Celtic Knits – Debbie Bliss

Celtic_Knits_cvr

Celtic Knits – Debbie Bliss – Cover

As the year ends, I wanted to get one more book off my shelves. Since my last blog (was it really in August), I spent hours and hours going through yarn, bagging it, photographing it and finally selling lots on eBay. It seemed to go a whole lot faster than my very slow snail pace of going through and getting rid of books. Now I’m away from my yarn for the winter, it’s a good time to get back to reading, reviewing and hopefully eliminating books. A good goal for 2018!

Celtic Knits by Debbie Bliss was published in 2000 first published in the UK. This is a tip off that the patterns are more UK centric in terms of pattern writing. There are many patterns for kids/babies with some for women and one or two designs for guys.

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Celtic Knits – back cover

Spoiler alert – this is simply a book of patterns. As wonderful as Debbie Bliss designs and photographs, it is in the end just a slim 80 pages of patterns.

Kids_celtic

Cabled Hearts Sweater

Debbie Bliss does lovely oversized children’s designs and this one is particularly nice. It comes in sizes 3-5 years old, but the oversized pullover probably will fit larger sizes.

Simple_sweater

Simple Sweater with Collar

It’s wasn’t easy to understand, but this is actually a child’s sweater (sizes 2-10 years). I originally thought it was an adult pattern. The largest size has a chest measurement of 43″ so it certainly would fit many adults.

cabled_sweater

Cabled Tweed Jacket

Love the cables, but it is disappointing that this cardigan only comes in two sizes – chest/bust size 37 and 41 inches.

baby_knit

Moss Stitch Baby Jacket

This is a typical Debbie Bliss baby design – sizes 3 to 12 months. The oversized sizing make it ideal even for toddlers.

socks

Classic Fair Isle Socks

These socks are paired with a matching Fair Isle cardigan for a baby/toddler. There were many Fair Isle patterns in the book, but I only choose to include this sample as I prefer the one-color designs.

pattern

Instruction Sample

Notice that the measurements are given in inches and centimeters to make them workable for the US and UK markers. For the US knitters, slogging through all the cm measurements within the pattern can be disconcerting. I would recommend to make a copy of the pattern and highlight measurements and numbers that pertain to the size made.

To keep or not to keep – Nope! This one is going. Looks like it’s out-of-print, but still available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Celtic-Knits-Designs-Babies-Children/dp/157076140X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514319273&sr=8-1&keywords=celtic+knits+Debbie+Bliss

 

Sweaters from New England Sheep Farms

Sweaters from NE_cov

Sweaters from New England Sheep Farms – cover

I’ve been carrying this book around for sometime while reading the 8 stories about various sheep farms around New England. After all it is summertime and I’m moving in “slow-mo”.

One of the joys of reading Sweaters from New England was that many of the small yarn dyers are familiar to me as many have shown their wares at yarn shows I’ve attended. I found their stories engaging. But back to the essentials and more about the book!

Sweaters from NE_bc

Sweaters from New England Sheep Farms – back cover

Candice Eisner Struck wrote and published this book with Down East Books in 1999. It’s a combo of 26 designs (mainly sweaters for women and men) and stories about the farms that produce the yarns for the designs.

I think it is a gem at 128 pages. The sweaters are a bit oversized (long and loose) as was the style of that time, but could be easily updated for more modern styling.

Does this book belong on my book shelves? Sadly, the answer is NO. I’m not going to make the sweaters and although I enjoyed the read, it wouldn’t be a “must have” for me.

Morehouse_pullover

Man’s pullover from Morehouse Farm yarn

When I read the story about Morehouse Farm and Margrit and Albrecht Pichler who ran the farm, I couldn’t help thinking about Margrit’s death in 2015. A great loss to many of the Morehouse Farm fans. From looking at the current web site page, it appears that the  Merino yarns are still being sold and that the business still prospers.

farm story

Stories of the farms

Candice did a very good job of describing her farm visits. Her journeys made the reader feel that they were along for the ride. She interviewed the owners and talked about how the yarn came into being and the dye or not-dyed process. Some of the owners used fleece from their own sheep. Some did not raise their own animals.

