Big Girl Knits
SR: 40-63 inches
If you are a big girl, or knit
for one, Big Girl Knits is your
Book of the Year. It's crammed
with stylish, wearable patterns,
gloriously photographed, on sizzling
hot models. No need for the qualification
of "plus size" models; these are
beautiful women, period. Amy and
Jillian's message is: so are you.
Stop fussing with patterns that
don't work for you. Learn what
works, knit it up in delicious
yarns, and go out there and knock
But get this: if you are a woman
of any size or shape and you knit
for yourself, you need this book.
Big Girl Knits provides the most
straightforward, clear and thorough
explanation of how to shape handknits
to fit a female shape that I've
seen in any knitting book. What
is 'ease'? How do I figure out
my 'ideal ease'? Where does waist
shaping start and where does it
end -- on MY body? How do I do
short rows, and where do I put
them? All of these questions,
and ones you never thought of,
are answered in plain English
(okay, sassy English), with nifty
checklists to walk you through
the math. Armed with Big Girl
Knits, any woman can tailor a
garment to fit and flatter her
unique shape. This may involve
putting stickers on very unlikely
places, and measuring the distance
between every point on your body,
but it will be worth it, people!
As style gurus, Jillian and Amy
are right up there with Trinny
and Susannah (of "What Not To
Wear"). There are no out-of-date
lectures about wearing dark colors
or oversized shapes that would
turn a big girl into a walking
black hole. Instead, Amy and Jillian
analyze women's shapes in terms
of the B3 (Boobs, Butt and Belly),
and dispense valuable insights
about what features will make
the most (or the least) of each
asset. It's about looking good,
not disappearing into the background.
My favorite patterns have got
to be 'Lift and Separate', a suave
and sexy wrap sweater, and the
'Natalie Coat'. These two items
alone are wardrobe-rescuing staples
with plenty of knitterly details.
My favorite Big Girl Knits rule?
"Find a rule to break."
In addition to being an uber-useful
technical guide and pattern book,
Big Girl Knits is a romp of a
read. You will be shocked -- shocked
I say -- by Amy and Jillian's
irreverent way of speaking truth
to curvaciousness. (Jillian and
Amy? Mouthy? Who knew?)
If you're not a big girl, go
look at this book and you'll see
how much you need it. If you are
a big girl? JUST GET IT.
SR: 30-60 inches
the most original book of knitted
cable designs that I've come across
in a while. There are whisperings
of traditional aran in Fiona's sweaters,
but she has left the sometimes heavy
and thick feeling of traditional
cables behind in the dust.
patterns are inspired by various
organic forces (nature, change,
energy and time) and indeed they
do seem alive. Her cable patterns
are swerving, soaring and sinuous.
patterns are feminine and graceful,
she knits them in unexpected colors,
and sometimes adds bits of lace.
They range from intermediate to
advanced in skill. Each pattern
is prefaced by words of how life
and nature inspired each design
and concluded by words of knitting
mindfulness, a beautiful flowing
one sexpot of a bag. I carried and
used a purple one as a knitting
bag and a purse for a couple of
weeks. Everywhere I went, every
day, knitters and non-knitters commented
on it. "What a cool bag",
or simply "Where?" The
style is something like Mary Poppins
meets Lulu, vintagey, but mod. I
love, love, love the clicky grandma's
purse closure, and the feet on the
bottom that keep it from dragging
through what ever is on the floor
when you put it down. The straps
are that perfect hold it in your
hand or over your shoulder length.
It has all of the signature Jordana
Paige interior elements that help
keep your knitting life and that
other life organized together, circlets
for keeping your yarn from tangling,
needle holders, cell phone pocket,
and lots of other pockets, including
a snap out zipper pouch for your
how big is it?" I know you're
dying to know. HUGE. I stuffed it
full, like I like to do, and here's
what I carried easily in it: the
back of a vest and the yarn for
the front, a scarf project, an Interweave
knitting book (8x9"), a legal
pad, 4x6" moleskinne, digital
camera, wallet, phone, and assorted
not perfect. Because of its shape
and the handy-but-heavy outside
pocket, the bag falls over when
it's closed. It's fine and balanced
when it's open, but when closed,
plop, it falls on its face. Annoying,
but it hasn't stopped me from carrying
this kicky bag. [p.s. Jordana tells
us that they're working on prototypes
to solve this issue.]
SR: 32-52 inches
When I heard
that two of the internet's most-popular
bloggers were writing a book together,
I had a tough time imagining what
would be in it. I thought perhaps
it'd be a pocket-sized paperback
full of wit and wisdom, much like
you'll find on their
blog. And yes, it turns out
that it's absolutely full of wit
But it's huge
and it's hardcover, it's beautifully
designed and it contains so much
good stuff that I've been savoring
this one as bedtime reading for
As in their blog,
the book is written in turn by Ann
and Kay, back and forth, on the
topics of interest. There's the
backstory about how they met, more
about Afghans for Afghans, their
very successful [and heartwarming]
charitable project of last year,
interviews with people you need
to know...and then there's the patterns.
