Archive for the ‘Saturday Review’ Category

Satuday Review: Knitting Socks With Handpainted Yarn

November 21, 2009

Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn edited by Carol J. Sulcoski

As soon as I heard of this book it caught my eye. At the time I had been going through different sock patterns tired of finding great patterns that were terrible for multi-colored yarn. It seemed as if the only pattern made for a truly variegated yarn was the Jaywalker, and you can only make that one so many times before going stark raving mad. This book of 21 sock patterns by 17 designers offers quite a few ways of dealing with multicolored yarns.

The pattern selection is great, going from simple and short like the Zigzag lace anklets by Pam Grushkin to a complicated intarsia construction like the Spread Spectrum socks by Kristi Schueler.

There is also 18 pages of instruction in the front, covering everything from needle sizes to color theory and 7 pages of knitting instructions and tips which are always great when a book has more complicated patterns in it. (We’re not supposed to remember the correct way to do everything, now are we?)

There is also a clever way of sorting the patterns, putting different icons for “Nearly Solid,” “Muted Multi,”  and “Wild Multi” I do have to say that I wish “Nearly Solid” wasn’t an option in this book though. I can go to any other pattern book for socks that work with that type of yarn. Also, the icons themselves were hard to tell the difference between. They were blue circles with swirls, either white, medium blue or light blue. It is not easy to tell the difference between medium blue and light blue and if you’re going by icons, there is a lot of flipping back and forth to see which is the darker blue swirl.

I also have to congratulate the designers and especially the editor on the choice of sock yarns.  There was a great selection and some of it was from the not-so big companies. It’s another great way to see knit samples of the same yarns that I love to window shop.

<- I especially loved the “Marie Antionette” colorway from Black Bunny Fibers– point of interest; Carol Sulcoski, the editor is also the owner of Black Bunny Fibers.

All in all the book has a lot to recommend it, and a collection of really talented

My rating: A great concept and some very good designs, but not all of them were really made for handpainted yarn, and the icon classification system is hard to figure out.


Saturday Review: Maggi Knits ‘Linen’ Yarn

August 1, 2009

Okay so today I was actually going to review the ‘Wool in the Woods’ rayon that I’ve been working on with my shrug turned cardigan.

Alas as I found ye…. Well, the company is closed as far as I can find out. They are no longer making yarn at any rate and the yarn is almost impossible to find any on the internet.

I felt it was a little unfair to tell you guys about this great yarn I just found, and follow it up with “na-na  na-na-na you can’t get any!” So… I decided to go with a yarn I love an equal amount, though I found it quite a while ago:

maggi 1

Maggi Knits ‘Linen’ – which is, technically speaking,a cotton linen blend. Hence the quotes.

I really do love this yarn, though it can be tricky to work with due to it’s loose ply. I would recommend working it on wooden needles if knitting, because that got rid of the slight splitting problem I was having.

If you crochet, go for it! I really love this yarn as a crochet medium.

maggi 2

In either knitting or crochet though, I would recommend using a tighter gauge than is specified on the label, I have gotten wonderful results with size 4 needles and a size G hook. You could go a bit larger, but it looks messy to me. (That’s probably just me though.) 🙂

My Rating: 4BallslulzUmmm.. can you rate yarn by yarn balls? I don’t know, so I’ll try it anyway. 🙂

Saturday Review: Couture Crochet Workshop

July 25, 2009

couture crochet

Couture Crochet Workshop: Mastering Fit, Fashion and Finesse by Lily Chin

I got this book from the Interweave ‘Hurt Book Sale’ and I am very happy to report that the only ‘hurt’ I see on this book is a little scratch on the bottom of the binding.

I have to say though, after getting a look at this book, I would have payed full price for it. There are 28 patterns in this book and that’s not the good part. The patterns are beautiful, but none of the patterns are stand alone, each of them are used as an example in a lesson. These lessons paired with the 30 pages (and I counted) of  jumpstart information in the beginning of the book, are pretty much priceless.

There are classes that will charge you hundreds of dollars without imparting a fraction of the information contained in this book.

