books · crafts · knitting · yarn

Swatch day and library day

Thank you for all the nice comments on my tuxedo top – I wore it out last night, and I am happy to report that it experienced no stretching or wrinkling (I was worried about both.) Now that the tuxedo top is finished I’ve been swatching, trying to figure out what my next sweater will be.

Yarn: Ella Rae Bamboo silk in grass green

Gauge: 5.25 st/in on US 5s

Notes: I love this yarn, and wish I’d bought more while it was on sale. It’s a very smooth soft yarn with a nice drape. I’m planning on using it for the Wallis cardigan from the new IK. It has a listed gauge of 20 st/4 in, but I think it knits up nicer a little tighter than that. I also swatched at 5.5 st/in and it was nice. Curiously, it has the same stats (yardage and fiber content) as Vickie Howell Love, but it is much cheaper. I haven’t used Love because it’s so expensive, so I can’t say if it’s really a copy, but I would consider this yarn first because of the nicer price point.

Yarn: Rowan Denim in Memphis

Gauge: 5 st and 7 rows/in on US 4 needles, prewashing

Notes: Denim is a surprisingly nice knitting experience. Of course, with a name like denim I expected it to feel like knitting with a pair of jeans, and it doesn’t exactly. It’s not soft, but it’s not unpleasant to knit either. And I just love this color to death – it’s so vibrant, and the way it’s faded in parts gives the swatch a more interesting look than a plain blue. This swatch has been shrunk, resulting in the promised row shrinkage and an ever so slight width shrinkage (the label says it doesn’t do this, but my swatch did.) I may use size 5s for the actual sweater, I will have to make another swatch! This is for Joy from Nectar.

Yarn: Rowan 4 ply cotton in Aubergine

Gauge: 7 st/in on US 1 (2.25 mm) needles

Notes: Curiously, this time last year I tried to make a 4-ply cotton sweater and utterly failed to get gauge on even the tiniest of needles. Since then I had given up on the idea, but I really want to make Jasmine! It would seem that in the past year I have learned to control the looseness of my purl rows, and now I can achieve gauge only going down 1 needle size (or is it 2? I’m not sure if this is the smaller of the US 1 needles.) At any rate, not bat at all. This yarn feels distinctly different in this dark color than the light green I used before – maybe the darker dye makes the yarn feel smoother?

Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton fine in Rue

Gauge: 6.5 st/inch in stockinette on US 2 (2.75 mm) needles

Notes: I’m swatching for the Apres surf hoodie here, but I’m not sure that I like this yarn for that purpose. It works ok, and the gauge is fine, but it feels rather thin and doesn’t have the softness the cashcotton would have. I also think the definition in the lace could be nicer. I’m just worried that the cashcotton might set off my allergies. I could make it in a wool silk blend though, making it a little more of a winter hoodie. I’m not sure, and at any rate I won’t get to this design for awhile, so I can mull over my choices. I think the Cotton fine would make an excellent summer scarf or stole…

I was hoping to start the Printed Silk cardigan now, but my yarn is not here. I’m a bit annoyed with the store I ordered it from… they have had my order for almost a week with no word, and they have yet to respond to my email inquiry either. If it’s backordered I would like to know so that I can order it somewhere else. Ugh… so annoying! In the meantime I can always start another short sleeved project to tide me over… I prefer to knit all my short sleeved sweaters early so that I can wear them all summer. Come autumn I get cold in a hurry, so they have a limited wearing season.

Today is Thursday, which also means the day that I go to the library! Since I was sick all week I read an embarrassing amount, some of it really bad, but I do have 2 books to recommend.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, is a sort of humorous travelogue, written as the author travels around visiting artifacts of presidential assassinations. Sounds grim I know, but I really loved this book! The author is a commentator on This American Life, and Marc and I are big NPR junkies (oh yeah, we’re cool!) and that’s why I initially picked this one out. It’s a strange book, and a little hard to explain, but if you like humor or travelogues or both I suggest picking it up!

