Saturday, 21 May 2011

Knitting Sweaters from the Top Down - review

The first cover is for the hardback and has the Hyacinth Jumper on the cover

BookDepository Link; Ravelry Link

Author: Cathy Carron

other info: 1600595545

Impressions: Ill-fitting and ugly. I'm sorry, I wanted to like this book, I actually did. I like the concept of knitting from the top down and in the round, where I can concentrate on getting the fiddly bit done first and then moving on to the fairly straightforward bits, where I can work something in the round so there's minimal seaming, but this isn't the book I'd recommend to get into this technique. This book draws my eye for all the wrong reasons, novelty yarn, very bulky yarn, awkward angles and poses and what looks like kill-me-now expressions on the models faces. Add to that design elements that appear to hit on the wrong place and overlarge arm holes and you get a pattern book that has me looking at one garment and saying "well with some changes I'd knit that" (Coast for the record). The necklines are quite limited and don't The book also uses variegated yarn and ther's a lot of interesting pooling and flashing going on, if you don't like that effect, you might try alternating two balls.

This book fails for me on a few levels, it's completely not my style, it's going to date badly and I see nothing that I can't get better online. Now the initial advice isn't bad, the patterns just made me squirm, though the touch of having the yarn weight along the edge of the first page of the pattern is a nice touch.

Types of patterns: women's garments, though the general instructions could be used for any age or gender

Number of Patterns:

Split of patterns: Jumper (1)

Size Range: 36-48" (91-122cm)

Colour/Black & White: colour

Schematics: yes

Target Audience: Intermediate knitters.

How to knit guide: Basic knitting knowledge is assumed, this expands it to add a fair bit of information about this technique.

Experimental/Classical/Modern: the stuff is going to date, but under some of the dated yarns there is a potential for classic styles.

Comments on patterns:

The book opens with Cocoon, a fun-fur bulky bracelet length sleeved jumper. Shudder. (Pictured in Karbella's Barbados)

Aspen is a Belted cardigan, where the belt hits below the waist and with trim on the collar. In a bulky yarn. (Pictured in Karabella's Puffy)

Sparks is knit in bulky weight yarn again, with novely yarn on the cuffs and collars. Original knitted in Classic Elite's Rave and Bernat's Boa... a very plain jumper

Verandah is a boxy cardigan/jacket with some contrast yarn on the cuffs, which is stitched in. Knit in Bulky weight yarn the original was in Blue Sky Alpacas' Bulky.

Nest is a bulky weight v-notch jumper with wide sleeves. The author made me laugh with her advice to be careful about eliminating excess bulk and streamiline the shape, this thing is a bulky jumper that larger people should be careful about wearing, it will add a lot of bulk, the model is enlarged in it. Original knit in Rowan's Big Wool.

Birch knit in a bulky weight yarn with a turtleneck, relies on the yarn to make it different, the original is knit in Classic Elite's Tigress which is a thick and thin yarn.

New Leaf has a long rib that starts under the bust, again knit in chunky weight yarn, the original was knit in Classic Elite's Paintbox

Indian Summer has an extended cowl collar, knit in Chunky weight yarn, the original was in Muench's Vamos, apart from the extended cowl it's pretty plain

Evergreen just made me twitch, very wide collar that sits quite far back in a contrast yarn, matching the cuffs, the ties have pompoms, it's in chunky weight yarn. The original was knit in Lion Brand's Moonlight Mohair and Reynolds Lopi. The model is depicted with her arms folded in front, careful reading suggests taht the only fastening involves the pompom decorated neckties.

Hyacinth is the depicted jumper on the front of the hardback copy, yes the one with bobbles... knit in chunky weight yarn with stripes and bobbles in different colours it's knit in Reynold's Lopi

Flora this is a chunky weight yarn, polo collar, the sleeves in this just looked a bit too wide at the armhole. 3/4 length sleeves, original knit in Muench's Ocean.

Dewdrop is a v-necked cardigan with fun-fur edging and rounded ends. The original was knit in Artful Yarn's Legend and Reynold's Scandal, the sleeves are just below the elbow, the yarn is chunky.

Peony tied at the neck, knit in heavy worsted yarn, cardigan. Originally knit in Classic Elite's Minnie. The 3/4 length sleeves are also fastened by ties.

Cherry Blossom is the top featured on the cover of the book, it's knit in Heavy Worsted Weight Yarn, to me the armholes are too wide. Overall not too bad. Originally knit in Karabella's Empire Silk

Flame is originally knit in Classic Elite's Montera this is a hooded sloppy heavy worsted weight yarn with a textured stitch pattern

Ember round-necked with horizontal knitted tubing on the neck, waist and sleeve ends. This requires a particular body shape, one I don't have, oroginally knit in Artful Yarns/JCA's Cinema which is a heavy worsted weight yarn.

Snowberry has an off-to-one-side collar in a contrast yarn and uses the yarn to create interest, the yarn is Berocco's Softy, a heavy worsted weight yarn.

