SR [Finished chest measurement for sweaters] =
the smallest chest measurement to the largest chest measurement
we could find in the book. There may be only one pattern with
the smallest or largest size, but it's in there. Books are
softcover unless noted otherwise. All prices USD unless noted.
Contemporary Irish Knits by
Just to be clear, I have a thing about
Ireland and a thing about cable knits.
I went to Ireland on my honeymoon 15 years
ago and still haven’t used up all
of the yarn I bought on that trip. This
a great book on Irish knitting. Carol Feller
has a great designing eye – the cables
and stitches are all familiar, but the
designs all are distinctly modern in look
and fit. When was the last time you met
an Aran sweater with waist shaping?
The book starts with a short section about
measuring, ease, shoulder shaping and working
with charts, not usual topics discussed
in the same breath as Irish knitting. The
book is divided into three main chapters
and at the center of each, a working mill
producing Irish yarns – Kerry Woolen
Mill, Cushendale Woolen Mills and Donegal
Yarns – is featured. The
designs in each chapter use yarns from
the featured mill and take names and inspirations
from the surrounding countryside.
There are sweater patterns for you and
all of your two-legged loved ones, and
a handful of accessories. None of them,
thankfully, are fussy or fancy and many
are textural rather than cable-y. When
there are cables, they aren’t heavy
or overdone – they are allowed space, not
set edge to edge. Two sweaters that make
my fingers twitch are Killorglin, the cover
sweater, a zip-front cabled cardigan that
uses wide ribs to set off large cable panels;
and Killybegs a spectacular take on a traditional
honeycomb sweater. On Killybegs the honeycomb
is used on less than half on the sweater
as a highlight and for shaping on the yoke
I wish the trim size of the book
and photos were larger and I really wish
the girls’ cardigan Rossbeg was sized
for adults, but I’ve already started
Killybegs so I’m good, for now.
Hannah Fettig and Alana Dakos
This book is a collection of 10 knitting
patterns designed by two friends, both knitwear
designers, but living on opposite coasts,
Hannah in Maine and Alana in California.
The book opens with a vignette on each designer,
photos of their favorite places on their
coast, a q&a and information on the local
yarns they’ve used in their designs;
it really sets the tone for the rest of the
book. As I looked at each design, shot at
one of their favorite places, knit with a
local yarn, I got a wonderful sense of place
and feeling for their inspirations. The illustrations
are fantastic, lovely and they do a wonderful
job of tying the book together.
Each designer did 3 sweaters and 2 accessories
for the book. The standouts for me a split
right down the middle: Alana Dakos'
Gnarled Oak cardigan is one of those sweaters
that is a perfectly blended, the design with
it’s botanic inspired yoke, the yarn
is just the right shades of greens and it’s
finished with sliced branch buttons – I
want to knit it exactly as it’s shot.
Hannah Fettig’s Water’s Edge
Cardigan is another beautiful sweater, with
elbow length sleeves and little amounts of
pleating at the waist that creates a flowing,
flattering line on the lower half of the
sweater. It’s a sweater that would
make me feel pretty even on my blah-est feeling
days. The schematics that are provided in
the book are excellent, they are clear and
concise with the information a knitter needs
to customize a garment for fit. I hope these
two designers have another collaboration
in the works.
The Knitter's Life List: To Do, To Know,
To Explore, To Make by
Gwen W. Steege
Are you in a knitting rut or just want
to try something new? The Knitter’s
Life List could be just the spark to send
the knitting part of your brain into overdrive.
Divided into 11 chapters each with its
own check list, a knitter can explore a
Yarn Life List, a Sock Life List, a Hat
Life List and a bunch more. Each chapter
is divided into wonderful bites under the
headings Meet, Discover/Explore, Try,
Learn, Go and Experience.
in the Scarves and Shawls chapter, you
Meet Debbie, Stoller, Ann Budd, Nancy Bush,
Linda Ligon and Kate Gilbert, you Explore
knitting novels, shawl traditions, classic
types of shawl and knitting groups, you
Learn about mysterious moebius, double knitting,
what makes a fiber silky according to Jeanne
Bakriges and lace lifelines, plus more
things that don’t fall neatly under
There aren’t start-to-finish patterns,
but lots of tips and how-tos. This book
is full of fun and interesting information.