The chapter titles are:

1. Laying the Foundation

2. Reading Charts

3. Planning Your Own Patterns

4. Refinements in Fitting

5. Crochet-Specific Stitching

6. Simpler Stitches

7. Circular Constructions

8. Manipulating Lace

9. Shell-Stitch Construction and Variations

10. Chevron Stitch Construction

I would have to recommend this information to both designers and crocheters who would simply like to alter patterns to fit them better. A lot of this information is transferable to knitting as well. (Lily Chin, if you recall, is bi-stitchual)

To give you a bit of some of the wonderful information hiding in this book, please let me quote:

Very close-fitting Actual chest/bust  measurement or less

Close-fitting  1-2 inches greater than chest/bust

Standard-fitting 2-4 inches greater than chest/bust

Loose-fitting 4-6 inches greater than chest/bust

Oversized 6 inches or greater than chest/bust”

And suddenly I understand my problems when I try sizing my own outfits. 🙂

My rating: 5-BOY Phenomenal, stupendous, amazing and any other positive superlative I can think of. If you are a knitter,  and see this book in you library or local bookstore, I would recommend picking it up. You may be interested enough to get it.

Okay, I’ll stop raving now. I have some reading to do….

Saturday Review: Boye “Needlemaster” Interchangeables.

July 18, 2009


Okay, so everyone is talking about interchangeable knitting needles, and why not? It can definitely be a money saver, when the ‘cheap’ needles can cost upwards of $5 for a pair of straights, and more for anything circular.

I checked them all out, KnitPicks, Denise,and then, in the midst of all my checking I found myself at the local Michael’s with a 50% coupon in my pocket and a Boye interchangeable knitting needle set in front of me. Hmmm. Instead of the $60 dollars I was planning on spending, I could get a set for just a little over $20? I went for it.

I have to say, for $20 it was a great deal. There are a few problems; you have to use the tools they give you and make sure that the needles are on tight, or they will come loose half way through your project (at least in my experience.) There is also a lack of flexibility in the ‘wire’ part of it, which can be especially frustrating when using the smaller sizes.

What I have found to be the biggest problem for me however, is that the needles themselves are rather short, and I have learned that I hold my needles quite far down from the tip, so that prolonged knitting with these shortened needles makes my hands ache.

I do have to add 2 things to this caution however: 1. I have not yet measured the length of the Boye interchangeables next to a KnitPicks or Denise interchangeable, so I can’t say if this is brand specific or not. 2. “Prolonged Knitting” for me is a matter of most of the day. (Unless I happen to be doing something else with my hands, then I’m either knitting or crocheting.) So, someone a little less, well….compulsive would probably not have a problem with these. 🙂


boye 2

My rating: 4Ballslulz For a third of the price of the others, even if I only use them sparingly, these were definitely worth it.

Saturday Review: Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker

July 11, 2009

happy hookerStitch ‘N Bitch: The Happy Hookerby Debbie Stoller

There is simply not enough good that I can say about this book. I looked at a number of books when I learned to crochet (about 5 years ago) and it wasn’t until I found this one that I went farther than the chain stitch. The patterns are fun, and gorgeously displayed, the instructions are clear, the difficulty level is low, and (a great fact for beginners) the price is really reasonable, especially when compared with some of the other ‘starter’ books.

Just flipping through this book makes me itch to pick up a hook, but for a moment, let me go through the numbers.

Price (suggested retail, you can find it cheaper)- $15.95

Pages- 292


Pages of instruction- 95

Between the variation in patterns, from cardigans to necklaces to doormats and everything in between and the instructions this book works for everyone from beginner to advanced crocheter. My copy is a bit worn because I used to tote it around as a reference guide for when I forgot how to do something :D.

My rating: 5-BOYSeriously, the only flaw I can begin to find in this book is that I would like an indication of the difficulty level of each project. Barring that (and it’s a small thing) I have no problem wholeheartedly endorsing this book.

Saturday Review: The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques

June 27, 2009



The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques by Margaret Radcliffe

I have to say that I get very skeptical when books title themselves “the essential guide” or “the ___ bible” but in this case the book is everything the title claims, and maybe just a bit more.

I can definitely say that this book answered all of the questions I had about color knitting and some that I don’t think I would have ever thought of.

It comes with a section on color theory, stitch patterns (using different colors of course, stripes, multicolor yarns, stranded knitting, intarsia, and more. It also has sections on entrelac and shadow knitting, and a few patterns.

