Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Gentle Art of Knitting Review

Impressions: Apparently her blog Yarnstorm (the posts about yarn/knitting) is quite popular, it now appears to be more about photography and food than knitting.  Her philosophy of Gentle knitting is mostly mindless knitting, the kind of knitting that you can put your brain in idle for.  And sometimes that's perfect knitting.  It's the knitting you do when your brain is working overtime and needs to focus on what it's thinking of rather than knitting but the knitting helps keep you distracted.  On the other hand, it's also an easy place to stay and not stretch your wings occasionally.  She talks about unfinished objects sitting in black plastic bags in her attic that are wrong, this can happen and I've sometimes thought in despair about never knitting another garment but if you don't learn from your mistakes then they're wasted energy, learning is what's important.

This is a 102 book, or maybe a 201 book (101 being basic starter stuff); some of these patterns would be some challenge for a beginner but many of them are pretty basic.  The bibliography, though is quite good.  It's scattered throughout the book and often related to the text.  Also note that measurments throughout are in cm.

Types of patterns: mostly accessories

Colour/Black & White: Colour photographs, colour charts, no charting for anything else.

Schematics: no

Target Audience: Intermediate to almost intermediate knitters

How to knit guide: No

Experimental/Classical/Modern: Fairly classical.

Comments on patterns:

Red Wine and port socks are socks with cables running down the leg and along the top of the foot, the heel is a plain knit heel.  They're not bad socks.  Knit in Madeline Tosh "Tosh Sock" on 2.75mm needles

Plaited Bread Cables - 3 pieces a Blanket knit in a chunky yarn with blanket stitch edging this is a nice piece and fairly fun.  Knit in Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky with a contrast edging, with 15mm needles.  A Rug knit in Cascade Magnum with a 15mm needle and lastly a cushion, knit in Cascade Magnum too with 12mm needles.

Big Woolly Jumper is a ragland shaped jumper  knit in pieces with a reverse stocking stitch bottom edge and cuffs and a floppy neck.  Knit in Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Chunky and not worn in the book.  I'm not sure about the Collar, I'd knit it in the round, actually I'd knit the whole thing in the round, possibly from the top down.  Seams? Who needs them for this sort of thing.  This has a lot of ease.  A friend pointed out that in fact this isn't designed by her, it's designed by an unnamed friend.

Simple Squishy slouchy hats two hats, knit flat with seams, one with a single reverse stocking stitch detail the other with 10 rows each of stocking stich and reverse stocking stitch.  Both in Blue Sky Alpacas Melange with 3.75mm needles.

Literary Hotties  Inspired by vintage Penguin Paperbacks these are hot-water bottle covers. Knit in Aran (Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran) with 6mm needles.

Buttercup and mustardseed fluted rib scarves  The scarves are basically the same scarf but with a minor variation, using a small amount of contrast yarn to edge and then a double sided pattern one with 35 stitches and another with 43 stitches.  Knit with 5mm  or 6mm needles.

Simple, plain dishcloth - a garter stitch dishcloth started and finished with a contrast yarn.  DK cotton yarn with 4mm needles.

Soft facecloths - 5mm needles and garter stitch with stripes make this up, originals knit in Blue Sky ALpacas Worsted Cotton in two colours.

Natural Linen Aprons:Striped Apron Checked Apron  Using linen yarn for the striped apron (Euroflax Linen) with 3.25mm needles with a moss stitch border for stability, this is pretty nice.  The Checked Apron is in Rowan Cotton Glace in 3.25mm with a broken checkered stripe.  Could be adapted. I'd make sure it's in washable yarn.

Toothpaste and toothbrush washbag with Blusher and Mascara Bag.  Small bags for holding whatever, knit in DK Cotton (Debbie Bliss Cotton DK) with 3.75mm needles in a variety of sizes, seamed along the side.

