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

 

 

Knitting Books – What was I thinking duo?

Ocean Breeze - Silk Knits

Ocean Breeze – Silk Knits

I was going to do each of these books separately, but a quick review of each made me realize that these are just a couple of books of patterns. I’m disposed to dislike books that are just patterns put together in some form to create a book. I have lots of magazines that full of patterns, but lets not go there. Once I get a handle on my books, magazines might be next.

Are these books staying on my shelf? Thumbs Down.

Let’s start with Ocean Breezes – Knitted Scarves inspired by the Sea by Sheryl Thies (published in 2007 by Martingale).

scarf_bc

 

The premise is nice and scarves photographed in nature as still-life images is interesting. The scarves are OK. I like the cover scarf – mostly the edging. I also like these two scarves. Does this make keeping this book worthwhile – nah!

cable_scarf leaf_scarf

Moving on to Silk Knits – 20 Designs in Fabulous Fibers by Elaine Eskesen (published in 2007 by Martingale).  This book has a bit more meat. It includes info on working with silk, the types of silk and a history of silk. The big “but” is that as I looked over the patterns, I couldn’t really find patterns that I found very interesting. The chapters of the patterns is broken down by season – spring, summer, fall, winter. Below is the one pattern that I do like, but not sure I’d make it or have a place to wear it.

Silk Knits back cover

Silk Knits back cover

knit circle vest

knit circle vest

 

Knitting Beyond Scarves – Melissa Leapman

Knitting BeyondScarves

I thought that I’d go for an easy book this week. I wanted one that I could skim through and move on.  What can I say – I’m still in summer vacation mode.

What did I decide about Knitting Beyond Scarves: Thumbs down!

 

Knitting Beyond Scarves back cover

The back cover says it all: Take Your Knitting to the Next Level. Actually the book starts out with all the basics – casting on, the knit stitch, and binding off. The book is packed with simple info for a knitter who wants to go “beyond the scarf”. The illustrations are very clear and easy-to-follow. The explanations are well-written and organized in a logical step-by-step fashion. For the $19.95 cost, you could learn a ton from this book.

Knitting Beyond Scarves

 

OK – now that I’ve told you what I like about the book.  Now for the down side. I love Melissa Leapman – her books, her designs and her bubbly personality. The designs featured in this book are either too simple, ho-hum or really not great. The one  design I do like is the striped hat below. It’s adorable. Some of the skirts in the circular knitting and increase and decrease sections miss the mark in many ways. The purple A-line skirt in a novelty yarn doesn’t do it for me. The sweaters and accessories wouldn’t “wow” most knitters I know. I was surprised that the book was published in 2006. I thought at first glance that it might have been published in the 80’s or 90’s.

 

Beyond Scarves - Striped Hat

 

For someone who wants to learn new techniques and have a “go-to” book to help them along the way, this book is perfect. I feel like it’s not one that I would use and it should have a new home and get off my shelf!

 

 

 

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

 

Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines

 MD_cover

A new book for a new day – Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines by Kay Gardiner & Ann Shayne (published in 2008). I’ve been reading this book for about a week, but haven’t posted. It’s a rich one with lots of interesting material so I’m reading it in bits and pieces. It’s definitely not just another pattern book. It’s going to take more than one pass to get through this one so “Hang On”!

MD_back_cover

I’m already giving this one a thumbs up.

What do I like about the book? I love the back and forth banter between Kay and Ann. Each has a point of view and the sum of the two parts equals essays, tips and tricks worth reading. I really like that they begin with their #1 rule – “knitting is spoze to be fun.” Right from the beginning I knew this was worth reading further. I like that the intro tells you that it’s going to be broken down into five sections. I’m only covering a part of section 1 today – Decorating Yourself.

cardi_cosyThe first project is called a Cardi Cosy. The perfect lightweight piece to wear over a store-bought cardigan. Very clever indeed. It can be worn on its own for a more glam look, but the first purpose seems to be ideal for most of us who aren’t often in the glam-wearing arena. It’s made with Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze – heavenly!

daily_sweater

The next sweater that I really like is knit from the top-down which offers multiple possibilities and is an easy way to get the correct body and sleeve length. It’s called The Daily Sweater. I take this to mean that it can be worn every day. It’s a knit alternative to a sweatshirt. Kay explains in great detail why sweatshirts are unflattering at best. I would be game to knit this one.

tableWell, until I came to this chart. Uh, what can I say about this page. It’s a brilliant way to show a pattern with 6 sizes (I did find one typo – Large is labeled X-Large). Reading it seems a bit daunting, but I figured that if I was knitting it, the chart would become crystal clear to me. At least that’s the hope!

schematicTwo other elements of this sweater that I like. The clever little V purl/knit element at the neckline adds a bit of “sweatshirt” style to the pullover. I also like the clear schematic drawing with the measurements, although a sleeve length from the underarm would be helpful.

More about this sweater in my next post!

http://www.amazon.com/Mason-Dixon-Knitting-Outside-Lines-Confessions/dp/B008548F14/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1406929873&sr=8-4&keywords=Mason-Dixon+Knitting+Outside+the+Lines