Sunday, January 15, 2012

Good Books

It’s now really winter here. We finally have a good blanket of snow on the ground and the temperatures are in the teens (Fahrenheit). Light snow continues to fall.

This is a great time of year for delving into my fiber books. And I’ve re-discovered a couple of really really good ones.

I started reading the book by Jane Patrick, The Weaver’s Idea Book (2010, Interweave Press). I mentioned getting this book last September. I’m a novice weaver with an Ashford Knitter’s Loom  (rigid heddle). The title of this book is spot on! My head is spinning (pun intended) with all kinds of ideas to try on my little loom. The book got me to rummage through my yarn stash and re-examine knitting yarns with weaving in mind. I gathered up some linen yarns, some cotton yarns, and some bamboo yarns. Ideas ideas ideas….

I want to mention a couple of especially good knitting books too. In the past couple weeks, I’ve knitted 3 pairs of fingerless mitts as a commission for a friend of mine. All three pairs were knitted out of the same yarn that had been in my stash for many a year: Annabel Fox “DK Donegal” (100% wool, 50g, 130m, color “pebble” lot 001). I used Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (2002, Interweave Press) to develop a mitt skeleton to which I added cable patterns for the back of the hand. I used a different cable pattern for each pair of mitts (and I reversed the directions of the cables for left and right hands to make them symmetrical). An excellent opportunity to peruse my stitch pattern books.

For the first pair of mitts I used a cable pattern from The New Knitting Stitch Library by Lesley Stanfield (1992, Quarto Publishing).

I especially like this book because it has tiny snapshots of all the stitch patterns at the beginning of the book. So, you can do a quick look-see before examining the stitches page by page. Here’s a prototype of the first pair of mitts using stitch pattern # 85 (with the cable not quite centered on the hand):

By the way, I scanned that mitt on my flat bed scanner; it’s not a photograph.

For the second pair of mitts I used cable pattern # 18.2 from The Harmony Guide to Aran and Fair Isle Knitting (1995, Lyric Books). This really is a great book. I love the way the cable patterns are organized by the number of row repeats. So, first there are 2-row repeats, then 4-, then 6- and so on. This is an especially good organization for designers. And it teaches you something about cables. If you run across a used copy of this book, get it!

For the third pair of mitts I modified a cable pattern (“Enclosed Cables”) from The Harmony Guides 440 More Knitting Stitches Volume 3 (1998, Collins & Brown Limited). I’ve used this book in the past mostly for its wonderful collection of slip-stitch patterns, but it does have some very nice cables too.

The last book I want to mention is one that I bought just a couple years ago but let languish in my library unread: Heirloom Knitting by Sharon Miller (2002, The Shetland Times Ltd.). It’s a substantial book about Shetland Lace. I grabbed it from my shelf the other day because I’m preparing to design a square shawl and I wanted to investigate the structure and lace patterns used in Shetland lace shawls.

What a treasure! As I often do, I first flipped through the book. Excellent diagrams and pictures; they made me want to read every word. So, I turned to the very beginning of the book and I was hooked. I’m even reading the history bits. I am quite confident that I will find the inspiration in this book that I was looking for. If you like lace knitting (and knitted lace), you must get this book. Worth Every Penny.

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