I loved to pick it up at the end of my
knitting day, when my hands were tired
of knitting, but my brain still in knitting
Custom Knits 2: More Top-Down
and Improvisational Techniques by Wendy Bernard
STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books
If you thought you learned a lot with Wendy
Bernard’s first book, Custom Knits,
hold on to your calculators, knitters!
If Custom Knits showed you how do some
top-down gymnastics, Custom Knits 2 invites
you to join Cirque Du Soleil with your
In this book you’ll learn how to
preplan your sweater to get exactly the
sweater you want, how to customize a sweater
to the fit you want, upsize and downsize
sweaters, customize a raglan sweater, substitute
yarns of different gauges, and two different
sweater styles from scratch.
The teaching is solid and straightforward.
Wendy assumes you know how to knit, will
do math and have the IQ of a knitter (that
is to say higher than the average muggle).
She doesn’t over simplify or get
cutesy, she teaches you how to do it in
a way that works every time. The book is
laid out in a way that you can do as much
or as little as you want, with lovely sweater
designs by Wendy to try out her lessons.
There are 25 patterns for the whole family
in this book, tees, vests, hoodies, cardigans,
jackets – a whole range of projects to knit
as is or to alter and customize to your
Wool Book One by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa
Quince & Co.
Quince and Co.‘s first pattern book
is as fresh as its website and yarn.
There is a simplicity to designers’ Cecily
Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre’s
designs that fits the aesthetic of Quince
and Co yarn perfectly. Their designs
have clean lines with few stitch patterns
and minimal shaping. There are three sweaters,
a cowl and hat in this first collection.
The designs are not fussy, but beautiful
with enough interest to keep you knitting
and keep you reaching to wear them. I have
my eye on the Anastasia cardigan and the
Avery cowl. Amy loves Agnes, with the cheeky
contrast-color hidden pocket.
If you haven’t done yourself the
favor of knitting with Quince and Co. yarn
yet, do try it. They have distilled wool
yarns to the essence of what a wool yarn
should be: three bears
yarns, not too anything, but just right.
Lace Knitting to Go: 25
Lovely Laces to Use for Edgings, Embellishments,
and More by Andrea Tung
This card deck of lace patterns came out several years ago, but it’s
new to me. This is a variation on the stitch dictionary that I really enjoy.
I popped open the box when my daughter requested a ‘not boring’ hat.
She might have said ‘totally’, but I’ve blocked her
near-teen vocabulary. She sat and went through the box of 25 patterns.
The stitch pattern is on a fold-open card, with a photo of a large swatch
on the front, written and charted pattern inside. She came up with two
possible patterns and I put them in my project bag. I can swatch when I
have the time, all I need is on the stitch pattern card, without carrying
along a book or doing any photocopying.
Hiya Hiya Interchangable Bamboo
$79.90, for either the small or large size set
These new bamboo needles are workhorse
needles. They are currently sitting at
the top of my knitting bag. The bamboo
has resin in it making them stronger than
plain bamboo needles and they're really,
really smooth. Hiya Hiya has improved the
swivel in their cables since they released
steel interchangeable needles, and now
there is no break in time waiting for the
swivel to loosen up.
Hiya has made an improvement to their interchangeable
case, too. They have added a Velcro flap
that holds the needle tips in place when
the case is open – no more losing
needles in your bag if you don’t
close your case tightly.
I tested my needles on a variety of yarns.
I’ve had issues with other bamboo
needles snagging on soft or softly spun
yarns. I knit merino and merino blends.
I knit silk. I knit handspun yarn that
was barely plied. I even knit pencil roving,
all with no snags.
The small interchangable set includes 7
sets of tips in sizes from 2-8 US (2.75-5mm).
The large interchangable set includes 6
sets of tips in sizes from 9-15 US (5.5
- 10 mm). Each set also has 4 cables (2-26",
1-34" and 1-42" cables) a case
and needle grips to help with tightening.
