Sunday, 6 April 2014

Patterns that caught my eye this week

I only look at the first 10-15 pages of recently added designs, I only eliminate those with no photos.

A slip stitch waistcoat

 Easter Socks with a Daffodil and chicks and bunny

I keep meaning to try twinned knitting, this hat is an inspiration

I have a pet peeve about not seeing front and back of a garment, this garment looks like it could be interesting but how would I know?

I like how this scarf plays with the yarn

I like this shawl and the inspiration  wondering if it would be better in greens or autumnal colours...

very sweet Easter decoration  

Snowdrops cowl, and now I've got "Snowdrops and Daffodils..." line from All Kinds of Everything looping in my brain, pass the brain bleach...

A masterpiece wedding dress

It just doesn't quite work for me. it might be the whitespace at the edges

Lovely top, with bust coverage

Clever, Clever Loki Socks

Illusion knitting and stripes in a shawl

My style of cardigan, maybe without the belt

Breathtaking waistcoat

Very special scarf very cool design

Very pretty cardigan not really me, though I must knit one of hers some day

Lovely design the subtle striping is just so pretty

Clever hat design I love the flower detail

Such pretty detail without being over the top in this jumper

I like the style of this shawl

Possibly the cutest boots I have ever seen

my kind of cardigan with pockets and cables

Lovely floral motif in these mittens great use of a variegated yarn


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Amateurs

I was recently watching a program about English Embroidery and the presenter said something along the lines of "not the work of mere housewives" and steam started rising from my ears. What he undoubdedly was talking about was beginner work. Things that are often referred to as amateurish.  And it started me thinking about the terms amateur and professional.

As I have never been paid (well not really, family don't coumt) for knitting or crochet I fall into the ranks of amateur, some might add the word talented, I couldn't possibly comment. I have embroidered semi-professionally (got paid in fabric, patterns and yarn) but I still wouldn't regard myself as professional.

I mean, I am an amateur, by the very definition of the word. It comes from one of the first words you learn to decline in latin "Amo" meaning to love (technically amo means I love, but I'm trying not to confuse things too much), it means to do something as a passtime, because you love it, the lacking expertise part is secondary, and really we need to use another word for that, "tyro" is a perfectly good word for novice or beginner, "dilletante" sounds too much like lounging around.

There is also the issue of value for work that I have been thinking about lately. Before the time of washing machines and vacuum cleaners housework without maids was long hard work, even today it's work, keepimg up with it, hobbies and a job can keep you exhausted, and some of those women, those housewives that presenter dismissed, not only cleaned and scrubbed and clothed their children, they also made things, some for charity, some for their local church (kneelers etc) and in many instances their work is considered trivial, belittled.  Yes, sometimes the colours were garish, think of the conditions, garish would stand out in firelight, garish brought a bright into sometimes drab lives, garish might have given that woman a smile, no-one can dismiss garish, it implies a playfulness that maybe we miss. Garish could also imply sales, that hank of embroidery thread that wasn't selling, thay could be got on a tight budget, but the woman could feel like she had done something, contributed.
And we forget this, these women carved time out of their days, time they could have spent doing something else, perhaps for themselves, to contribute and we then talk about this work as if it should be trivialised, and maybe they weren't amateurs, maybe they hated doing it, but we need to reframe how we think about this.

Also the world of art is strange. Many of the knitted pieces I've seen are works of art but we don't treat them as well as we should. I've seen pieces devalued in price by the seller, who doesn't seem to value their time or their work, and we let them in pursuit of cheap goods. I've seen knitted garments I'd prefer to see on my walls than some artworks that cost 100 times more.
Maybe we do need to put a price on crafts that propery reflects the work and artistry that goes on.

The other part we ignore about womens crafts is that it was the one acceptable way for women to create art. There is art to choice of colours, the work, the interplay of colours etc. And I'm pretty sure a lot of it answered an artistic yearning many women had, by making it into "useful" items they had an excuse, a reason, they could devote that time to this output, or I'm sure, in some instances, time when they could think, relax, while still technically doing something.

Two posts in one day after a few months away, well there was Christmas and then ill, I've had a cold/flu with added strep throat since early January. Plus a minor bike accident that caused my shoulder to flare, I have a few reviews that need me to add the links and check them, then they will be posted.  I'll probably set them up for once a month for a few months and may backdate a few.e

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Knitter's Book of Yarn review



Book Depository Dublin City Public Libraries
The Knitter's Book of Yarn - Clara Parkes

0307352161/9780307352163

I was about 20 pages in when I thought about buying it and by about 60 I had an order into the Book Depository for it.  I will admit that the patterns don't really fire me with huge enthuiasm but the information in this book is gold.

