Sweaters, knit and crocheted: the latest books.

Three new books have arrived from Interweave Press in the past couple of weeks, filling up the teacart with project ideas for knitters and crocheters interested in creating sweaters. These are sweaters broadly defined–some for cold weather and some for warm, some basic and some highly patterned, some close-fitting and some roomy.

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Blueprint Crochet Sweaters, by designer Robyn Chachula, teaches the basics of sweater construction and offers advice to help you crochet a well-fitting garment.

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Chachula covers sweaters constructed from the top down, from side to side, from smaller motifs, and more. Crocheters interested in taking the leap from accessories to larger garments should take a look at Blueprint Crochet Sweaters.

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Vicki Square’s Light and Layered Knits focuses on creating lightweight garments using a range of different fibers.

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In addition to a variety of patterns, Square also teaches a bit about those fibers along the way, offering up interesting information as well as wisdom about how different fibers behave in knitted fabric.

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Another new book from Interweave is the revised edition of The Crocheter’s Companion, an excellent resource filled with all manner of crochet stitches and techniques. Not only can The Crocheter’s Companion remind you how to read a crochet pattern, it also covers basic finishing techniques and a variety of stitch patterns.

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Find them all on the teacart at the shop, along with the latest knit and crochet magazines!

Two books for every knitter.

We’ve ordered and reordered these two books several times in the past few months, and with good reason. Charts Made Simple and Cast On, Bind Off are the kinds of knitting books that any knitter can use. Rather than tempting you with pretty patterns and project ideas, they give you the information you need to tackle whatever pretty projects you’ve already picked. I mentioned them briefly on the blog in August, but thought they deserved a closer review, as well.

JC Briar’s Charts Made Simple teaches how to read knitting charts, which are often used in cable, lace, and colorwork patterns. Charts are used in place of (or sometimes alongside) written directions because many knitters find them faster and easier to read, and because they give a sense of how the knitted fabric will look as you’re creating it. Many knitters are intimidated by charts, though, and don’t find them intuitive at all. This book gives all kinds of useful hints for chart-reading, and explains how to do it in plain language, giving examples along the way that illustrate the concept. I’ve been slowly reading through it over the past few months in an attempt to become a more competent, confident reader of knitting charts. I have no doubt that this book, along with some practice and knitting, can get me there. Check it out if you’d like to do the same.

Leslie Ann Bestor’s Cast On, Bind Off is perhaps even more useful for the every-knitter. It covers, as its straightforward title suggests, a wide range of cast-ons and bind-offs, showing how to do them with photos and text. Most helpfully, the cast-ons and bind-offs are sorted by kind, helping you to decide when and how to use them. Not only is this knitting-bag-sized book good for looking up an unfamiliar technique, it’s also good for making changes to a pattern, or designing your own. You know you want your cast-on edge to be stretchy, and you can easily flip to the Stretchy  section to select one. Handy, no?

Come by the shop to find these two excellent knitting resources on the teacart.

The newest books.

We’ve had several shipments of books in the past few weeks, filling the teacart with a wide variety of knitting and crochet resources.

There’s something for almost everyone here. The whimsical new book by Norwegian designers Arne and Carlos shows how to design and clothe the Knitted Dolls it’s named for. Woolbur is equally whimsical, a children’s book about a non-conformist sheep. Cast On, Bind Off and Charts Made Simple are excellent resource books offering guidance on essential knitting techniques: casting on, binding off, and reading charts. Beyond the Square: Crochet Motifs and The Beaded Edge 2 give crocheters new ideas for crocheted shapes and edgings. Knitting for Him, Knitting New Mittens and Gloves, and The Sock Report: Vol. 1 are all full of project ideas, perfect for paging through as you consider your next knitting project.

We also got the new French Girl Knits: Accessories, by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes. Hats, wraps, gloves, socks, and more are within. If you like the style, be sure to check out Griffin-Grimes’ French Girl Knits, as well.

Two books by Martin Storey also found their way to the shop–Nordic Knits and Aran Knits, each taking their inspiration from traditional patterns, but designed with contemporary knitters in mind.

And then there’s Knit Red, a collection of patterns in all shades of red to raise awareness for women’s heart health. Each pattern is by a different designer, and the list is long and impressive: Nicky Epstein, Norah Gaughan, Debbie Bliss, Jared Flood, and Ysolda Teague, among many others. Anne has just cast on for this beautiful linen stitch blanket from Knit Red, designed by Michele Orne for Swans Island Organic Merino Fingering yarn.

Come by the shop to browse all our books for inspiration, ideas, and whatever project it is that you decide you must cast on for immediately. We know the feeling!

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters.

Interweave has just published a new book by Ann Budd, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges, and a stack of them arrived at the shop last week. After studying it during several quiet moments at the shop, I decided it had to be part of my personal knitting library. Read on to learn why it might make a good addition to yours, as well.

Ann Budd is the author of a great many knitting resources, including but not limited to Sock Knitting Master Class, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, and The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. As I’ve written here before, we’re also quite fond of her Handy Guides to Yarn Requirements for knitting and crochet.

