Book Review: The Knitter’s Palette

I just received the book, The Knitter’s Palette: A Workbook of Color and Texture Techniques and Effects by Kate Haxell. It is quite a comprehensive book for its size, covering everything from color theory, to stitch patterns, to special techniques such as slip stitches, beading, cables, and intarsia.

I love knitting reference books. They are my favorite kind of knitting book. Therefore, I have a lot of this type. And I have to say that there’s not a lot new here, at least not for me. A newer knitter with a much smaller library than mine would adore this book, though, so I don’t want to discourage anyone from checking it out. There is a lot to take in on these pages. Just because I’m not overly excited about this book doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be. Perhaps the fact that there are so many types of techniques covered all in one easy-to-manage volume is what makes it special. Yes, I’ve seen a lot of it before, but I would have to pull several books from my shelves to cover all of the topics in this one book.

Also, when new techniques are covered, the author includes little knitting tips, kind of as an aside to the main discussion point. such as what to do if you discover you’ve strung the wrong bead in a sequence on your yarn, and how to fix it. I’ve never done decorative beading in my knitting, and it’s making a mistake like that that has kept me from trying it. So, the tips can be very helpful.

If you have a vast knitting library like I do, you might want to put this book in your hands and look through it before buying. But, if you’re looking for a good, solid reference that is jam-packed with techniques and tips, this could be just the book you’re looking for. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Book Review: Knit This Doll

I just received the book, “Knit This Doll!: A Step-by-Step Guide to Knitting Your Own Customizable Amigurumi Doll” after waiting almost 6 months for the publication date. I love dolls! And I was intrigued by what this book would have to offer. After paging through the whole book I can say that I think I’m really going to like it!

The book starts with the basic formula for making the dolls. It talks about yarn choices, and other materials needed. After giving you the basic layout of how to knit a doll, the majority of the book goes into how to knit the numerous variations that will create the various parts, including feet and legs (or shoe and pants style), numerous clothing and sweater/body styles, and tips for doing various hairstyles and facial expressions, using a variety of materials. Overall these seem like quick little knits, perfect for using up small bits of yarn, odd little buttons and various other things.

The book takes a mix-and-match approach to body parts, clothing styles, and accessories, such that the design possibilities are practically endless. The book even includes such details as whether or not to knit individual fingers, separate clothing pieces, and a variety of shapes that could easily turn your doll into an animal, or even a mermaid.

Me? I’d probably be interested in creating knitted amigurumi dolls of people I know. I’d probably start with someone wearing purple sneakers, a long denim skirt, a hoodie, and purple bangs sticking out from under a rasta hat.

Hmmm… I wonder if that sounds like anybody I know?

I almost can’t wait to start, except there’s this shawl… back to that–tomorrow.

Book Review: Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders

Tonight I decided to try something new before blogging. We’ll see if it helps me get back on track. I realized today that one of my stumbling blocks (and there are many) is that there is now shared demand for my computer, what with the now-high-school-aged daughter having hours of homework and an appetite for Facebook. So I decided that I would sit down with an old-fashioned pen and a blank journal book, where I will begin to record and collect “blog notes” that can then be turned into posts when I’m ready. For tonight, anyway, while the daughter was struggling with what seemed like hours of history homework, this blog post got sketched out, after me trying and failing for nearly a week to write it.

So, with thanks to the old-school approach, here is my review of “Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks!,” edited by Judith Durant. I admit I waited for this book for a long time. I am a professed Not-Sock-Knitter, and yet, I have bins of beautiful sock yarns with nowhere to go. I like a beautiful yarn as much as the next knitter, and so many of them these days are sock yarns. I have amassed many skeins, and have a total of ONE pair of socks in my Finished Object collection.

(Why, then am I taking an all-day sock workshop with Lucy Neatby in just three weeks? Ok, I know HOW to make socks, but have never been excited by them. I am, however, very excited by the prospect of learning from Lucy Neatby, and who knows? Maybe after spending a day in her company I WILL get excited about socks, and then… well…)

So. In the meantime, there’s this fabulous little book. I have the other books in the series, and by far, a thousand times over, this one is my favorite. There are so many patterns to choose from, as with the other books, but for some reason, the quality of the patterns seems such that I would be apt to make many more of these than many of the designs in the other books. I can’t say why. Just a gut feeling.

