by Jillian Moreno, Amy R Singer, Carla
Kohoyda-Inglis, Katherine Ganzel
TNNA -- the National NeedleArts
Association -- is the the organization
that most of the knitting companies who
make stuff we love with belong to. Manufacturers
of yarn, knitting needles, bags, all
sorts of accessories, publishers of knitting
books and magazines, designers and distributors
gather twice a year to show and see what's
new in the industry. Knitty has just
returned from the big fall show in Columbus,
Ohio, and in this edition of Cool Stuff,
you get to see what we liked best from
the show, fresh from the show floor.
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.
Knitting Mochimochi: 20 Super-Cute
Strange Designs for Knitted Amigurumi by Anna Hrachovec
I've loved the work of Anna Hrachovec, the queen of Mochimochi
Land, for a very long time. Back in Fall
2007, Knitty proudly published Anna's Woodins
pattern, little sprites that live in a
hollow log. Since that time, Anna has continued
to create a huge collection of improbable
knitted beings, each more adorable than
This book? This book made me squeal out loud. The graphic
design is perfectly coordinated with Anna's
knitted creatures. As I turned each page,
there was a new treat to look at, a tidbit
to read. Anna has packed every single
page with adorableness. The 20 super-cute
projects are exactly as advertised: super-cute.
Pigs with wigs! Adorable smokestacks [this
is not a typo]! A couch with eyes! A moose
that thinks it's a bird! Plus the cuteness
of the hippo on the cover...he's a slipper!
And so much more. Every project is brand
not seen before on her site. And they're
This book will
teach you what you need to know to knit toys
[it's a little different than knitting
garments] in a friendly way, and will even
help you design your own knitted toy!
New England Knits: Timeless
Knitwear with a Modern Twist by Cecily Glowik MacDonald
and Melissa LaBarre
I love this book so much that I’d like to do a swan
dive right into its pages and come out
with 6 or 8 sweaters magically and beautifully
knit in my size. Instead
I will knit from this book, a lot. The
sweaters are knittable and wearable and
the construction and details so interesting that they will
make you smile. The Hampton Cardigan, Brattleboro Hat, Greenfield
Cardigan and Salem Hooded Jacket will be on my needles this
Every July or August, there is a book
that comes out that makes everyone wish
it was fall already. This year it’s this book.
The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional
Knitwear Design: How to Keep Your Knits About You by Shannon Okey
This book is groundbreaking. Everything you need to know,
and much more, about the knitwear design
industry is contained in its pages. It's
a fascinating read, whether you want to design
or not. In fact, I think anyone who has ever
bought a knitting pattern should read this
The first 11 chapters contain information it usually takes
designers years to learn -- years of trial
and lots of error. It's valuable and it's
interesting, and much of it is useful for
creative businesspeople in the digital age,
whether you design or not. Topics covered
include the essential starting point, professionalism,
and go on to cover the business side of things,
legal matters, writing patterns, making sales,
proposals and publishing, advertising, professional
associations and how to stand out.
just the start. The rest of the book is full
of the juicy stuff. Interviews, some painfully
candid, with more than 30 of the names you've
seen in knitting magazines, on recent books
and yarn lines -- everywhere across the industry.
These industry insiders make it clear that
a career in knitting is no easy job, and
they tell why. They talk about the good stuff
and, more honestly than you've ever read
before, the not-so-good stuff.
Throughout the book, author
Shannon Okey, uses examples from her own
work to illustrate key points. She's written
12 books, taught classes all over North America,
appeared on television shows -- she knows
her stuff. I like the practical way each
point is made using her personal examples;
it really helps explain each concept clearly
Wool Toys and Friends: Step-by-Step
Instructions for Needle-Felting Fun by Laurie Sharp
Creative Publishing International
This book fully illustrates how easily I could
become addicted to needle felting. The projects
are small and adorable. Why yes, I do need
a mushroom house sitting on my desk, or perhaps
a sheep finger puppet to help me get through my workday.
The how-to makes it doable, shown step by step,
it’s written and shot plainly – that is to say clearly:
no confusing photos, all against a solid backdrop,
no breed-specific wool, just fiber and a needle.
The intro portion of tools and felting basics
is just enough information, moving quickly
into the projects. Both solid needle felt and
needle felt formed over forms – like
for hand puppets – are shown. Maybe I want
a felted matryoshka doll, because she’d be
friends with the felted sock monkey I’ve already started.
Power Cables: The Ultimate Guide to Knitting
Inventive Cables by Lily M. Chin
Every knitter knows that Lily Chin never does ‘just basic’ anything.