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters is the latest in her series of Handy Books which give instructions for simple garments in a wide range of gauges and sizes. This collection, as the title makes plain, is full of seamlessly-constructed sweaters that begin at the neck, working from the top down.

Some knitters begin a new project by falling in love with a pattern, then hunting for just the right yarn to match the gauge that the pattern asks for. Some knitters begin by falling in love with a skein of yarn, then go looking for a pattern to match. Ann Budd’s Handy Books can work either way, I think, but do a real service for the second group. For each basic top-down sweater shape, Budd gives instructions for range of sizes, from children to adults, and a range of gauges. Whether you’ve fallen in love with a sport weight yarn or an aran weight yarn, you can choose from any pattern in the book and follow the directions in your chosen size and gauge. Budd also gives yarn requirements for every size and gauge, so once you’ve fallen in love with that yarn, you’ll know how much to get.

The book is divided into four sections, by the sweater’s yoke shape: seamless yoke, raglan, set-in sleeve, and saddle-shoulder. For each shape, along with the general instructions are three good-looking patterns. Some are designed by Ann Budd, and others by guest designers Jared Flood, Veronik Avery, Pam Allen, and Anne Hanson.

 Budd also includes plenty of information on modifying her general instructions, making it easy to add color or texture patterns, and create different kinds of neckbands, collars, button bands, waist shaping, and edgings.

I’ve knit very few sweaters from the top down, having grown accustomed to using Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Percentage System (EPS) to knit unique sweaters from the bottom up. While EPS makes sweater design into a doable math problem, Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters is like the teacher’s edition–a series of sweater math problems shown with every possible answer. For knitters who love to knit seamless sweaters and make them their own using whatever yarn they’ve fallen in love with, this is the ultimate resource. Come by the shop to take a closer look at The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters!

Pop Knitting.

An inspiring new book has landed at the shop. Pop Knitting: Bold Motifs Using Color and Stitch, by Britt-Marie Christoffersson is a collection of graphic, modern-looking stitch patterns.

Christoffersson combines color and texture in surprising ways, making the book itself a thing of beauty.

The sweaters shown alongside many of these motifs make use of them in beautiful and often pleasantly strange garments. The results are fascinating and exciting, whether they appeal to your personal taste or not.

Come to the shop to take a closer look at Pop Knitting; you’re sure to find some inspiration there.

The Color Grid.

A few weeks ago, our hero, Clara Parkes, posted a particularly intriguing review on her excellent and very informative blog, Knitter’s Review. As soon as Anne arrived at the shop that day, I said, “Did you read Clara today?” Her response: “I already ordered it.”

The subject of that Knitter’s Review post, and the object of our desire, was the Color Grid, a tool developed by hand-dyer Gail Callahan for choosing colors. The Color Grid is a sturdy little pamphlet with a spectrum of colors arranged in a grid, as the name suggests. One of the panels is black, with holes of different sizes.

Hold the largest hole over the color that most closely matches your main color, and the smaller holes highlight the closest relatives of that main color.

A thin, rectangular slot below those holes highlights a contrasting color which Callahan calls the “spark.” A bit of that spark color is sure to make your main color sing because of their relationship on the color wheel.

The color wheel, by the way, has always been on my list of Things I One Day Plan to Understand. Until I take the time to sit down with some color theory and study, the Color Grid will join my intuition in my color-choosing toolbox. And along with the color-choosing comes my favorite part: diving into a pile of knitting books, preferably of the colorwork variety. Many of these books offer more information on color theory, if you’re curious about exactly how the Color Grid is working, and how colors interact in knitted patterns of many kinds.

What a fun toy it is! Come by the shop to snag a Color Grid of your own.

The Principles of Knitting.

Here is a book that has been much-anticipated, a healthily revised version of a classic knitting tome: The Principles of Knitting, by June Hemmons Hiatt.

As I’ve expressed here on the blog before, I have a great love of serious knitting resource books. I don’t need a lot of beautiful photography, though I’m in no way opposed to it, and while pattern collections can be wonderfully inspiring, there is nothing more exciting to me than a knitting book packed full of text, charts, and diagrams. The Principles of Knitting is right up my alley in this manner, as it is something of an encyclopedia of knitting at 736 pages. It is a thick, heavy book, one best perused at a table, with time and concentration.

Hiatt takes an analytical approach to the craft, cataloguing many versions of many techniques and offering an informed opinion on their best applications. As the length of the book suggests, Hiatt does not use words sparingly, as so many knitting technique books do. Instead, Hiatt takes all the room that is necessary to clearly and deliberately explain a technique, even one as deceptively simple as holding the yarn.

For someone who learns best from written instructions, this is a real treat, a book tailored to that very learning style. For me, The Principles of Knitting is a perfect fit, a big, beautiful book that I’m happy to page through for pleasure as well as instruction. If you have ever wanted a book of every imaginable cast-on, or have wondered which kind of increase or decrease to use, and why there are so many, The Principles of Knitting deserves your attention. It is a book to grow with, and one that reflects how much there is to learn and to do with knitting needles and yarn.

