Knitting Lace

Knitting_laceLooking for a book with detailed instructions on how to design lace?

This book meticulously investigates the lace stitch patterns on 19th century knitted-lace sampler from the Brooklyn Museum. In the first half of the book the author, Susanna E. Lewis, painstakingly charted each of the 92 stitch patterns on the sampler and presents these charts with a photo and row by row instructions. The second half of the book is a workshop on the characteristics of knitted lace,  classifications of the sampler pattern, information on how to create lace patterns and several patterns for lace garments.

I would venture to say that it’s the best reference on lace knitting – at least for those of us who love getting into the technical details and dream of creating their own designs.

Nancy mentioned in the Estonian Lace class that Estonian lace knitters would learn new stitches by borrowing lace samplers from other knitters and returned the sampler with a new knit stitch added on the end. Although this sampler isn’t from Estonia, perhaps it was created through a similar tradition.

I checked the usual used book sources and was shocked at the prices listed. I suggest checking it out from a public library or a knitting guild.

North European knit it is dense thing

While getting my daily dose of knitting gossip on the Knitter’s Review forum this week, I happened to click on a post about a new knit along called Crossed In Translation. Apparently, a group of knitters have decided to knit one of the patterns out of New Style of Heirloom Knitting and help each other work through the Japanese instructions. While I’m not planning on joining the knit along, this site did prompt me to look further at this book and eventually lead me to another one by the same author called, European knit it is dense thing (loosely translated via Google) .  The previews on this page made me zip straight down to Kinokuniya in hopes of finding a copy. Lucky me, they had one left.

This book is a real gem if you like traditional gloves , mittens, hats and scarves. Although I don’t read Japanese, I can tell from the pictures that it’s a book about the author’s (Toshiyuki Shimada) pilgrimage to Northern European countries. Beside photos of his trip it also includes 13 patterns inspired by what he found. Pictures of the projects are some of the most vivid knitting eye candy that I’ve ever come across in the knitting book world. The items pop out and say, "come on, you know you want to knit me".

If you don’t have physical access to a Japanese book store and would like to find a copy here’s a link to it on Amazon’s Japanese web site. While the site is mostly in Japanese it is possible to translate it using Google’s language tool. Even if you don’t want to purchase the book, translating Japanese web pages can result in hilarious reading.

While I’m on the subject of knitting books in Japanese, here’s another outstanding book called, Knitting Patterns Book 250. It’s full of several types of knitting stitches and stitch combinations with an emphasis on lace and cables. While I already have several pattern books this one is an excellent addition to the collection. The complicated combinations take lace knitting one step beyond other pattern books without much duplication.

Portable knitting reference

TheknittershandbookI’ve been in a bit of a knitting slump this week and busy with other things so there’s been no progress on my current project other than a bit of spinning so that I can finish the sleeves. Tomorrow I should be able to find time to continue.

Since I don’t have anything to show I thought I’d mention a handy little book that I picked up a couple of months ago.

Like many knitters, I not only knit at home but also knit whenever I can find a spare moment, wherever I might be – particularly while traveling via car, plane or boat. One dilemma that I always face when preparing my knitting bag, is what reference book I should take. Most are not an option due to their bulky size, while others that are not so bulky don’t contain enough of the techniques that I tend to use.

When I first started flipping through this book, I didn’t expect much because I’m not a big fan of Knitter’s Magazine and haven’t purchased their magazine very often. While I always flip through each new issue, I’m usually disappointed with what they offer and tend to pass it up for Interweave Knits or Vogue Knitting. So with that being said, I was surprised to find that this book contains most of the information I would expect to need while knitting on the road. Now that I think about it, early issues of Knitter’s were filled with articles by Elizabeth Zimmerman, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, Nancy Bush, and Deborah Newton to name a few.  So, maybe it’s not so crazy to think that Knitter’s could come up with a good compact knitting reference.

So what do I like about it?

  • The publisher has given permission to the readers to photocopy instructions and graphics for personal use
  • Besides a table of contents, it also has an index
  • It not only covers the basics but also mentions some, not so basic techniques, such as tubular bind-off and cast-on, long-tail cast-on, purl, invisible cast-on, crochet for finishing, grafting in several stitch patterns, lifted increases, short-rows for shoulders and the list goes on
  • The spiral binding, durable cover and portable dimensions (8″ X 6.5)

So what would I change?