The Knitting Book by Frederica Patmore, Vikki Haffenden
A book of practical knitting information
for knitters on the beginning to intermediate
end of the scale – it has the
basics of everything.
It shows and talks
about the basic knitting tools, basic knitting
stitches, cast ons, binds offs, tips to
read patterns, lace knitting and cables.
It shows how to finish and block, to embellish,
to felt your knitting. It even has several
beginner-level accessory projects.
photography is big, bright and detailed,
easy to see and follow along with instructions.
If you are, or know, a knitter that’s
just starting out, this is a great reference.
Finishing School: A Master Class for
Knitters by Deborah Newton
Sixth & Spring
Deborah Newton successfully does for finishing
in her new book, Finishing
she did for designing in her classic book
Finishing School is
meticulously detailed, rich with illustration
and photography. Yet this isn’t a
stuffy or boring book. She backs up nearly
every technique with a personal story or
found myself being drawn in again and again
reading for pages about seaming or inserting
Because she has 20 years of designing
and finishing (she says she has contract
knitters knit for her but she still does
all of her own finishing for publication)
she gives concrete examples of when to
use a particular technique and to what effect,
and shows before and after photos. It was
great to see her own swatches throughout
the book (she says no swatch should be
smaller than 8x8") and how
she uses them, not just for stitch gauge,
but also to design nearly every element
in a sweater.
This is a fantastic book for every level
of knitter. Newbies will learn it right
the first time and more experienced knitters
will have more beautifully finished garments.
Shaping Shawls: Shawl Construction
and 10 Designs by Anna Dalvi
Cooperative Press PDF only: $16.95 E-Reader Edition: $16.95
Print + PDF: $26.95
I remember the first teaser photo Cooperative
Press showed of this book: a stack of brightly
colored folded lace shawls. Even that tiny
teaser made me shout ‘Want!’ at
my computer. Now the book is here and it
lives up to that sexy little teaser.
every knitter I know who has knit a lace
shawl wants to design one her/himself.
They pick out the yarn and the stitch patterns,
they even swatch, and then they freak out.
The freaking out comes from making the
lace be a certain shape. In this book Anna
Dalvi sets all those knitters from ‘exterminate!’ to
calm. It’s pretty close to easy to
shape a lace shawl: all you need is a deep
breath, a little focus and, of course,
It begins with math. Yes, I said it the
four-letter knitting word, math. But it’s
only adding and subtracting, really. Also
there are charts. Some knitters don’t
like charts, but for big lace shawls it
would make me nuts to not use them, and
she talks about reading and using them
in detail. So she starts with basic lace
math and charts then jumps right into the
She shows how to shape 10 shawls: 2 rectangular
shawls, 2 square shawls, and 6 triangular
shawls – yes, circular and semicircular
are not included. In the intro she
says she working with straight lines in
this book. For each shawl, she first explains
the basic shaping in words and illustrations,
then uses a shawl pattern to demonstrate
it in the real knitting world.
Remember the teaser photo I talked about
at the beginning? Those are the shawls.
10 beautiful, bright lace shawls, bursts
of succulent color. Thank you Cooperative
Press for making the shawl photos full
All in all, a great shawl book whether
you use it for designing your own shawl
or are just knitting along with the patterns
designed by Anna Dalvi.
This really should be called Sasha Kagan:
A Retrospective of a Master, because that’s
what this is. The 21 patterns collected
here span Ms. Kagan’s designing career,
which started in 1969. The Scottie dogs
are there, the leaves and lichen too and
the flowers - the flowers are all over.
When I was first knitting in the '80s,
I was sure Sasha Kagan was a botanist in
the day and designed sweaters at night.
I bought her books just for the flower
The designs are all still lovely and fit
right in to current wardrobes. The designs
are changed a little from their original – edges
smoothed, shoulders and peplums a little
less. All are reknit and rewritten for
yarns that are currently available.
It is a testament to a knitwear designer
that knitters can still be coveting her
designs from 40 years ago.
