Imagine my surprise when the Booksneeze website had a knitting book available for review. Naturally, the minute I saw it available, I grabbed my copy of Knitting Knee-Highs Socks from Classic to Contemporary by Barb Brown. I confess I had never heard of Barb Brown and really don’t care that much for knee socks but I was intrigued because I hadn’t seen a book dedicated solely to knee-highs so I thought I would give it a go.
Posts tagged ‘Reviews’
That yarn that I had been waiting for finally arrived. And I am totally in LUV. I want to knit an entire wardrobe of this yarn. I want sheets knitted from this yarn. I want to wrap myself in it from head to toe.
This is a brand new yarn for Sanguine Gryphon. It is a grown up version of their Gaia Lace. It is a 40% cashmere/ 60% silk blend. This color is so new it doesn’t even have a name. My photo doesn’t show the color accurately. It is much richer and more beautiful in person.
Looks surprisingly like stockinette stitch, doesn’t it? It has been a pleasure to knit. I wish you could all feel this yarn. It is scrumptious. You will be hearing more about this yarn as the design takes shape.
As I wait for yarn to arrive for my next project and for responses on the latest designs submitted for publication, I find myself in a position of having little to talk about. So naturally, I will talk about books.
I mentioned in my last post that I had increased the size of my library a bit lately. Two of my recent acquisitions were Alice Starmore books. I have been reading Starmore for a while but so many of her books are out of print, that I hadn’t purchased many. That changed with the re-release of Aran Knitting.
I have been wanting a copy of this book for several years. I read a library copy from but couldn’t find a used copy for under $250, which just wasn’t in the budget. So I tried to memorize everything in the book and hoped that some day it would be released again. In September, my dreams came true!
The book isn’t your typical book of knitting patterns. It is more an instructional book on the history, and process of Aran knitting. Oh, there are patterns. Beautiful, fabulous, wonderful patterns. But the main focus of the book is to teach you what Aran knitting is and how to design it. The book opens with a chapter on the history of Aran knitting that includes photos of some gorgeous museum pieces. Starmore makes the history of the region and technique come alive. Who know history didn’t have to be boring?
The second chapter, on Aran patterns and technique, is worth the price of the book by itself. Starmore explains all of the different types of stitches commonly used in Aran knitting taking you step-by-step through the Aran design process, including some new information on Celtic knots.
Then just for fun, she adds the spectacular designs. Each one is more beautiful than the last. The photography is breath-taking and the knitwear superb. These are some of my favorite patterns. Ever. Even the names are beautiful – St. Brigid, Maidenhair, St. Ciaran, Eala Bhan.
The book ends with a chapter on designing your own Aran.
Aran Knitting is over 200 pages of sheer knitting genius. It is a must-have for any knitting library. And the Dover price is far more budget friendly than the $250+ that the original version sells for. Thank you Alice for allowing this book to be republished.
This is another Dover re-publication of one of Starmore’s most popular books. It is arranged in a style similar to Aran Knitting beginning with a bit of history, a thorough study of the technique, followed by a section of her own patterns and ending with a chapter on designing your own Fair Isle. It is loaded with charts for every sort of Fair Isle stitch pattern imaginable. Her instructions on the technique are thorough and clear. I found the chapter on color to be particularly helpful.
Starmore does an excellent idea of illustrating the difference between stranded colorwork and true Fair Isle knitting. Even though the terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. She has a fantastic section on the dreaded steek and some of the clearest instructions on underarm gussets I have ever read.
Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting is another 200-page powerhouse of information worth every penny of the cost (especially when you find it on sale). It too is a must-have addition to your knitting library.
Just so you know, I am not related to Alice Starmore; don’t work for Alice Starmore; have no connection to Alice Starmore whatsoever; never even met her, though I hear she is lovely. I am just an avid fan of her brilliant designs. And Alice, if you are reading this, knitters would also love to have a copy of Tudor Roses too. hint, hint, hint
Since the excessive rain is interfering with fall colors here, I am getting my colors from yarn. Here is my latest yarn acquisition
Valley Yarns Northfield
I cannot adequately describe what a lovely yarn this is. The color is rich and highly saturated with great depth. The yarn in an unbelievably soft blend of Merino wool, baby alpaca and silk. It has a lovely sheen without being shiny. The merino and silk keep the alpaca from being overly fuzzy and the alpaca keeps the yarn nice and soft. And it knits beautifully. Smooth and tightly twisted with no splitting. And the stitch definition is fantastic. The yarn isn’t exceptionally heavy. Even at DK/light worsted weight, it is not too heavy for shawls or sweaters. You are going to love this yarn. I am working on a pattern knit from this that I will share with you a little later.