Floral Tea Cosy and Tea Cosy hat - The Tea cosy is knit in Aran-weight yarn, with 4.5mm needles. The hat is a Brioche Stitch hat that almost looks like a tea cosy but is knit with only one seam to be fully closed.  I would be inclined to knit the hat in the round.

Five stripy Tea Cosies the traditional style of the three-d ribbed style with dark contrast, the smaller ones are done with just a garter stitch stripe.

Faberge Egg Cosies - decorated with beads, this is a ribbed cosy, and could be used for the Innocent Smoothies! DK or 4ply weight yarn with 3.25 or 4mm needles.

Green and blue finger gloves - the only real difference is the decoration.  Knit with Cashmerino with 3mm and 3.25mm needles.

Wheel of colour cushion - using short rows to create wedges and with a contrast yarn between each wedge this is a DK yarn and knit with 3.25 and 3.75mm needles.  You could use a variety of yarns to make it.

Covered clothes hangers - two diferent covers, one in garter stitch  and another with a fancier pattern that would be nice with lingerie.  Knit in DK yarn with 4mm needles.

Bunting pennants made and connected with a ric-rac ribbon.  Dk yarn with 4mm needles.

Stripy socks Using self-striped yarn, back of heel knitted plain, top down, with tapered toe and three-needle bind-off.  Knit in sock weight yarn with 2.5mm needles. To be honest this isn't really colourwork, this is using already coloured yarn in a plain pattern, nothing wrong with this, but nothing earthshaking and readily available online.

Sea Glass Chevron scarf (she has another Sea Glass Scarf on Ravelry that isn't this pattern) - knit a chevron pattern with DK yarn with 4 rows of a neutral yarn and 2 of a different colour, the original is in shades of blue for the stripes and cream background.

Planets cushion uses hand-painted yarn against a contrasting yarn to create splashes of colour, based on her earlier jelly-bean cushion pattern.  This is knit in DK yarn with 4mm needles.

Crochet starburst flower square Crochet squares with a variety of colours, aran weight yarn and a 5mm hook, you could probably use left-overs and build it over time, provided you got a lot of the edge colour

School colours scarf and blanket, by knitting scarves, you would eventually knit enough of them to knit a blanket worth.  Knit in Double Moss Stitch in Aran weight or DK weight with 4.5 or 4mm needles. Has a bobble edging.

Art deco crochet blanket - chevron patterned, aran weight with 4.5mm needles. You could make it with different widths but you could vary this depending on your yarn.

String of purls cushion using ususual pattern to create some unusual patterning without having any yarn carrying over.  Buttoned in the back.

Life on the open wave scarves using an openwork pattern to create an interesting pattern.  Drapy yarns suggested.  Using a 4.5mm needle or 5mm needle depending on the yarn used, original yarns were Habu Lamb/Linen or Tilli Thomas Disco Lights.

Moss stitch scarf a moss stitch and stripes biased scarf. in Aran Weight yarn with 5mm needles or DK with 4mm

Chanel-Style Bag a moss stich aran (used double) or chunky yarn used together with Kidsilk Haze with 6.5mm needles and a moss sitch pattern.  Small bag using plastic needles

Buy/Borrow: It's a particular aesthetic, and not a bad book for beginners or intermediate knitters, nothing is all that complicated but I have other books that have pretty much the same patterns, so it wouldn't be a useful addition to my library, your mileage may vary.

I've been talking about it with some friends, there are a few issues that I didn't really think about when I was reviewing it.  Thinking back part of my "not for me" was her lifestyle assumptions.  Needled's review struck a nerve and I have to say that yes, sometimes reading books like this make me break out in a feeling of being not quite female/womanly/domestic/content enough.  

I suppose it's an attitude of mind that leads to this.  I'm an advocate of sometimes allowing yourself to read/knit/cook where your brain is mostly in idle.  But sometimes you also need to break yourself out of the comfort zone and try something that makes you twitch, swear and break complacency.  You should be asking yourself why your knitted garments don't fit instead of allowing yourself to ignore it as a problem.

Where found: Dublin City Public Libraries has copies.