In this book even the ‘intro’ to cables, shows cabling
without a cable needle and Lily’s own, intriguing, cable
From there your brain and knitting go on a
cable rocket ride. With increasing complexity,
she takes you through her unique approach to
reversible cables, creating unique cables,
multicolor cables, brioche cables and designing
a garment with cables. It sounds like a lot,
and it is. It’s
experience in teaching that keeps this book
from being overwhelming. She has the skill
to get you to really visualize how cables work
There are 30 stitch patterns listed throughout
the book and 15 original patterns for garments
and a variety of accessories.
The Sock Knitter's Workshop: Everything Knitters
Need to Knit Socks Beautifully by Ewa Jostes and Stephanie van der Linden
When I first started knitting, I was fearless. If there was something
I wanted to try, I jumped in with both feet. My first pair of
socks was a disaster. Fortunately, my local yarn shop had a sock
maven and when I took my pitiful first attempt in, she explained
to me what I had done wrong and how to fix it.
Now that I have less time (and less sass), my knitting has
become the tool I use to unwind. While I
absolutely love to knit socks, I have a plain
vanilla pattern that I’ve
knit hundreds of times and can whip up without
thinking much. The
Sock Knitter’s Workshop has inspired me step off
my comfort path and step into an alternate
sock universe. In addition to the beginning
sock knitters section there are sections
devoted to the three major parts of a sock: cuffs, heels, and
section provides a multitude of ways to knit the
particular part you are working on. For instance,
I usually use the paired-decrease toe for my vanilla
itching to try out the spiral and star toe
versions provided in Workshop.
Before this book, I knit
one pair of socks from the toes up – and hated them.
Didn’t like knitting them, didn’t like wearing
them. The comprehensive section on toe-up
socks in this book is making me re-think
the whole issue. There’s
even a section of patterns for those of us
want to think too much about it, but want
to try something new – mother & daughter
matching socks, wee baby socks, complicated
pattern socks – they’re
all here. Plus, you’ll get dozens of charts telling you
how many inches to knit for your gauge and
whatever size sock you need.
If you’re an experienced
sock knitter in a rut, this book is for
you. If you’re a new sock knitter or haven’t
knit socks because you’re afraid, this book is for you
too. (Also, if you’re afraid, take the plunge. If you’ve
knit a sweater, you have all the tools in
your kit to knit socks. Give it a go!)
Swift by Tom Bihn,
designed with help
from the readers of Knitty
Size: 6" x 9 1/2" x
11" Shown in recycled
ultrasuede [bottom] : $70-110
Also available in kiwi ballistic nylon
Jillian: The next perfect
addition to the Swift line of knitting
bags from Tom Bihn. I’m reviewing
the waterproof ultrasuede model [top
left]. This bag is about a third smaller
than its big sister, and is pretty
much a perfect bag – it holds
accessory knitting rather than an adult
sweater. My knitting bags also double
as my purse. I carried a shawl projects,
a pair of socks a magazine, my knitting
kit and my regular purse things with
no problemz. Even when very full, the
bag with its
extra-stiff bottom do not tip over.
The straps are the perfect length for
this short knitter. The bag sat right
above my hips and the straps never
slipped from my shoulder or got stuck
in and pulled my hair. Being a spinner,
I was really unsure about the ultrasuede
fabric, and, yes, fiber sticks to the
outside, but all it takes is a sweep
of your hand, no tape, no lint roller
to remove it.
I inadvertently tried out the waterproof-ness
of the fabric, when at swimming lessons
with my son, he stood over my bag and dripped
all over it. When I noticed, the outside
of the bag was soaked and it was standing
in a puddle of water. No water soaked in
through the bottom, and the big wet spots
on the outside of the bag dried to nothing,
just a quick brush to get the nap even.
Another great bag from Tom Bihn.
tested the recycled rubber/hemp Little Swift
[bottom left]. The fabric is really unique,
and if I hadn't been told what it was made
of, I'm not sure I'd be able to guess. It
looks rustic but not uncouth and is very
durable. It didn't attract much fiber to
its surface in daily knitting use. Around
silk spinning fiber, it was a bit more attracted,
but as Jillian mentions, a simple wipe with
the hand and the fiber comes easily away.
I love the size, which suits
me even better than the original Swift as
a daily bag. I found it a perfect purse/knitting
bag for small projects like socks, scarves
or sweater parts. Like the original Swift,
it comes with a stuff sack [shown at right],
which makes the purse/knitting bag idea even
more functional. It clips into any one of
the four o-rings built into the Little Swift,
so it's not going anywhere unless you want
it to. Incorporating the
changes made to the original Swift, the
Little Swift stands up, empty or full, thanks
to the clever construction of the base.