Girl in a Box by Sujata Massey is one of a series of mysteries starring a half Japanese detective named Rei.  This is the first in the series I have read, but I’m planning on picking up another at the library this afternoon.  Rei goes undercover at a Japanese department store in this one.  There is a mystery, involving laundered money and gangsters, but what kept me interested was the detail about Japanese life, particularly the workings of the department store in question.  I have to admit I have a weakness for mysteries, but there are so many poorly written ones that finding anything decent can be a real trial.  This book was well written, and I really cared about what happened to the main character.

books · crafts · knitting · patterns

Frogging is such sweet sorrow

Thank you for the sympathy on my gauge tragedy. I’m in the process of frogging Manon, and it isn’t easy to frog a Norah Gaughan design, let me tell you. I want the yarn for (possibly) Honey from the new Kim Hargreaves book, so it needs to get a nice bath. Last night I sat with Marc and watched a few episodes of “How I met your mother” while I worked on Tuscany. Tuscany is a little frustrating because you are increasing every row, resulting in a scarf with very long rows quickly, but not much length to the shawl. I’m still committed to finishing though – my shawl love shows no signs of diminishing anytime soon! Besides, I think it will be nice to have a shawl that’s long enough to tie easily.

All of the Knitting Daily galleries for summer are up, resulting in me deciding to make the hoodie after all – I can’t help it, it looks cute on every single person in the gallery! I think I will use Cashcotton, as really it isn’t too expensive for my size. I have a complicated relationship with fine gauge knits. One one hand, my fine gauge knits are some of my favorites, because they are so light and easy to wear, and I think they look more polished than chunkier things. One the other hand, I will not be winning any awards for patience any time soon, so it’s hard for me to contemplate anything knit in 4-ply yarn. I have 4 or 5 knits like that in my queue already, so I decided to get started with one.

This is the tuxedo tank from IK Summer 07. Yarn is Berroco Naturlin in Cinnamon. You may recall that I tried to start this one before but had gauge woes. This time my gauge is fine, mostly because I scrapped the crochet cast on. I don’t think it will roll that much, being mostly linen, and if it does I’ll just crochet around the bottom. I hate doing crochet to start anything because it seems to take forever, so I avoid it whenever possible, and in this case it was making the bottom flare a lot more than I wanted.

After adding the Apres Surf hoodie to the queue I realized I now have 3 of Connie’s designs in my list. I have yarn for the diamond lace tank from the spring IK, and it will come up soon in my queue – I’m just waiting for the weather to be a little warmer. I have been on a mission to find yarn for the printed silk cardigan, but so far I have been thwarted. Last night I swatched three different yarns, hoping that one would work. I have a photo, but it’s just sad… none of them were right. I’m about to break down and buy the Pima Silk that a few people on Ravelry used, as all my subs seem to not be working, and I really want to knit this sweater! I have this weird thing where I don’t like to use the same sub as someone else because I don’t want it to seem like I’m copying their sweater, but never mind that now – I give up! I have swatched that diamond pattern at least 10 times, and I can admit defeat. Nothing in my stash will work, I will have to actually buy yarn (oh what tragedy, right?)

Marc has had a cold all week, and I seem to have caught it from him (it was inevitable.) I’m sitting here obsessively eating zinc lozenges (I don’t know if they shorten a cold, but they do seem to keep it out of my throat, which is usually my goal.) Thursday is one of my days off, and usually we eat dinner out somewhere (to avoid the weekend crowds) and go to the library afterwards.

I think this will be the week I try to learn to read and knit at the same time – the tuxedo tank will be adorable I think, but man that’s a lot of small gauge stockinette! I finished two books this week, which is a little under my average – I can usually do three, but I had a hard time with one of them. First I read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, which I really enjoyed. I love books which are set in an alternate version of our own world – it’s fun to pick out the differences. I also love anything involving time travel, so this was a great book for me! I highly recommend it for classic literature buffs, as it takes place in a world where the complete works of Shakespeare are required in every motel nightstand along with the Gideon bible, and the characters attend a performance of Richard III that brings to mind the Rocky Horror Picture Show . I’m looking forward to reading more of the series.