It would have been helpful if it had some yardage charts for basic sweaters, socks, hats & mittens. Also, the sweater sizing chart could have included sweater sizing for not only bust/chest, but also body length and hips.  I’d also change the cover graphic.

I’m thrilled that the publisher has give permission to copy from the book because I plan to copy selected pages when I work on a project and add them to the  small binder that I carry in my knitting bag. That way I’ll have less to haul around.

Hard to believe but …

Pok_2Last night  I went to The Weaving Works for their first  drop-in spinning session and arrived before the door was open.  Instead of waiting in the car,  I decided to walk over to  Half Price Books  to kill time.

I go over there every once and a while to check out the knitting section but haven’t found anything of interest until last night.  This time I found a copy of The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt for $14.98! The back cover has a water stain but the front cover and pages are fine.

Progressive Knitting

Progressive_knittingI first saw a copy of this book while taking a class about spinning for socks with Judith McKenzie McCuin a couple of months ago. She mentioned that it is the best resource for information about fit for any knitted garment.

Well, a couple of weeks ago when I was considering making a pair of socks from one of Nancy Bush’s books and  lamented how her socks only come in one size. While most of Bush’s socks fit my foot, I usually make the leg portion an inch shorter so I won’t have any problems getting them to stay up.

This dilemma got me thinking more about creating better fitting socks so, after noticing this book as a reference in one of my knitting books, I dug up a copy.

Let me tell you, this 1940’s book is well worth the $7 I paid for it. It has formulas for any knitted garment and gives examples in several gauges. It’s inspired me to attempt a pair of knee length stockings in the near future or at least to go ahead and modify the Bush pattern to get a better fit.


Recent Observation

Yesterday afternoon I was checking out Classic Elite Yarns website and found this  Wide Rib Cardigan . Looks familiar doesn’t it. Here’s Debbie Bliss’ Lara.


crossing_cables_2Last weekend I made a trip to Weaving Works to pick up a new smaller sized cable needle (the red thing in the picture) and came across Cable Needle Freedom by Carole Wulster. It promises to teach knitters how to knit without a cable needle. I was intrigued and on a whim purchased it along with the cable needle.

This 44-page book describes how to read cable charts; work cables without a cable needle through three exercises; and includes three patterns. The highlighted technique, working cables without a cable needle, is so simple that it is described and illustrated in only 4 pages of the book. Essentially, it shows how to stratigically drop the first half of the cable stitches and pick them up after they have been crossed with the other half of the cable stitches.

While this booklet is cheaper then a class, I’m not quite convinced that I should have spent $15.00 on it. The techinque was easy to do with worsted weight yarn but wasn’t so easy when I tried it on the sport weight blend that I’m using for the Crossing Cables socks. Once the tiny dark stitches were dropped off the needle, it was difficult to find them again. Needless to say, I didn’t dare try this while knitting on the bus.

Although I won’t be throwing out  my cable needles, I’ve got to admit this techique might come in handy in a pinch.  Since the book starts from square one, it might be more useful for beginning knitters and others that are intimidated by cables. I applaud the author on emphisizing the usefulness of reading stitches. That’s what I do with all my knitting, including the Cable Crossing socks. When I’m working a long stretch of patterned stitches after having worked one repeat of the pattern, I rarely look at the chart. By reading the previous stitches, I can usually figure out what comes next with out looking at the chart.

Knitting on the Edge

knitting_on_the_edge For a few weeks now, I’ve been patiently waiting for Knitting on the Edge to show up at a local yarn shop or bookstore so I could flip through it to see if it’s a keeper.  Last week my patient wore out and I ended up ordering a copy, sight unseen.

Well, I’m happy to report that I haven’t been disappointed. It’s full of beautiful and clear pictures of hundreds of stitch patterns designed for the edges of knitted projects. While I recognize many of the stitches from other stitch pattern books, Nicky Epstein puts them together in a myriad of combinations that spur my imagination. The book also includes seven patterns that hint at how the edges can be used, one of which is pictured on the cover of the book. Hopefully the written instructions will prove to be as accurate as the pictures are beautiful.