Celtic Knits – Debbie Bliss


Celtic Knits – Debbie Bliss – Cover

As the year ends, I wanted to get one more book off my shelves. Since my last blog (was it really in August), I spent hours and hours going through yarn, bagging it, photographing it and finally selling lots on eBay. It seemed to go a whole lot faster than my very slow snail pace of going through and getting rid of books. Now I’m away from my yarn for the winter, it’s a good time to get back to reading, reviewing and hopefully eliminating books. A good goal for 2018!

Celtic Knits by Debbie Bliss was published in 2000 first published in the UK. This is a tip off that the patterns are more UK centric in terms of pattern writing. There are many patterns for kids/babies with some for women and one or two designs for guys.


Celtic Knits – back cover

Spoiler alert – this is simply a book of patterns. As wonderful as Debbie Bliss designs and photographs, it is in the end just a slim 80 pages of patterns.


Cabled Hearts Sweater

Debbie Bliss does lovely oversized children’s designs and this one is particularly nice. It comes in sizes 3-5 years old, but the oversized pullover probably will fit larger sizes.


Simple Sweater with Collar

It’s wasn’t easy to understand, but this is actually a child’s sweater (sizes 2-10 years). I originally thought it was an adult pattern. The largest size has a chest measurement of 43″ so it certainly would fit many adults.


Cabled Tweed Jacket

Love the cables, but it is disappointing that this cardigan only comes in two sizes – chest/bust size 37 and 41 inches.


Moss Stitch Baby Jacket

This is a typical Debbie Bliss baby design – sizes 3 to 12 months. The oversized sizing make it ideal even for toddlers.


Classic Fair Isle Socks

These socks are paired with a matching Fair Isle cardigan for a baby/toddler. There were many Fair Isle patterns in the book, but I only choose to include this sample as I prefer the one-color designs.


Instruction Sample

Notice that the measurements are given in inches and centimeters to make them workable for the US and UK markers. For the US knitters, slogging through all the cm measurements within the pattern can be disconcerting. I would recommend to make a copy of the pattern and highlight measurements and numbers that pertain to the size made.

To keep or not to keep – Nope! This one is going. Looks like it’s out-of-print, but still available on Amazon.




Sweaters from New England Sheep Farms

Sweaters from NE_cov

Sweaters from New England Sheep Farms – cover

I’ve been carrying this book around for sometime while reading the 8 stories about various sheep farms around New England. After all it is summertime and I’m moving in “slow-mo”.

One of the joys of reading Sweaters from New England was that many of the small yarn dyers are familiar to me as many have shown their wares at yarn shows I’ve attended. I found their stories engaging. But back to the essentials and more about the book!

Sweaters from NE_bc

Sweaters from New England Sheep Farms – back cover

Candice Eisner Struck wrote and published this book with Down East Books in 1999. It’s a combo of 26 designs (mainly sweaters for women and men) and stories about the farms that produce the yarns for the designs.

I think it is a gem at 128 pages. The sweaters are a bit oversized (long and loose) as was the style of that time, but could be easily updated for more modern styling.

Does this book belong on my book shelves? Sadly, the answer is NO. I’m not going to make the sweaters and although I enjoyed the read, it wouldn’t be a “must have” for me.


Man’s pullover from Morehouse Farm yarn

When I read the story about Morehouse Farm and Margrit and Albrecht Pichler who ran the farm, I couldn’t help thinking about Margrit’s death in 2015. A great loss to many of the Morehouse Farm fans. From looking at the current web site page, it appears that the  Merino yarns are still being sold and that the business still prospers.

farm story

Stories of the farms

Candice did a very good job of describing her farm visits. Her journeys made the reader feel that they were along for the ride. She interviewed the owners and talked about how the yarn came into being and the dye or not-dyed process. Some of the owners used fleece from their own sheep. Some did not raise their own animals.


Rockport Gansey pullovers

The classic pair about are perfect for a man or woman!



I was very impressed with the in-depth written patterns and charts. Again, Candice is very precise and there are good examples of her skill throughout the book.



For those who want to make the sweater patterns in other yarns, there is a page of suggested commercial yarn companies along with 2 pages for making substitutions.


Books given away!

My blogging is going so slowly that I decided that a bunch of “pattern only” books had to go. I hope that they will find a good home with an avid knitter!


More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts


More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts

Spoiler alert! I’ve already listed this book on Amazon so you know that it’s not going back on my shelf.


Back cover – More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts

Joelle Hoverson has teamed with Melanie Falick to create this beautifully crafted book. It’s full of fairly simple patterns that are grouped by the time needed to make the gift starting with “less than 2 hour gifts”.