I'm a big fan of the clear
zipped pockets that line the top of each
side of inside of the bag. They're the width
of the bag, so they'll hold your wallet,
cellphone, lots of loose bits, or a makeup
case, change, notebook. Of course, they're
also ideal for small knitting tools or a
compact notions kit. In fact, any of of their flat
zipped organizer pouches would make a
great notions kit.
Tom Bihn products are made
at their factory in Seattle, WA, every one
of them. Having tested many, many Tom Bihn
products, we can vouch for their attention
to detail in every aspect of quality, design
and construction. These bags will likely
outlive both Jillian and I, and look good
Are there still fiber folks out there that
don’t have or use a scale?
This silvery beauty can help you in ways you
can’t imagine. The buttons work smoothly, no sticking.
It has the high holy of scale features – tare – letting
you subtract the weight of any container you're
using to hold your fiber or yarn.
It'll weigh up to 11 pounds, which is a small
fleece. Will weigh in grams or ounces, kilograms
or pounds. An electric scale lets you weigh
dye powder (don’t use
it for food after that), fiber, yarn. My most
frequent uses are to figure out when I’m halfway through
a giant ball of yarn for socks and when I’m knitting shawls;
I stop knitting and start binding off when
I have between 5%-10% of the total weight of
the ball left, no more running out of yarn.
is small and compact, but with a wide weighing surface and
it runs on batteries, perfect for traveling. So, say you go
to Rhinebeck and you and a friend fall in love with the same
fleece, batt, huge bump of roving. You can whip out your scale
at the car and split accordingly and wonderfully evenly.
Ori Ami Knits by Olga Buraya-Kefelian and Vanessa Yap-Einbund
Digital and printed, $30
Digital only, $24
From the designer that bought us Zinzin comes
a whole book from the creative mind that could
construct such a piece with elegant precision.
Ori Ami Knits is a book full of patterns with
imaginative construction and detail. All of
the patterns are made from Habu yarn and are simple enough to
show these exquisite yarns to their best effect, but are still
well-designed pieces. There is attention to detail in every pattern,
shaping, fit and the quirky extras.
style is architectural, softened by pleating
and draping. There are garments and accessories, each easily
adaptable to a knitter’s
style and shape.
It’s worth noting that this is an independently
published book. The authors designed every
pattern and page, took every photograph and
ensured that the printing met their high
standards. The finished book is amazing.
From yarn to pattern to photograph to paper selection,
this is a book of the highest quality.
Switch interchangeable needle case by Offhand Designs
shown in Plaza
5" H x 6" W x 1.5"D closed
opens to 20 " wide
With all the interchangeable
needle sets available on the market, it's
not surprising that we'd start to see cases
made especially for them.
This one is my current favorite.
The Switch case is made by
Offhand Designs, the US-based company that
has brought us elegant bags with luxurious
textiles for years. Now that same sensibility
has been applied to an interchangeable needle
The first thing I do when I
get something to test is to load it up. In
this case, I used my Webs interchangeable
bamboo needles in there, and they're a very
tight fit. This freaked me out at first,
but since the fabric eases a little after
the first time you insert them, they came
out and went back in easy as pie. The tightness,
then, is a good thing -- it means no needles
will fall out of the case when it's open
on your lap! The three-fold design and strong
magnetic closure on the flap makes sure nothing
would fall out when it's closed and in your
The cords for the sets fit
nicely behind the needle pockets, and the
little connectors and end pieces fit in a
zippered pocket that takes up the third flap
of the three. There's still
room for other notions in that pocket, too.
The size is good, and when full, is still
quite slim, which makes it friendly for taking
along all the time [see the top photo]. The
needle pockets are sized from US4 to US12,
plus a bonus pocket. An awesome case.
Think Outside the Sox: 50 Winning Patterns
from the Knitter's Magazine Contest Elaine Rowley, Editor
The scope of this book makes me exhausted
as a regular person, but it makes the knitter
in me excited.
From 296 entries in Knitter’s Magazine’s
Think Outside the Sox contest here are patterns
for 50 of the best, as judged by Cat Bordhi,
Lucy Neatby and Sandi Rosner. Whatever your sock pleasure you’ll
find it here: colorwork, texture, embellishment, hand dyeing,
and even things you’ve
never considered in a sock before. A truly
I knit very loosely, usually
have uneven stitches, and knit combination
style in stockinette. My
gauge was only slightly off -- not enough to
need go up a size. [Kollage finds that most
knitters need to go up a needle size to get
I was astonished at how even my stitches
were using these needles, and my hands did feel
less tired after an evening of swatching.