Rockport_gansey

Rockport Gansey pullovers

The classic pair about are perfect for a man or woman!

chart

Charts

I was very impressed with the in-depth written patterns and charts. Again, Candice is very precise and there are good examples of her skill throughout the book.

sources

Sources

For those who want to make the sweater patterns in other yarns, there is a page of suggested commercial yarn companies along with 2 pages for making substitutions.

book_giveaway

Books given away!

My blogging is going so slowly that I decided that a bunch of “pattern only” books had to go. I hope that they will find a good home with an avid knitter!

https://www.amazon.com/Sweaters-New-England-Sheep-Farms/dp/0892724463/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502739713&sr=8-1&keywords=sweaters+from+New+England+Sheep+Farms

How to Knit – Debbie Bliss

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How to Knit – Debbie Bliss

I’m starting this book review in a quandary – to keep or not to keep. On first pass, I was ready to chuck this one. As much as I love Debbie Bliss (fantastic UK designer), I didn’t think this book offered enough to keep on my shelf. On 2nd pass, I’m conflicted.

how_to_knit_bc_cvr

How to Knit – back cover

The back cover could have added a little more info for the reader? What were the publishers thinking?

illus

Great illustrations

The illustrations in this How-to are very clear and would be easy for a novice to use.

Aran

Aran Workshop

This section comes pretty early in the book – Chapter 3 as a matter of fact. It’s really Debbie Bliss’s favorite style so I’m not surprised to see it covered extensively.

cables

Cable Workshop

In the middle of the Aran chapter, this simple cabled sweater is a simpler version of some of the other knits.

lace

Lace Workshop

The best thing about this chapter is the 23 lace stitch pattern samples.

edges

Edgings

Love the edgings. This makes the book a winner. I just used the leaf edging for a project. Wish the instructions were charted and not so UK centric with yf terminology that is not used by US knitters.

entrelac

Entrelac illustrations

Ok – I know you’re asking – what the hell is Entrelac. Not a common technique, but these illustration make it very clear.

 

What did I decide? I might keep this book for awhile and see if I refer to it before moving it along. My copy is a bit worn and I probably couldn’t sell. I do think the UK vs US make it less valuable for a new knitter, but then again – I’m not a new knitter.

 

https://www.amazon.com/How-Knit-Definitive-Step-step/dp/1855856964/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497383208&sr=8-1&keywords=How+to+Knit+Debbie+Bliss

Knitting Around the World

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Knitting Around the World

I would love to blame the complexity of this book for my lack of blogging, but truth be told,  I finished the book some time ago. I have no valid excuses other than life!

This slim volume was put together by the editors of Threads Magazine in 1993 and includes a wealth of material for those interested in the history of the knitting craft.

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Knitting Around the World – back cover

Knitting Around the World  includes more than a dozen different topics that were once articles in Threads Magazine.

Aran_knitting

Aran Knitting – Alice Starmore

Starting out with the renown Alice Starmore and Aran knitting is a great way to introduce the reader to historical knitting. Alice, who lives in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland and has written extensively on the subject is the perfect person to author this feature. Included on the next few pages are Aran cable patterns and an outline of how to design an Aran pullover.

bohus_knitting

Bohus Stickning – Margaret Bruzelius

The less well known Bohus Stickning from Sweden is written by an old associate of mine who seriously researched this colorful knitting style. With charts on the following pages, the reader can easily experiment with Bohus knitting.

stickning_knitting

Another Swedish knitting technique

Also called “two-strand knitting”, this technique seems mainly used for sturdy mittens and socks. A pattern for the socks shown in the photo is included in the book.

steek_illus

Illustrations drawn and photographed

After Fair Isle knitting and Argyles, there is a short article with illustrations and photos of techniques for managing stranded knitting by author, Maggie Righetti. I have included here as an example of the clarity used in Threads Magazine on each subject. They always go above and beyond to make the reader understand techniques.

 

Shetland_lace

Historical Shetland Lace

I loved the inclusion of historical articles with photos, illustrations and a workshop on creating simple versions of the knitted lace.

faeroe_knitting

Knitting from the Faeroe Islands

While not as well known as knitting techniques from the British Isles, this is nevertheless and interesting style of knitting and well-written piece of history.

FIsle_tam

Fair Isle Tam making – Alice Starmore

Knitting Around the World begins and ends with Alice Starmore – coming more or less full circle.