The book opens with a chapter on hats, mitts and socks. Several of the hat designs are ones I would make, and the mitts, mittens and gloves are almost all interesting. I do have to admit that I wasn’t expecting sock patterns in this book at all, given that there are so many sock pattern books, but there aren’t many, and well, I guess I should expect at least a few sock patterns from a book all about sock yarns. So I’m not complaining.

The scarves, wraps and shawls chapter has so many lovely patterns that if I only ever knit from this book it would probably take me three years or more to get through the ones I want to make.

The chapter on baby, toddler and doll clothes has so many adorable options including dresses, hat and bootie sets and adorable little sweaters.

Then there’s a chapter called, “Bag It and More,” for which I found the “more” part to be quite interesting. everything from a lampshade to a netbook cozy, to beautiful Christmas ornaments, to a filet crochet window curtain. I loved them all.

This book is definitely worth the Amazon price of $10.99. In my opinion, it’s a steal at that price. Get together with all of your knitting friends and order a bunch of copies among you to get free shipping. I believe this is the must-have book of the season.

Weekend Knitting

Another weekend where I had hoped to get a ton of knitting done, and yet, there has been only a small amount of progress. I’m still working on this:

E.B. in progress

E.B. in progress

which, I am convinced, has now been in progress since at least the dawn of time and is, as far as I can tell, about a month and a half behind schedule. I am about to change colors yet again… to do another small stripe of the brown and then back to the cream color. I do enjoy knitting it, but its one main fault is that I cast on to make it TOO BIG, too wide, exactly, so it takes far longer to complete a row than I wish it would. On the other hand, by virtue of its enormousness, it will not be quickly outgrown, and, I hope, will become a much-loved thing. At least I can hope, right? I know it is the dream of every knitter that his or her knitted object would be the one thing that the recipient uses most often and cannot live without, when in fact, the opposite is most likely true. Most recipients wind up under-using their gift for fear of “ruining” such a special thing. If you’re reading this, and you’ve been gifted with a handmade thing? USE IT! The person who made it for you will want to know that you love it and use it well. And, if it gets worn out? So what? A good excuse to ask for another knitted thing.

So, I do not know what will become of this project when it is gifted. I hope that it will be used and loved, but I am resigned to the fact that I have no control over what becomes of it. So, for me, it is the loving of the making that motivates me, not what the recipient will do. It has to be that way. Or, let’s face it. I’d lose what’s left of my mind.

In the “Knitting Day is a Good Day” category, yesterday at knit group, everyone was excited about a new (to us) knit book. And here’s why we were excited:

This knitting book was on sale for $2.99!

This knitting book was on sale for $2.99!

Get a load of that price tag! I must admit that I never met a knitting book in the bargain bin before. For the right price, I’ll buy anything! Haha. I think thanks to our group, there was not one copy left behind yesterday. And, well, upon getting it home, I think I can see why it was in the bargain bin. This book is no Handknit Holidays, which, I thought, was an exquisite collection of patterns.

I do like that the book offers some “quick knit” type gifts, and I guess they are well suited to a beginner (mostly). The thing is? They look like it. Is there such a thing as a simple knit that doesn’t look like it was a simple knit? I can’t put my finger on it, but a lot of the things in this book just looked, well, sloppy. Oddly-shaped Christmas stockings (more than one!) and a sweater that I wouldn’t be caught dead doing anything other than housework in. Then there’s the just plain odd: a baby hat with a pocket, yes a pocket, they say, for tucking a small toy in. A toy in a pocket on your head. Ok, what baby isn’t going to find that annoying?

Perhaps I’m being far too critical. I’m usually not like this; I always find something to like about every book I buy. But this one? So far the only thing I loved about it was–the price. Dear bookstore, please keep putting your overstocked knitting books in the bargain bin and yes, even if they’re weird, you know I’ll buy them There’s a sucker born every minute.