I also read I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson. I’ve read several of his travel books and really enjoyed them, but I found this book, a collection of essays written for a British audience about returning to America after 20 years abroad, to be a bit of a slog. It takes me forever to read books without an overall plot because I have no motivation to move to the next chapter.  He also came across as a bit more curmudgeonly than in his other books (he is cranky in his other books, but hilariously so) Not recommended, but I would highly recommend A Walk in the Woods by the same author.  It’s the story of his walk on the Appalachian trail, and it’s much better than that description makes it sound.

books · knitting · Life

Reading and knitting, and 7 more things about me!

I was always shy. When I was growing up I would go to great lengths to avoid having to meet new people, and sometimes even to avoid talking to people I already knew. I’m still an introvert, although I doubt that it’s very obvious to people I meet anymore, and certainly no one I know well believes it. I find social situations exhausting, and I require a fair amount of time to myself to recharge. Knitting fills that time now, but it used to be reading. I was a voracious reader as a kid – the kind who could check 10 books out every week and read them all. Grown up life and other hobbies have cut way down on my amount of reading time, but lately I’ve been trying very hard to get back into things. I’ve probably read more books in the last month than in the whole previous year.

Are you all on Goodreads? Wouldn’t you like to be my friend (I’m Stitchywitch there too.) I really like having a place where I can notate everything new that I read, it appeals to the crazy listmaking part of my brain (seriously, nothing makes me happier than crossing something off a list.)

Since I’m still sick and looking like a chipmunk (although I am feeling a little better, I finally got to sleep at 4 last night) Marc was sweet enough to go to the downtown branch of the library and check these books out for me!  I just love the “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series, I’m sure that reading them will help me to feel better!  Now I just have to master the art of reading and knitting at the same time (those of you who do this, how does it work?  How do you keep your pages open?)

Finally, I was tagged again for the 7 Things meme, and I figure there are always plenty of random things about me, so I’ll make another list (mmm…. lists.)

1.  I was so happy last summer when I finally got to own my dream car… a Volvo.  Yes, you heard that, I always wanted a big boxy Volvo.  Marc already owned one when we met, and when the time came to get a car for me I knew what I wanted – we bought a used S60 and I love that car to death!

2.  My eyesight is really bad, and what makes it especially bad is that my left eye is 2 points worse than my right, making seeing out of a pair of glasses nearly impossible due to distortion (I do see fine with contacts though.)  I envy all the cute eyeglass styles I see now and actually own a pair that are not prescription so that I can fit in… but I feel like a fraud when I wear them!

3. My all time favorite TV sitcom is “The Bob Newhart show.” Not the 80s one, the one from the 70s set in Chicago.  I love their fabulous 70s decor, and I think Bob and his wife act just like Marc and I.  I was so sad when Suzanne Pleshette died recently.

4. Although I really dislike most contemporary christian music (I think it’s usually pretty bad musically) I have a secret love of gospel choirs.  I listen to them all the time in the car!

5. My hair is naturally blonde, although I have been dying it red for most of the past 8 years.  I did have a very brief experience with black hair, after an encounter with a box of black cherry (read: purple) dye.  I tried keeping it natural after that for awhile, but I just felt washed out.  I love being a redhead!

6.  I am not a vegetarian, but I prefer vegetables and will usually choose the vegetarian option.

7.  I cry more easily than anyone I know – I cry when I’m sad and when I’m happy, at books and movies, and when I even hear about someone else being sad.

Wow, that’s still a fun meme.  If you want to do it, consider yourself tagged!

books · cats · crafts · Crochet · knitting · patterns

Everyday Crochet: Book Review

I’ve had several kind people email me to ask me about how Leon is doing, so I thought I would give an update.

