How to Knit – Debbie Bliss

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How to Knit – Debbie Bliss

I’m starting this book review in a quandary – to keep or not to keep. On first pass, I was ready to chuck this one. As much as I love Debbie Bliss (fantastic UK designer), I didn’t think this book offered enough to keep on my shelf. On 2nd pass, I’m conflicted.

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How to Knit – back cover

The back cover could have added a little more info for the reader? What were the publishers thinking?

illus

Great illustrations

The illustrations in this How-to are very clear and would be easy for a novice to use.

Aran

Aran Workshop

This section comes pretty early in the book – Chapter 3 as a matter of fact. It’s really Debbie Bliss’s favorite style so I’m not surprised to see it covered extensively.

cables

Cable Workshop

In the middle of the Aran chapter, this simple cabled sweater is a simpler version of some of the other knits.

lace

Lace Workshop

The best thing about this chapter is the 23 lace stitch pattern samples.

edges

Edgings

Love the edgings. This makes the book a winner. I just used the leaf edging for a project. Wish the instructions were charted and not so UK centric with yf terminology that is not used by US knitters.

entrelac

Entrelac illustrations

Ok – I know you’re asking – what the hell is Entrelac. Not a common technique, but these illustration make it very clear.

 

What did I decide? I might keep this book for awhile and see if I refer to it before moving it along. My copy is a bit worn and I probably couldn’t sell. I do think the UK vs US make it less valuable for a new knitter, but then again – I’m not a new knitter.

 

https://www.amazon.com/How-Knit-Definitive-Step-step/dp/1855856964/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497383208&sr=8-1&keywords=How+to+Knit+Debbie+Bliss

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The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Simple Knits

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The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Simple Knits

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Simple Knits – Back Cover

This book is one of a series of books created by owners of the Yarn Company shop in New York City – Julie Carles and Jordana Jacobs. This one was published by Carlson Potter in 2002.

Before I start the review, I’ll add a spoiler alert. I’m keeping this book and thus a thumbs up. Maybe I’m waffling in my old age or something, but the book does have some interesting designs and I’m almost in the mood to make a sweater. Haven’t done one in a long time.

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Julie Carles and Jordana Jacobs

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Cast on Illustration

The illustrations are clear and easy to follow. There are approximately 30 pages of how-to’s including a few finishing and simple crochet edgings.They are much better than photos.

decrease

Decreasing how-to

yarn_weights

Key to Yarn Weights

The above page shows weights of yarn used in the book. If I had one complaint about the book it would be that only heavier yarns are included. The lightest weight is a heavy worsted. On the other hand, the projects are quicker to make.

yarn

Variegated Yarns

Many of the designs are made with variegated yarns that a perfect for newer knitters.

cardigan

Simple knit cardigan

All the projects are photographed on mannequins that keeps the book from becoming dated.

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Pattern layout

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Schematic drawings

The pattern instructions and schematic drawings are also clear and easy-to-use.

pullover

Hoodie Pullover

My favorite project! Would make a nice present for someone.

hats

Hats from Simple Knits

A few accessories and home dec pieces end the book.

Well done Julie and Jordana!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Yarn-Girls-Guide-Simple-Knits/dp/0609608800/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457620323&sr=8-1&keywords=the+yarn+girls%27+guide+to+simple+knits

Learn to Knit

Learn to Knit by Penny Hill

Learn to Knit by Penny Hill

So you might ask – what the H – – – are you doing with a “learn to knit” book? Yes, dear reader, I asked myself the same question. This UK book published in 2003 somehow landed on my book shelf – magically I’m sure!

Learn to Knit - back cover

Learn to Knit – back cover

Since it won’t be staying on my shelf much longer and is most likely destined as a library donation, I will at least give it a review here. It’s an OK learn to knit book for a novice and covers quite an array of material to be sure. The simple projects shown on the back cover go from easiest to easy with some clarification along the way. It’s actually a good book for more experienced knitters, if one might be looking to knit simple projects.

Photo illustrations

Photo illustrations

I’m not usually a fan of photo “how-to’s”, but these are fairly clear. Usually drawn illustrations are easier to follow.

How to create stitch patterns

How to create stitch patterns

These are clear photos of simple stitches, but the UK version of stocking stitch vs. the US stockinette might be confusing to a beginner.

photo of sweater pieces

photo of sweater pieces

This was a clever way to show what the finished sweater garter stitch pieces will look like and more or less how they will be stitched together.

Finished sweater

Finished sweater

Here’s the finished sweater nicely styled. The book uses no live models which probably keeps the book from looking dated.

