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.