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.

Kate Buller’s Books

The Ultimate Knitter’s Guide by Kate Buller is actually a decent sweater (flat knitting) reference book once you get past the patterns and the split page design. Split page design? Yes, I’ve never seen a book like this. The bottom 1/4 of all the pages make up the reference section while the top 3/4 are patterns. The book lies flat so you can open it to the appropriate reference section while working on one of the patterns in the book. It’s a great concept except I only like a few of the patterns.

I wish the reference section were a small independent book because it is the best and most useful part of the book. It shows very clear step by step photographs of all the basic knitting techniques which is exactly what a book taught knitter needs. The descriptions accompanying the photos are quite detailed. For example, she accurately describes the best way to do short rows including how to pick up the wrap on the purl side. Many reference books don’t bother with such detail. I thrive on details.

  I also like the format of Buller’s other book Style Your Own Kids’ Knits. She lays out basic designs in various sizes and styles, and lets the reader mix and match the details. A stitch library is included at the back of the book which shows various intarsia motifs, edgings and lace patterns.

New Book

I didn’t get much time to knit during the Thanksgiving holiday but did manage a trip to The Weaving Works to pick up the winter issue of Spin-Off magazine. While there, I was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of the new edition of Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson. I wasn’t expecting to see a copy of this book for a couple of months. Amazon shows a February 2004 release date.

This afternoon I flipped through the book and briefly skimmed through each section. On first glance, it looks like a good reference for knitting a variety of traditional sweaters. The first half is filled with the obligatory chapters on yarn, equipment, methods and techniques and then launches into a discussion of various sweater shapes based on the percentage system. The last half of the book classifies traditional sweaters by technique; color stranding, intarsia, texture geometric patterning and crochet-enhanced knits, with each technique demonstrated via traditional sweaters from several countries.

I have one initial criticism about this book. Where are the photographs? All the sweaters and techniques are illustrated with line drawings by the author. While line drawings are fine for showing techniques, the sweaters would be more inspiring if shown on models in photographs.

Reference Books

I frequently “try out” books from an excellent regional library before I decide to buy. You name the knitting book, and nine times out of ten, they have a copy of it.

Deb Menz: Color in Spinning
I recently checked out Color In Spinning by Deb Menz. I can’t believe this book is out of print. Amazon has a waiting list of twelve people. I haven’t checked e-bay but I’m sure it probably fetches high bids. It is a great resource on color theory for yarn and includes extensive information about dyeing, carding and combing.

Katharina Buss: Big Book of Knitting

The Big Book of Knitting was the first knitting reference book that I purchased after I decided to take up knitting again. I was originally attracted to this book when I was learning how to make socks. It has some of the best photo instructions (on socks and other techniques) that I have found. Most of the written instructions are ok, but sometimes I find that the translation from German isn’t always clear. It seems to be one of the few books that shows a lot of advanced techniques, which I believe, are quite common in Europe.

Nancie M. Wiseman: The Knitters Book of Finishing Techniques

I recently picked up The Knitters book of Finishing Techniques. While it mostly shows just the standard lists of techniques, it does have excellent photos and descriptions. As I’ve mentioned before, I like how it describes the three-needle bind off with short rows. I also refer to it when doing a K1P2 grafted bind off.

I wonder if a new version of “The Principles of Knitting” will come out anytime soon.  This is another book that shouldn’t be out of print. I checked out a copy from the library and was amazed. An updated version of this book would definitely beat all the rest. Amazon has plenty of copies for sell with the lowest price being around $200. I might pay that for a newly revised edition, but for now I’ll just continue checking it out of the library.

I have some mixed feelings about Latvian Dreams by Joyce Williams. The list of techniques is excellent but the tiny digital photos are awful. It’s obvious that they put all their effort into the charts, patterns and photos of the sweaters. The back of the book has slew of charted latvian designs that would inspire anyone.