He turns out to have crystals in his urine (poor kitty!)  We’ve had to switch him to special food, and he promptly went on a hunger strike for 3 days.  I can’t say I blame him… the name “urinary so” does not exactly seem appetizing.  In fact, the only way he was willing to eat for awhile was if I actually fed him the new food.  But he’s better now, if not exactly happy, and we’ve bought him one of those kitty water fountains to encourage him to drink lots of water.   I’m just glad we got him to the vet before the condition got really serious.  If you have a cat (especially a male) be aware of this condition – I wasn’t, because I’ve always had female cats before.

Thank you to everyone who asked after him – I’m sure he appreciates it when I tell him people are worried!

I was really happy to get my copy of the new IK yesterday afternoon.  I’ve already posted my thoughts on most of the designs, but I do have a few surprising dislikes and likes.  I don’t really care for the cover sweater – I think it’s all that reverse stockinette, plus it is similar to several other sweaters in the issue I like better.  I surprisingly like the Aleita shell, and I’m trying to think up a good yarn substitute.  The hexacomb cardigan is even prettier larger, as is the printed silk cardigan – I must find a sub yarn for that one, I simply love it!  I love the flutter sleeved cardigan as well, although I do have a dilemma… do I go with the smallest size (36) or try to make a smaller one?  I think I will wait to see it modeled in the Knitting Daily galleries (don’t you love those?) so I can see if it will fit me.  It is a pretty forgiving style.

I liked the camisole enough to assign it yarn.  I know the lace panel is impractical, but I love the style, and I won’t wear it without a tank underneath anyway.  All in all it may be one of my favorite Interweave issues ever!

I’m still knitting on my sweaters, and getting nervous about running out of yarn for the lush cardigan – but that’s ok if I do, I can always find something to order from WEBs, right?  For instance, I’ve been amassing  Mission Falls wool for an afghan for awhile.  Here’s what I have so far:

I’m still not sure if I want to do the block a month CAL yet or not… I like the idea, but will I like the finished product?

Today I am wearing my “Not so shrunken” cardigan made of Silky Wool.  Everytime I wear it I get to wondering why I don’t use this yarn more, since I think it’s so lovely to wear.  I now have 3 sweaters worth of the stuff, but I do have plans!  Tangled yoke cardigan, the feather and fan sweater from the new Classic Elite “Make it modern” book, and… something.  Maybe a shawl.

Ok, enough of the pretty, and onto my book review!

Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan

I didn’t really get Doris Chan’s last book, Amazing Crochet Lace, so I approached this one with some trepidation, fearing more giant doilies (I like doilies, but I like them in their proper size.)  This book was a real surprise to me – it’s full of lovely wearable designs, without an exploded doily in sight!  In the forward to the book, Doris Chan explains how the garments are constructed – top down – and talks a bit about how to tailor them to your body type.   She also explains why all the designs in the book use some variation of the shell stitch, something which in my opinion is the limitation of the book.  She comes across as very enthusiastic and encouraging in the introduction, and I was anxious to get along to the designs.

There are (IMO) very few missteps in the book.  Nearly all the designs are tastefully done, made of smooth yarn (not a fun fur in sight!) and are well fitted to the models.  Many of the designs share the same beginning steps, and she then explains how to vary the designs to get different sweaters.  It’s very approachable for the crocheter looking to branch out into wearables for the first time.

The yarns used vary from expensive (Tahki  new tweed) to cheap (Simply soft shadows) but in general probably fall more on the pricey end.  This, for me, is really nice, because it breaks the stereotype that crochet must be made of acrylic yarns.  She even talks about the properties of different types of yarns, and I am intrigued (for instance) by the thought of using a bamboo yarn to crochet – think of the nice drape!

The book is divided into several sections – pullovers, cardigans, vests, jackets, and belts.  All except the last section are excellent.  The pullover section contains 2 nice tanks, variations of one another, and a few pullover sweaters, including one (Jewel) which I have seen a really pretty version of on ravelry.

The cardigans are my favorites, which is unfortunate because it is here that the sizing breaks down.  Most items in the book have a finished small size of around 33″, which is fine, but the cardigans are several inches larger.  I can probably get around this by using a thinner yarn, but it is disappointing.  Fortunately, the ones I like are somewhat versatile in fit.  They all employ either ties or a type of button hook that the book shows you how to make.  I love Mei Mei (the cover sweater above) as well as the two cardigans below.