I am also giving another yarn a test drive.
This yarn is a 50% alpaca/50% silk blend. It is scrumptiously soft next to the skin. This one is also rated as DK but it is a bit thinner than the Northfield leaning more to the sport weight side of DK. The higher alpaca content makes it a little fuzzy so it is best suited to bold stitch patterns that can handle that halo effect.
All in all both yarns are fantastic. More than worth their very reasonable prices. Check them out.
I have just discovered a new yarn that I adore so it is only fitting that I share it with you.
It is a delightful 50% silk/50% wool blend. There is enough silk to make it soft with a nice drape but not so much that it is too slippery to handle or so drapey it is shapeless. The wool provides just the right amount of crispness so it’s not overly drapey. The silk adds a lovely sheen without being overly shiny. It also adds a different dimension to the color. Really gives it depth.
The color is Copper. I was a little unsure of it because I was afraid it would be orange, if you know what I mean. But I wanted something a little unusual for this project. Something that said “autumn”. This yarn accomplished that. It is positively gorgeous. The photos don’t really reflect the true depth of color.
It knits like a dream. No splitting. It handled everything I threw at it, including double decreases and multiple ripping. It didn’t look frayed or get splitty after ripping. The yarn really set off the stitch pattern. The stitch pattern just pops. That probably doesn’t make sense if you don’t have the yarn on your needles but you will notice a difference in your stitch definition. This is especially surprising since I had knit the stitch pattern in so many yarns before I got to the Hadley. I haven’t found knots in it so far – and that one is a deal breaker for me. The yarn has been a real pleasure to knit. It compares favorably with Rowan Silk/Wool DK. It is a little less slippery and has just a bit more body than the Rowan. The worse thing I can say about the yarn is that it comes in 50 gram balls. I prefer 100 grams quantities. But is just one of those matters of preference. On the other hand, with the yardage of each ball at just over 100 yards (just under 100 meters) it makes it very easy to calculate how much yarn you need for a project. I can see more of Hadley in my future. I haven’t found a Valley Yarns product that has let me down. They produce fabulous yarns for the price.
I can’t wait to show you what I have been knitting with it but right now, it is top secret. So I will share you a shot of my favorite shrubbery instead.
My confederate rose is just coming into full bloom. It is really beautiful this year. Just hoping that the first frost doesn’t catch it before all the blooms open.
Just when I think I am getting caught up, life throws me another curve. Here are a few things I forgot to share with you.
First, knitting photos.
The Eternal Socks
I forget how long ago I started working on these socks but they were supposed to be summer socks so that gives you a hint. I started the pair as part of a knit-along and then decided that I didn’t want to knit the second sock. So I knit the second sock in a different pattern for another knit-along. Voila! Two KALs complete in one pair. And seriously who is really going to notice.
The patterns are Express Lane socks by Diane Mulholland
and Tidal Wave Socks by Deby Lake. The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill Summer Sock in Rose. I was excited about getting a summer yarn from CTH because I normally love their yarns. The color of this one is rich and full just like the other CTH yarns but is not the knitting dream that other CTH yarns have been. I think the blink may have too much acrylic. It doesn’t have good stitch definition, the thin-thick texture of the yarn fights with the lace pattern and the acrylic content makes the yarn hot. I think I will avoid this yarn in the future.
I also forgot to show you photos of my latest knitting pattern. I mentioned it in passing when I was telling you about the Rowan Classic Silk/Wool DK that Uncle Sam got me. But here is the finished item knit from that glorious yarn.
The Jessica Scarf
This is a fun to wear scarf because it narrow enough to be comfortable in a variety of styles.
It is also suitable for a variety of yarns. This blue version was knit from Sinfonia mercerized cotton
The leaning of the decreases in the lace pattern cause the edge of the scarf to have a slight wave to it making it very feminine.
The pattern is available as a Ravelry download
add to cart
One final order of business is the awarding a winner to the acronym contest. No one correctly guessed that PBRMPCC meant Peanut butter with raisins, marshmallows, pecans and chocolate chips (which is actually pretty tasty as peanut butter sandwiches go) so we let the random number generator chose a winner.
And the Oscar goes to …..
Dorothy aka DotTap1956
If you will email me at tabitha AT tabithasheart DOT com (substituting the symbols for the words in caps and deleting spaces), I will email you your patterns. And since your entry made me laugh, I will throw in a copy of the Jessica Scarf pattern too.