Yes, other authors have written on this theme, but Clara is like being in a good yarn shop with a friend who is very knowledgeable and who doesn't have a huge bias against pretty much any yarn, she sees the utility in almost every yarn and wants to share her enthuaism for it all.

The book opens up with an exploration of different fibers, starting with Protein fibers - wool, alpaca, silk etc; Cellulose Fibers - made from cotton, Linen, hemp etc; Celluostic - using industrial processes to create a fiber but deriving from natural materials like wood, bamboo, corn etc and then synthetic - nylon, acrylic etc.  She discusses the pros and cons of all the fibers.

Then the book moves on to production and I finally understand the difference between worsted and woolen spun.

Then the patterns, they are divided by ply, to encourage exploration of how this works with the yarn.

Starting with single ply yarns, there are the Maine Morning Mitts; Cabled Tea Cozy, honeycomb hat and Seascape Bolero.  The mitts are ribbed and pretty plain, the Tea Cozy is a good use for a small amount of luxury yarn and the honeycomb hat plays with textural stitches to create an interesting play with light.  The Seascape Bolero is not my aesthetic, I just don't like the way it sits and I think the buttons on the back would interfere with my comfort.

The next are two-ply yarns; Step ribbed stole in two different texture yarns; Baby Soft Cardigan; Optic Waves Shawl; Raspberry Rhapsody scarf; Vines Cardigan; Guernsey socks; Little Shells Socks; Endpapers Shawl and double thick mittens.  I like the pattern on the double thick mittens, simple but interesting; endpapers shawl shows an interesting use of some handpainted yarns and colour graduation; Little shells has texture from the ankle up; Guernsey socks are interesting textured again showing variation; Vines cardigan is an angora piece, not my thing, not into fluffy, the style is interesting and I could be tempted to knit it in a less fluffy yarn the Raspberry Rhapsody scarf is relatively simple but a nice showcase for a yarn; Optic waves uses the variegations in the yarn to accentuate the waves in the pattern. Baby Soft cardigan is for 3-24 months and is cute. The step Ribbed Stole would be a good piece against busier pieces.

Three ply yarns are the next logical step; opening with the Rhinebeck hat and Mitts, colourwork enters the game, using a variegated yarn with a plain to create a fair isle style.  I like elements of the Cabled Swing Cardi, the collar doesn't work for me, I'd be tempted to tweak.  Swirly o socks have a fairly simple pattern that would work with a lot of multi-coloured yarns.

Four-ply and more is next.  Beginning with a very simple baby hat; then more colourwork in the Norwegian Snail Mittens, which are playful and cute.  The Patchwork Carriage blanket works with stripes and textures. The girly tee uses hemp and is an interesting fairly plain pattern; two catnip toys make an appearance. Iris side-to-side sleeveless top is grafted together and then edged with vertical stripes.  Ripple and lace leaf linen basket liners have an interesting texture, deceptively plain  they would make a nice gift.  Princess Mitts are wrist warmers with a cabled back, ideal for a small amount of luxury.

Then we move to cabled yarns, plied yarns plied on themselves.  Wavy socks use cables in a loose way to create interesting movement. XOX vest is a tank top with cable detail down the middle and is a temptation for me to knit. Cabled Headband is pretty and useful, the butterfly mobius is an interesting piece for some luxurious yarn.

Textured yarns are up next. The chunky winter set uses a thick and thin yarn to good effect, the Architect's hat plays with colourwork and slip stitches in interesting ways. Diamonds and pearls shawl uses the strengths of the yarn involved to create a pretty piece.

Bouchle yarns has a honeycomb bag again using slip stitches for a colourwork pattern that compliments the yarn

Brushed yarns has a scaruffle that shows how two different yarns can produce two subtly different results.

Chenille uses a cotton chenille to produce a classic washcloth that looks lush.

The felt factor has a very pretty Calla Lily personal security nightmare bag. No way to fasten it but it's pretty.  The retro cloche is a small hat that pearches on your head and I would hate it.

Then she discusses care of fabrics and some other information.  There are a few errata

The book is a great resource of information and useful knowledge and I look forward to it being part of my collection.


This book was obtained from Dublin City Public Libraries where I work.  Dublin City Public Libraries pay my wages but offer me no inducements to write these reviews.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Socks

There's something about knitting socks that just calms me.  I always have some socks on the go.  The latest socks are skew, I need some distracting at the moment, and something somewhat complicated is just what the doctor ordered!