These sweaters are from the vest section, and are (imo) just lovely, especially the one with the cowl neck (this is the simply soft shadows sweater… how lovely, I would totally wear that!)  I actually have 2 balls of that yarn, in that exact color, although I don’t know that I really want a simply soft tunic.

Was anyone else as big a fan of the Mary Tyler Moore show as I was?  I still love watching it, and I always wished I was a Rhoda, although truthfully I’m probably a Mary.  This may explain why I am so attracted to the vests below:

I don’t say that in a derogatory way… Rhoda would have totally rocked that vest to the right, and she would have been fierce, yes?  I, however, as a Mary… not so much.  I could probably handle the scaled down version to the left.

I’m giving this book a firm recommendation.  The sizing isn’t the greatest at the smaller end, but it isn’t terrible.  Most of the garments are pretty and wearable.  There are a lot of shells, but she varies the treatment enough that it doesn’t get repetitive.  If you’re a crocheter looking for pretty, wearable sweaters, this is worth a purchase.

I’m planning several sweaters, starting with the first cardigan I showed (the one with the ties) out of Valley Yarns Southwick (I really want to try crochet with bamboo!)

books · crafts · Crochet · knitting · patterns

Book Review: Rowan 43

Thursday and Friday are my days off, and while usually I am anything but an early riser, I found myself awake at eight this morning, happy to sit around with my coffee and knit.  This Friday is for swatching – I am trying out several new yarns for Spring, and I will post about those once the swatches are blocked.  Later on I’m going to walk up to the coffee shop (Marc has the car today) and then walk over to a house we might go to see, in order to decide whether it’s worthwhile (exciting news for yesterday: we are finally dealing with a realtor, and I am so relieved to not be in charge of everything.)  I’ll go to the grocery and buy ingredients to make this chili for dinner – after all, it is snowing a little today (well… in a vague sort of way, it won’t be staying) so we need some good warm food for dinner, and it will taste even better if I have to walk in the cold to get it!   In short… it is an excellent way to spend a day off.

I have worked on some projects…


To the left are the gloves I posted in my last entry – they are from Louisa Harding’s Knitting Little Luxuries for all the people who asked!  They are knit flat, but could easily be adapted to be knit in the round.  I did not do the picot cast on, because I really did not like how it was coming out, so I will add on the picot edge at the end, or maybe just do the picot bind off (which is easier) and leave this end plain.  The yarn is Grace, a wool/silk blend that is simply wonderful to work with, although I think these will pill in about 10 second flat.

Wednesday, to my surprise, Rowan Magazine 43 came in the mail.

My overall impression is just… blah.  It’s not a negative review because most of the designs just don’t register that strongly with me.  Bland colors, bland styling, bland designs.  There isn’t much that’s awful (except for the 2 granny square tops… seriously Rowan?  If it’s going to say “Knitting and Crochet” on the top we deserve better.  There is a dress, but I don’t think it looks very well fitted either.)  Most of the designs are just kind of boring to me.  Sizing in general seems a bit larger, with plenty of designs (such as the cover) which are oversized in ways which would not be at all flattering to me.  Not hugely oversized, just… not fitted, in a way that reminds me of the way I dressed through most of the 90s.

I do like the bamboo soft sweater below (1st sweater) but I shudder at the thought of all that stockinette.  I also like the striped sweater, but it’s a bit too expensive for me… it is nice though.

Of course, YMMV, as always with these reviews, but I would take a look at this one in person before I bought it.  As for me, my queue is long enough as it is, so I’m not too sad that I won’t be making anything from this yet!

