Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Look at the Library - February 2009

Handknit Holidays by Melanie Falick, c. 2005, offers so much more than its title implies.  Although dedicated to ChristmasHanukkah and Winter Solstice, this volume contains more than 50 projects that make for wonderful year round knitting and gift giving.  Only a few of the designs are actually holiday-specific, including: an ethnic fair isle/intarsia combination that results in an heirloom worthy tree skirt; an exquisite pillow, featuring a variety of decorative knitting stitches in the shape of a menorah, set against a reverse stockinette background; and a bobble laden adorable Santa Claus hat “brimming” with holiday spirit.  I love the book because the designs are rich in learning experiences for a variety of knitting techniques.  You will see bead embroidery embellishing feminine alpaca/silk gloves, modular techniques used to coordinate scarf to hat; a lace panel delineating the back seam of a pair of Victorian over-the-knee socks, and double knitting used to make an especially warm, reversible scarf.  This book is a keeper!

Last Minute Knitted Gifts, c. 2004, is written by Joelle Hoverson, shop owner of Purl, located in Soho New York.  This is a beautifully photographed collection that uses yarns carried in the store.  The shop, as well as the yarns required,  still exist and are readily available.  The projects are very cleverly arranged in chapters according to the number of hours estimated for completion.  So, thinking in terms of ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival), if you have 0-2 hours of knitting time, think about some adorable angora booties; 2-4 hours will result in  Cascade 220 Leg Warmers; 4-6 hours for Blue Sky Alpaca Draw String Pouches; and some fabulous stuffed animals estimated to arrive in 6-8 hours!  Who said knitting can not be fit into our busy lives?

Knitting Never Felt Better, by Nicky Epstein, c. 2007, may just as aptly been titled “Felting Never Made Better Looking Knits”.  This book is rich with ideas that will take you and the felting process  to totally new levels and way beyond the hot water cycle on your washing machine. Here you will see how to apply the felting technique to lace work, stranded knitting, intarsia, textural stitches, mosaic knitting, drop stitch knitting, and those beloved cables.  In addition, the use of I-cords, beads and embroidery to embellish felted backgrounds is described and illustrated.  Who knew that laundering woolens could result in such creative designs! 

Sweater Design in Plain English, by Maggie Righetti, c. 1990, is a workhorse of a text, having survived 19 years in print and still proving itself to be a valuable source of information.  This volume guides the reader through the basics of understanding how various fibers behave; knitting for specific body types;  taking accurate measurements; choosing appropriate stitch patterns and colors; reviewing knitting techniques; and  calculating the arithmetic necessary to execute well fitting garments.  I enjoyed reading the book, page by page, rather than jumping “to the good parts”, because there is a lot to learn in each section.  The second part of the book uses particular sweater projects as examples of how to formulate a pattern.  Unfortunately, the designs are somewhat outdated but the principles and lessons are invaluable to those who hope to take that step toward designing original knitwear.

Jackets, by Jean Frost, c. 2003 is an XRX publication that I thoroughly enjoyed leafing through. Although the book contains mainly designs for jackets in the Chanel style, many stitch patterns are provided for creating interesting fabrics as well as edge details such as borders and slits.  So, even if you don’t go for Coco’s classic, tailored look, consider applying some of these luscious woven textural fabrics and applied details to more unstructured silhouettes.  I know I plan to!  
Any member of the Guild who is interested in borrowing any one of the 10 books reviewed to date, may e-mail us at liknitcrochetguild.gmail.com.  

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