Astounding Knits! 101 Spectacular Knitted Creations
and Daring Feats by Lela Nargi
A greatest hits of many of the big and
most talked about works of knitted art.
Big can mean big as in Gelatin’s
200-foot rabbit, but mostly this is a collection
of interesting and oddballs works of knitted
art. I love how’s it’s designed
and written with tongue firmly in cheek – a
little Ripley’s Believe It or Not,
a little Weekly World News and a little
Barnum and Bailey.
Never is the gee-wizzery
disrespectful. Author Lela Nargi is a knitter
herself, and there are several straight-up
interviews with many of the artists in
I’m happy I can stop
trying to kep track of all of the links
to Dave Cole’s Knitting Machine – two
John Deere excavators that knit with utility
poles, the article about the woman that
knits sweaters for penguins, Jan Messant’s
tiny knitted worlds, knitted microbes and
all of those knitted wedding dresses, because
they are collected in this book.
Knitting Off the Axis: Projects and Techniques
for Sideways Knitting by
Fall always bring a surprising book or
two and this is the one for me, it’s
a book of directional knitting, with the
direction being mostly sideways, but not
always. The garments in this book are more
sculptural than most knitted garments both
in the silhouette side to side knitting
takes on, and in the surface texture that
knitting in multiple directions gives. The
book starts with a short introduction to
directional knitting, tips that Matthew
Gnagy has learned through experience – row
gauge, blocking, increasing and decreasing
and assembling your garment.
The sweaters are striking in their unusual
look and shape, modern with clean slim-fitting
lines. They are knit mostly from worsted
weight yarn, giving an added visual weight
and structure. My favorites are the in
the last two chapters, where the knitting
is in multiple directions, and any of the
sweaters with cables. Cables going in multiple
directions with the added swoop of an interesting
and unique way of increasing and decreasing
appeal to my knitter’s hands and
brain. Spinners take note: these sweaters
would be a great way to showcase handspun
Koala Caddie Knitting Bag Craft
a slideshow of how it can be worn here $65.00
It’s a knitting bag. It’s
an apron. It’s a knitting bag you
can wear while you’re using it. If
you’re a spinner, it’s a tool
bag and a flicker pad that won’t
slip off of your leg.
The Koala Caddie is an apron with a big
pleated (to expand) pouch. It is adjustable
in length with the use of snaps, and for
waists with extra-long ties.
It comes in a huge variety of cotton fabric
patterns. I felt goofy at first wearing
it. I am not an apron woman, but
I kept coming back to it because it’s
so useful and well made. All of the
seams are double stitched for strength,
the snaps are heavy duty and the lining
of the pouch is satin to keep your yarn
If you do use the Koala Caddie for spinning
and storing tools, like your flick or cards,
it’s likely the teeth of your tools
will shred the satin lining. For me it’s
absolutely worth it to have my spinning
tools at hand without bending over and
digging through a bag or under a chair
to get them.
The Koala Caddie snaps completely closed
and can be carried as a tote bag, too
My Grandmother's Knitting:
Stories and Inspired Knits from Top Designers by Larissa Brown
STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books
This is a thoroughly charming book. A collection of essays based on interviews
with 26 knitting designers about the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles
and family friends that inspired them to knit and create as children. Some
were knitters, some were artists, some imbued creativity into their everyday
life, but each one had an influence in the young lives of Ysolda
Teague, Wendy Bernard, Norah Gaughanm Meg Swansen and many others.
In addition to the essays, there are 22 patterns based on remembered knitted
items or inspired by the creative generosity of family, including a swingy
cardigan by Cirilia Rose, an autumnal afghan by author Larissa Brown, fingerless
mitts by Ysolda Teague and slippers by Wendy Bernard.
bag and pattern holder set by Chic-a
This is an adorable three-pack to keep
your knitting organized. It’s made
up of a mini tote – big enough for
2 skeins of sock yarn and room for doo-dads;
a key ring pouch for the littles that get
lost [stitch holders, in my case]; and
a brilliant pattern holder.