My next post will include swatches!

books · crafts · knitting · patterns

Book Review: Knitting Little Luxuries

Knitting Little Luxuries: beautiful accessories to knit by Louisa Harding

I have always loved Louisa Hardings’ designs.  She has a feminine, romantic aesthetic that really appeals to my own personal sense of style.  She also appears to love capelets and little shoulder wraps as much as I do, however impractical they may be.   However, I have never bought one of her books.   Her sizing tends to run very large, resulting in several books in which I would have had to adjust all of the patterns smaller if I wanted to make them.  Since this book is mostly accessories, I knew this would not be a problem, so I asked for this book as a Christmas present.

Knitting Little Luxuries contains roughly 21 patterns, mostly accessories (scarves, hats, mittens, wraps and bags) with two simple little sweaters, once of which is excerpted in this Winter’s Interweave Knits.  Many of the projects are presented in more than one yarn or color combination.   There is a focus on embellishing your knits using embroidery, buttons, and beads.

The photography in the book is lovely, showing many of the designs in a chilly looking beach setting.  Each item has more than one photograph, and you do get a clear idea of what they look like from many angles.  The instructions seem clear, and charts and schematics are included where necessary.  Since this is an accessory book sizing is not so much an issue, but I will note that the two sweaters range from 33″ to 45″.

The book is divided into four sections; eclectic and quirky, textured and modern, pretty and feminine, and traditional and folk.  The last section includes a fair amount of color work, while most of the others use single colors or stripes.  All yarns used are Louisa Hardings’ own line, but each design includes a substitution guide, always a nice touch I think.

I liked several of the patterns enough to purchase the recommended yarns, which I can’t necessarily say about all the books I got for Christmas.  Since the projects are small, this isn’t a large investment, and I am interested in trying out her yarns.  Some of her yarns are more unusual, and since they are often combined it would be a little more difficult to substitute, even with the guide.   I’m planning to make the fingerless gloves below, the angora scarf (a 1 skein project,) and the cardigan sweater.  My only real dislike in the book is the hats – many of them are the sort that have tassels hanging off the top, and I really don’t care for those.

Whether you will like this book or not probably depends on whether you like this sort of feminine aesthetic.   It really appeals to me personally,  and I can see that I will make many of the projects  in the book.  Many of the patterns are fairly basic, but I think most of them are unusual enough to justify a purchase.


books · crafts · Crochet · knitting

I love books!

My Japanese knitting books came in today (wow, such fast shipping!) and I am very happy with them. I’ll post pictures of the insides of each, along with the ISBN, should anyone be looking on Amazon Japan or some such site for them.

Ondori book, part of the I love Knit series (or so it appears… I do not read Japanese.)

ISBN: 9784277172226

Notes: Contains around 21 patterns. They are pretty easily split between knit and crochet, with some patterns containing elements of both. This is something I noticed about all the books – there doesn’t appear to be such a great divide between the crafts. All the projects in this book are accessories, and I must say that this is my favorite book of the group. The patterns aren’t the most complex in the world, but they are all stylish, and they aren’t easy knits in bulky yarn either. I also think the photography is quite nice. Here are photos of my favorites:

Let’s Knit Series, Spring & Summer 2006

ISBN: 9784529042123

Notes: This book contains 42 designs. Once again, both knitting and crochet are represented, with perhaps a few more knit. Almost all the designs are sweaters. As with all Japanese books, they only contain charts for one size – usually a 34-36 – and you have to make changes for your own size. This book contains some really nice lacy sweaters (including several I forgot to photograph.) The diagrams seem clear to me, although I suppose we will see about that! I’m glad to see some nice summer sweaters, as I have trouble finding short sleeve designs that I care to knit.