The feeling of the needle not turning in
my hand while I knit was something to get
used to, but in the end I think that’s
what helped with the hand fatigue.
needle holds on to stitches, which was great
for cabling without a cable needle, increasing
and decreasing and doing lace. I brought
these square needles up at my knitting group,
and the response was polarized, either a
knitter loved them or loathed them. I say
give them a try, knit a big swatch, not just
a few stitches, and see what your knitting
buy and use these needles.
found these needles to be light, the cord
very flexible, and the knitting on them enjoyable!
I'm a non-wool knitter, so I used cotton
yarn on these and found both the needle
and cable gave no resistance to the knitting.
The only place that required a little work
was the join. It's not graduated -- there's
a little rounded edge where the metal joins
the cord, and sometimes it required a little
gentle fiddling to get the work past that
join. I didn't find it bothersome.
The needles are comfortable to hold and
the points just pointy enough. The first
few rows of my swatch were a bit sloppy,
but after that, I also noticed that my
knitting evened up.
I'm looking forward to knitting more projects
on these needles -- tidier knitting is
something my work would benefit from!
Design It, Knit It: Babies byDebbie Bliss
Sixth & Spring Books
$24.95, hardback over spiral
Debbie Bliss has been designing for as long as I have been
knitting. Some of my fondest knitting memories are knitting
her baby patterns as gifts for my friends’ babies.
In my mind she remains one of the best designers
of kids knitwear. Her style is unfussy, yet
always a twist that elevates it from the
ordinary. In this latest how-to-design book,
she discusses all of the aspects that go
into making a great baby sweater: yarn
choice, shape, colorwork, special occasion
knits, embellishments, hats, mittens, socks
and an entire chapter on preemies. In addition
she includes 18 patterns made from her gorgeous
Dévoré: For Weavers & Knitters by Anne Field
Dévoré is the process used to burn out section of cloth
leaving behind a pattern in the fabric – think of the
hugely popular velveteen leaf patterned
scarves from the 1990s.
Anne Field is known as a weaver, this
book is more about the dévoré process on fabric
than it is about weaving or knitting.
discusses the types of fabric and yarns
best for dévoré and
shows the dévoré process during and after
on woven, hand and machine knitted fabrics.
She goes into depth about dyes and dyeing,
before and after the devore process. I must say that before
I saw this book I never considered the use of dévoré on
knitted fabrics, but the result is unique and lovely.
This is not a book for a beginner dyer --
you must have a well-ventilated space and
be comfortable working with chemicals to
use this book.
8.75" L x 1" W x 4.75" H
Black, Eggplant, Hollywood Pink, Lime, Peacock,
It's called the Wallet, but it does much more.
I think it's a daily-items clutch, if you ask
Its size is substantial-yet-compact.
About the size of a paperback book, but narrower,
it has dedicated space for almost anything.
Below you'll see the cavernous space for
paper money. In front is a zippered compartment
for loose change that runs the width of the
wallet. In front of that is a slimmer compartment
that I found handy for storing receipts.
You can clearly see the card
section [below left], easily accessible in
the widest part of the wallet. It holds 6
I found the card spaces tight at first; they
loosened up with use. Behind that section
is another wide compartment that can hold
additional id, library cards, stamps.
Running along the front of the wallet, under
the large flap is ANOTHER compartment the width
of the wallet. I used that for checks I had
to cash or theater tickets I didn't want to
lose. And on the outside flap of the wallet,
you can see the zippered section that easily
opens with a large ring pull tab. Maybe you
want to put your change there? Or bus tokens,
or a lipstick, or spare stitch markers, a darning
needle and who knows?
This thing is elegant and spacious.
It's substantial and well built. As with
all Namaste products, it's made from vegan
materials. You could make this your stand-alone
carry about for daily errands, or slip it
into your purse and know everything you need
is with you.
Color Knitting the Easy Way: Essential Techniques,
Perfect Palettes, and Fresh Designs Using Just One Color at
a Time by Melissa Leapman
SR=35.5" to 52" for women and 39" to
61" for men.
I love it when a knitting book is the perfect
book for an absolute beginner but still manages
to give useful information and tips to experienced
knitters who feel like they’ve
done it all. Beginners will find everything
they need to tackle knitting with more than
color without fear of mistakes. Dealing
with tails, “color jog” when knitting in the round,
and uneven numbers of striped rows are all
typical problems that are addressed in an easy
to understand way. She has
included a treasury of stitch patterns that
shows how the simple use of stripes can be
manipulated into many different patterns and
then there are the patterns for men, women,
children and accessories which showcase the
various techniques. One of the things Melissa
does best is toshow alternate colorways for
each of the patterns. This
allows your imagination to take over and consider
all the possibilities of how to make the pattern
I really loved the most about this book is
the first chapter: color theory. It lays
out color theory in an easy to understand
way using not only simple language but with
great pictures of the color wheel showing
every color combination possible from 2 to
6 colors. She also tells you what the visual
effect of each combination is and which knitted
items they are perfect for based on that effect. For someone
who struggles with combining colors and relies on the method
know it's right when I see it”, this
is genius. I also loved how she addressed using stash
yarn as a substitute for a color in a pattern
you want to make.
