Canada Knits – Part 1

Canada Knits by Shirley A. Scott

Canada Knits by Shirley A. Scott

Reading this lovely book has slowed me down. Lots of text and an incredible historical story have made this a book to savor. I plan to read it all no matter how long it takes!

On a positive note, I’ve sold about 9 or 10 books. Off the shelves and out of the house. I some how feel a bit lighter. Onward! It’s given me new inspiration and hope that eventually my library will be a manageable and I’ll know where to find every book I own!

Why do I even own a book of the history of Canadian knitting? Is it my Canadian roots? Is it because I had met Shirley Scott (aka Shirl the Purl)? I really have no idea why I bought this book and have never read from cover to cover. It was published in 1990 so I have no excuse not to have read before now. Well I say – better late than never!

Canada Knits - back cover

Canada Knits – back cover

What have I found out so far? I’ve covered how knitting came to Canada and knitting from sea to sea. In Chapter 3, I learned what Canadians knit which includes war knitting, baby knits and some historical knits including wool long johns for year-round wearing. Can you only imagine?

I’m in the middle of Canada’s knitting yarns. This will be my next post.

Do I like the book? Yes. Is it worth a read? Yes. Will I keep the book? I’ll let you know next time and include a few more great pictures.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off

The sub-title of this book is “The Yarn Harlot’s Guide to the Land of Knitting”. The theme of 2007 book of essays is as you’ve guessed – traveling to the land of knitting and all that it entails along the way. It’s a clever little book with a bunch of good info along the way like a books titled “Good Reads for Knitters”.

Casts Off - back cover

Casts Off – back cover

I was amazed to find that I had had paid almost $15 dollars for this book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a well-written, funny, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee at her best book. The problem is that once I finished reading it (and I did read it from cover to cover), I wanted to move it along and off my shelves.

Clever illustrations

Clever illustrations

The book is full of illustrations. They make Stephanie’s words come to life.

More illustrations

More illustrations

The one part  that I didn’t include in a photo here, but there is a story that goes throughout the book in the form of letters about a knitter and her journey in becoming a full-fledged knitter.

Thumbs down for me, but only because I’ve read it and won’t read again.

Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch by Nicky Epstein

Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch by Nicky Epstein

Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch by Nicky Epstein

I’m on to a really easy book this week. Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch: Creating Gifts for the People You Love by Nicky Epstein is a combo of gift-giving designs and charity projects. Nicky has her own imprint (who knew?), a division of Sixth&Spring Books was published in 2009. It’s beautifully photographed as I would expect from Sixth&Spring. There are clear chapters and of course, easy-to-follow instructions.

I’ve already listed on Amazon so it’s a thumbs down on this book. I’ll give you my rational for a decision on this little gem.

Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch - back cover

Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch – back cover

Meow Kitty Cap

Meow Kitty Cap

This design is just what you’d expect from Nicky. She does whimsical projects to the max! I do love it, but not sure I would every make it.

Baby's First Hat

Baby’s First Hat

I think this first project is a winner. It is a design I might make, but not enough for me to keep the book.

Luggage Tags

Luggage Tags

Here’s another project I like, but again I don’t think it’s worth taking up space on my bookshelf.

A Charitable Gift Afghan

A Charitable Gift Afghan

I like this idea of this project, but not one that I would make.

Guide to Giving

Guide to Giving

Charity giving guide – this section makes the book really worthwhile. Some of the info may be a little outdated, but it is an excellent appendix of where to go when looking for places to give knitted or crocheted charity items.

One mystery that I haven’t been able to figure out about this book. Some of the copies of the book are listed on Amazon for really high prices. Out-of-Print? Nicky Epstein fans? First Editions? I’m not sure why the listed copies are worth big bucks.

I will end by saying that charity knitting and crochet is so important and I admire anyone who promotes it. Well done Ms. Epstein!


Knit Lit

Knit Lit edited by Linda Roghaar & Molly Wolf

Knit Lit edited by Linda Roghaar & Molly Wolf

I haven’t been hiding, I’ve been engrossed in this little paperback book called Knit Lit, Sweaters and Their Stories …And Other Writing About Knitting. I’ve had this book for a long time – it was published in 2002. It’s a subtle little book and was easy to overlook. This is a compact book with no pictures or illustrations – just stories!