Wild Plum I think it's trying to be kinda kimono-ish but it just doesn't seem to work. A contrast belt with a ribbon tie which hits mid-waist might work bettwe if it was on the waist. The ruffled sleeve edge also just didn't really work for me. It's in Heavy Worsted Weight yarn. Original knit in Muench's Touch Me.

Coast is a polo-necked top, split in front, knit in DK weight yarn, some shaping could help here, and I'm not sure how it sits because the model is standing a bit strangely. Original knit in Reynold's Saucy. My favourite of all patterns.

Breeze is a widenecked top with beads, with reverse stitch horizontal stripes. In Dk weight. Classic Elite's Bamboo

Bloom is a boxy cardigan with a contrast collar and a flower on the shoulder, originally knit in Rowan Classic Yarns' Soft Lux and Lurex Shimmer. the cuffs are wide with contrast stitching.

Stardust is a sleeveless top using a sequin strung yarn knit in with the basic yarn. It's knit in Blue Sky Alpacas' Sport Weight and Berocco's Lazer FX a dk and polyester sequin thread. polo neck.

Verbena has a ruffle neck, with beads and textured stitches, a dk weight short-sleeved top. I would kinda like to see this without the ruffle, it might be okay. Original in Karabella's Zodiac

Violet horizontal wide stripes in DK weight yarns, original in Berroco's Glace, a wide-ish neck, ribbed along the sides to help with shaping.

The end of the book has a number of basic patterns in different guages, cardigans and pullovers Basic DK Pullover is one. Ignore the 10 st guage and 8 stitch guage in the titles and check out the yarn weights and actual guage in the text.

Buy/Borrow: I would be more inclined to get Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top or Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard, Wendy Bernard more for the patterns and Barbara Walker for the how-to.

Where found: South Dublin County Libraries, borrowed through

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

New Socks - Canal du Midi

My latest pair of socks
Canal du midi socks
They're Canal du Midi socks from Knitting on the Road (Amazon US) Amazon UK Book Depository

They're knit in Zitron Trekking that I got in Woll-Boutique Elflein
when we were in Frankfurt last year. I knit the flap with a slip 1 knit 1 rather than the plain knitted flap the pattern called for, if I was knitting it again I'd change the U shaped heel cup to a more V-shaped one.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Celtic Animals Charted Designs review

Book Depository Link; Dover UK Links

Impressions: This is a companion book to Co Spindoven's Celtic Charted Designs, while Co has more geometric shapes and abstracts this is animals.  Yes it's square designs would distort somewhat if knit (it's really designed for embroidery) it's still a good starting point for celtic animal designs should you want to use some.  It's charted in black and white so I'd photocopy from my copy and colour in the different colours to keep me on the right path.  I've used Co's book in a knit and purl pattern to some success.  If you wanted to use some celtica in a pattern you're doing yourself, if you were using them for commercial purposes you would have to get permission from the copyright holders.  This 48 page book is available quite cheaply and easily found in Easons.

Colour/Black & White: Black & White

Target Audience: Advanced users would get the most use out of this

How to knit guide: no

Experimental/Classical/Modern: experimental really

Buy/Borrow: At €E6.60 from Easons and €E4.21 from the Book Depository this is one you should buy if you're interested in using it.

Where found: Dublin City Public Libraries have copies and I have one of my own.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Complete Photo Guide to Knitting Review

Book Depository Link; Ravelry Link

It's not a bad introduction to knitting with lots of photographs and guides, it fails to use contrast yarns to make things a bit clearer and apart from cable patterns doesn't use charts.  It doesn't have a bibliography for further reading and honestly the garments don't make me anyway excited.  It's not a bad beginner or improving beginner book but wouldn't add to my library.  It's a US publication so many of the stitch pattern names may be different to the originals.  It misses out on more photographs in the Brioche pattern section, the aforementioned charts; a bibliography (apart from in the historical section which references No Idle Hand (sic) by Anne L Macdonald; Wikipedia History of Knitting & A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker) and a bibliogrphy would have been useful for the last few sections where really they only had the space to bounce off them rather than go into detail.  Edited by Margaret Hubert with contributions from Carrie Hammett; Sasha Kagan; Debbie New; Judy Pascale; Beth Brown-Reinsel and Myra Wood; the back of the book has biographies and partial bibliographies of these writers.