The key ring pouch can go on your key ring,
in the mini tote or on one of mini tote’s
The pattern holder, when
not being used, folds and snaps around
the mini tote, smart. The pattern holder
when in use, holds an 8 ½ x
sheet between a clear plastic sheet and
a decorative oilcloth sheet. It folds
into a triangle in either direction with
the oilcloth on the outside (to snap around
the mini tote) and with the pattern on
the outside – allowing you to flip
it around as you work through your pattern – a
mini pattern stand.
The Triad comes in a 8 different oilcloth
patterns, sturdy and fun. This is a little
gem of an organizer.
Knitting Socks from Around the World:
25 Patterns in a Variety of Styles and
Techniques by Kari Cornell
A rich collection of socks inspired by textile
traditions from around the world. Starting
with the opening essay about the history
of sock knitting by Nancy Bush, the book
is filled by people who know socks. Designers
Nancy Bush, Anna Zillborg, Chrissy Gardiner,
Beth Brown-Reinsel and Cadace Eisner-Strick help
to fill this book of 25 patterns with a diverse
collection of socks and sock techniques.
Many socks are multi sized, most are sized
for a women’s medium. The inspiration
for the socks in this book is wonderfully
varied, ganseys, Andean knitting, Estonian
knitting, Bohus knitting, Fair Isle knitting
Lithuania, Bosnia, Albania, Ireland, Finland,
Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Turkey, Russia,
and Japan. Filled with color work, texture
and lace – sometimes all in the same
sock, this wide-ranging collection is sure
to please even those sock knitters that have
knit hundreds of pairs of socks.
KB Yarns Oya Lace
available in different colors
I was suprised to see this beautiful lace
edging on display, packaged for knitters
like us to add to our projects, at the most
recent knitting trade show.
I learned about Oya from a friend who is
a collector of this lace, handmade in Turkey
from cotton thread, woven into beautiful
shapes with a needle. The materials are
simple, but the results are stunning. Traditionally
Oya surrounds large squares of cotton, often
printed with matching patterns, and worn
as scarves. And when the center wears out
or is no longer what the wearer wants, it's
discarded, but the lace is removed and used
on a new scarf. Antique Oya is really expensive,
and even modern Oya costs quite a bit. (Do
a search on eBay and you'll see.) So I was
thrilled to see the price here -- $16 for
10 individual flowers. Take a look at the
work involved in each, and even at twice
that price, it's justified.
The flowers shown above are flat and geometric;
others are surprisingly realistic, looking
like daffodils, violets or bergamot. It's
unbelievable, the amount of detail that can
be worked into one of these tiny treasures.
You could knit them into your next project,
sew them onto the edge, or even string them
onto a fine chain and wear them as jewelry.
Weekend Hats: 25 Knitted Caps,
Berets, Cloches, and More by
Cecily Glowik MacDonald, Melissa
When I first saw this book I thought -"Hooray,
New England Hats!", but no, it’s
not a book of hat designs by New
England Knits authors, Cecily
Glowik MacDonald and Melissa
LaBarre. The author do contribute two
patterns each to this book, and it turns
out, they are just as good at picking folks
to design hats as they are at designing
This book has 25 hat designs
by 19 different designers. Texture,
colorwork, lace – whatever you most love
to knit or have wanted to dabble in, you’ll
find it here. I have a deep rooted fear
of Fair Isle, but Gudrun Johnson’s
Hued Toque is calling me. There are hats
for men and women, and hats that would
suit both. Hats that are more decorative
and hats that are cozy warm.
variety of design is huge, and if like
a little bit tired of chunky everything,
not one of these hats is knit out of chunky
or bulky yarn – Hooray!
Mini-messenger by Namaste
Size: 5" W x 12" H x 15" L
It’s a great bag.
It holds significantly
more than you’d expect without being
a typical huge messenger, and is very
cleverly laid out. The organizing pockets
at the front hold the phone, the keys, a
pen or two - all the “purse” essentials.
And there’s a inside zip pocket into
which I tucked my wallet and my makeup pouch.