The patterns she includes are for men, women, children, babies and accessories. I
really like Joan’s Hoodie with its simple design of melon stripes
with a wide green moss stitch zippered band. I could easily imagine
using my own stash of yarn to make this comfy sweater. I also loved
the Everyday Clutch with its yummy grape slip stitch pattern. The
Nubby Stripes Cardi, a cuff-to-cuff sweater for a baby, is the perfect
quick knit gift that could be made in either a soothing or eye-popping
Gifted: Lovely Little Things to Knit and Crochet by Mags Kandis
Gifted is a book full of the charming, inviting accessory
patterns that Mags Kandis is known for.
It’s also the
type of book that made me start a mental
list of giftees as I flipped through.
There are 37 projects– 24 knitted, 7 crochet, 3 felted
from a thrifted sweater, 3 sewn from purchased
felt, and 4 recipes that also make wonderful
None of the patterns are complicated or
take much time, but the combination of
stitch, yarn and color choices make them
remarkable. My favorites are the Felted
Milagro Hearts on the cover [I want to
make a pile and hand them out to everyone
I know]; the Bevy of Bangles will add just
the right amount of texture and color to my wardrobe; the
Felted Egg Cozies make me smile; and the Ruby Foo Baby Cap
may become my new go-to new baby gift.
Stainless steel tips and a
smooth join make these needles a joy to knit
with. They are made with the same quality
as their small
interchangeable needle set [scroll to the middle of the
page for our review of that set]. The screw-on
tips leave almost no gap and the swivel cable,
due to the larger size and more room to swivel, did not unscrew
for me at all.
The set comes with 6 sets of
tips in sizes from US 9-15 and 4 cables
-- 16, 24, 32 and 40 inch. You have a choice
of 4" or
5" tips when ordering your set. The length
makes no difference to the knitting of stitches,
but to the comfort in your hands as you knit.
The needles come packaged in
a brocade case with pockets for your tips
and a zippered compartment for your cables.
Be sure to close your case tightly with these
larger tips. I didn't one time, and
found all of my tips at the bottom of my
knitting bag. Additional cables and tips
are available separately so you may construct
the set of your dreams.
Phoebe's Sweater by Joanna
Slate Falls Press
A sweet book full of the love a knitted sweater can bestow. As Phoebe’s
mother gets ready for a bab,y she knits Phoebe a new sweater. When the
baby finally comes after Phoebe spends special time with her father, mother
and grandparents, Phoebe is wrapped in her new sweater and the love that
comes with it.
The illustrations in this book are superb, rich and textured
with the kind of detail that young children love to explore. There
is a pattern for Phoebe’s sweater in child and doll sizes and a pattern
to knit a Phoebe doll.
In the Loop: Knitting Now by
Sixth and Spring Books
What is knitting today? How is it used, what
does it mean? Based on a conference at the Wincehester School
of Art in 2008, In
the Loop gives a variety of answers to those questions.
In the Loop is an excellent collection of thoughtful essays
detailing knitting in art, activism, history
and everyday life. The book is divided into four parts:
Rethinking Knitting, Narrative Knits, Site
and Sight: Activist Knitting and Progress: Looking Back. Not
one pattern here, just millions of stitches and the thoughts
that bind them.
Complete Photo Guide to Knitting by Margaret
Creative Publishing International
A book for beginning knitters that's full of
photos of the basics for getting started in
knitting from casting on to lace, cables and
color work. There are over 200 stitch patterns
for the new knitters to try and several patterns
featuring the new skills they’ve learned.
stands out about this book is a section called
Specialty Knitting Methods that touches on
one-piece knitting, top-down knitting, entrelac,
freeform, crazy lace knitting [pattern by
Myra Wood], knitting with beads, intarsia [pattern
by Sasha Kagan], twined knitting [pattern by
Beth Brown-Reinsel] and Ouroborus knitting
[pattern by Debbie New].
1,000 Fabulous Knit Hats by Annie
Modesitt Quarry Books
A book full of knitting inspiration. It’s true that
there are only 10 patterns written out from start to finish,
but there are 990 more hats to glean great ideas from. The
hats have been gathered from knitters all over the world,
knit and photographed by each knitter.