I have updated this post, please see the bold and italicised text as updated text today 27th November 2011.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Now I've read a lot of books about knitting, many of them are the 101 types. They often talk about essential equipment.

Here's my list of the essentials

Yarn: before you start knitting you will need at least a little bit of this.  Why do I start here?  Well what yarn you choose will depend on the needles you need for it.  Fine yarn can be fiddly and you won't see much progress but a very thick yarn can be clumbsy and the needles feel big in your fingers.  Most people in Ireland started on Aran weight or DK weight yarns.  Don't start with black yarn.  Experienced knitters swear at black yarn, don't weigh the odds against you.  Find a yarn that you like the texture of and is cheap, but not the cheapest acrylic you can find, you will want to like doing this, texture can be important.  However, try to use a smooth yarn for your first moment out.  You will want to be able to see what the knitting looks like.  Try not to fill your bag with yarn, trust me, you mightn't like knitting.

Next up you'll need needles.  Look at the yarn, there should be a symbol with a grid on it with a pair of needles underneath, or needles and crochet hook, it will have various numbers on it, usually one has mm after and one will have US after it, that's the needle size.  If the needlsize is a range, pick something in the middle of the range.  If 4mm falls somewhere in your range pick that one.  You can get kids 4mm needles in metal for very cheap, they're short like pencils, and they're a bit rough but I use them regularly for knitting facecloths.

Things that would be useful at this stage: tape measure, well a ruler will do too, the tape measure is useful when you move to making garments, so you can check your measurments, but when you're first out a ruler will do, and if you can get a short one, even better! They fit nicely in knitting bags.

A blunt-ended yarn needle is probably a good investment too, you'll need it to finish off a piece, even if it is a washcloth.

A reasonably good scissors - actually the kids craft scissors is really useful for a carry around, you won't get poke-through on your project bag.  You will eventually need more scissors than you think. They're up there with tape measures for getting lost and forgotten.

Now you can knit: Washcloths, plain scarves and many other things.

Next up:
first I'd get: Pins (when you start doing gauge or pinning out stuff these are essential) knitters pins can make counting gauge easier but they're not essential.

A Cable needle (or 3, they often come in sets of 3) will be useful if you start doing cables, I've also used the blunt ended needle, paperclips and other things to do this job.  There are folks who can do cables without needles, I can, I still prefer using the tool.

Needle Gauge.  Oh yeah, the needles will say something, DON'T trust them.  There are folks who use micrometers to fine tune their gauge, my tip? Once you get gauge, check what size you're using and if you break a needle or the sofa eats it double check that the needle you're replacing it with matches as closely as possible.  Note the size down somewhere, ravelry, on the pattern, on a postit stuck to the pattern, somewhere!

If you're working with metal needles you now need to go out and buy some plastic and some wooden needles.  Compare and contrast these, seriously, they do make a difference.  I have some of all of the above.  There are advantages and disadvantages to them all.  If your lips start tingling that could be the finish, I have some older aluminium needles that I have no problem with and the knitpicks metal dpns make my lips tingle every time.  Speaking of knitpicks they have a entry-level set of their inter-changables that feature a metal, wood (laminate) and plastic needle in different sizes, useful for this.

Circular needles and double pointed needles are essential when you start into knitting more stuff.  Many folks with hand issues use circular needles for everything, back and forth.  They're also used for knitting in the round.  Socks, jumpers, gloves etc. And Medalion knitting.

Bobbins- only if you get into colourwork, and then they can be made from cereal boxes if you're stuck.

Ring Stitch Markers - can also be made from a knotted loop of contrast yarn, or a straw.  They're useful, come in a lot of varieties and you'll probably collect a nice collection over time, which make pretty ornaments... You can also get some that are like little coilless safety pins.  These are amazing little things - that dropped stitch, put it into this until you get to it to fix it; use it to count stitches when you're casting on; mark the front of a project; pretty much anywhere you need a mobile marker.