Earlier today I got this shot of the toe

Friday, 19 July 2013

Review of Crochet Unravelled



Book Depository Link; Ravelry Link; Dublin City Public Libraries

Claire Bojczuk

This is a very good, ambidexterous guide to Crocheting.  The instructions are clearly done for both left and right handed crocheters, side by side, down to a clearly illustrated granny square done by both left and right-handed crocheters.  A breath of fresh air for those of us who need instructions for left-handed use (now if she'd only shown crab stitch, trying to work that out left-handed was a head-wrecker.

The book is divided into two parts, the instructions and the projects, and the projects are simple and good starter pieces.  Usefully, right beside the illustrations of the projects in the centre of the book you have instructions for reading charts on one side and UK/USA terminology and hook size with suggested yarn weight alongside.

Projects include a Bracelet, (illustrated inside the cover) simply made with a plaited edge, the instructions are both written and charted.

Hair Scrunchie (also illustrated inside the cover)- again written and charted instructions

Bottle Bag (also illustrated inside the cover)- another one charted and written

A Daisy Facecloth is a modification to a granny square with a picot edging, charted except the centre, also written.

Love Heart Soap Sachet - charted and written

Traditional booties - charted and written

Cobweb Cover is a blanket and is written and charted.

Flower Cushion  - motifs sewn together to create a cushion.  Could be made in two sets of colours for variety. - charted and written

Chevron Scarf - is a pretty scarf that would lend itself well to all sorts of yarn - charted and written

Skullcap, a hat that starts from the centre and works down so would be adaptable for a variety of yarns and adaptable to make it bigger if necessary.  Again charted and written.

Tee-shirt edgings uses beeds and is edging that could be used anywhere.

It's a good basic starter book and also would be useful as a reference for more experienced crocheters, a worthwhile book for most crocheters libraries.

I got this copy from Dublin City Public Libraries where I work, who don't offer me any inducement other than access to the titles and my wages.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Review of Fantistical Hats and Beanies



  Book Depository Link; strangely none on Ravelry. Dublin City Public Libraries

 Fantastical Hats and Beanies - Jenny Occleshaw

These are hats for babies knit in dk or 4-ply yarns, knit mostly in the round and they are somewhat insane, and I mean that in a good insane way.  They're almost works of art and a lot of work.

Starting with Busy Bee, with feelers and emroidered bees, I'm sure the embroidered bees could be replaced with buttons or pre-made bees.  Pretty simple and cute

Apple Blossom - "This is a delightful hat for any little girl who loves pink" now when you're talking about 18 months to 4 years I have problems that this is a personal choice speaking or parental choice, but this is a white hat with dark and pale pink ruffles.  The ruffles are crocheted on after the hat is made.  Cute and could be made in other colours as a use up leftovers project.

Little Ladybird uses bobbles in black yarn on a red hat, cute.  The bobbles are made after and sewn on.

Baby flowers uses pre-made felt flowers to decorate a plain hat.

Cheeky Elf uses noro yarn and applied i-cord leaves.

The Great Gatsby is a beret, scarf and shoes set inspired by the 1920s, fair-isle bands with a tweedy yarn.  This is cute and while suggested for boys is fairly unisex.

Ladybird, ladybird has more complex ladybirds applied after the striped hat is finished.

Moonbeam is a nightcap style striped hat with some knitted balls added attached with i-cords

Baby Jester, knit in the round with two peaks, knitted balls finish of the tops

Hello Sailor is a floppy beret with beads and some matched slippers. Cute.

Pearly Queen, with pearly buttons on the top and a ribbon to tie it on, this one could be troublesome for teething babies.

Black Magic - Black mohair and velvet with polka-dot knitted balls, looks like a cupcake.

Coconut Ice - pink with kid mohair flowers in pinks. "Perfect for the little princess who loves all things pink and flowery" shades my perception of this hat.

Feathered Fancy - multicoloured with flower and feather decoration this one needs close supervision when worn.

Bluebells Cockleshells - uses blue oddments and has added bluebells and cornflower flowers.

Butterfly uses variagated striped yarn to create an interesting contrast to the plain yarns used.  Has applied butterflies and bobble on the top.

Polka Dots, simple beany topped with red and white knitted balls and i-cords and an optional ribbon.

Chasing Rainbows uses multiple colours to make a colourful hat with stripes, bobbles and icord top knots.

Blue Top Knot is a blue variation of the polka dots pattern.

Starting from about here I was starting to think about tea cozies.

Cherry Ripe has cherries and leaves to decorate this red white and green hat

Strawberries and Cream, bobbles, beaded strawberries and leaves decorate this hat.

