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Reading Rainbow

Dear Ann,
Ah, Sunday afternoon. There’s nothing like it for dozing off while reading the book reviews, waking up with newsprint ink on your face … so very pleasant. You’ve got nothing better to do, right? So listen up and I’ll tell you about a few new knitting books I’ve been peering into. They are in 3 categories, and I’m saving the weepy category for last. (The only emotion better than laughter through tears may be knitting through tears.)
Category One: I Didn’t Expect To Like This, But I Did
Twinkle’s Big City Knits, by Wenlan Chia
This book is not my typical fare. (The understatement of the year, and it’s only February.) Super-skinny high-fashion models wearing super-chunky high-fashion knits. Imagine using worsted weight yarn to knit a sweater for a Barbie–that’s how many stitches are in these sweaters. The sizes run so small that even slim knitters will have to re-jigger some of the patterns to fit. But here’s the thing: Wenlan Chia has figured out how to shape chunky knits so they don’t look so…well, chunky. I saw some of the garments in person at TNNA last June, and was surprised at how well-shaped they were, given the huge stitches and fat yarns.
How do I define ‘huge stitches’? Nine stitches over 6 inches: a gauge I generally avoid like string bikinis.
So imagine my surprise to find this little item. It’s absotively FOB!
(I just made up Fob. It means ‘Flattering on Old Broads’.) I sincerely dig this tuxedo jacket, and not just because the model looks so eggzackly like me. (That’s a JOKE people. I’m not COMPLETELY lacking in self awareness.) I love the cleverness of the construction, and it can’t hurt that it’s only 18 rows before you get to the armholes. It would take an afternoon to knit the thing, a weekend at most.
And look: it’s a CHANEL JACKET!
All cute and stuff. Finally, maybe, the pattern for my well-ripened stash of Rowan Cotton Braid. Remember that orange-sherbet Cotton Braid? The one I elbowed somebody out of the way to get at because I’d been told they were running out of it ANY MINUTE? Well, I got it, and then I couldn’t figure out what to knit with it. I think this jacket might be just the ticket. The Fake-Chanel-over-jeans look is so 2004, I know. But that’s about my speed. I’m not scheduled to wear anything from 2007 until at least 2010. Now, where did I put my size 19s?
Moving on To Category Two: Books That Were Written For My Personal Needs
Amy Singer’s latest: No Sheep For You: Knit Happy With Cotton, Silk, Linen, Hemp, Bamboo & Other Delights
Linen! Hemp! Bamboo! The True Story of Silk! I’ve been snuggled up with it all weekend. I love it. So much knowledge, delivered in Amy’s patented smart-girl style. And the patterns are great. But I won’t say anything more at this time, because I’m sposed to be reviewing it for an upcoming edition of Knitty.com. Must save my erudite analysis until then. (Just wanted to let you know, there is a linen top in there by Jillian Moreno that just about Did Me In. A must-to-knit, and there are many others, in all sorts of non-critter fibers. Let my sensitive-skinned people rejoice!)
The One That Made Me Cry
The Natural Knitter.
I did not know Barbara Albright, but I wish I had. I didn’t realize she had died until I read the jacket flap saying, ‘Barbara Albright was a seasoned writer as well as a passionate knitting and craft designer.’ Right under a beautiful picture of her in a sheep barn, so lively and pretty. This book is a wonderful tribute to her. Many designs are by Barbara, and many more were contributed by some of the great names of our craft. All of the contributors are pictured in the back, with descriptions that make you laugh with joy that such a diverse assemblage of minds and hearts can be in love with the simple, solitary act of knitting. There is Anna Zilboorg, an ‘Anglican solitary in the Blue Ridge Mountains’ who ‘at present…comes out of the hermitage only to teach.’ Anna’s on the page after Debbie New, who designed her contribution one summer between working the locks on a narrow boat barge in England. So many others, too.
And the patterns are extraordinary.
This one is by Norah Gaughan. So interesting and so flattering. At least I hope it’s flattering. I’ve got one more center-cable in me, by cracky! But what project am I already swatching for?
This one. The Cast-Off Sweater. On her narrow boat barge, Debbie New invented a stitch pattern involving a whole lotta casting off. Could anything be more appealing to a veteran log-cabinner such as moi? I love to cast off! It makes my whole day!
It’s an intriguing puzzle–you cast off every stitch in the row, but you don’t have to pick up stitches or cast on new ones to maintain the same stitch count. How can that be? Debbie figured it out. I don’t even want to think about how many months I could live on a narrow boat barge and not think of anything half this cool. Really, the UN should be giving Debbie problems to work on when she’s on vacation.
Anyway, that’s my sampling of pattern books that have come my way. There are more coming out every day. Which is a great, great thing for knitters.
Love, Kay