Keito Dama, Winter 2007

ISBN: 9784529044974

Notes: Wow, there are some lovely sweaters in here! I apologize for the subpar photos, but as I have said, light is in short supply here lately! I count at least 57 patterns in this book, and most are knit, although there is quite a bit of crochet. There are patterns for clothes, accessories, and a few toys. The sweaters are very detailed and beautiful. My favorite is still the green sweater I posted earlier – I couldn’t get another decent photo of it, as the light ran away!

books · crafts · knitting · patterns

Book Review: Heartfelt: The Dark House Collection

Today I have a little review of Kim Hargreaves’ long awaited new pattern collection.  But first, a quick progress report!  I’ve been knitting pretty exclusively on Thermal, with the result that I have finished the body and one sleeve.  I took a little break yesterday and today, because one of the tendons in my left hand was feeling odd, and besides I had to play the piano a whole lot this weekend, but I think I’m better now, so hopefully a completed Thermal is in the near future!  I took a photo, but it was awfully dark outside, so I’m pretty sure there’s no need to see it.  I’m hopeful that it will fit.  I think i was correct to knit the body too small, because Gloss stretches like mad when it is washed!  Now on to my review…

Heartfelt: The Dark House Collection by Kim Hargreaves

Every time I bring up Kim Hargreaves on the blog I get the same response: Rowan hasn’t been the same since she left.  I completely agree with that sentiment, as I find myself with little desire to own any Rowan books after she ended her long tenure there.  Kim has the unique ability to create designs that echo current trends while remaining timeless.  Her designs have a lady-like, feminine feel, and as a (hopefully) ladylike, feminine person they appeal to me tremendously.

This book contains over 20 of her designs, and is a nice mix of accessories and sweaters.  I’m pretty sure that some are designs that have previously been available in kit form, while others are new to this collection.  The beret above, which fits in well with the current slouchy beret trend, is crocheted with kidsilk haze and kid classic held together, and has a lovely beaded band. There are several lovely scarves as well, although I am unlikely to make them (I have enough in the queue!) but what really draws us all in, of course, are the sweaters.

I will make a brief note of all the unnecessary belting going on here.  It’s especially odd on the kimono styled sweater, which actually has a knitted belt, which is shown in one photo.  But never you mind – these garments all have shaping, so I know they aren’t being belted to hide something.  My favorite is the firstphoto – I love the detailing around the hem, the u-neck, and the lovely gathered sleeves.  The last sweater is made of Calmer, and I am excited at the prospect of making a cabled sweater from calmer, as I have heard so many nice things about the yarn!  Two sweaters are knitted in Bamboo soft, to lovely effect, and the chunky sweater is made of Rowan’s new Cocoon yarn – as an aside, I like this sweater better than most of the designs in the new Rowan Mag for this yarn.

Most pattern sizes begin with a 32″ bust, which makes me happy.  Sizing and schematics are standard Rowan ones – ok, but not great.  I wish that some of the patterns had more measurements listed.  In this case, I’m willing to trust that things will come out all right, but this would be a negative from an unfamiliar designer.

I am terribly excited about this book, and I hope that it sells well, so that she can release more books in the future.   It was rather expensive to ship to the US, with the not so good exchange rate, but in my mind it was very worth it – I know I will make at least 4 designs, and maybe more.  I highly recommend the purchase if you love classic (but not boring) feminine styles.

books · crafts · Crochet · patterns

Book Review: CrochetMe: Designs to Fuel the Crochet Revolution

Amazon shipped me my copy of Crochetme, the new book from the editor of CrochetMe, the online crochet magazine.  It isn’t technically released for two weeks, but they sent it (see why I love preorders?)

I crocheted before I learned to knit, and I might still be exclusively a crocheter but for the lack of decent garment designs in crochet.  The vast majority seem to be stiff or bulky, boxy or weirdly shaped.  This books sets out to challenge the notions of what crochet can be, and I feel it succeeds.  Let there be no mistake, I love this book.  Crochet has come a long way.  Look at the new Interweave crochet if you want an example, although sometimes I feel that their designs are a bit too conservative for me.  The sweaters in this book hit my own fashion sense just about perfectly.

This  sweater, the Icelandic turtleneck, is possibly my favorite, although it’s really hard to photograph. It’s crocheted in 4-ply soft in order to combat the idea that crocheted sweaters are bulky.  The circular construction is really interesting, and I love the armwarmers.  I don’t think they have a thumbhole, which makes them just what I want – I love the idea of armwarmers, but if they have any connection with my fingers I will not be able to play the piano, and thus do my job.  I’m definitely adding this one to the queue!

