Handywoman.

I’m delighted to announce that Kate Davies’ newest book has arrived at the shop!

Handywoman is Davies’ memoir of a life of craft, one shaped by a stroke she suffered at age 36. Her brain injury changed how she saw and moved through the world, and how she made her living in it. Hers is a story of adaptivity and creativity, one I’ve followed for years on her blog.

Kate Davies is a knitwear designer and writer who I very much admire, for her traditional-looking, smartly-crafted patterns as well as her academic approach to textiles. Her books often blend knitting patterns and prose, and I’ve been a fan of both those elements, knitting sweater after sweater as avidly as I’ve read her essays on textiles and history. I’m keenly looking forward to reading what she has to say about her own life, and about disability in general. Her recent and fascinating TEDx talk is a good preview of her approach to the subject matter, and definitely worth watching.

I find it especially impressive that Davies has brought Handywoman into the world under her own publishing imprint, expanding the scope of Kate Davies Designs from pattern books to include narrative-based books like this one. Her blog post about the process of creating Handywoman is interesting and inspiring, and shows just how much work goes into making books, from writing and design to printing and promotion.

Along with this new book, we’ve restocked some of our favorite Davies titles: Colours of Shetland, Yokes, Happit, and West Highland Way. Come by to peruse them all, especially if you’re unfamiliar with her work – she’s truly a unique voice in the world of knitwear, one with an important perspective to share.

Look for Handywoman on the teacart here at the shop!

Back in stock: Knitting Comfortably.

Today a big box of books arrived at the shop, a second batch of Carson Demers’ instant classic, Knitting Comfortably. Our first order sold out soon after it arrived, back in November, claimed by knitters eager to preserve and protect the health of their hands, wrists, shoulders, etc. When we placed a second order, we learned that Demers had already sold the entire first edition of his book, so sought after was the information within. We’re happy to have more copies on our shelves now that the second edition has been printed, and in celebration, I’m rerunning my original blog post on the subject, originally published on November 8th, 2017. 

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Another new book has arrived at the shop, a little different from our usual fare. This book is composed neither of patterns nor personal essays nor pretty knitting pictures. Rather, Knitting Comfortably is a book about the health of our hands and bodies, written by a physical therapist who happens to be an expert knitter.

We’d heard Carson Demers’ book mentioned a few times since its publication, but Clara Parkes’ rave review put us over the top – we had to have this book at the shop, and we’re so glad we do! It’s all about the ergonomics of handknitting, a guide for taking care of our most crucial knitting tool: ourselves.

Whether we knit English or Continental or any other method, we expose ourselves to the possibility of injury when we knit, especially when we knit for long stretches on a regular basis. It’s imperative, then, for us to understand what we’re doing with our muscles as we work, and how our posture affects our movement. In order to knit as much as we want to, we have to take care, and that is the goal of this book.

It’s clear that Demers has spent years working diligently to make this book as thorough and useful as possible. It’s dense with text, but quite accessible, peppered with clarifying photos and diagrams. He also includes plenty of “swatchortunities,” little knitting exercises that help to illustrate his suggestions and ideas.

I’ve only just begun to read through this book, but already it’s changed the way I think about my knitting practice. It may be tricky to break some of the bad habits I’ve accumulated over years of knitting daily, but I am motivated to interrogate my own behavior and adjust it to assure many more years of this craft I love so dearly.

Look for Knitting Comfortably on the teacart here at the shop!

Knitting Comfortably.

Another new book has arrived at the shop, a little different from our usual fare. This book is composed neither of patterns nor personal essays nor pretty knitting pictures. Rather, Knitting Comfortably is a book about the health of our hands and bodies, written by a physical therapist who happens to be an expert knitter.

We’d heard Carson Demers’ book mentioned a few times since its publication, but Clara Parkes’ rave review put us over the top – we had to have this book at the shop, and we’re so glad we do! It’s all about the ergonomics of handknitting, a guide for taking care of our most crucial knitting tool: ourselves.