  1. The Argosy baby blanket lurking under Big City Knits is looking pretty good, too.

  2. I was browsing through Borders the other day and saw that Big City Knits. I really loved the designs in it! Knitting books get me distracted though and I only pile up the unfinished objects! I think I have knitting ADD.

  3. Oooh! You temptress! Good thing my local library is fantastic (they’ve ordered all but one of the books I’ve suggested — either their budget is unlimited or the ordering person loves to knit) or I’d go into a serious financial hole with these.
    But maybe I need to buy just one. Or two. Hey kids, beans and rice for dinner! All week! (Hey, it’s nutritious!)

  4. I was flipping through Twinkle’s book and so many of the patterns are sized for under 30″ busts, which I didn’t realize existed beyond the 6th grade. The patterns, however, were beautiful and I have plans to purchase this book when the funds are available. If, or when, you make the Chanel jacket(My fave pattern from the book), could you post the size adjustments? Thanks for the book reviews, so many more have been coming out lately which just goes to show that pretty soon knitters will take over the world!!

  5. I love it when people post on Sundays…
    That Norah Gaughan sweater… I don’t think it would be flattering on me. It says to me, “here, right HERE, should be perky 36B breasts.” Which are not mine. But the casting off, I’m all agog!

  6. So exctied to see the review of Big City Knits. So it in a mag but it was one of those “glowing” reviews…I need a real review. I will add this to my Wish List.

  7. See, now, I was just perusing the knitting section at the bookstore the other day and I was profoundly disappointed. Didn’t see any of these though. I should just browse at your house.

  8. Thanks for the heads up on “Natural Knitter”, Kay. I missed seeing this one at TNNA and hate to order books sight unseen. It’s on next weeks order list. I’ve already dog-eared my copy of “No Sheep For You” — it’s my fave this season.

  9. FOB! I love it, my new favorite letters…LOL! Actually, is it FOOB? Which brings me to my second comment. That one sweater reminds me of the old cross your heart bra… will that be like putting a magnifying glass to my boobs? Love the sweater, but don’t want to call anymore attention to these babies… I think people would notice right away they are closer to my knees than shoulders. I could easily do the cover of the second book. No chance my non perky ladies would peek over the top of the knitting. Enough! Back to my knitting! Thanks for the review.

  10. I’ll need to hit BN with you. It’ll save me time, and you can distract Miss S.

  11. Blue ribbon – Oscar William. Actually I lie, I didn’t like the blue ribbon with the kimono and the blanket in the end so I went with purple ribbon – matches the stripes almost exactly. I think Oscar needs purple bootees, I mean, it’s a fabulous name to live up to and I shall tell him so when I see him next weekend!

  12. I liked a few of the Big City Knit patterns, though the models were rawther thin. I perused the Classic Elite site to see where I might find some of the yarns she suggests (as the gauges are a little tough to satisfy with regular yarns) and found this.
    It is their errata sheet. I know everyone makes mistakes, but I suggest you take a look before starting the projects.
    Have already preordered the Albright book. Good gosh it looks good.

  13. Thanks Kay, for the reviews, I can’t buy any more books as the husband said today, “do we own the first treasury of knitting patterns??”. Scribble and moderne are in progress already. In this early election season, I love the new definition for FOB though!!!!