Stitch Stoppers.  Essential if you have too many stitches on a needle or putting something away for a while, and when I say essential, I mean I have some I rarely use.  I've pulled needles out of projects more often than I want to think about, I probably should use these, you can live without them.

Row Counter - there are several variants on this theme, this can also be replicated with a notepad or postits (postits can be useful for sticking to the right place in a pattern) and a pencil or pen.

Crochet Hook - well you might want to try crochet too and this can be essential for helping you pick up stitches.  When picking up stitches it can be useful to use a hook a size (or two) smaller than the needle size you're working with.

This is a selection of my knitting gadgets.  Many of which are complete garnish.

Garnish: Not necessary but can be so good.

Posh dressmaking scissors and or embroidery scissors.  Yeah, these can be useful later.  Steeking may happen, buttonholes may be needed, felt may need to be cut, good quality scissors will make this easier.

Safety snips - for travelling on airplanes, they're quite useful to put into your project bag so you don't forget and then lose a good scissors to the airport security.  Some folks have suggested unwaxed dental floss holders.  The cutter on it is useful and the unwaxed floss can be used for lifelines or provisional cast-ons.

Knitting Bag - I have one, I also use a tonne of cloth bags I got over time buying stuff in Ireland (we have a plastic bag tax and almost everywhere has these bags) and I have a cosmetics bag that is a perfect portable socks project bag (though failing these days)

A large white lint-free towel - for blocking purposes, and for drying woolens.  To be carefully cleaned and kept for this.  It won't transfer colour to elsewhere.

A sweater dryer/rack - I have one that goes on the bath, it's really useful for drying socks too!

Blocking boards - something you can pin your finished job to, I have some large padded floor tiles that I use.  Many friends use children's play tiles, damp a white/pale cloth, pin it to the tiles when you get them and check that they won't run.

A folder for storing patterns, you'll probably start with only one.

You'll need an ironing board and iron.  Sometimes things need to be pressed before moving on, a good ironing board can be used to block small items too, or even to block something in stages.

How to Knit book review

Book Depository Link
Ravelry Link

Impressions: This books starts with fiber and works it's way up from there.  Though I would wonder how anyone would really recognise different yarns from the pictures.  While tweed, or worsted is a visible style, yarns do come in different weights for different uses.  All pure merino isn't superfine for example, but I'm kinda nitpicking with that one.  They then move onto equipment.

Now there may be some people who argue the point, but to start knitting you need a hank of yarn, a suitable set of needles, and scissors.  Everything after that is garnish.

It goes into the basics, a few methods of casting on. Then it goes into some details about different techniques.

Sadly the first pattern you encounter is a baby blanket, with a lacey pattern.  Now it is a pretty straightforward pattern, but as a beginners pattern book starting with an intermediate pattern isn't good and it's not until you pass a few patterns that you find an easy pattern.  I think that patterns should be ordered in books like this in order of difficulty, and I'm not sure that there are really enough basic patterns that would make someone feel accomplished.  The patterns are pretty simple but I'd get this book for the how-to, which is clear and well-explained.  The patterns have a techniques list, possibly using a few postits would help a beginner here.

Types of patterns: babies, children, adult and accessories.

Number of Patterns: 20

Split of patterns: Blanket (1); booties (1)

Size Range: adult jumper to fit 38-46" (97cm-117cm)

Colour/Black & White:

Schematics: no, and no charts, there's a terse two pages on following charts with an emphasis on colourwork and no obvious mention

Target Audience: Beginners or people needing a refresher.