Whether we knit English or Continental or any other method, we expose ourselves to the possibility of injury when we knit, especially when we knit for long stretches on a regular basis. It’s imperative, then, for us to understand what we’re doing with our muscles as we work, and how our posture affects our movement. In order to knit as much as we want to, we have to take care, and that is the goal of this book.

It’s clear that Demers has spent years working diligently to make this book as thorough and useful as possible. It’s dense with text, but quite accessible, peppered with clarifying photos and diagrams. He also includes plenty of “swatchortunities,” little knitting exercises that help to illustrate his suggestions and ideas.

I’ve only just begun to read through this book, but already it’s changed the way I think about my knitting practice. It may be tricky to break some of the bad habits I’ve accumulated over years of knitting daily, but I am motivated to interrogate my own behavior and adjust it to assure many more years of this craft I love so dearly.

Look for Knitting Comfortably on the teacart here at the shop!

Ase Lund Jensen.

Marianne Isager’s newest book is here, and it is a beauty! Let’s look inside ALJ: Ase Lund Jensen – a Danish knitwear designer.

As its title suggests, ALJ is a tribute to Danish knitwear designer Ase Lund Jensen, a pioneer in textile arts from the late 1950’s until her death in 1977. Jensen recognized a talent for design in young Marianne Isager, and it’s Jensen’s yarn company and workshop that Isager built into what we know today as Isager yarns.

Jensen designed impeccably tailored knits, studied traditional textiles of Greenland and Denmark, and had a fondness for muted shades that couldn’t be satisfied by the yarn manufacturers of the day. Working with a Danish mill, she developed a color palette informed and inspired by natural, plant-based dyes, a palette that Marianne Isager has grown but never strayed from.

The book also includes a great many patterns for sweaters, accessories, and a few home goods, designed by Jensen, Marianne and Helga Isager, and Annette Danielson, all knit with Isager yarns.

Along with a biography of Ase Lund Jensen, there are also articles on the history of knitting, and political knitting in particular.

A copy of ALJ came home with me as soon as it arrived at the shop, and I loved learning more about Danish textile history in general and Jensen and Isager in particular.

Look for ALJ on the teacart here at the shop, where the latest books and magazines mingle. We have more news from Isager coming in the next few blog posts, so keep an eye out, or come straight to the shop to see it all for yourself!

Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook.

Here is a book you have probably seen already, one that you may even own already, for we’ve sold out and reordered it many times since its initial publication last October. It was selling quickly enough that I waited to buy my own copy until our supply steadied, so though I’ve admired it for months, I’ve only recently sat down and spent time with this beautiful book. Here’s Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook, a compendium of cable stitch patterns, garments, and wisdom.

In this book, designer Norah Gaughan introduces over 150 cable stitch patterns with both written and charted instructions, all of which are lovingly photographed by the talented Jared Flood. The book itself is a thing of beauty, but beautiful as it is, the contents of this tome are the star, no matter the packaging.

Gaughan has devised a Stockinette Stitch Equivalent for each of these motifs, a way of saying how many stockinette stitches it would take to make the same width as the cable in question. This allows you to substitute one cable for another with ease, and also to add cables to a plain garment without letting the naturally-smaller gauge of cable patterns mess with the overall size of the piece. Gaughan clearly describes this system and how to use it towards the beginning of the book, where she also lays out hints for chart-reading, yarn choice, symbols and terminology. Don’t miss the troubleshooting section either, from which Karen Templer of Fringe Association pulled a real gem.

There are patterns for cabled garments, too, if design isn’t your thing. From pullovers and cardigans to ponchos and skirts, Gaughan has put her cable patterns to good and interesting use. In short, if you are at all interested in cable knitting or design, you should take a look at Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook. Find it on the teacart here at the shop!

The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook.

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Meet Felicity Ford’s Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook. This special book is not a collection of patterns, but rather a manifesto on design.

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Within it, Felicity Ford shares her particular system of translating inspiring images into colorwork knitting, from selecting colors and designing charts to swatching, evaluating your swatches, and applying your designs to knitted garments.