The full gamut of
creativity is on display here – from yarn choice, to
pattern and stitch design to model and
location choice. The book is divided into
types of hats: beret, bucket, cloche, sculptural, baby, etc.
The top 10 patterns, selected by the author, are the 10 patterns
included in this book.
Row counter/cutter by Debra's Garden
1 1/4" in diameter
Debra's Garden is an innovator in functional knitting jewelry,
and this new addition, the row counter/cutter is a lovely
addition to the existing line of needle
Made of the same lovely [and very lightweight!] anodized aluminum
as the needle gauges, it's decorated at front with a Swarovski
crystal. You could absolutely wear it as jewelry on a long
chain [so that you can read the numbers]. It'd work equally
well as a zipper pull, key chain -- just about anything that
keeps it close at hand.
The small dial counts from 0 to 9. The larger dial counts
in tens, from 10 through 90, and pleasingly clicks from position
to position. At the bottom, you see a larger divot and it's
there for a reason. Turn the gear-shaped dial to 50, and a
quilting-quality rotary cutter blade is fully exposed so you
can snip your yarn without digging for scissors.
I wondered if the blade could nick you accidentally. I'm not
sure how it could. If you place your finger along the outside
edge of the counter, you feel nothing -- just an open space
because the blade is recessed. I wouldn't let kids play with
it, but I can't see hurting myself with average daily use.
Debra tells me they intentionally made the pendant this size
so they could use this easily replaceable blade. Just loosen
the screw at the back and you can [first] rotate the blade
to give you access to a fresh, sharp portion. Later, once you've
used up the whole blade, the screw will allow you to remove
the blade and replace it. Blades are available at most craft
stores or quilt shops.
Tote Sailcloth Tote Bag - Gray, Lavender and Violet by RAGGEDedge
13" x 6" x 12"
[other sizes, shapes and colors available]
Sails are big white pieces of canvas that make boats go, right?
Not even close, not any more. Sure, there
is still white sail material, but it's in
Dacron [aka polyester], not canvas. But there
are other new materials that are really
strong, lightweight and durable, designed
to handle the stress of weather and competitive sailing.
And the people at RAGGEDedge decided they'd
make really cool bags out of it.
It's called industrial laminate sailcloth, and this stuff
is super neat. It won't absorb water, smells
or dirt, and if you do get it dirty, you
can rinse it or -- shocking! -- throw it
in the washer.
This bag is crispy. It holds its shape, yet is very light.
They say that with use, it will soften and
become supple like a pair of denim jeans.
The bag may not have been designed for knitters, but I think
that makes it even cooler. The zippers are heavy-duty marine
grade and won't corrode. The front pocket has a gusset at
the bottom, so it'll hold a good number of
small tools securely.
The straps have a 9" drop, which I can wear comfortably on
my shoulder. Sizewise, this bag would hold
almost any sweater-in-progress, or a smaller
project with a laptop.
Nautical or not, this bag is eyecatching and functional.
Signature circular needles by Signature Needle Arts
Available in US 5/3.75mm, US 6/4.00mm, and US 7/4.5mm
Needle lengths: 4, 5 or 6"
Cord lengths: 20, 24, 32, 40, 47" [custom lengths available,
depending on needle length]
Available in middy or stiletto point
These needles are absolutely the finest needles I have ever
It's hard to get your head around circular needles that cost
about double what the average pair of high-quality
needles cost. Until you knit with them. For
me, the number one reason to be in love is
in the picture below -- the join. It is completely
seamless. My knitting slides over the join
as if it wasn't there, in either direction.
The amount of cumulative stress a knitter's
hands must endure from working knitted stitches
across a not-smooth circular needle join,
I can't even begin to imagine. As someone
who's recovering from Repetitive Stress Injuries
[RSI], removing any resistance to easy knitting
is actually a health benefit for me, not
just a pleasure.
What about the rest of the needle? Well, they're of the same
caliber as the already beloved Signature
straights. Our review of those needles is
halfway down the page]. As with the straights,
the anodized aluminum needle body is lightweight
but very very strong.
I chose the stiletto point to work with mercerized cotton, and
loved it. It's not too sharp, and the precise
tip makes split stitches a rarity.
There are three different needle lengths. Why would you want
these? Well, the first thing I knit was a simple
swatch. For comfort, I reached for the 5"
needle, which came on a 24" long cord. It's
a great all-purpose size. The 5" gives my
reasonably small hands more than enough to
hang on to as I work.