  14. As a FOB ( FOOB, whatever!) I did consider some of the patterns in BCK book to be very innovative, and adaptable to my 2x bod and age (51)with modifications. Ya gotta always look toward what the young are wearing, and take your cue (and creative license!) from them.

  15. Before you buy the book for the Chanel Style jacket, remember that Deborah Newton has done quite a few of these jackets via interweave and maybe Knitters.

  16. Glad I didn’t miss this one!

  17. hmm. on your say so i’m gonna look at big city knits again because on first flip through i thought the patterns were cheeeeesy, and imho the big knit thing is so much better done by rowan. but i’ll have another look. btw, your book is fab.

  18. Oh cool – Anna Zilboorg wrote Knitting for Anarchists – which Debbie New certainly is, isn’t she! I love that Cast-Off Sweater – heading to the yarn shop tomorrow to find that book. 🙂

  19. If you can figure out how to change the sizing of these patterns to fit women older than your daughter, please post to your blog! They are cute, but fairly useless for adult women.

  20. I bought your book this weekend, found your site this weekend and feel in love with both this weekend! I also ordered “No sheep for you” this weekend. It was a good weekend. Do you think I should use the word weekend a few more times. I don’t think I’ve over used it just yet.
    Knit on!

  21. I’m due with a baby girl in May. Happily working on the argosy baby blanket. Finishing the long trek through the 17 squares in a row – knowing that it’s all downhill from here. Did you get any good ideas for the edging? I’m knitty-baby-nesting already and it might throw me off track if I catch up before you tell your secrets! (not really I’ll just knit the 45 other things I have planned for her). Thanks for preparing the way for us less inventive knitters!

  22. I have been admiring that Twinkle book too but that yarn is a bit hard to come by. I’ll await directions from your blog on the BIG needles and CHUNKY yarn sources.

  23. Hmm, now you’ve inspired me to potentially redo my less-than-pleasing Cotton Braid pullover into a Chanel jacket…
    I wonder how well Cotton Braid frogs?
    –Another FOB

  24. I am awed by the stitch pattern on the casting off sweater. I might have to look into the book for that alone.

  25. Wow, how do you do that casting off thing on the sweater? Very fascinating! Those books look pretty good!

  26. I met Debbie New in person in January, and basically babbled about how I wasn’t a good enough knitter to be sharing oxygen with her. I still don’t think that’s wrong. But she was lovely.

  27. Et tu, Kay? I’ve been unable to understand the yarn world’s infatuation with Twinkle since my eyes beheld the lovely confection she designed for VK Fall 2006. I thought, “Schweeeeet! Twinkle’s designs make an emaciated model look like she’s got small boobs and a huge bum. Finally, my body type has made it to high fashion!”
    You may be right about the tuxedo jacket — it is kinda cute.

  28. I was gonna say those Contooor jeans are worth every penny, Kay!

  29. Well now, these are right cute. If I were, oh, 8 to 10 inches taller and weighed the same as I do now, I might be interested. But it’s that way no matter what I put on, so…
    I reeeeeely do like the Nora G. sweater. Her stuff rocks!

  30. Which Jillian Moreno top? Eileen? I am starting on that soon!

  31. What a nice commentary on books that I never would have gotten to see! Thank you for giving us a sample of what’s inside. It sounds like it was a great way to spend the weekend.

  32. The natural knitter book comes out two days after my birthday so that must be a sign that I must have this book. Plus don’t we all need a good cry now and then?
    P.S.- I had already ordered “No Sheep for You.” It’s a compulsion; I can’t help myself.

  33. Kay, thanks for putting The Natural Knitter on my radar – it looks like a lovely book, I can’t wait!

  34. Oh bum ! Here was I just congratulating myself on my credit cards near-miss on the Brooks Farm Yarn site (didn’t have the colour I wanted) and then you pop up. ‘Cos you know I really NEED more knitting books …….
    Heather x

  35. I hate to bust up the FOB party here – but I think it stands for something else already! Common use among transplanted Asians, and not always very nice…but hey. It needs a new usage fer sher!


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