I’m also planning on the cover sweater.  It can be made as either a shrug or the full wrap sweater shown above.  I’m planning on the wrap.  Crocheted in Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino, it also fights the notion that all crochet has to be made of cheap yarns.  I also love these patterns:

I love that rug, but I’m not sure how much my hands would love me for crocheting a rug using rug wool and big giant hooks.  But still… it’s super cute, and I may yet make one!  I love the pink sweater, but it has crocheted ribbing, and I have not had great luck with that in the past.  I suppose I could sub with a knitted border.  It’s crocheted in blue sky alpaca silk.  The last two patterns are made with cascade 220 and 220 tweed.  I love the scarf, which has a neat construction, and how cute is that felted bag?  I am not a knitted/crocheted bag person at all, but I find that one very tempting.  It’s the circles… I love circles.

Every pattern in the book has clear schematics.  Crochet patterns tend to be very long when written out, so this book doesn’t contain as many patterns as an equivalent knitting book, but I expect that from crochet.  There are little articles on various techniques throughout, and the designer profiles are also more interesting than your average book.  I did notice an article on reading knitting charts, similar to the one which appeared recently in  Interweave Crochet.  I’m all for having patterns take up less room so we can get more patterns, but I do find reading crochet charts to be difficult.  I’ve only just gotten good at reading knitted charts!

There are also patterns for short sleeved tops, some cute stuffed toys, and a few other small things.  There isn’t a pattern in the book that made me go “What were they thinking,” which is unusual.  If you like crochet but are frustrated by the lack of fashionable, modern patterns, I recommend picking up this book.  I’m very pleased with the purchase, and hope there will be a sequel!

books · crafts · Crochet · knitting · patterns · yarn

And another

I started my Juliet sweater the other day, and I thought I had better try to get in at least one WIP post about it.  This pattern is quick!  It will be finished in the next day or two, since I’m making the cropped version.  I am having to take it slower than I otherwise would, because bulky knits tend to be hard on hands, so I’m alternating between this sweater and working on finishing up my socks.

I will go to 5 or 6 repeats of the lace pattern, and then I will have a new sweater (again, so fast!)

I expect to be waiting for needles for the Tangled Yoke cardi for awhile (Knitpicks takes weeks for me) so I went ahead and swatched for a few sweaters.

Berroco Peruvia for the tilted duster.  I got gauge on size 9 needles (4.25 st/in) before blocking, but after blocking it had gotten a tad larger.  I will swatch again on size 8s.  This yarn is wonderful to knit with!

Queensland Collection Kathmandu aran  for the Central Park hoodie – I get 4.25 st/in on size 7 needles.  After blocking it gets maybe a tiny bit bigger, but I think I will just knit the smallest size then, and hope to achieve a bust in between the two smallest.

Cascade 220 –  for the Minimalist cardigan.  I decided against the peace fleece, wanting something not so rough.  I got gauge on size 6 needles (5 st/in ) before blocking, but after blocking it had relaxed considerably.  I will need to use size 5 needles.  This yarn is a really beautiful color!

I got the new Interweave Crochet in the mail this week, and while I am happy that it has gone to a quarterly magazine, there isn’t too much I’m dying to make.  I like crochet for accessories more than for sweaters, and there aren’t enough for me.  It’s also possible that I see crochet as being more of a summer craft, and so it doesn’t appeal as much in the winter.  I do like the cover sweater, make out of Louet Kidlin, but I’m pretty unlikely to actually make it.

I also received my copy of Knitting Classic Style from Amazon.  There are plenty of reviews of this book floating around, and  I agree with most of them.  Everything in the book is very wearable and classic.  Admittedly, nothing jumps out at me that I must make immediately, but I can see this being a book that I come back to again.  It’s also very beautifully photographed.  My favorite pattern is probably the shawl, although black is impractical with a long haired cat.  I also love the fair isle hoodie, and I love the men’s zip up vest pattern.  Here are a few of my favorites: