to go back and try to find a certain pattern as the chapters for me were not clearly defined. The sections are: Belle Epoque, Art Deco, Pop Art and Into the Millennium. One important factor that I never realized until I read Jean’s intro is that all the designs in the book are created in one color using textural stitches. Wow! How could I have missed that as that’s by far my favored knitting style.

Jean Moss

Jean Moss

Jean Moss lives in York and Mid Wales (or at least she did at the time of the book). She’s designed for Rowan and many international name designers. Jean is a very talented lady. She also teaches and did run some travel excursions.

My favorite patterns were the men’s sweaters and home decor pieces. XRX did a great job with the technical aspects of the book which is no surprise as they are noted for good techniques. I love the charted stitch patterns, schematic drawings and illustrations.  A couple of the kids/baby projects were done in the variegated Colinette Boucle, but for most were done in basic yarns that could be easily substituted.

Fitzgerald Sweater

Fitzgerald Sweater

Mariner Sweater

Mariner Sweater

Chrysler Throw

Chrysler Throw

Chrysler Throw - Green version

Chrysler Throw – Green version

Neptune Pillow

Neptune Pillow

Garbo Jacket and Skirt

Garbo Jacket and Skirt

This set has a nice jacket, but the mid-calf skirt made it a bit like a retro costume.

Sculptured Knits - back cover

Sculptured Knits – back cover

What did I not like about the book? Some of the sweaters were a bit dated – some longish and had an ’80s vibe. Generally though not a bad book. I think the main reason I’m not planning to keep the book is that I probably wouldn’t knit any of the designs and I’m trying to be ruthless about what gets kept and what goes.

http://www.amazon.com/Sculptured-Knits-Designs-Inspired-Decorative/dp/096463919X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414611727&sr=8-1&keywords=Sculptured+knits+Jean+Moss

Louisa Harding Duo – more patterns are going!

LH_covers_new

Two books (soft back) are on the table today. Both are from talented designer Louisa Harding. Both are out-of-print, but available on Amazon and elsewhere as used books.

Although the designs in these lovely collections are really nice and beautifully designed and styled (especially the Magical World for young ladies), I’m making classifying these books in the Thumbs Down category. My ruthless streak continues!

Modern Classics (published in 2006) has over 20 designs and even after 8 years they are still wearable and easy to knit.

Modern Classics by Louisa Harding

Modern Classics by Louisa Harding

I did love a few of the designs. They would be ideal for anyone making classic sweaters that will be in style for many years to come.

Basic Pullover

Basic Pullover

Fitted Cardie

Fitted Cardie

Fitted Pullover

Fitted Pullover

Modern Classics Back Cover

Modern Classics Back Cover

 

The 2nd book, The Magical World According to Miss Millie (published in 2006) is a really fun and flirty  collection of patterns. While the majority of the patterns are for little girls, there are 4 featured classic styles for little guys (look at the back cover). The sizing is for ages 3-10.

The Magical World According to Miss Millie

The Magical World According to Miss Millie

I love the thumbnail index that shows all 20 designs at a glance. Perfect for times when you are searching for a certain style.

Magical World Index

Magical World Index

Love, love the pretty shades, bohemian styling and incredible photography.

Ollie & Lily styles

Ollie & Lily styles

Hat Girls

Hat Girls

The Magical World According to Miss Millie - back cover

The Magical World According to Miss Millie – back cover

 

http://www.amazon.com/Modern-Classics-Twenty-Timeless-Designs/dp/1564776441/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413491399&sr=1-2&keywords=modern+classics

http://www.amazon.com/Louisa-Harding-Magical-According-Millie/dp/B000YFFYQG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413491450&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Magical+World+According+to+Miss+Millie

Cables Untangled

Cables Untangled - paperback and hardback

Cables Untangled – paperback and hardback

Guess what happens when you have way too many knitting/crochet books? You buy the same book twice. Guilty! The main problem is which to keep. The paperback is lighter and if I’m thinking about books by pounds, I definitely should keep it. On the other hand, the hardback is really nice and firm and is likely to stay intact on the book shelf. Decisions, decisions!

Cables Untangled - trade paperback

Cables Untangled – trade paperback

Cables Untangled - hardback

Cables Untangled – hardback

 

I’m not sure which cover I like, but I think the hardback cover is more appealing.

So down to the book – I’ll give this one a thumbs up.

I’ll start by talking about the author, Melissa Leapman. She is a designer, teacher and author. Her hand in this book, published in 2006 is evident though out.

The illustrations are very well-drawn and cover lots of info on creating all sorts of cables. There is info on working from cable charts, although there are many variations used in creating cabling symbols and the ones shown in this book might not be ones a knitter would find in other publications. Techniques and abbreviations are covered throughly. I really like the way the book has been laid out so that all of this important info precedes the patterns.

illus

illus_2

 

The charts are also very clear and make the knitting of the projects much easier.

stitchpats

If I had one beef about the book, it’s the size of the photographed stitch patterns in the Cable Stitch Pattern Dictionary. I wish they were a larger size. That said, there dictionary is extensive and organized by yarn color of the swatches to group patterns such as allover cables and cable panels neatly into sections.

Some of the projects I like are following. Note that the ones I liked the best are all home decor. I wasn’t such a fan of the fashions, although there was one really nice man’s sweater.

Sampler Afghan

Sampler Afghan

Aran-style Afghan

Aran-style Afghan

Entwined Cables Pillow

Entwined Cables Pillow

 

Cables Untangled - backcover paperback

Cables Untangled – backcover paperback

Cables Untangled - backcover handback

Cables Untangled – backcover handback

 

http://www.amazon.com/Cables-Untangled-Exploration-Cable-Knitting/dp/0307586480/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411333946&sr=1-1&keywords=cables+untangled

 

 

 

 

Handknit Holidays – Another Melanie Falick book

newhandknit_holiday

 

 

 

Another Melanie Falick book – Handknit Holidays seemed like a good one to review. I thought for sure that this one would be an easy in and out book and I could pat myself on the back having removed another book from the sagging bookshelf. The first section featuring all sorts of holiday designs made me think that this was just another book of patterns that don’t interest me. Delving further into the book, I changed my mind. I might later change my mind but for the first pass this book is staying.

Looking on Amazon, looks like this book published in 2005 is available in a digital format.

Final answer: Thumbs Up!

 

What’s good? The photos are “Melanie worthy”, good clear layout of patterns plus a good section at the end on Special Techniques and Abbreviations (although no illustrations). Betty Christiansen who’s work I’ve admired worked on this book with Melanie.

handknit_bc Back Cover

What follows are a number of patterns that made me think twice about “deep sixing” this volume.

diamond_throw Community Afghan – the intro suggest this as a project for a group. Squares are all knit in garter stitch.

hoodie Cardinal Joy Hoodie – Given in 3 chest sizes, it’s pretty hard to figure out the actual size child this would fit. Hoodies are perfect for kids of all ages and this one (I’d do without the pocket design).

socks

Log Cabin Socks – This look like they’d be really fun to knit. I’m not sure if they’d be practical to wear with shoes, but would be great under boots.

triangle_scarf

 

Snowy Triangle Scarf – The modular construction of this scarf (and hat) looks like a really knitterly project. Nice way to try out the technique without making a really big project.

http://www.amazon.com/Handknit-Holidays-Knitting-Year-Round-Christmas-ebook/dp/B009SYI0BU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410039446&sr=1-1&keywords=handknit+holidays

Knit 2 Together

Knit 2 Together by Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark (STC Crafts/Melanie Falick, 2006)knit2tog_cov

I’ve been singing “And Another One Bits the Dust” all morning. What does that tell you about this book? I didn’t like it, but I didn’t hate it. It has a few redeeming qualities, but not enough to earn a spot on the  Nancy J Thomas bookshelf!

Final answer: Thumbs Down. This book is not going back on my shelf. Thank goodness! I’m making headway (or slight headway).

Let’s start with the back cover.

knit2tog_bc

Take a look at the “bloomers” on the right called Witches Britches are probably the worst pattern in the book. Who would wear them? The suit on the left is OK, but I’ll be honest that it won’t fit my lifestyle or the many of the people that I know.

I should talk a little about why it’s an interesting, well-formed book. First lets start with Melanie Fallick. She doesn’t publish bad books. Knit 2 Tog has rhyme and reason for being. It has fun essays by comedian, Tracey Ullman. It has good technique info from Mel Clark. The book has tricks and tips throughout. It’s has an understandable layout and decent photos of the projects.

I think the patterns are the book’s downfall. Not so unusual, but a fact. I found two patterns I will most likely copy and knit. Otherwise I shake my head and say – no, no, no. No Knit Two Together to wear with a friend. No Gym Slip Dress in extra fine Merino. No Baby Cape. No Sailor Pants in 100% cotton – Really!

The book ends with Knitting Basics that have small photos in circles (not easy to understand if you are a beginner) of lots of easy techniques. I think other books do it better. Illustrations are better than photos for how-to info. I do like Mel’s Picks for recommended reading. A good list!

Baby Baseball T with mitts

Baby Baseball T with mitts

Santa Cruz Hoodie

Santa Cruz Hoodie

The the two patterns above are the ones that  I like. Both are pretty fast knits on a DK (baby) and Chunky (hoodie) yarns.

Below are two additional patterns that I’d rate as a thumbs up.

Luxe Neck Warmer

Luxe Neck Warmer

Mel's Mouse Family

Mel’s Mouse Family

 

http://www.amazon.com/Knit-Together-Patterns-Stories-Knitting-ebook/dp/B008ZR9484/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409429116&sr=1-1&keywords=knit+2+together

 

Mason-Dixon – Outside the Lines – Part 2

MD_cover I thought this might be a multiple part epic, but once I got past the “The Daily Sweater” I realized that most of the rest of the book wasn’t  a “must-have” for me.

My final decision: Thumbs Down. It’s going in my sell, give away or donate pile. Yay – one down and out!

socks

 

I will amend that slightly. I do like the next knitted cabled sock project. It’s included as a teaching cable project, but seems like a good project for anyone. Might copy this pattern before I move it out of my library.

From there it gets a little dicey. Here’s the next project. It’s called “The Mystery Sweater” and features some timeless quotes from Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi, but knit in a darkish purple the quotes are really hard to read. The most disappointing part is that the lettering is not knit-in, but rather chain stitched on after the sweater is complete. I didn’t think that the instructions on doing the lettering would be easy-to-follow for someone who hasn’t done much or any embroidery. Also, the romantic peplum seems a bit overdone. I don’t know too many people who could carry this off in ordinary life.

letter_sweater

 

The next whole section is on Fair Isle. The featured project is a throw with a Victorian wallpaper look. Too much work for the result. The info on Fair Isle plus illustrations are good, but I’m not going to use this chapter. I do like the rug made in Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Bulky. It’s done in a circular manner and then steeked. No – not for me!

rug

 

I’m going to skip the whole “Covering The Small Human” chapter. The designs were really not wearable by any child I know, except the Jane Austen Shrug. This is based on the same idea as The Daily Sweater so this must be why I like it. Do these women really have children?? Wow!

The last chapter with kitchen items is kind of interesting. This could be a money-saving duster for those who whip through “Swifters”. It’s done in a matte cotton so it’s perfectly washable. Would I make one – probably not.

duster