If I’ve intrigued you, come by the shop and see the book for yourself, where you’ll find it weighing down the teacart importantly, a mere stack of two copies tall enough to tower over all the other new releases. See you at the shop.

Books, new and old.

We got a box of books in the mail last week, some of which were new, and others of which were merely in need of being reordered. From the department of Books That Have Sold Well That We Are Pleased To See On The Shelves Again:

  • The Magic Loop: Working Around On One Needle, by Bev Galeskas
  • The Knitter’s Book of Socks, by Clara Parkes
  • My Grandmother’s Knitting: Family Stories and Inspired Knits from Top Designers, by Larissa Brown, featuring contributions from Meg Swansen, Jared Flood, Cookie A., Norah Gaughan, and many more
  • Coastal Knits: a Collaboration Between Friends on Opposite Shores, by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig

And from the rather more exciting department of Books That Have Never Before Graced Our Shelves:

  • Stashbuster Knits: Tips, Tricks, and 21 Beautiful Projects for Using Your Favorite Leftover Yarn, by Melissa Leapman
  • Brave New Knits: 26 Projects and Personalities from the Knitting Blogosphere, by Julie Turjoman

Look for these and other knitting and crochet books at the shop. Hope you find something inspiring within their pages.

Knitting with Two Colors.

Back in November, I wrote about two of my favorite new colorwork resources: Alice Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting and Mary Jane Mucklestone’s 200 Fair Isle Motifs. I remember the feeling of contentment I had in placing those two on my bookshelf at home, thinking, “This completes my colorwork library.” That, however, was before Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen’s Knitting with Two Colors appeared. Now, having seen this new book from Schoolhouse Press, gaps appear in my colorwork library where none existed before. Where was the technical detail on preparing for and cutting steeks? The guidance on altering existing colorwork patterns, and designing your own? Ways to incorporate shaping into a colorwork sweater without completely confusing the patterning? The hows, whys, and whether-or-nots of various hems, borders, and necklines? Why, here they are, calmly and clearly explained by these two most experienced colorwork knitters, Swansen and Detjen.

Knitting with Two Colors is neither a book of sweater patterns nor a book of colorwork charts, but truly a book of techniques, a slim paperback volume that is absolutely bursting with information. I can imagine no better companion to Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting or Mucklestone’s 200 Fair Isle Motifs than Swansen and Detjen’s Knitting with Two Colors. Colorwork enthusiasts, and anyone else who’s curious, should take a look at this book, and take home a copy if there’s an ambitious colorwork project in your future. Find it on the teacart.

Two new colorwork resources.

It seems we’ve been getting tons of exciting new books this fall, one right after another. I confess, I’ve added about four new knitting books to my collection at home in the past month alone. Two of those have already been carefully reviewed here on the blog, but the other two have not yet had their moment in the sun. Given my proclivity towards stranded colorwork, it may come as no surprise that these two new titles focus on that technique in particular.

Alice Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting is exactly what it sounds like: a book of charts. Not a book of sweater or hat patterns with charts, just a book of charts. Starmore begins with a chapter on designing simply shaped, drop-shoulder colorwork sweaters, and ends with “A Word on Colour,” but in between, she leaves the knitter alone with pages upon pages of charts. The charts are organized by place of origin, so that in flipping through the book, one can glimpse the color-knitting culture of Norway, then Sweden, then Russia, then South America, and onward. In addition, Starmore also offers charts she’s adapted from ancient manuscripts, architecture, carpets, jewelry, and stonework, and encourages knitters to do the same. Colorwork charts are easily invented, after all–graph paper and a little color knitting experience is all that’s needed.

Mary Jane Mucklestone’s new 200 Fair Isle Motifs is similar to Starmore’s Charts, but focused on the particular Scottish colorwork tradition for which it is named. The book begins with clear tutorials on all kinds of techniques used in Fair Isle knitting, from swatching to steeking to correcting mistakes. For those overwhelmed by the endless possible color combinations (all of us?), there is a little tutorial on color theory. Then come the 200 motifs. Mucklestone has organized these motifs by the number of rows and stitches in each pattern repeat, making it easy to find a pattern that divides evenly into the number of stitches you’re working with on any given project–hat, socks, sweater, etc. Each chart is shown not only in the traditional black-dots-on-a-white-grid style, but also in a color photograph, a color variation, and an all-over version, giving the knitter a jump start on adapting these patterns for many uses.

These two books have me itching to cast on for something new. I am utterly overwhelmed by the number of half-formed knitting ideas rushing around in my mind, which is, by the way, a most pleasant experience. I am so excited by these two books, which complement one another beautifully. Until I figure out exactly what my next colorwork project will be, I’m enjoying simply poring over Starmore’s black and white charts and Mucklestone’s brightly colored motifs, inundated with ideas.