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Cool stuff! Techniques with Theresa Thinking beyond the pattern Travelling knitter
Patterns 102 Knitting is sexy Plant freak K vs B Sex & knitting


Available at BagSmith


Cha-Cha Beaded Shoulder Bag Kit
the BagSmith
MSRP $70.00

If you haven't met a BagSmith kit in person, you probably can't imagine what the deal is. Why such fuss over a kit? It's not cheap, after all. But you'd never be able to pull the contents together on your own for even close to the price. Look at all the cool stuff inside:

  • a 175-yd spool of shimmery nylon cord in bronze [or jet or ivory, depending on the kit color you choose] with which to knit the bag
  • all the beaded, sequined trim you need to get the cha-cha in your bag
  • a roll of smooth satin ribbon
  • a matching jade closure
  • the pre-drilled base-board bottom soyour bag keeps its shape
  • the gorgeous, fully finished velvet drawstring liner that you simply slip in the bag when it's done all the instructions you need to get beautiful finished results.

The sock knitter in me also loves that the clear, sturdy vinyl zippered bag the kit comes in is the perfect size to hold your sock in progress. [All the BagSmith kits come in cool bags like this.] And it has a handle. I love extras like that.

Unlike some of the other BagSmith kits, this is a knit-only kit -- no crochet this time. It's for the intermediate knitter, and if you've got a party coming up, or just dress with glitz on a daily basis, treat yourself. It's one thing to buy a glam purse, but it's something extra special to knit your own.

Available at Tradewinds Knitwear

Cool Socks Warm Feet

Tradewind Knitwear Designs Inc.

Since I discovered self-patterning sock yarns I've been a double-pointed-needle, 60 stitch, toe-up, short-row heel and toe girl.  I never deviated from my pattern and I was fine with that.  Then I read Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks Warm Feet.  This is a great book, full of fun ideas.  While some of the techniques may not be new to veterans, it's just the antidote to a sock knitter's rut.  This spiral-bound, small book is perfect to carry around with your socks-in-progress. 

The book includes six patterns using a variety of techniques, ranging from a basic Simply Splendid Sock to the wonderful spiral-ribbed Mermaid Socks for the "Sock Goddess".  Each pattern is easy to follow and comes in a variety of sizes.  There's even instructions for miniature socks which are cute on their own, and are a good way to try out techniques before jumping into a full-sized pair.

What I particularly like about this book is the Spare Parts for Your Ultimate Socks section which has instructions for a range of heel and toe options.  The pros and cons of each method are listed including the ease of the technique, durability and fit. 

This ultimate sock book also has sections on choosing sock needles, getting to know your sock yarn, and double-pointed needle techniques.  (While the book has some information for knitters who prefer two circulars, the instructions are written primarily for double-pointed needles.)  I also really liked the fact that many of the techniques used in the book (the channel island cast on for example) are explained in the Sock Techniques section and there are tips and tricks throughout to deal with those little issues that make for perfect socks.  And, there's a detailed chapter on proper sock fit -- I'll never make the wrong-sized socks again. 

Available at Amazon

simple knits with a twist
by Erika Knight
Stewart, Tabori & Chang

This book is kinda weird, but good weird. It's creative, different and absolutely twisted. I like twisted.

You've got your basic knitted aran armchair [wouldn't the bobbles be poky under your patoot?]. Your woven rug made of strips of knitted stuff [which I sincerely covet already]. Your carryall knitted from recycled plastic. And of course the obligatory pink poodle botle cover.

The book has unusual techniques explained, uses traditional materials in unexpected ways and is basically all-around fun to read.


Available at Amazon

The knitter's handy book of sweater patterns
by Ann Budd
Interweave Press

This, my friends, is the the Better Homes and Gardens of sweater pattern books. It will equip you with all the basic tools you need to know to cook up a sweater you'll love. But you'll have to choose which spices to add to make it taste the way you like.

Thankfully, the math is taken care of. Ms Budd gives you options for gauges from 3 to 7 stitches per inch, and the sweaters go from 26-54" at the chest, which should cover most kids to adults. Drop shoulder, modified drop, set-in sleeves, saddle shoulders, raglans and seamless yoke styles are covered in simple, basic styles. Then you can pull from a number of options to make the sweater suit you -- she provides edge treatments, waist shaping guidelines and other decorative embellishments.

This is not a quick-fix book. It's a book worth reading and absorbing, so you know what you need to when you actually start knitting. And then you'll find it very handy indeed.

Available at Amazon

Knit: A personal handbook
by Melanie Falick
Stewart, Tabori & Chang

A plain blank book? Nu-uh. Knit starts off with a zippered pouch, where you might store winning lottery tickets, or perhaps tiny knitting tools like yarn needles, or snippits of your favorite merino. It segues deftly into a knitting needle inventory chart, because we all KNOW we buy stuff we didn't need, just because we forgot we had it. From then on, it's got pages to write down whatever you want to remember...favorite yarn sources, favorite patterns, a listing of North American knitting events. And then there are thick divider pages with pockets for whatever. And pages of graph paper, for working out sleeve decreases or strange necklines. Useful reference info fills out the back of the book, including standard body measurements, estimating yarn requirements and there's even a heavy-duty cardboard needle gauge at the back. Super good: an emergency rolled-brim hat pattern, and a place to record who you've knitted one for, so you don't double-gift.

I can see a knitter buying him or herself a new one of these every year, and we can only hope that Ms Falick will give us a new design annually, too. It's a perfect knitting-bag companion, and should go with you whenever you hit the yarn shop.

Available at Amazon


Available at Amazon

Knitting on the edge
Sixth & Spring books [2004]
Nicky Epstein's Knitted Embellishments
Interweave Press [1999]
by Nicky Epstein

Even though only Knitting on the edge is a new release, both these books were new to me. I got to meet the author at a trade show last month, and it was great to talk to her about them.

Knitted Embellishments, I learned, was an 18-year labor of love. It covers borders and edge treatments, but also includes applique, cords, embroidery and fringy things. A variety of knitted flowers [you've been looking for those, haven't you?], too. Including a pansy! There is surely something in here for every knitter.

Nicky's new book, Knitting on the edge, is absolutely divine. It's the perfect reference book that will allow me to add the exact right detail to everything I make. If I don't like the hem or the cuffs or the button bands in a pattern as written, now I'm ready to make them quite me.

The choices are all gorgeous, clearly photographed and described. I like that you can see which edges pull in and which lay flat. You need to know this stuff! Nicky pointed out the neat icon system in the book: a little black arrow indicates the direction each piece is knitted in [top down, bottom up, side to side]. Clever, and very useful when mapping out your plan of attack. There are cables and ribs and ruffles and lace and picot and fringe and I'm getting dizzy from it all. It's just so gorgeous. Don't ask to borrow my copy -- it's not leaving the house.

Available at Amazon

Hip to Crochet
by Judith L. Swartz
Interweave Press

Again with the crochet? Sure, why not? People love it. Not me so much, but a lot of people do.

My favorite pattern in this book is for sleek crocheted nesting baskets. Cause, see, that's what crochet does best, if you ask me -- it can build structure and hold interesting shapes. LOVE the baskets, done in linen.

There are quite a few other fun patterns, including a cute jacket and a lot of items crocheted in mohair...perhaps to soften their look?

This book, unfortunately, suffers from the dreaded ugly color crochet syndrome. Why must most crochet be done in such blech colors? Some of the projects would be truly hip if only they were done in bright and funky, rather than looking like they used yarn that came from the back of the sale bin.

My suggestion: buy the book, photocopy the patterns you like in B&W and use some bright, beautiful colors. Then you got yourself some hip.