It’s a simple thing, but I love that
this pocket isn’t flat – there’s
some width to it, so it holds an overstuffed
makeup bag comfortably, without distorting
the pocket or making it hard to zip up.
main section easily holds a substantial knitting
project. I was able to get the back
of a sweater in it with no trouble. I also
used it to carry around a water bottle, a
snack, two sock projects and my netbook with
no trouble at all.
It’s better than
a lot of messenger bags because the base
is wide, making it more flexible: a friend
easily fits her big Canon camera, her tablet,a
small knitting project and all her purse
essentials in it. And it’s clearly
designed with the smaller-framed in mind – I’m
petite, and the it doesn’t look like
I’ve stolen my big brother’s
school bag when it’s on my shoulder.
I love the animal-friendly PVC as it’s
also weather-proof, and it comes in Namaste’s
great color selection.
Not just a knitting
bag: I look forward to using this as my
urban trekking bag.
Happy Button Flower Pin Kits
available in Purple Aster or Gerber Daisy
$16 per kit
Bonnie Bishoff is a polymer clay artist
with a worldwide reputation for her astounding
Lucky for fiber folk, she's recently added
jewelry and shawl pins to her portfolio.
These kits include the handmade button
and enough hand-dyed yarn in a complementary
color to knit the flower shown, along with
the pattern. The button has a shank on
the back that allows you to pin it to a
sweater or jacket and then remove it when
it's time for laundry. It's hard to see,
but each of the buttons has the sheerest
hint of glitter running through a few of
the stripes. This would be a great focal
point on a hat, or just the perfect knitterly
touch to wear with a blazer.
SpinKnit, Fall 2011
fall issue of SpinKnit has more
gorgeous armchair spinning from the folks
at Interweave. I notice that they lowered
the price from last fall (it was $14.97)
and the patterns in the emag are all
original not reprints. It’s nice
when publishers listen!
This issue feels like it’s settled
into the rhythm of a publication, or
maybe it’s that I know how to use
it and where to look for and click for
things. My favorite things in this
issue, in no particular order are: a
video on learning to tailspin with Jacey
Boggs, reading about Bond sheep, watching
Judith MacKenzie harvest cedar to spin
and reading about the Quileute and Makah
cedar textile traditions, learning about
Tom Forrester’s spindle making
technique, and a thoroughly gorgeous
spindle spun lace cowl by Sarah Lamb.
I love the links to websites included
in the articles (I may have shopped)
and there is such vibrancy to having
the multimedia, instantly.
On a technical note: This current version
of AdobeAir didn’t work as smoothly
as the last on my Mac – lots of
pinwheels, stutterings and mislinkings
within the emag. Hopefully there will
be an Adobe update soon.
I still want Mac to make friends with
Adobe Air -- this would look beautiful
on my iPad.
for fiber reviews?
They're on their
own page, right
All of the patterns in this book have been in Interweave Knits or
Knitscene magazine, but most of the lace knitters I know won’t
care. The obsessive lace knitters I know base their magazine purchases
or subscriptions on how many lace projects are in an issue of a magazine,
and they’ll be happy to have them in one spot, rather than various
This collection of lace patterns is mostly fine lace
designs. Sweaters, shawls, socks and scarves designed by lace luminaries
Evelyn Clark, Nancy Bush, Kat Coyle and Anne Hanson. A fine compilation
for passionate lace knitters.
To answer the burning question – yes, the Central Park
Hoodie is in this book (sized from 32-60"). Plus there’s
a lot of other good stuff.
I’m not a regular reader of Knitscene so a lot of the
patterns in here I’d never seen. All of the patterns
have been published in the magazine, but if you don’t
have them all this is a great eclectic collection of patterns.
There are extras too, articles – I really enjoyed the
article about how Knitscene uses sweater trends and how to
wear them. There’s a sprinkling of profiles of Knitscene’s
favorite designers and I never get tired of reading about
I found at least 8 things I would make in this
book – Mathew Gagny’s Heleborus Yoke cardigan
and Cecily Glowik MacDonald’s Michaelmas Mitts top my