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

Patchwork/Mitered Knitting Books

horst_schulz_covers

 

I’ve radically from baby knits to two books called “patchwork knitting“. Knitters also know this style as “mitered knitting“. Both books by Horst Schulz were published in 1997.

horst_schulz_back_covers

Let me start with with Patchwork Knitting as this is book I’m giving a: thumbs up.

It starts out with a bunch of how-to info including casting on new stitches to add more squares to the knitting and the best way to create edge stitches. Before going into various ways to create patchwork, there is a section on making a paper pattern to use as a template for the patchwork squares, strips, diamonds, etc. This is really important to understand as there are no patterns for each technique featured throughout the book. You are pretty much on your own. This requires a bit of skill and I wouldn’t recommend for those who have never made a sweater.

pattern

Horst uses a type of ribbing for all the designs that I called corrugated  ribbing (two-color ribbing). It’s not my favorite, but it looks good with the colorful patchwork sweaters.

Moving along into the style gallery, it starts out with easy strips that are sewn together. Featured midway through are the most familiar squares and diamonds. My favorite is one that looks like squares in front and back. Very clever!

photo-6

I also like the the techniques below.

square   shell_sweater

Book two: New Patchwork Knitting – Fashion for Children

kid_design

This book: thumbs down

Why? It’s not a terrible book, but for me similar to the first book and I’m not a fan of some of the designs shown. I do like this sweater with the zig-zag edge. I don’t think I’d make it for any child I know.

kid_design1

 

 Bottom line: Buy one or the other book if you love the mitered technique. Horst Schulz is German and many of the resources for yarns given at the end of the book are for European companies. Also, keep in mind that the styling is very ’90s looking.

 

 

 

Knitting For Baby

knitforbaby

Knitting for Baby by Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas (two women I so admire) is next on my list.

Even before I begin: Thumbs Up!

What did I like about the book? I’ll start with the colorful illustrations (all drawn by Kristin Nicholas) on all the techniques – from the simple knit stitch to knitting on double-pointed needles that are interspersed throughout the book. I love the way the book moves along in easy steps starting with the simplest stitches and projects and moving to designs that require more skill. Each chapter gives the reader all the tools and techniques needed to make the projects. I will surely turn to this book for baby projects. Here are a few of my favs.

I love, love the cover sweater. This Garter Stitch Cardigan is perfect for my knitting style. I’m always in favor of garter stitch and adore easy, easy projects. This cute little sweater comes in sizes from 3 months to 24 months. The yarn used is a bit heavier than I’d like. It calls for a yarn that’s 18 stitches to 4″. I’ll use a lighter weight yarn and will adjust the sizing.

backcover

The back cover with more adorable projects!

babyaran

I already made this Baby Aran a couple of years ago for my niece’s new baby.

diaperbag

Felted Diaper Bag – I want to make this as a fun tote.

booties

A great baby shower gift. I would use a pastel shade – unisex for those who don’t yet know.

mittens

An easy mitten pattern is always nice to have  – sized for toddlers in a medium weight (slightly bulky yarn), it could be made smaller (using a thinner yarn) for a smaller child.

http://www.amazon.com/Knitting-Baby-How—Knit-Instructions-ebook/dp/B008ZR8CAK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404332030&sr=8-1&keywords=Knitting+for+Baby

June 2014 – 6 months PLUS Knits for Older Kids

books_read

Half of 2014 has gone by and I’ve only gotten through a few books. Sadly to say -VERY few! This is the sum total of my 2014 knitting book reading. Oh, I just realized my Tweed book is there. Mistake! There are even fewer….

 photo 2

Here are more of the masses left. There are more hiding in various places, but you get the idea. I’ve really got to somehow find another plan with this book reading. I’m going to ponder this and will let you know my plan in next week’s post. By the way, I’ve already given up on making one project from each book.

This week’s book -

photo 1

As I scanned The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Knits for Older Kids, I thought that this one surely had no reason to be on my bookshelf. Then I started turning the pages. The book is very thoughtfully put together. The Basics section in the front of the book is perfect for a beginner or newer knitter. There are very good illustrations and techniques that you’d need for projects in the book.

photo 2-2

The unisex styling of the sweaters and nice intro stories about why the designers created each design is a nice touch. By the way, this book is part of a series of books written by Julie Carles and Jordana Jacobs who owned a yarn store in NYC called the Yarn Company.

Other than easy sweaters, there is a section with hats and scarves and a knit throw.

I love the striped sweaters below as it’s the perfect design to use up part balls of yarn and it’s a nice simple sweater for a boy or girl.

photo 3

Another sweater that was on top of my “keeper” list is the hoodie cardigan. I’d make this one for one of the kids of my nieces. It’s a practical, wearable sweater.

photo 4

I’ll give this one a thumbs up and add it to my meager pile!

http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Guide-Knits-Older-Quick-/dp/0307336905/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403385220&sr=8-1&keywords=Knits+for+older+kids

 

T

Debbie Bliss Classic Knits for Kids

Classic__Kids_Knits

In keeping with my “baby/kid” book quest, I took a gander at Debbie Bliss Classic Knits for Kids with 30 Traditional Aran and Guernsey Designs for 0-6 year olds.

It was published in 1994 so some of the sweaters are a bit on the oversized look. However, I do know that Debbie does love to style and show baby/kids sweaters that have a loose and oversized look. She’s known for creating the kind of sweater that is perfect for growing into and will last for several years.

This is definitely a thumbs up book. I will say that when I looked it up on Amazon, new copies go for over $30 so I can’t be alone.

What did I love about the book: the photos are so sweet and the whole book has lovely styling. I love the fact that all the sweaters are one color with tons of texture in knit and purl stitches and interesting cabling.

What did I not like: I would have preferred to have separate stitch patterns or charts rather than row after row of patterning. When this book was publishing the default wasn’t charts for stitch patterning so that’s a minor complaint. The language is a bit “English” style rather than “American” which could be a bit off-putting to some.

My favorite sweater (especially after my Aran journey) is called Cotton Aran Sweater:

denim_aran

A few others I like -

yellow_sweater  gernesey

Baby_Arans

http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Knits-Kids-Traditional-Guernsey/dp/1570760268/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402606597&sr=8-1&keywords=Debbie+Bliss+Classic+Knits+for+Kids