Should I keep this book? I’ve thought long and hard on this one. The subjects are interesting and varied. Would I knit from the book – probably not. I’m hoping the next knitter who gets it will love it! Sadly, it’s not going back on my shelf.

https://www.amazon.com/Knitting-Around-World-Threads/dp/1561580260/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1489005645&sr=8-3&keywords=knitting+around+the+world

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

Designing Knitwear – Chapters 6 & 7

Chapter 6 - Classics

Chapter 6 – Classics

I’m going to cover two chapters in this blog. Both were easier to get through than one of the previous chapters. The good news is that I’m down to Chapter 8 (final chapter) plus and addendum!

Chapter 6 – The Classics was a bit disappointing. In the first couple of pages Deborah talks about what I call “real” classics – Aran pullovers, tennis sweaters, twin sets, Fair Isle sweaters and Icelandic circular-yoke sweaters. The rest of the chapter is an inspiration gallery that is not any of these classics.

There is a section in this chapter on the sketching process that I found really interesting. I’ve never been able to sketch or draw and finding a way to break it down was an “ah-ha” moment for me.

Chapter 6 - Chanel knits

Chapter 6 – Chanel knits

I liked Deborah’s inspiration on the classic Chanel jacket plus skirt.

Chapter 6 - Chinese Robe

Chapter 6 – Chinese Robe

One of the non-classic ideas was the spread on making a Chinese robe. Beautiful knitting, but not so much what I’d call as classic.

Chapter 6 - Motorcycle Jacket

Chapter 6 – Motorcycle Jacket

Chapter 6 ends with a knit motorcycle jacket. It’s an amazing accomplishment and it’s why Deborah Newton is such a fabulous designer!

Chapter 7 - Stitches and Samplers

Chapter 7 – Stitches and Samplers

Chapter 7 is called Themes and Samplers, but I’d call it Stitches & Samplers as it’s all about various types of stitches and putting them together.

I really liked the way Deborah introduces stitch types and talks about ways that the knitter can create their own version of this stitch.

The first section is about slip stitches, twisted stitches, lace stitches, cables and bobbles.

Chapter 7 - Cables

Chapter 7 – Cables

Chapter 7 - lace stitches

Chapter 7 – lace stitches

The section on creating your own cables and lace is really helpful in understanding how the stitches are formed.

Chapter 7 - Sampler cardigan

Chapter 7 – Sampler cardigan

Chapter 7 ends with a sample of color work and embossed leaf patterns meshed together to create another one of Deborah’s masterpieces!

http://www.amazon.com/Threads-Book-Designing-Knitwear/dp/B000N5YJW2/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434397224&sr=1-7&keywords=designing+knitwear

 

 

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

Jean Frost – Jackets

Jean Frost Jackets from XRX is my next book selection. It was published in 2003 after I left XRX although a couple of the photos were done on my watch. I’ve been thinking about Jean since I saw her at Stitches East a couple of weeks ago. She is now 88 years old and still going strong, although she has turned her teaching stint to her daughter Dawn.

Jackets_cover

 

Amazon’s review says that: These jackets are real-life knitting for women with real lives. My take on that comment is that the book is for real-life knitting for “working” women with real lives. For a “retired” woman, the book doesn’t fit in my current life. So for that reason I’m giving it: thumbs down, but not for the usual reasons.  I’m not totally ditching this book. It’s going to a good new home – that of my BFF’s daughter, Kirsten.

By the way, this book is still a widely available trade paperback book and not out-of-print.

Jean Frost

Jean Frost

Jean looks lovely in one of the jackets featured in the book.

Jean Frost Jacket back cover

Jean Frost Jacket back cover

With 21 classic jackets, this book is a bargain. I love that she talks about the knitted pieces as the fabric as you would for traditional jackets.

stitch_patterns

In addition to the jackets, there a several spreads of texture and color stitch patterns if you are inclined to create your own jacket. The end of the book features info on fit, size, taking measurements and yarn. All you need to know to make a jacket that you can wear for years.

Devonshire Jacket

Devonshire Jacket

I love the Devonshire Jacket with a classic collar and a 3-color stitch pattern that looks woven.

Copley Jacket

Copley Jacket

The Copley Jacket is a simpler one-color piece. I include it because it is styled with one of my hats!

http://www.amazon.com/Jean-Frost-Jackets-Fabric-Finish/dp/1893762157/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414005390&sr=1-1&keywords=jean+frost+jackets

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