To many people in the USA, those words signify paperwork shuffling, headaches, and expense. To me, those words are like music to my ears. Tax time means it’s time for my Annual Serious Stash Enhancement. When Uncle Sam returns the money he has been borrowing from me all year, naturally there is nothing better to do with it than stimulate the economy with yarn purchases. So won’t you join me as we stroll through the 2009 Serious Stash Enhancement Expedition.
My first order was to KnitPicks who kindly scheduled a book sale just for me. The first book is one to get me started in my soon-to-be-newest vice. Spurred on by the gift of roving from my friend Tracy, I have decided to learn hand spinning so naturally I needed a book to help me along. I chose Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning
Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning (Teach Yourself Visually Consumer)
I have the knitting book in this series and found it to be a fantastic reference. This book every bit as good. With lots of large, color photos and clear but concise instructions, it will be a valuable asset to my knitting library.
My next acquisition was one I have been wanting for a long time but just never got around to buying. The Best Of Interweave Knits
The Best of Interweave Knits: Our Favorite Designs from the First Ten Years
I knew there were several patterns in the book that I wanted but I didn’t realize how many of them I truly love. This pattern book will provide me with knitting projects for years to come. The first will probably be the Icarus Shawl from the cover.
This is Bare wool/silk fingering weight. There is enough for a shawl or quite a few pairs of socks. The silk gives a slight amount of sheen and incredible softness. I want to attempt a kettle-style dyeing. I want a semi-solid with subtle color variations so the color won’t compete with the lace stitch pattern. I also got a few Harmony needles in sock knitting sizes. Can’t wait to try them out.
I decided to share part of my tax refund with WEBS too. They always have such wonderful selection. I have also been very pleased with their Valley Yarns brand. I ordered enough of the VY Northampton for a sweater.
Valley Yarns Northampton Colorway”Merlot Heather
This yarn is lovely, soft, comes in a fabulous selection of colors and is a sheer joy to knit. It is incredibly, reasonably priced too now how often does that happen. The only wools that I have liked this much where twice the price. I am starting to sound like an advertisement but it really is great yarn.
I also ordered Valley Yarns Goshen for Hey Teach
Valley Yarns Goshen Colorway: Sage
This yarn was an incredible surprise. This is the softest, most luxurious cotton blend I have ever felt. It makes me want to order all they have and roll in it. It makes me want to knit ALL my clothing from it – outerwear to skivvies. I seriously love this yarn. Kathy Elkins, the owner, helped me so much when choosing a color. She is positively terrific. But I discovered after viewing the color cards, that I don’t dislike any color in the line which is pretty unusual for me. I will be ordering it in more colors.
And a little lace yarn
Malabrigo Lace Colorway: 51 Vaa
The color is not accurate in the photo. It is much darker, deeper and richer in person. My camera just didn’t want to cooperate that day and I was too lazy to retake the photo. This may be becoming Icarus Shawl.
Thus concludes my Annual Serious Stash Enhancement Excursion. You will now be returned to your regularly scheduled life.
Here is my hand dyed yarn all wound into a ball with the beginning of a new sock. This is – or will eventually be – a sock that I am test knitting. It promises to be a challenging and fun knit. I will keep you posted. The yarn has a few very light spots in it where the yarn didn’t dye very darkly. I am not certain that I like this but I decided to go ahead and knit and it. If I still don’t like it when I am finished, I will re-dye the completed socks. Mistakes and all, I am still pleased with my first attempt at dyeing.
I bought myself this great “Nostepinde” at Hobby Lobby yesterday.
They called it a mini-baseball bat but it works great as a nostepinde and hopefully my youngest will not swipe it to use for craft projects like he does with the paper towel tubes. I was going to buy a wooden dowel and then I spied the bat and decided that it was about the right size so it wouldn’t require cutting and it was already sanded smooth. I also like the thinner handle. It makes ball winding more comfortable to me. And best of all it was cheap!! I know it isn’t as nice as a real nostepinde but I decided that I would rather save my money for a ball winder.
In other Hobby Lobby news, I got More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch with my 40% off internet coupon. This book was not what I was expecting. The sock patterns are great – just like I was expecting – and ones that I will use over and over. But what I wasn’t expecting was for there to be instructions for all the major types of sock knitting – 4 dpn, 5 dpn, toe up, top down, 2 circs, Magic loop – as well as an extensive stitch library and sock construction techniques – heels, toes, cast ons, grafting, bind offs, etc. This is an incredible resource. It certainly lives up to the hype. I highly recommend it if you do not already own it. Now I simply must have Sensational Knitted Socks.