I loved this book and glad that I read it. The back cover says: Touching tales, hilarious stories, moving recollections, memories of companions.  Yes, all these are covered.

The book is cleverly broken down into 4 parts with various headings in each part. The editing was really good. The writers were a mix of those who are well known in the knitting world and brilliant people who should be more known.

What did I love? I loved the knitting disaster section – burned knitting and road kill knitting. You have to read these to appreciate the writing.

I could have cried over the story call The Baby Blanket about a young woman having a baby that she gave up for adoption and many years later meets her son.

“The Peaceable Fleece in Foreign Parts” has 6 stories of knitting with a global slant.

The back has a wonderful section of all the contributors and their “creds”. I found that it was most interesting to read the story and then read about the writer made my reading experience more interesting.

I’m not giving this a thumbs down, but having read the book it’s not going back on my shelf. Bye-bye Knit Lit!

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.

Designing Knitwear – THE END!


Chapter 8 - Details & Finishing

Chapter 8 – Details & Finishing

Even in the last chapter of Dressmaker Details and Finishing, Deborah gives us so much information that this chapter could almost be a stand-alone book.

I’ve come to realize in this journey of a comprehensive design book that I might not use the book of a whole, but there are so many nuggets of fabulous info that are great for reference. I would not advise anyone to do what I did – read the book from cover to cover – even though I did break it down into small approachable chapters.

Chapter 8 - Collars

Chapter 8 – Collars

Chapter 8 - Shawl Collars and Lapels

Chapter 8 – Shawl Collars and Lapels

I’m including a couple of photos of pages with collars and lapels. Also covered in the chapter were silhouettes, using ribbing to shape, draped necklines, pockets and cuffs. Oh, and there is a box explaining short rows. Didn’t I say that this chapter could be a book!

Chapter 8 - Fulling

Chapter 8 – Fulling

This page on how to full or felt alone is worth the book. Who knew that adding baking soda to the water to soften it?

Princess-line Knit Suit

Princess-line Knit Suit

The fitted suit that ends this chapter isn’t my favorite project, but I admire what it took for Deborah to design it and fit it onto a real model.



The spread at the end of book has a great list of books to find more information that Deborah refers to throughout the book. That said, many new books have come into the knitting scene since this book was published. I know there is a newer version of the book and I don’t know if the bibliography has been updated.

Goodbye Designing Knitwear. My next blog will be with a much easier to read/cover book.

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!



Designing Knitwear – Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - Color & Graphics

Chapter 5 – Color & Graphics

Chapter 5 – read and reviewed! I’m half way through the book and Chapter 6 doesn’t look so “text heavy”. Very exciting!

What did I learn in Chapter 5. My head is spinning! If you want to know anything about color in knitting and designing, read this chapter.

Chapter 5 - Colorwheel

Chapter 5 – Colorwheel

Deborah started with the color wheel. It actually looks a little brighter in the photo than it appears in the book which makes it a little hard to visually understand. Deborah does a good job of explaining how to use the wheel and what it means in terms of using color in designing – notice how many sections I’ve underlined. She has an interesting explanation of how the introduction of white and black change a solid shade into a lighter or darker version of the color.

Chapter 5 - same motif in different colors

Chapter 5 – same motif in different colors

Light and dark, two shades of the same color, shades on opposite sides of the color wheel  all change the look of a motif as you can see in the photo of Deborah’s swatches.

Chapter 5 - A Japanese print by artist Hiroshige

Chapter 5 – A Japanese print by artist Hiroshige

Deborah uses a Japanese print to create a sweater. She starts by sketching the sweater design.

Chapter 5 - The finished pullover and swatches

Chapter 5 – The finished pullover and swatches

I was amazed at all the swatches it look for Deborah’s inspiration into a real sweater. So much work for such a beautiful pullover.

Chapter 5 - creating charts for color designs

Chapter 5 – creating charts for color designs

This section starts out with more simple vertical and horizontal lines. Making curves in flowers such as above is note quite as simple.