Then I cast on for a baby dress. This time, I used the 4"
needle on the 20" cord [remember that the
needle length is included in the cord length,
so the cord is actually only 12" long]. The
shorter needle in this case made knitting
the small circumference baby dress a breeze.
Knitting with slippery cotton, these
needles are not too slippery to use with comfort.
Because I can't knit with wool, I took them to my LYS for
a woolly test drive with the knitters in
attendance. The majority of knitters loved
working with them for the same reasons I've
mentioned. A few tried using them to magic
loop and found that they had to work harder
to move stitches from the silver segment
[the part that attaches to the needle] onto
the needle itself. Those knitting flat or in
the round had no such trouble.
I'd use the 6" needle length when I need to keep more stitches
on a needle, perhaps for a section of cables
or lace. I think this aspect of needle selection
comes down to personal preference, just like
everything else about choosing your knitting
tools. If you have a circular needle you
particularly like using, measure the needle
portion and use that as a starting place
to choose your Signature needle size.
The final element is the cord, and it's great. It's substantial
without being rigid or kinky. It is well
matched to the size of the needle [which
is likely why they just offer three sizes
of these needles at the moment] and moving
your knitting around it is easy as pie.
There's no question that these needles are an extravagance,
but now having knit with them, I understand
why they cost what they do and feel they're
worth it. If you have the opportunity
to try a friend's pair, or sample them at
an upcoming fiber
Twist & Knit: A Dozen Knitted Patterns
for Handspun, Hand-dyed and One-of-a-kind Yarns by Miriam L. Felton
Do you have yarns that you are saving for something special?
And yarns that you are saving because you are sure there
isn’t enough to make something perfect? This perfectly
beautiful book solves those problems for you. Twist & Knit is written to use every bit of your yarns, without running
out, making beautiful lace accessories. Most of the 12 patterns
in the book are knit and shown in a handspun yarn and a commercial
The author designed the book herself, so she uses the amount
of space she deems right for all portions
of the book. For example, she uses 16 pages to explain and
show a variety of excellent cast-ons and bind-offs specifically
for lace. It’s excellent
and allowed me to see exactly where I’d been going
wrong with my provisional cast-on for years, and taught me
at least two cast ons I’d never used.
patterns are mostly the ethereal, feminine
lace that Miriam is known for – shawls and wraps that become
wardrobe staples, addictive and easier than
you think to knit. I’ve already put
yarn aside for the Cleite and Lune shawls,
the lace tipped Porifera socks and Gable
Satin Hands fragrance-free pampering
set by Mary Kay
$34.00US | $51.00CDN
I first encountered this magical set of products
at my LYS where the shop owner was a fan. After
my first treatment, I was hooked.
This product formerly comprised 4 separate steps. It's now
been streamlined [and improved, if you ask
me] into 3 steps, each one you rub into every
crevice of your hands, including your cuticles.
Step one is the softening cream. It feels
like a super thick, slightly gooey balm.
Next up is the hand scrub which also includes
a cleanser. Rub and scrub, then rinse off
and your hands are already 100% nicer than
when you started. Then finish with the hand
cream. You won't be able to stop touching
your own hands for hours. My sample was fragrance-free, which
my fussy nose appreciated very much. I did
notice a gentle hint of something that smelled
like melon, but it's not from any added fragrance,
and I liked it. If you like scents, there's
a peach-scented version available.
Knitting with anything is made better when your hands are
smooth and free of catchy bits of skin [ew.
sorry]. As a knitter and spinner of silk,
I especially love this product set.
Successful Lace Knitting: Celebrating
the Work of Dorothy Reade by Donna Druchunas Martingale & Co
Dorothy who? Read this book and you'll know who Dorothy
Reade was. She was a pioneer in the creation
of charts for lace. She was a contemporary
of Elizabeth Zimmermann and Barbara Walker,
and worked with both of them. It turns
out that those of us who love to knit lace
owe Dorothy Reade a great deal. The frontmatter
of this book is full of information about
this formerly little-discussed knitting
heroine, including her words of wisdom
and examples of her work.
The remainder of the book is full of Reade-inspired lace
knitting patterns, incorporated into shawls
[of course!], sweaters [the cover sweater
by Marnie MacLean is my favorite], and
Beam N Read 6-led hands-free
light [model BNR LED 6] by ASF Lightware Solutions
requires 4 AA batteries [not included]
I recently went on a road trip with 4 other knitters in a
van. Knowing there would be knitting during
the trip, I packed the sample Beam N Read
I'd been sent to review. It didn't take long
till the sun went down and we needed light
to be able to continue to see our work.