I would buy this
book for the linen curtain pattern
alone. It makes my heart beat faster
and I will be knitting many of them.
It's something I'd never have imagined,
and yet it's so perfectly rendered
and easily knitted by even the most
beginnery of us. There's a sexy
linen nightie and robe combination
that I rather love, even if the
sizing stops a little too soon.
This book has given me a new appreciation
for linen yarn.
I had never considered
knitting a rug before. But I've
seen super-thick cotton yarn and
wanted to do something
with it. What? Now I know
what! Look at that killer bathmat
over there on the left. Doesn't
it just make you want to take off
your shoes and walk on it? I think
it would make getting up in the
morning easier, too. I can imagine
the welcome my shower-wet toes would
enjoy every day. Must knit it.
There are other
brilliant rugs, blankets, baby acoutrements
and even warshrags [which have never
turned my crank before].
Consider my crank
turned. As Ann and Kay make very
clear, knitting doesn't always have
to be for the body. You can knit
for your house and it will never
complain about the color or the
yarn you chose. It will just be
happily enveloped in things you
knit yourself. And unlike many of
the unintentionally delicate quilts
I've made over the year, these clever
and attractive designs are meant
to be used, washed and used again.
I love this book.
And I love these women. Rilly.
Rules! : The Yarn Harlot's Bag of
I know the author and I like her
[that's the full disclosure part].
I've read all her books and liked
them, too. But nothing has conveyed
her personality more than her newest
-- Knitting Rules!
Is that a good thing? Absolutely.
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee just might
be the most likeable knitter in
print today. She's really one of
us. She's knowledgeable. She's never
afraid to admit when she screws
up and laugh about it. And she's
there to pass us a soothing beverage
when it's our turn to cry. She knows
what it's like to be surrounded
by non-knitters who don't get it,
and she defines it just a little
too perfectly in the first chapter.
in point: at the hairdresser's,
I was knitting a moebius while getting
my head attended to. As it does
when one's knitting and one isn't,
the conversation turned to knitting,
and why the person with her fingers
in my hair doesn't knit. Read pages
12-13 of Knitting Rules. Stephanie
pegged her reasons, such as they
are, word for word.
But beyond the perceptive witticisms,
this time Stephanie shares her knitting
tricks with us, too. You know the
stuff you'd want to call your personal
knitting guru about at 2am, but
don't want to get yelled at for
waking him or her up? Like just
how wide should a man's scarf be?
Do I have enough yarn for ______?
How do I turn this cache of alpaca
into a circular shawl without having
a word-for-word pattern?
There's tons more. Years of knitting
experience is condensed into charts
and how-tos. Stephanie gives you
short cuts but she'll also tell
you when they won't cut it. Read
the section on gauge and Emma's
The book won't yell at you at 2
am when you need an answer.
In fact, this book would pull
up a chair with you and keep you
company. I think it's fabulous.
SR: 30-36 inches
Skein, Leigh Radford offers
up a huge variety of knit and crochet
projects that use one skein or a
variety of small amounts of yarn.
True, she does stretch the one skein
truth in a couple places, using
a skein of Helen's Laces (440 yds)
and a cone of Peaches and Cream
in another -- but nowhere in the
book does it state all skeins are
200 or less yards like my brain
the things you expect in here (socks,
hats, scarves, hand/wrist/arm warmers,
and a very sweet baby sweater) but
even those are done with that particular
Leigh Radford twist.
gets really creative and colorful
in the section using stash yarns.
Really, who doesn't love a good
stash dive? There are knitted cupcakes
(!), bags, a kiddo sweater, and
a beautiful coiled rug, inspired
by walking the labyrinth at Grace
you never knit a pattern out of
this book, (but I bet you can't
resist) by spending time with it
you will be inspired by what you
could do with small amounts of yarn.
'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker
Workman Publishing Company
SR: 31 - 50 inches
We don't normally talk much about
crochet in Knitty, but when it's
Debbie Stoller -- the woman that
helped bring knitting back to the
masses -- we've got to take a look.
Debbie, right up front, addresses
the knit vs. crochet issue [see
page 9]. And she makes it clear
that crochet is not knitting and
that's just fine. They do different
things, and stick around, because
she's going to show you how to make
crochet cool. I like a woman who
knows the difference between a needle
and a hook, respects the strengths
with Debbie's two previous books
[Stitch 'N Bitch and Stitch
'N Bitch Nation], she
doesn't skimp on the instruction.
Hook-phobics like me can figure
out where to stick what, following
the clear illustrations and written
instructions. As we've come to expect,
this is a thick book, packed full
of everything you need to become
proficient with the hook.
Plus there are 40 patterns to work
through, including tops, bottoms,
accessories, bunny slippers [!]
and jewelry. She's also scored a
coup -- she got artist Camilla Engman
to share patterns for her web-famous
bear and bunny Bedfellows [little
stuffed amigurumi-type creatures].
Farm Merino Knits :
More than 40 Farm-Fresh Designs
SR: 38 - 54 inches
When I went to NYS Sheep and Wool
festival in Rhinebeck last fall,
I was surrounded by a lot
of wool. But since I'm allergic
to it, I spent not a moment in any
woolly booth. What was the point?