Twist and twirl has curly tails and bobbles and topknots and balls, a way to use up leftovers.

Loopy hat. Not a hat for a baby who dislikes hats as the 30 loops would make it very easy to catch on fingers.  finished off with knitted balls.

Carnival looks like a carnival ride with multiple adornments.

Socks on the Washing line - 6 miniature socks would be a great use of leftover sock yarns and also a great way to try socks if you've ever wanted to knit them.  A very busy hat.

Blooming Gorgeous has flowers and a watering can.

The Tea Party - cup cake with a tea party on top. The hat is pretty basic but the rest is fiddly.

Blackberry Pie has beaded berries and leaves adorning a textured stitch hat.

Autumn Harvest has multiple colours of autumn and some leaves and acorns.

Ho Ho Ho is red and white with some white leaves and red berries and a knit ball.

Fin's Penguin has a penguin(with a scarf!) and lots of bobbles.

Frog in a pond - multicoloured hat with a frog on top of leaves.

Hop to it, a rabbit on leaves

Plum in the garden has a cat on the top surrounded by leaves, flowers and flower pots.

Rabbit in a Hat, a rabbit surrounded with flowers.

Daisy mouse is a tube hat with a mouse peeping out of the top.

No knitting instructions but some embroidery instructions.  The book goes from simple to complex and some of them could be adapted to be simpler.  I did start to think about tea cozies half-way through and I'd say several of the patterns would be adaptable to that idea.  Many of them look very complicated and fussy and you'd also have to ensure that all the items were well-sewn on.

I was also glad to see many unisex patterns but I had some issues with the pink for girls assumption.  I know that later many children do have preferences but very young babies only have preferences given them by parents.

I got my copy from Dublin City Public Libraries who offer no inducement other than my wages and relatively easy access to the titles.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Some finished items.

So I actually finished a few items, since my post about starting the hat I have some finished items.

The Hat is done. Has been worn and is very effective against the sun (I do wear sunscreen on my face as well)  The pattern is Azealia from a recent Let's Knit magazine

summer hat

A baby jumper
One of Mac's Workmates has had a baby.  He requested something for a boy.

baby jumper

Rather sweet, easy enough pattern from Ravelry, Telemark Pullover top down so when it was done it was done.


Friday, 5 July 2013

Tunisian Crochet book review


Book Depository; Ravelry Link

This is quite a good book on the topic of Tunisian Crochet with clear photographs about the methods and a lot of projects, it is one that I will seriously consider buying for myself.

It starts out with a basic crochet skills section and then a very clear section on the techniques of Tunisian Crochet with very clear photographs, there possibly should be a few very simple dishcloth patterns in here to gell the techniques but the projects following are quite interesting.

The first project is Chain Mail Scarf   using two strands of yarn held together and tunisian purl stitch throughout.

Wild and Woolly Wrap uses a thick and thin yarn and a bias style to create a wrap, an interesting blend of pattern and yarn

Honeycomb Skirt uses a cotton/viiscose yarn in a multicolour blend to create an interesting skirt.

Shimmer Shawl blends tunisian crochet and other techniques to create an interesting shawl that has open and more closed spaces.

Ivory Shell is a simple sleeveless top with a waist tie and a textured stitch

Ladders and Lattice Duster is an open cardigan with more open sleeves, the sleeves are worked from the top down.  It's an interesting piece

Felted clutch introduces felting to the mix.

Warmhearted vest is what folks this part of the pond would call a tank top, with a simple v-neck this looks knitted

Hug-a-licious Jumper is a girls overdress, gym slip style, sleeveless. Meant for small girls.

Big Sister Sweater is a jumper done in Tunisian Net Stitch, which looks very interesting.

Toben's Pillow is a simple tunisian simple stitch cushion

Sweet Dreams Baby Blanket is an interesting textured blanket

Frosted Stitch Afghan is another interesting use of stitches to create an interesting pattern

Have it both ways pillow is a cushion with two sides which are slightly different

Foam Follows Function Ottoman Cover uses a super bulky yarn used three strands at a time and a 22mm needle!

Mardi Gras Placemats uses different stitch patterns and colourwork to create a variety of mats, from simple to complicated.  Interesting work.

The book finishes up with the Yarn standards sizing and yarn weights guidelines and some resource information.

Overall a good book for people wanting to explore Tunisian Crochet more.  I would be tempted to buy it.

This book was obtained from South Dublin Public Libraries via Borrowbooks into Dublin City Public Libraries where I work.  Dublin City Public Libraries pay my wages but offer me no inducements to write these reviews.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Classic Knits - Review



Classic Knits by Marianne Isager 

Marianne Isager is a Danish Designer and this is 20 plus patterns by here with emphasis on technique and playing with concepts rather than more complex designing.  I like her style and have bought a copy for myself (one of my first electronic knitting book purchases!)