Chapter 5 - More inspiration for sweaters

Chapter 5 – More inspiration for sweaters

Deborah calls this section “Swatch project & designer notebook”. She uses the inspiration in this photo to create the two sweaters at the end of the chapter.

Chapter 5 - Black & White Pullover

Chapter 5 – Black & White Pullover

This sweater is a bit dated in the tunic length, but there is no doubt that it is a masterpiece! On to Chapter 6.



Designing Knitwear – Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - Knit & Purl

Chapter 4 – Knit & Purl

Who knew that there was so much to say about Knit & Purl stitches. Deborah has an amazing amount to cover in this chapter. I was blown away! This chapter is worth the whole book. I love the knit/purl one-color designs. She covers lots of variations and most importantly how to incorporate them into designs.

Knit & Purl patterns

Knit & Purl patterns

I was happy to see that Deborah included my favorite basket weave pattern (pink swatch on lefthand page). There are lots of combos of simple knit and purl stitches.

Chapter 4 - Charting patterns into a Design

Chapter 4 – Charting patterns into a Design

Once you master the basics, Deborah walks the reader through the steps to insert the pattern stitch into a design. This worksheet is a terrific tutorial to learn how to place patterns.

Chapter 4 - edgings

Chapter 4 – edgings

Deborah is the master of creative edgings. I don’t think I’d ever heard of the “no-edging edging” until I met Deborah. It’s brilliant! She lists it under “Quiet Edgings” – makes sense. Seems like she could have done a complete book on edges on knits.

Chapter 4 - Grafting

Chapter 4 – Grafting

When I started reading the page titled “Coping with ribbed trouble”, little did I know that it was going to be a really good tutorial on grafting. I always have to pull out my VK Ultimate Knitting Book to graft. Now that I know, I can pull out Designing Knitwear (page 94) to graft my next project!

Chapter 4 - Guernsey Sweaters

Chapter 4 – Guernsey Sweaters

The chapter ends with two Guernsey Sweaters. The tunic style seems a bit dated, but with the knowledge I’ve already learned, I could alter the design and make it shorter.

Chapter 4 - Guernsey Pattern

Chapter 4 – Guernsey Pattern

The final pages have the well-written pattern complete with schematics and charts. Now on to Color and Graphics. Chapter 5 is about 40 pages, but I’m not so much into color knitting. I’m hoping Chapter 5 will change my mind!

Designing Knitwear – Chapter 3

Designing Knitwear - Chapter 3

Designing Knitwear – Chapter 3

Ah, Chapter 3. This chapter almost killed my blog writing. I didn’t think I’d get through it. Don’t get me wrong – good info – amazing info as a matter of fact. The problem for me was that there was so much text. In this blog I’m glossing over lots of stuff about ease, fit, armholes, sleeve types, but I didn’t want to loss the reader. It was all covered in this chapter.

Chapter 3 - a spread of text

Chapter 3 – a spread of text

OK! You get the idea about the text. It made me appreciate Deborah Newton so much more. What a mind that could put this all down on paper. Although there were charts and illustrations, I wish that some of the explanations would have been a bit more point-by-point or in more charts.

Chapter 3 - Necklines

Chapter 3 – Necklines

The neckline chart is well-done. As you can see, I took to underlining various sections that I thought were important. It helped to get through this information.

Chapter 3 - Skeleton Chart

Chapter 3 – Skeleton Chart

The Skeleton Chart was brilliant. Graphing actual body measurements and then graphing the actual sweater over the skeleton makes a visual to help you see how the sweater will fit on a knitted sweater.

Chapter 3 - Calculating all the essential points

Chapter 3 – Calculating all the essential points

This page boils down the 30 + pages of the chapter to the essential. What you learn is how to design or alter your own sweater.

Chapter 3 - body measurements

Chapter 3 – body measurements

Learning to take and record body measurements is essential to designing a sweater. Deborah gives good advice about taking these measurements. Notice that I’ve underlined the cross shoulder measurement. I must admit that I never knew where this was found on the body.

Onward to Chapter 4 that focuses on designing with Knit & Purl Stitches. I know that this will certainly be easier and I promise gather steam and not to fade into the woodwork!