Pattern groupings

Pattern groupings

What else did I like about the book? I did like the number and alphabet templates. I did a project last year where I needed alphabet charts. Of course, with my many, many books – who knew?

alphabet charts

alphabet charts

number charts

number charts

There were a few projects that I really liked, but not enough to keep this book.

fingerless gloves

fingerless gloves

ribbed hats

ribbed hats

The photos of graphing were really helpful for anyone trying this technique.



My final thoughts. I loved the feel and look of this book, but my feeling for books of projects really doesn’t allow for shelf space for this one. Hopefully another knitter will find a good home for this lovely book!




Teach Yourself Visually – Knitting Design


Teach Yourself Visually – Knitting Design

Continue reading


Knitting for the First Time


Knitting for the First Time

Knitting for the First Time by Vanessa-Ann (is this a real person?) was published by Sterling/Chapelle in 2003. I think it was put together by an editor and the author is just a made-up name. The first question is do I think this is a good book for a beginner. This is what I thought about as I reviewed the book.

Before I go further, I’ll say: Thumbs Down for this book.


Knitting for the First Time – back cover

The answer would be no, no – not a great beginner book. It does start with a decent review needles, tools and yarn.



I do like the drawn illustrations as opposed to photo illustrations.



The order of all the basics is a bit strange. First abbreviations, then adding a new skein of yarn, then fixing mistakes and then finishing. I think a true beginner might find this a bit confusing.


Basic Techniques with patterns

For me, here’s where it breaks down. Really – a color work Christmas stocking in beginning patterns. Plus, other than the cute baby pullover and hat, the other patterns are not great.


Cute Baby Hat

With the sweater, this hat is very cute!

Beyond the Basics

Beyond the Basics

More unimpressive patterns.


The Gallery

This spread and the next couple pages show sweaters designed by some of the designers within the book. No patterns for these – just pictures. I guess it’s inspiration, but all are really, really beyond a beginner!




The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book


The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book cover – Margaret Klein Wilson

After a long hiatus, I’ve realized that my mission to remove knitting and crochet books from my shelves has really stalled. Got to get back to it in a big way!

This book is a perfect one to start my book removal quest. It’s a nice book for someone looking for classic knits. The Green Mountain Spinnery has a wonderful back story that is worth a read.

Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book was published in 2003 by The Countryman Press in Woodstock Vermont.

Before I begin, I’ll start out by saying that I’m moving this book off my shelves. It’s a nicely done book, but not really relevant to my knitting these days.


Back Cover – Green Mountain Spinnery Yarn


The Green Mountain Spinnery History

Where it all began. A 3-page section on the company’s history is a good way to start.


Guernsey-style pullovers and Fair Isle cardigan

I liked the still life photos. They keep the mainly classic designs from becoming dated.


Instruction example

The instruction pages had a clear layout. There were shaded designer notes, size, materials and experience level. The instructions below were clear and included a schematic drawing with measurements.


Pattern Charts

Good charts and a side-bar of 4 color ways make this project approachable and easy to follow. One might have to enlarge the chart to make it more readable.


Easy Raglan pullovers

I love these top-down pullovers. The pattern comes in child’s and adult’s sizing – a real plus! I might copy this pattern before I move this book to a better home.


His and Hers Aran Pullovers

Love these classics that are sized from chest size 37″ to 54″. A great range!


Classic Accessories

The last project is a group of accessories.


Chart of Patterns

This was something I don’t think I’ve seen in a book of patterns. It’s a very helpful chart outlining everything you need to know before starting a pattern including skill level, gauge, needle size, finished measurements and yarn needed. Great!


Favorite References

Another excellent feature was a page giving some great classic books that definitely should be in a well-rounded knitter’s library.


Green Mountain Spinnery Yarns

The 3-page section on yarns would best be described as “a word from our sponsor”. It is after all a book produced and edited by a company who sells. It’s also great for helping a knitter substitute other yarns.




Style Your Own Kids’ Knits


Style Your Own Kids’ Knits by Kate Buller

OK – I admit that I’ve fallen off the face of the blog world. I have lots of excuses not the least of which is that I took the photos in Florida and then couldn’t find the book when I got home – sigh! Anyway, I’m back and ready to move some of my books off the shelves.


Style Your Own Kids’ Knits – Back Cover

This book was first published in 2002 in England. It has 8 different kids/baby sizes from 3-6 months to 9-10 years old for a variety of classic unisex styles. It’s meant to allow for  a mix and match aspect that gives the reader an opportunity to experiment and be creative.

Is the book for me? I’m not sure. I’m not usually this indecisive I do like the idea of the styles and variations. Let me think and I’ll let you know before I get to the end.