How to knit guide: most of the book

Experimental/Classical/Modern: pretty classical patterns

Comments on patterns:
The book starts with a section on Baby patterns.
First up is a baby blanket that's rated as intermediate, though there really isn't that much complications here, knit in colour strips, all you would have to do at the end is darn in the ends. The other advantage to this pattern is while gauge is useful to know what size it will be at the end it won't be the worst thing that happened.  Downside for a beginner is that it's the same thing for several strips. The original yarn is a aran to bulky weight (all seasons cotton knit with 5mm needles)

Next up are baby slippers or booties, another rated as intermediate, but this would be a good way to try out the techniques.  Original yarn is DK (Rowan Kid Classic with 4mm needles)

Snuggle Cardigan is next a one-piece cardigan, with some srtipes along the edges.  There are suggestions for other colourways, another intermediate pattern, knit in a dk yarn (rown wool cotton with 4mm needles)

Baby's hat and mittens: a basic pattern, knit flat hat with a barely visible striping pattern on the rib of the first photograph, the pink and cream is more visible with the striping. The hat is seamed as are the gloves, however the gloves are made in two pieces each and then seamed.  There are easier and better patterns made in the round.  Knit in 4 ply yarn (Rowan 4-ply with 3.25mm needles)

Cute for kids

Rugged Hoodie - an interemediate striped cotton cover-up.  Rugged doesn't come in white. I'd use the white as one of the stripes and use one of the darker yarns for the body, knit in DK (Rowan Handknit Cotton with 4mm needles)

Heart Sweater - a jumper in three shades with a heart intarsia and stripy sleeves.  Rated as intermediate, knit in DK (Rowan Handknit Cotton with 4mm needles) a very chunky jumper, the photographs don't convince me it's a good make

Winter scarf and mittens are a great introduction to colourwork and mitten making.  Rated as challenging. DK weight (Rowan Wool Cotton with 4mm needles)

Tassel Hat - rated as easy, knit a rectangle, sew it up, put tassels on the ends... not complicated. Knit in Sportweight (Jaeger Matchmaker Merino DK with 3.75mm needles)

Gorgeous for Grown-ups

Starting with a single cable pullover in a chunky wool yarn (Rowan Scottish Tweed Chunky on 8mm needles) with a contrast yarn colour on the cuffs. Rated as Intermediate.

They don't bother to put the Slouchy Sweater on anyone, which always rings a certain amount of alarm bells with me.  I like books to have the patterns on people so I have an idea what they look like.  It's knit in DK (Rowan Scottish Tweed DK with 4mm needles).  It's a drop shoulder jumper, with a slightly high neck. Rated as intermediate)

Toasty Warm Gloves should be done in one colour as well as two colours, rated as challenging.  Gloves are a bit challenging but they're not bad, they also mention fingerless gloves but don't bother to show a photograph, and they're single coloured. Knit in Dk (Rowan Cashsoft DK with 3.75mm needles)

The Headturning Hat and Scarf are seamed hat and plain scarf (no mention of scarf curling and the photographs don't bother lining up the garter ridges.  For a beginner this would be a little fiddly, but not bad.  Knit in Bulky (Roawn Little Big Wool with 9mm needles)

Super socks are a bundle of fail for me for a beginner book.  Knit with DK weigh (Rowan Calmer and 3.75mm needles), cotton yarn is pretty unforgiving, with or without acrylic. The fact that there's a not saying that the heel turning is slightly different from the text is not enough really, this is lazy.  Adding in the embroidery is a nice addition to the pretty plain socks but this is a starter book. Rated as Challenging.

Last chapter of knitted patterns are accessories.

Now the author started off badly here by talking about how "All women love bags", she presents a "fab felted bag" knit in DK (Rowan Scottish Tweed DK with 4mm needles) looking at the pictures I had a certain suspicion, judging by the seams.  I was right.  The Pieces are felted first and then pieced together.  Sewing felted stuff can be difficult and the seams won't be as strong as those felted in place.  Other books have techniques for ensuring that a felted bag doesn't felt closed.