Starting with a short history of knitting, where the modern part concentrates on the US experience of knitting, the book then moves to the basics and then some stiches. Once it gets a few past a few knit stitch patterns it gives a pattern, for a simple one-piece garter stitch tunic jumper.  Then it moves to light texture stitches; then suggests ornamenting the garter stitch jumper at the neck and sleeve ends, next we move to a sock pattern.  Then medium to heavy texture stitch patterns; then a seed checks baby sweater which is worked in one piece to the armholes.   Then the stitch patterns move to lace and a lacy sweater. Then it moves to Ribs pattern stitches, then ribbed leg warmers.  Next up is the honeycomb and brioche stitches; which explains the how pretty well but doesn't have pictures this section finishes with a honeycomb washcloths.  The next section is eyelets, followed by an Eyelet Cloche - which is an open-work hat with a flower and leaf knit motif.  The next section is ripples and Chevrons followed by a Parasol Ripples Scarf.  Next up are slip stitches, followed by a slip stitch card case.
Next up are Color Combos followed by a two-color toddler hat; then we have motifs which includes a flower, a heart in moss stitch, a mitered square, small fan, large fan, large fan with trinity border, small leaf, large leaf and finishes with leaf coasters which are lined. Cables are up next with clear photographs how to do cables and stitch legends, this is the first chapter that charts make an appearance.  The pattern in this section is Double Cables Hat.

Then it moves on to Speciality Knitting Methods - one-piece knitting, starting with the top-down toddler cardigan that goes with the toddler hat; a top-down mock cable pullover.  Then moves to simple entrelac, using a bag pattern to introduce the technique.  Next up is Freeform knitting; using a freeform knitting bag, fastened to a handbag form, a freeform vest. Then there's Crazy Lace Knitting using a scarf as an example; Knitting with Beads again with a bag as example. Intarsia knitting with an oversized beret; twinned knitting with a pair of mittens and Ouroubous Knitting with a tree-rings jumper

Types of patterns: mostly accessories with a few jumpers and cardigans, quite basic stuff

Number of Patterns: 22

Size Range: 33"-45"

Colour/Black & White: Colour photographs, black and white charts

Schematics: for some garments, not put together but exploded.

Target Audience: Beginners and beginners looking to expand skills

How to knit guide: yes, this is most of what the book is about

Experimental/Classical/Modern: pretty classical.

Comments on patterns:
Garter Stitch Tunic Jumper - one-piece done side-to-side this is quite a simple but effective garment, done in a medium weight yarn on 6mm needles

Garter Stitch tunic sweater with detail - as the first garment but with some stitch detail on the cuffs and neckline.

Spiny Ridges Socks - basic socks with some lacy detail, slip one heel, knit in super fine yarn with 2.75mm needles.

Seed Checks Baby Sweater - knit in one piece to the armholes with stitch details on the bottom; dk yarn on 4mm needles

Lacy Sweater - it's a short-sleeved lacy cardigan, done in pieces and sewn, could probably be knit in one piece to the underarms. dk on 4mm needles.

Legwarmers - using a variety of stitches and stripes, in medium weight yarn using 4mm, 5mm & 5.5mm needles

Honeycomb Washcloth - a washcloth knit in dk weight cotton yarn with 4mm needles.

Eyelet Cloche is a hat that's quite open with a decorative large flower and leaf. Medium weight yarn on 5 & 6mm needles.

The Parasol Ripples Scarf is knit in silk-bamboo lightweight yarn knit (patons Silkn Bamboo is the recommended yarn) with 4mm & 5.5mm needles.

Slip-stitch card case is made in a medium weight yarn on 5mm needles.

The Two-color toddler Hat in medium weight yarn and 4mm & 5mm needles.  It has a plain top and a slip-stitch colour pattern on the bottom.

Leaf Coasters - leaf shapes with lining and interrfacing.

Double Cables Hat - it's a hat with cables and a bobble, knit in medium weight yarn with 4mm and 5.5mm needles

Top-down Toddler Cardigan is designed to go with the toddler hat, again in two colours and worked from the top down; knit in medium weight yarn in 4mm & 5mm needles

Top-down Mock Cable Pullover has a drswstring through the neckline and mock cable on the neckline; cuffs and waist.  Knit in a dk weight yarn in 4 & 5mm needles

An Entrelac Handbag is used as an intro to Entrelac knitting - knit in two colours of yarn (Patons Decor) with 3.5 & 5mm needles, a simple bag that has bamboo handles

Freeform Knitted bag are shapes sewn to a plastic backing; using 4 & 5mm needles and a variety of yarns.

The Freeform Vest is worked in one piece to armhole in an open mesh with applied motifs on the shoulders, knit in wool ease with 5mm & 6mm needles

Crazy Lace Sampler scarf uses fingering or sock yarn and 4.5mm needles, a variety of yarns and variety of patterns used throughout

Beaded Slip Stich Bag uses the crochet hook method of adding beads (which allows you to add beads without stringing them on beforehand). Knit in Koigu with 2.75mm needles

Queen of Hearts Beret is the introduction to intarsia using in part a self-striping yarn to give it more dimensions.  This is knit flat in DK yarn using 3.25 & 4mm needles

Twinned Mittens for Kids - using a light-coloured worsted weight yarn using 4mm needles

Ouroborus knitting - using a tree rings sweater this works in rings from the centre out, getting larger and larger and eventually creating a full garment, this notes that it can be added to to make it bigger.  Using Classic Wool and 4.5mm needless

Buy/Borrow: If you're a beginner this one might be a good place for reference.  There are some stitches

Where found: Kilkenny County Library via