How to use this book

This is good. The mini-layout with call outs is very helpful. The next page in the spread shows how to incorporate style variations into the sweater or sweaters.


Needle Size Chart

My only negative comment on the chart is it seems like old UK & Canadian needles are long gone. Maybe I’m wrong. The book seems more designed for a newer knitter who only see needle sizes in Metric or US sizing.


Classic Garments


3-6 month patterns

This page shows the designs for 3-6 months and little schematics of what you  will be able to make in this section.


1-2 year patterns

The photos in the whole book are quite good. No surprise as Kate Buller is definitely at the helm of the design/photography of the book.


Body Chart for 2-3 years chapter

At first I wasn’t clear about how to use these body charts, but in re-reading the how-to section I got the idea. All the little boxes are places to insert various charts shown in the Creative Library.


Charts from Creative Library


Mastering Techniques

Usually I’m not a fan of photos showing techniques, but these are close up and rather good.


Stitch Library





I’ve come to the end and I’m giving this one a Thumbs Up! There are many good things about the book and for the moment, I’m keeping it. My thought is once I’ve gotten through all that I own, I’ll go back and make a second pass. This may take the rest of my life!



Knitting Pretty


Knitting Pretty by Kris Percival

Another little book today. Even though it’s little, it has taken me awhile to get this into my blog. Knitting Pretty by Kris Percival (published in 2002 by Chronicle Books) is an easy to read and easy to use book. I have some negative comments, but generally it’s a nicely done  120 page volume.

Thumbs up or down: I liked the top down sweater at the end of the blog post, but most of the patterns are too simple for me. I’m going to pass on this book and keep my shelf space for more important books.


Knitting Pretty – Back Cover

There is the usual “Getting Started” and “How to Knit” chapters


Knitting – American Style

The American Style “How to Knit” page shown in the book has very small illustrations ( all illustrations are similar and all too small). Could you really learn from these illustrations? The next page is the Continental Style with no illustrations – yikees! Plus I wonder if a beginner would get the difference between the two styles and why to choose one over the other.


Simple Garter Stitch Scarf

After all the “How-to” pages – through page 40, the first projects were simple and noted by a “1” in a circle. Clever graphics. The instructions tell you what you need to know and what page to refer to for a refresher on the technique – very clever. I like the step-by-step numbered instructions.


Warmest Mittens – level 4

I include this project only because I’ve been working on mittens this winter and looking at various patterns. There isn’t a section which shows how to cast on and join for double-pointed needles. Not the easiest for someone who is using the book as a novice although there are lots of places where one could go to find the technique on the internet.


Simple Squares

The swatches used to check gauges have other uses. This spread talks about ways to use squares, but the patterns are a bit vague.


Simple Sweater – Level 5

Knit in the round from the top down, this is a nice sweater. It’s made in a chunky yarn which would make it a faster-to-knit project. The lack of how to knit with circular needles makes it again a bit of a stretch for a novice.






The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Simple Knits


The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Simple Knits


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.


Julie Carles and Jordana Jacobs


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.


Decreasing how-to


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.


Variegated Yarns

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


Simple knit cardigan

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


Pattern layout


Schematic drawings

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


Hoodie Pullover

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


Hats from Simple Knits

A few accessories and home dec pieces end the book.

Well done Julie and Jordana!




Book of Wool – the finale!


The Knitter’s Book of Wool

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally done with Clara Parkes wonderful book. Before you even ask – it’s a keeper.

In this blog, I’m going to discuss Chapter 4 – blended fibers and Chapter 5 – patterns along with a bit about the end material.


Chapter 4 – Plays Well With Others

Mixing wool with fibers such as silk, mohair, alpaca, cashmere and angora bring the best of all worlds. Clara talks about blending wool for different effects. The results are wonderful for knitters.


Chapter 4 – blending with angora, alpaca, cashmere


Chapter 5 – Patterns

Now that we know so much about wool, having patterns to use the yarn is a “no brainer”.


Chapter 5 – socks

Wool is a natural for socks. It’s warm, it wicks and it lasts with wear.


Chapter 5 – Instructions

I’m always looking for clear instructions, charts and schematics. This book doesn’t disappoint.


Chapter 5 – Charts


Washing Wool

How do you wash wool? Hand washing is outlined step-by-step. Good advice. The next page covers keeping moths at bay. More good advice.


Resource List

The resources plus processors on the next spread are a great follow up to the book. The book ends with abbreviations, a glossary, recommended reading and info on the pattern designers. What a way to end the book!


Sweet Fern Mitts

My mitts are above. Notice that the one of the left is a disaster. The cables are wrong and I really wanted a few more rows between the cables (decided part way into the mitt. The right mitt is much better. I need to make another pair now that I’ve corrected my mistakes!