Besides all of the things I could go on about this book having, it also has amazing, clear color pictures. The technique pictures manage to be instructional and beautiful.

My rating: 5-Balls of YarnEven the most frugal person has to admit that this book really does give you your money’s worth and then some.

Book Review: Crochet Stitch Motifs

June 6, 2009

crochet stitch motifs

Crochet Stitch Motifs: 250 stitches to crochet 

edtidy by: Erika Knight

The numbers:

  • 271 pages
  • 24 pages of instruction and explanation
  • 232 pages of motifs

So quick review. I haven’t had much time with this book, since I bought it today, but from the motif instructions I’ve read, it is definitely worth the cost. I picked this book up while browsing my local bookstore and in flipping through my mindset went from “eh, I’ve seen some motifs that are cute, but nothing I had to have” to “I am getting this book, you can’t stop me” in about three seconds.

Why, you ask? Because of this motif.

five branches

Isn’t it gorgeous?

I just know I can make a fabulous scarf out of that. The name was rather prophetic, as I spent the afternoon helping my neighbor take down trees, then hauling branches. This, by the way, is why I am late (almost 15 mins!) posting this; about which I am horrendously sorry.

For those of you who are less time sensitive and routine oriented and are saying “late? she had a schedule?” yes, I have been trying to post every 12 hours 6am and 6pm, if you look at the top of the post you will see that I am late by almost a quarter hour. Again, my apologies.

If that doesn’t just reach out and grab you, look at these two motifs:

six pt flakeeyelet sq

These pictures will definitely win no awards, but I wanted to give you the general idea.

These are definitely the more complicated of the motifs, and I can already see some people getting worried. They have all types, (you’d have to, with 250 slots to fill) and if you’re not experienced at crochet, (say a converted knitter….) Their is still plenty of pretty motifs at your skill level.

Best of all is that easy or difficult the motifs all come with both row-by-row instruction and a stitch diagram.

My rating: 5-BOY

Now if you’ll excuse me… I have some motifs to make.

Review: Socks from the Toe Up

May 8, 2009

Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy D. Johnson is a wonderful book bursting with beautiful patterns and useful information.

As the title says, this is all about doing socks from the toe up, a whole new ball game for me, so I am very excited. I actually found this book next to Sock Innovations by Cookie A. but whereas Cookie A.’s book has some interesting pattern, I had to grab the book that promised to teach me something.

The only downside of this book is conditional: you should be familiar with working socks on either 2 circular needles or one very long one (à la magic loop.) Wendy does put a quick explanation of the different techniques but in my opinion it is too short for someone completely new.

So where, you ask, would you find this information, my suggestion is                



2sockcover_d112807Two-at-a-time Socks by Melissa Morgan- Oakes which will teach you magic  loop and how to make them, well, two at at time.

So, with no further ado, here’s the breakdown for this book:

127 pages of information

Technique information and lessons:

5 toe techniques, 3 heel techniques, and 4 bind-off techniques

Sock patterns:

3 basic socks- normal stockinette allowing you to focus on working the socks from the bottom up and giving you a feel for the separate techniques.

12 lace patterns-  these are lovely patterns, all very different and still nice, I also like that they are shown in multicolor sock yarns, as most of the sock yarn that you see (and that I covet) has lovely handpainted colorways, so I love patterns that use them.

3 textured gansey patterns- these are nice, mostly because the patterns are simply creative combinations of knits and purls that create shapes. (think martini dishcloth)

2 “cabled” patterns- I love cables, and though she explains that cables do tend to make the socks bulky, I am a little upset that these patterns aren’t true cables, though they are very nice and the mock cable socks are very clever.

3 sport weight patterns– ok so its really another 3 lace socks in slightly heavier yarn, and these are just as lovely as the other lace patterns so I am not going to complain.

Summary : 23 sock patterns! That and the large number of techniques in the front puts this book in my opinion in the must have category.

*Another great feature of this book is that, with the exception of the 2 last patterns, all of the patterns in this book call for the same size needle. Even if you need a different needle from the one in the book (namely a size 0) you should still only need one size for 21 out of the 22 patterns

I give it  5 balls of yarn:small-yarnsmall-yarnsmall-yarnsmall-yarnsmall-yarn