Chequered Cushion is an intermediate piece, probably for the lace edging.  If you're doing this check out techniques for not bringing colour up a row  (techknitter's useful tutorial on this) for a more professional finish.  The Edging is knit in bulky weight yarn (Rowan Cotton Rope with 6mm needles)

Big Blanket is a pieced piece with various inners.  While an intermediate piece you might want to make some tweaks here.  The sewing is good practice, you could knit each strip and then sew those strips together, this would give you a straighter edge on two sides.  It's knit in chunky wool (Rowan Big Wool with 12mm needles)

Tote bag is an easy project, something to make in cheaper yarn than the Jaeger Matchmaker Merino Dk to be honest and if you want to use it to actually tote things around with (rather than use as a knitting bag) I'd suggest it should be felted, if knit in wool, with slightly longer straps.  Yes it's knit in DK with 3.75mm needles.

The book finishes with a stitch gallery, the pieces are well photographed, again no charts but written out.

Buy/Borrow: If you're looking to start it's a good book, could do better.  It's not a bad book but the patterns let it down, the text and teaching is better, however many of today's patterns do use charts so I would suggest a beginner book that handles that.  It does, though, say something about a book that it only has four patterns knit from it on Ravelry.

Where found: Dublin City Public Libraries has copies.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Knits that Fit - Review

Impressions: I saw this book and the cover garment looked familiar, and then I looked at the back of the book.  "Portions of this work were originally published in the following" Big Girl Knits (the advice on big girl sizing); Knits Three Ways; More Big Girl Knits; Mother-Daughter Knits; Romantic Hand Knits and Runway Knits.  Yes, indeed, the garments are mostly recycled.  Now if you don't have the books, that's grand but if you already have some you might want to check it out. (all links to the books are to Ravelry)

Types of patterns: Jumper (8); Cardigan (4); shrug (3); shirt (1); top (7)

Number of Patterns: 23

Split of patterns: Women's patterns only

Size Range: 32-52 (not across all patterns, several only go to 38")

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

Schematics: yes

Target Audience: Intermediate to advanced

How to knit guide: no, there is a glossary that explains some of the more non-standard techniques but this isn't really one for beginners.

Experimental/Classical/Modern: A lot of the patterns are pretty classical.

Comments on patterns:
Marbled Top by Berta Karapetyan (originally from Runway Knits). Not filling me with glee, horizontal stripes formed by the pleats above your bust would probably be unflattering to some along with the high neck.  Not for folks with big boobs really, like me. Knit in a medium/worsted weight yarn.

Roman Candle Pullover by Berta Karapetan (originally from Runway Knits) again high-necked but the basket weave cabling would be figure-hugging. Knit in a light/DK weight yarn.

Dark Victory Sweater by Annie Modesitt (from Romantic Hand Knits) - this has ribbing to the side and an interesting neckline with a small amount of colourwork, this would be a project for a very luxe yarn.  It's designed to be skin tight.  Knit in a medium/worsted weight yarn

Cecilia's Sweater by Melissa Matthay (from Knits Three Ways) - this has ribs that run vertically and then taper to the neck, you'd have to be careful about placement because if you weren't careful they could form boob frames. knit in a medium/worsted weight

Hourglass Pullover by Lily Chin - it looks like a buttoned cardigan but it's a jumper.  Has some reverse stocking stitch to create an hourglass illusion, and also uses the same trick (not quite to the same effect) on the sleeves.  Also has shaping. Knit in Light/DK weight yarn.

Flirty Top by Sally Melville (from Mother-Daughter Knits) - I am not a fan of ruffles... this has ruffles on the bottom and sleeves. Knit in Medium/Worsted weight this is definitely one I won't be knitting for me.

Corded Sweater by Berta Karapetyan (originally from Runway Knits). - flares at the waist ans has vertical lines running down the front of the sweater.  The sleeves look a little long on the model so you might want to take some care here, also the high neck isn't exciting me. Knit in a bulky weight yarn.

Vintage "Sweater Girl" Cropped Sweater by Lily Chin (also available from the Lily Chin Signature Collection)- it's a fairly plain v-necked jumper where the v is quite wide and it stops on the hips.  Not particularly cropped to me, it could be lengthened to taste. Knit in a bulky/chunky weight.