Yes, there are things that I would tweak in the designs to make them more me, I dislike round necked cardigans, I don't wear summery tops without sleeves (if you saw my shoulders you'd understand why) unless I'm at home and I reckon if I made some of these tops I'd want to show them off. 

She believes in knitting in the round and in using her own designed yarn, but she also believes in her own style of gauge swatch which is often also a test swatch of what is going on with the garment, so you can see if the colours you've chosen or yarn will work with the pattern quite clearly.

She also believes in combining yarns to create a look she wants taking several light-weight yarns together and producing a heaver yarn and often interesting colour interactions and texture.

There are several garments I want to knit from this book and several I would be interesting in playing with to produce something more me.

The first top is Corsage, a buttoned semi-corset with a slip stitch detail to create interest.  I'm not sure that I wouldn't knit this a little large to make it into a waistcoat.

Next up is Cossak, knit in a rib with added thickness in the peplum my only gripe with this one is that the fur collar is mentioned as optional but there are no photos I could see without it.

Sugar is my style of summery cardigan, light and crisp and with a tapered rib  and cables to create interest.

Fisherman is a plain man's jumper with a rib to keep interest and a woven twill pattern at the cuffs to give it a little twist.

Monk is a hooded jumper with interesting texture created by using ribs in different ways, a touch of colour at the end of this one creates an interesting effect.

Elf is a one-piece baby outfit with a hood and is charming.  Colour blocks here make it interesting and added edging in a contrast to the other two colours makes it pop.  There's also a section of colour play at the front, which could be a great use of leftovers of the right weight.

Short Jacket is a jacket with a cross over front that uses reversible stitches to keep it double sided, it also uses Brioche Stitch and contrast edging.

Knit & Purl uses the trick of different weights and needle sizing so you could make boy or man sized garments, a jumper in the Gansey tradition, subtle enough for men but interesting enough for knitters.

Beach flowers uses embroidery to enhance a jumper that uses textured stitching to create something rather special.

Pearls uses seed stitch and slip stitch to create an interesting edging to a seed stitch cardigan.

March is another slip stitch pattern that could be used to use up leftovers, there's some colour lurking in this otherwise black, grey and white jumper that's designed with men in mind.

Zigzag top is one that I'd like to make for me, but with sleeves, using increases and decrease it's clever and without horizontal stripes it would probably suit most.

Zigzag jacket is interesting in the way it uses cables and colour and would be another choice for using up some leftovers.  I like how the colourwork works on this but the zip fills me with fear.

Mie's Jacket is designed for children and again uses interesting colourwork against a plain background, a great candidate for leftovers again there's also a matching hat

Waves is worked in a honeycomb pattern edge to edge, short rows shape armholes

Honey is also worked on a honeycomb pattern, and this is possibly the first top I'd like to knit out of this book.  It's a candidate for a variagated yarn or several in similar colours tied together by the neutral background.

Dashes is a top I'm unsure of, to be honest I'm never sure of horizontal stripes and the photographs of this one don't inspire me.  Then again the photographs of most of the pieces are not clear enough for my taste and not enough of the pictures are focused on the garments so I can see what they're doing.  It could be an interesting tank top/sleeveless vest with more subtle colouring.

Newsprint pullover uses a technique of adding in a contrast colour every few rows to create what almost looks like newsprint from a distance.  Another one designed for men

Newsprint top is worked in chevron stripes in the same idea and then seamed down the middle.

Black and white plays with African motifs and the newsprint concept, colour blocks and contrast edging

Relief is a textured jumper with contrast edging and a pop of colour above the rib.

My one gripe about the book would be the pictures, a few items I was a little unclear about the design and how the different elements combine, it's a minor gripe in certain ways but I like knowing how necks sit on the front of garments without hands being held in strange poses.  Yes the stylist can have fun but you also need functional photographs that tell you more about how the garment works for the knitter to decide how they want to work with the design.

As I said, I bought this one.

Dublin City Public Libraries are my employer but do not offer me any inducement, apart from access to these books and my wages which sometimes enable me to pick up my own copies of these books!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Hat and an update

My shoulder is still acting up a bit, I went home to visit my folks and did some crochet and that appears to have triggered a flare, making even typing sometimes painful so it was an occasional choice between knitting and blogging, and often neither. I started a hat, in cotton blends one variagated one plain and while its taking it's time to do, I like whats happening so far.