I passed the light first to Cari, who spent a little while
adjusting the neck strap until the light
hit just the right spot for her. She liked
it up much higher than shown in the pictures
to the left. As soon as she put it to use,
she loved the Beam N Read. She was able to
clearly see her needles and stitches so that
she could unpick some errors she'd made.
The driver couldn't see the light it was giving
off, so it wasn't distracting. We all thought
that was a good thing. Cari proclaimed very
clearly that she loved the Beam N Read and
would absolutely buy one.
For Julia, she didn't like the light as a craft light. She
found she did like it when she tried to read
her book in the very back of the van, and
continued to read for a long while.
One thing we all noticed: if any of us had been wearing [our
usual standby, the camping headlamp], we'd
get an eyeful of bright light when they faced
us and would have to turn away. With the
Beam N Read, the light is held on the chest,
aiming down at what we're working on or reading,
so we could chat and look at each other comfortably.
We liked this a lot.
Me? I think it's a very handy tool. It's a little klunky and
old school in appearance, but its functionality
makes up for that. The whole unit is about
the size of your hand, so it will fit easily
in a knitting bag. The largest part of the
unit is a black plastic rectangle that holds
the batteries. A rounded section is hinged
at the front, and that's where the LEDs reside.
You can manually switch on the lights, or
flip up that rounded section, and the lights
go on automatically. The neck strap is simple
but functional, and adjusts to the length
you wish. So not so much an elegant design,
but a very functional one.
I'm a bit of a
klutz, and so the exposed white LEDs worried
me -- would I accidentally hit one with a
needle and knock it loose? So I slipped on
one of the clip-on filters. The orange filter
tones the light down a little, making it
softer. The red filter is used to maintain
night vision, and my amateur astronomer husband
was pleased with it for that use. "Works
just fine," sez he. These filters totally
close off the LED area and protect it from
accidental poking. I'll probably leave the
orange on all the time, just for that reason.
Included in the box is a 4x5" magnifier which clips
on to the light if you need it [see 2nd picture above left].
Otherwise, you can keep it in the supplied plastic sleeve
to protect it from scratches.
I'm glad this product was sent in for us to test. It's the
kind of thing I might not have tried out on my own, but now
that I've put it to use, I think it's very useful and will
likely find myself reaching for it more and more often.
Get Spun: The Step-by-Step Guide to Spinning
Art Yarns by Symeon North
A great introduction to spinning art yarns.
Not for beginning spinners, but spinners beginning with art yarns.
This book emphasizes trying and playing and knowing your spins
and materials before embarking on art yarns.
Get Spun has the basics on tools, dyeing fiber
[including plant fibers], making batts and
a spinning basic yarn refresher.
The types of spinning covered are carded and
uncarded, locks, core, coil, add-ins using
beads and cocoons – but
the theory can be used for anything, plying,
and unspinnables – fabric
and plastic bags.
is close and crisp, great for beginners because of the detail
captured. I’ve noticed that each spinner that teaches
art yarn spinning has their own way of creating
yarns, even yarns that are similar. Art yarn spinning is a
truly unique spin.
I have been carrying this wee zine with me
since I received it for review. There’s something about
the size[ hand size, 4x6"], the texture of
the cover [like school construction paper,
but a little more substantial] and the contents [interviews with
11 well-known spinners, printed on a variety
of colored paper, interspersed with quirky repurposed pages from
foreign language books, comic books and decorated with handstamping]
that keeps me pulling it out and reading it.
The interviews are
with spinners like Lexi Boeger [pluckyfluff],
Jacey Boggs [insubordiknit], Nikol Lohr [art
club and the harveyville project], Lynn Wigell
[yarnwench]. They cover inspirations, working
and creating style, favorite smells, and recipes.
A dreamy and tactile inspirational book.
for fiber reviews?
They're on their
own page, right
in paperback: Intertwined by Lexi Boeger
This book is a compilation of
lace patterns from several recent Potter Craft
books: A Fine Fleece by Lisa Lloyd, It
Girl Knits by Phoenix Bess, Knits Three Ways by
Melissa Matthay, The
Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara
Parkes, Romantic Hand Knits by
Annie Modesitt and Runway Knits by
Berta Karapetyan. The 36 patterns are well
chosen and make a nice collection of lace.
The book features an
original chapter on lace basics by Kristen
Omadahl that does a great job of taking the
intimidating out of lace knitting, and even
has directions for designing an original shawl.
Originally published in 2004, you might remember
it -- the book was shaped like a sock. This update has at
least 50% new material. Many of the sock patterns have been
reworked and shown in several variations, several new patterns
have been added. A most welcome addition is a chart that shows
alternate sock weights and patterns stitch
counts allowing knitters to customize the socks in the book
to their particular stash and feet.