Seashell Cardi by Berta Karapetyan (originally from Runway Knits) - this is an unusual shape, interesting construction but the sleeves look a little off.  Knit in Medium/worsted weight

Mrs Darcy Cardigan by Mary Weaver (previously a free pattern but resized and some corrections for this book) - this has a deep v or scoop neck with ribs along the waist and raglan shoulders.  Knit in a medium/worsted weight wool in one piece to the armholes.

Cosy Moss Shrug by Berta Karapetyan (originally from Runway Knits) - this is knit in super bulky yarn so a quick knit; ribbed.  The photos don't really show the front of the garment well.  For me this would be too much weight.

Two-way shrug by Caddy Melville Ledbetter (from Mother-Daughter Knits) - not exactly sure how this is a two-way shrug, I'm sure it's because it can be worn either way up, this is a very short, short-sleeved shrug knit in medium/worsted weight and might be ideal if you have a dress with a special top that you don't want to obscure.

Classic Shirt by Sally Melville (from Mother-Daughter Knits) - the photographs have it pretty much as a see-through shirt.  It's a button down shirt knit with fine/sport weight yarn with 3.5mm (US 4) needles One of the variations is more dense.  You'd need to play with fabric and gauge to get this one right for you.

Springtime in Paris Shrug by Berta Karapetyan (originally from Runway Knits) - knit in Light-dk weight with two strands of yarn held together in a brioche stitch this looks dense and bulky on the model.  The sleeves are done using a single strand and the upper back likewise.  Interesting construction.

Sophisticated Hoodie by Sally Melville (from Mother-Daughter Knits) - knit in a light/dk weight yarn this is a light shaped hoodie.  Not my thing but not a bad design.

Ruffled Cardigan by Berta Karapetyan (originally from Runway Knits), some minor shaping on the body with a ruffled curved edge and ruffled (optional) edge on the sleeves, This looks like it would be complicated to finish off and I have to say I'm not terribly impressed with the finish on the photographed piece.

Sea Foam Top by Berta Karapetyan (originally from Runway Knits) A summery top that needs lining and has a ruffle along the necline and a partial cap sleeve

Ninotchka Spaghetti-strap Tank by Annie Modesitt (from Romantic Hand Knits) Spaghetti-strap top with a shelf-bra inside.  I have Romantic Hand Knits and I do plan to knit this at some stage myself as I spend warmer summer days in tops like this.  Lace on the bottom and solid topped.

Sheila's Tank Top by Melissa Mattay (from Knits Three Ways) I'm not really sure where this fails to please me, perhaps it's the way your eye is drawn to the bottom of the bust and you start to see sag lines where there are none due to the chevron patterning.  Cleverly there are quite wide straps but this one is a pass.

Notorious low-cut top by Annie Modesitt (from Romantic Hand Knits) Fitted top, which needs a strapless bra for a good fit.  I'd invest in one first and organise some of the details of this top around the bra.

Rebecca's Top by Melissa Matthay (from Knits Three Ways) Somehow this lacks balance, I think the model for this has a deeper armscrye than the pattern allows for so a bit of bunching going on at the shoulder and underarm.  If I knit this I would leave out the ribbon and perhaps the eyelets for the ribbon.  I would also examine the armholes and make sure it fit right.  A piece designed to be worn over something or possibly on it's own it deserves a little more tweaking.

Mini Dress by Caddy Melville Ledbetter (from Mother-Daughter Knits). Honestly I wouldn't regard this as a dress, a tunic top maybe.  This is one for people whose waist lacks definition, as the horizontal stripe adds this definition.  However the placement of this would be all, it needs to be at the waistline.  This is knit from the bottom up.

Audrey Pullover by Mary Weaver is a shoulder-fastening piece with a round yoke neckline. A lot of shaping in this one.

Buy/Borrow: If you've fancied the patterns and don't own the books (or fancy the few that aren't in books) this is a useful book. The advice about fitting is comprehensive and overall it's not a bad one.

Where found: Cork County Libraries have copies in stock, I got mine via Borrowbooks.