I stuck to silk and cotton and the
That was until I stopped at the
Morehouse Merino booth. I just stood
there, jaw hanging limply, staring
at the beautiful hand painted softly
spun yarns of every thickness, and
-- for once -- cursing my wool allergy.
I had to buy something, even if
it wasn't for me. Thankfully, my
mom hasn't got the family allergy.
that brings me to this book. Morehouse
Farm Merino Knits. It is as stunning
as their yarn. Margrit Lohrer, formerly
a graphic designer and now the design
genius behind Morehouse, is the
author and designer of everything
in the book, and her work is delightful.
Lots of accessories like hats, scarves,
wraps and mittens [including stuff
for kids -- a particular specialty
of Margrit's]. And there is a lovely
selection of adult sweaters, all
running oversized and easy fitting,
perfect for cool weather as a top
But you have to have her yarn to
work the patterns, you'd assume,
right? Wrong. Of course Margrit
specifies which of her Morehouse
yarns she's used if you want to
duplicate the look, but she's also
provided weight and gauge information,
so you can substitute. Excellent.
The front section of the book talks
about the history of Morehouse Farm
and merino sheep, and the book is
full of charming photos taken there.
Margrit and her husband, Albrecht,
are hitting the road with two of
their merino rams, Alfie and
Buddy, who will personally "ram-ify"
copies of the book. The Ram-in-a-Van
tour starts April 26 at the Union
Square Farmer's Market in Manhattan.
tour page for the rest of the
& Scarf Pins
As happens in
this wired world, I first learned
about Romi's pins from a friend's
blog. She received the cloisonne
pin shown at left and proudly wore
it on her many lace shawls and stoles.
Romi started small
with just a few designs, and has
quickly grown her line of gorgeous
pins from tiny miniatures decorated
with pearls to solid sterling pins
with a variety of embellishments.
You can get almost anything
you want at Romi's Restaurant, on a silver-plated,
gold-plated or solid sterling pin. Each
pin is solid yet light, so it won't hang
heavily off your delicate lacework. Chunks
of misty glass, fimo discs, semi-precious
stones, shimmery beads of all descriptions,
and lots of yummy cloisonne. I am exceptionally
fond of the custom Knitty pin she made
for me -- the pin's silver-plated with
sterling-plated beads. You can have her
make one for you that says anything you
please. They're beautiful, well made and
the perfect finishing touch to the handknit
lace thing you slaved over for so long.
SR: 38 - 49 inches
looking for your knitting to go
a little deeper?
Manning has written two beautiful
books that teach you how to let
your knitting transport you elsewhere.
To a deeper understanding of yourself
and your world by being present
in the here and now. Tara calls
this practice Mindful Knitting,
it's meditating while knitting,
and while it's not hard, it does
take some practice.
in Mindful Knitting by teaching
basic meditation, then mindful knitting.
The tough and ultimately fulfilling
bit is that you sit and intentionally
observe your stitches as you make
them, one at a time, no squirming
either physically or mentally. The
result is a greater calmness within
and wisdom about yourself. Mindful
Knitting has a variety of patterns
that take you on the path from the
first steps of mindfulness to deeper
Knitting Tara teaches about
further intention with your knitting.
The joining of knitter and inspiration
in the drive to create. To open
your heart to others while your
and lovely patterns inspired by
Heaven and Earth guide the mindful
knitter to quieting the mind and
opening your heart through your
out of Africa
SR: 39 - 50 inches [many of the
sweaters are only in one size due
to construction technique. "Congo"
for example only comes in a 47"
I'll admit it.
When I first put my hands on Knitting
out of Africa by Marianne Isager,
my first reaction was that perhaps
I was ignorant, but when I think
Africa, I don't think knitting.
In fact I wondered sort of absently
if it ever got cold enough in Ghana
to wear any of the sweaters and
vests from the book. (I checked.
It doesn;'t really.)
I started to flip
through it and was pleasantly surprised.
True, the knitting doesn't come
from Africa, but the motifs, colours
and shapes are all the best parts
of African art and textiles, married
to clever, upstanding knitting in
has used intriguing techniques like
domino, entrelac, slip-stitch and
double knitting to express African
shoowa palm fibre weavings, block
printed asante fabrics, mud-dyed
patterns from Mali and much more.
All in all, Knitting out of Africa
offers 18 beautiful sweaters and
vests, as inspiring as they are
SR: 27 - 38 inches
If Debbie Stoller is the the Queen,
then Shannon Okey is the High Priestess
of the garage band school of knitting.
With Knitgrrl 2, Shannon moves her
tween and tweenie-minded knitters
from the knitting basics to knitting
Increasing, decreasing, picking
up stitches, knitting with circular
and double-pointed needles, embellishments,
knitting with beads all are covered
in precise language and clear step-by-step
projects (jewelry, headgear, a sweater,
a tank, bags, and a poncho, even
knitted book covers) are designed
for knitters to use their new skills
right away (and to tempt them into
learning new skills) and they have
appeal way beyond their target age.