Nicky Epstein – The Knit Hat Book

 

The Knit Hat Book cover

The Knit Hat Book cover

While I’m on a blogging roll, I thought I’d go for a small book (only 90 pages long) to end the week – almost end the year!

Nicky Epstein’s The Knit Hat Book was published in 1997. It was probably one of the early knitting books that I owned back in the day when I bought every knitting book published.

The Knit Hat Book - back cover

The Knit Hat Book – back cover

Should I give it a thumbs up or down? It’s a cute little gem that isn’t taking up tons of space on my book shelf, but is most likely not one that I’ll use in the future. The other tricky little thing is that Nicky autographed it to me and that makes it hard to let go of this book.

Knit_Hat_autograph

What to do, what to do? I’m being ruthless – so – thumbs down!

The book has 25 hats from basic shapes. Some of the styles are a bit dated, but feature Nicky’s clever appliqués and whimsical details.

Pillbox hats

Pillbox hats

Black Cat Pillbox Hats

Black Cat Pillbox Hats

She does berets, pillbox styles, simple cabled pull-on caps all in pretty basic yarns.

Roman Cable Hat

Roman Cable Hat

Bottom line: If you want to try different hats styles, this book is ideal. It’s out of print, but can be found on Amazon and probably eBay.

Classic Knits – Erika Knight

Classic Knits cover

Classic Knits cover

I have truly fallen off the “blogging wagon”. Too much life going on, but I’m back and even though I’m away for the winter I have a huge bag of books to review.

Classic Knits by Erika Knight (published by Potter Crafts in 2006) was an easy book. Erika says the book is “a contemporary collection of knitted wardrobe basics”. In other words – a book of patterns. The two-page intro is written in something like 24-point type – not too much to say about the book.

Classic Knits - Back Cover

Classic Knits – Back Cover

As everyone knows how I feel about pattern books or books of patterns, it is pretty easy to give this one: thumbs down.

On a positive note, the book has great styling and nice photography.

Tank Top

Tank Top

There are only 15 projects. The first 40 pages have color pages showing the designs in color.

Slouch Socks

Slouch Socks

The rest of the book – the instructions are all in black and white with photos in a sort of washed gray.

Kelly Cardigan

Kelly Cardigan

The patterns have inches and centimeters for sizing and do have an extensive size range. There are no diagrams or schematic drawing.

Bottom line: If you want a book of really simple basic projects – this is a good book. Looks like it is out-of-print, but is available through Amazon.

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!

 

 

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.

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!

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

 

Loop-d-Loop by Teva Durham

loopDloop_cov

My next book is Loop-d-Loop by Teva Durham. It’s also a book by Melanie Falick and published in 2005. In full disclosure, I know and worked with Teva and also know the photographer of this book – Adrian Buckmaster. They are both extremely talented – Teva in design and use of yarns and Adrian in photography. I’m a fan of both of them.

By the way, if you love the quirky styles and interesting designs in the book – it’s out of print, but you can get copies – including mine!

I’m giving this book – thumbs down.

Why you ask? It’s a beautifully created book – I would expect nothing less from Melanie. It has a well-thought out layout and interesting photos. My problem is that none of the projects appeal to me. They are a little over the top and slightly out of fashion. I’m being ruthless in my quest to reduce my overflowing library!

Back Cover

Back Cover

Below is a sweater that Teva original did for Interweave Knits that she is updated. She says it was very popular and I do agree that it looks like an easy one to knit and is one that would look good with jeans or something more dressed up. Teva does add clever details to all her projects and this is clearly one of her signature look.

Lace Leaf Pullover

Lace Leaf Pullover

The last photo is a clever scarf and I really like the braided effect. This doesn’t mean I’m making this book a “keeper”. I just wanted to end with a positive spin!

Braided Neckpiece

Braided Neckpiece

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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