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This is a beautiful book, and one about which you may already have heard rave reviews. When it first came out, Kate Davies did a lovely write-up on her blog, as did Clara Parkes and Ysolda Teague. All three are in agreement: Ford’s Sourcebook is an inspiring one because it is so particular to its author.  It’s an interesting and galvanizing read, one that had me itching to pull out my colored pencils and Knitter’s Graph Paper Journal, and dive headfirst into a basket of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.

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The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook began as a Kickstarter project, with designer Felicity Ford seeking crowd-funding to self-publish the book. Though the subject and her approach are somewhat esoteric, Ford found many supporters, making the book a resounding success. We’re proud to stock it here at the shop, and in fact, are on our third reorder.

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Look for The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook on the teacart, amongst the latest books and magazines, and look to our class listings for more opportunities to learn about stranded colorwork. See you at the shop!

Yokes.

Yokes is here!

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Yokes is writer and designer Kate Davies’ newest book, and one that we’ve been eagerly anticipating since October, when she started posting previews on her blog.

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I’ve been reading her blog for years now, admiring her patterns and appreciating her written voice.

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An historian as well as a knitwear designer, Davies approaches her subject with academic rigor, and because of this, Yokes is so much more than a collection of inspiring sweaters.

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Pick up this book, and you’ll learn about Swedish Bohus yokes, the Icelandic lopapeysa, classic Shetland motifs, Elizabeth Zimmermann’s seamless innovations, and the connections between all of the above.

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As a lover of circular yoke sweaters, particularly those adorned with colorwork, I was quick to add Yokes to my own knitting library. I’ve been reading it before bed this week, savoring the text and photos. Davies speaks my mind when she writes, “I am happy spending days working away on acres of plain stockinette, if, at the end of it, there is the yoke’s delicious promise.”

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I am knitting one such sweater right now, in fact: “Puffin Sweater,” a design from Davies’ Colors of Shetland. I’ve knit the body and one and a half sleeves, looking forward all the while to the colorful chevron yoke. (Almost there!)

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Anne has fallen for a sweater from Yokes, “Frost at Midnight.” This beaded yoke is knit in a delicate lace-weight yarn called Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace, a shimmering blend of merino and silk, which, oh by the way, we now stock at the shop.

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We have only a few shades in stock, but will happily order whichever color you’d like. Come by to see the colorcard!

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Look for Kate Davies’ Yokes on the teacart in the front room. It will make a perfect holiday gift for the history-loving knitter in your life, and if that knitter happens to be you, send your nearest and dearest in for a copy. See you there!

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Barbara Walker’s treasuries.

Speaking of classic knitterly tomes published by Schoolhouse Press: we recently reordered Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries, something we do every now and then to be sure that all four volumes are on our shelves at all times, if possible.

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Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns is a treasure, indeed, a collection of stitch patterns ready to be plugged into whatever you can dream up: scarves, sweaters, blankets, socks–any and all of the things you can knit. Walker gives written instructions (and in some cases, charts) for ribbings, texture patterns, cables, lace, slip- and twisted-stitch patterns, and two-color mosaic patterns, to name a few.

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A small black and white photo accompanies each stitch pattern, and Walker lists how many stitches it is to be worked over (e.g. “Multiple of 4 sts,” “Multiple of 17 sts plus 1,” or “Any number of sts”). Most also come with a short description that says how best to use said pattern, and what qualities the resulting fabric will have.

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Early on in my knitting career, I recognized that these books would take me a long way, and made sure to add them all to my own little library of knitting resources. Although I was not yet skilled enough to work every pattern from these volumes, I figured that I might be, one day, and that trying a few of them here and there would be challenging and exciting, and teach me new techniques.

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I pull out my Barbara Walker treasuries often, thumbing through the pages, marking those that look promising for decorating the leg of a sock, the body of a sweater, a cowl or pair of mitts. They are truly inspiring books, and I’m always happy to have them on my shelf, reminding me of the limitless possibilities of this craft. Come by the shop to add them to your own library; you’ll find them on the top shelf among the reference books.

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See you at the shop!

Knitting Workshop: Updated Edition.

I’m excited to announce that Schoolhouse Press has updated and rereleased Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop, a book that is very dear to me, as are all things Zimmermann.