How to make a set-in pocket

How to make a set-in pocket

Towards the end of the book, this technique plus several others such as buttonholes makes the book more valuable in the long run.

http://www.amazon.com/Learn-Knit-Penny-Hill/dp/1580111750/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447521398&sr=8-1&keywords=Learn+to+Knit+by+Penny+Hill

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!

 

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Knitting-Kiss-Every-Stitch-Creating/dp/193302786X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439844575&sr=8-1&keywords=knitting+a+kiss+in+every+stitch

Crafting a Colorful Home

Crafting a Colorful Home by Kristin Nicholas

Crafting a Colorful Home by Kristin Nicholas

It looks like 2015 is going to be the year that I break all my self-imposed rules. The ultimate broken rule – getting rid of books on my bookshelf. I read Kristin’s blog, Getting Stitched on the Farm about this new book. New or old, I had to have it! The other one of Nancy’s rules soon to be broken is my  “non-aquistion” mode – thus this blog. Unfortunately I already own so many books, collections old stuff, textiles, yarn and much, much more. Kristin’s love of antiques, collections, yarn, textiles inspired me to throw my rule right out the window. I wanted to go to Brimfield and acquire, acquire, acquire!

Crafting a Colorful Home by Kristin Nicholas, A Room-by-Room Guide to Personalizing Your Space with Color delivers not only fantastic color, but lots of creative inspiration. It’s published by Roost Books (2015).

Crafting A Colorful Home - back cover

Crafting A Colorful Home – back cover

I’ve known Kristin for about 30 years (or so she says in her autograph in my book). Everything she touches turn into colorful masterpieces. This isn’t her first book. I have several others that I’ll try to get to this year. I also own a few pieces of her pottery from the days that she was pottering. I’m obviously a fan!

Autograph page

Autograph page

I ordered a book directly from Kristin and she included the book plate shown below.

Kristin's name plate

Kristin’s name plate

Dedication page

Dedication page

Kristin dedicated the book to her good friend, the talented Sally Lee.

Intro page

Intro page

I started to read the intro and didn’t realized how soon I would enter into an insider’s view of life on the farm and how Kristin colors up her traditional farm house. I found this the most interesting part of the book.

making mosaic pots

making mosaic pots

The instructions of making unique pots from broken china were so clear, I felt like I could easily do this.

Mod Granny Throw

Mod Granny Throw

Of course as a knitter/crocheter, this was my favorite project in the book. I love the colors she used to update this traditional technique.

Swatch Patchwork Throw

Swatch Patchwork Throw

My second favorite project is the Crazy Quilt Swatch Blanket. Kristin talked more about this throw in her blog than the two-page spread in the book. I have tons of swatches that I’ve squirreled away. I want to drag them out and start on this project.

My other favorite was sections were the varied ways that Kristin used felt fabric to make pot-holders and coasters. Brilliant!

Definitely a Thumbs Up book. I will refer to this book, if only to get a color fix and get ideas for things that I can do to my house to bring colorful elements into the mix.

By the way, her explanations of varies ways to use paints is really well-done. Good instructions. Makes painting sound do-able!

 

http://www.kristinnicholas.com/ProductDetail.cfm?index=128&CustID=1444919

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.

http://www.amazon.com/Sculptured-Knits-Designs-Inspired-Decorative/dp/096463919X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414611727&sr=8-1&keywords=Sculptured+knits+Jean+Moss

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.

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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

 

http://www.amazon.com/Cables-Untangled-Exploration-Cable-Knitting/dp/0307586480/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411333946&sr=1-1&keywords=cables+untangled

 

 

 

 

Handknit Holidays – Another Melanie Falick book

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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.

http://www.amazon.com/Handknit-Holidays-Knitting-Year-Round-Christmas-ebook/dp/B009SYI0BU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410039446&sr=1-1&keywords=handknit+holidays

Baby Books Week

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Notice I said Baby Books Week. This means more than one book this week. After getting bogged down with the last book, I’m determined to get a few more books under my belt.

I’m starting with two that are in the thumbs down category.

Candy Blankies and Candy Tots – both by Candi Jensen both crochet baby/toddler books. They are both nicely photographed and have contemporary layouts and styling. The problem is that there is only one pattern in both books that I might make. I’m going to make a copy of that pattern and move these books off my shelf.

Baby Ripple I’m saving –

baby_ripple

 

I have more baby pattern books that I’ll discuss later this week. Can’t you just see the smile on my face!