DSCN2492This new edition of her classic novice-to-master workshop has been lovingly updated by her daughter, Meg Swansen, and her grandson, Cully Swansen. Zimmermann’s original text and illustrations are intact, but the old black and white photos have been replaced by crisp color photos, and there are more of them. Editors’ notes are sprinkled throughout, chiming in just when clarification is needed, or extra information could help. Perhaps most importantly, some of Zimmermann’s patterns, tacked on in an appendix in the original book, have been updated, with additional sizes and information about gauge and materials used.

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So what does Zimmermann teach in her Knitting Workshop? Pick up this book and you’ll learn all kinds of things, including but not limited to: how to wind yarn into a ball, cast on, increase and decrease, measure gauge in the round, work with two colors at once in stranded patterns, design and knit seamless sweaters, and graft live stitches together, among many other tips and techniques. Yes, Knitting Workshop can keep you busy for a good long time.

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I’ve written about this on the blog before, but it bears repeating: Elizabeth Zimmerman’s books are some of my favorites because they liberate knitters from patterns, encourage experimentation, and urge you to be the boss of your own knitting. Elizabeth’s percentage system (“EPS”) for designing seamless sweaters in any gauge, along with the chapter in Knitting Workshop on seven seamless shoulder shapings, is largely responsible for my love of sweater knitting, and especially for my willingness to forge ahead rather than let some needles and wool intimidate me.

Nancy is teaching a class on the subject starting in February, working from this updated Knitting Workshop to knit a seamless sweater with the yoke shaping of your choice–read all about it and sign up on our website.

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It has been so lovely to revisit Knitting Workshop and to read Elizabeth Zimmermann’s words again, for her voice and sensibility (and sense of humor!) are always a pleasure. I can’t recommend this book highly enough! Come by the shop to page through it, and if it seems like your kind of book, do browse the Elizabeth Zimmermann/Schoolhouse Press shelf, as well–all of Zimmermann’s books are wonderful, and Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen’s Knitting with Two Colors is also a favorite.

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See you at the shop!

Knit to Flatter.

After a few months on backorder, Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter has arrived at the shop.

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Knit to Flatter is a book about knitting sweaters that fit exactly how you want them to fit. Herzog begins by identifying different body types–top-heavy, bottom-heavy, and proportional–and offers patterns for each, along with a few suggestions about what shapes and design features flatter those body types and why.

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I appreciate that Herzog doesn’t give strict do’s and don’ts for different body shapes, but instead stresses that “beauty is in the eye of the wearer,” and that whatever shape, size, and type of sweater makes you feel great is exactly the sweater you should knit. Whether you know what those shapes, sizes, and types are, or whether you’re looking for figure-flattering suggestions, Knit to Flatter can be a helpful resource in creating sweaters you love to wear.

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Before you start knitting, Herzog has you take your measurements, not only the usual bust, waist, and hip measurements, but also from hip to waist, from waist to underarm, neckline depth, and upper torso circumference, along with various sleeve lengths.

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From there, she discusses positive and negative ease, and has you compare your own measurements against the measurements on the schematic of whatever pattern you’ve chosen. Where there are differences, you’ll want to make modifications to the pattern, and Chapter 6 covers that in depth. I found this table especially helpful; it lists various modifications along with how difficult they are and what other pieces of the sweater they affect.

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I’ve been working on a sweater for a few weeks now using Herzog’s book as a guide in making modifications to the pattern. I was giddy at the thought of starting a new project, eager to cast on, but before I did, I sat down with my pattern, pencil and paper, measuring tape, and Knit to Flatter. I spent a few hours figuring out what modifications I wanted to make, how to make them, and made notes on the pattern where my own knitting would depart from the instructions. I lowered the neckline, shortened the body, which meant recalculating the waist shaping, and added bust darts. It was a little intimidating, but Knit to Flatter kept it from being overwhelming, and now that I’ve made all my changes to the pattern, I can sit back and knit. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.

Come by the shop to take a closer look at Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter, and get it at 15% off during our Annual Inventory Sale!