Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Knitter's Book of Yarn review

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


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


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.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

From "Those obstreperous lassies"

A history of the Irish Women Workers' Union by Mary Jones

P 57 "By 1922 new areas offered great potential for recruitment and the Union welcomed box-makers, clerks, knitters and cleaners (footnote : IWWU executive minutes 8 December 1921)

"Towards the end of 1982, RTÉ radio and the Gay Byrne radio programme had played host to a chorus of traditional handknitters. all had described massive exploitation of their labour by middlemen, capitalising on their skill, and on their isolation from other workers owing to the nature of their home-based employment. in October 1982, in a quite unprecedented response, handknitters and machine knitters from all over Ireland flocked to the Gresham Hotel for a seminar organised by the producer of the programme, John Cadden, to seek some solutions to the problem of supply, markets, and the organisation of a potentially vast, but widespread workforce. Amongst contributions from NIHE's Business Faculty in Dublin, the Irish Productivity Centre, and the Irish Cooperative Society, Padraigín Ní Mhurchú represented the trade union movement and concerned herself with the basics. She saluted the skills of the women, but warned that such recognition and the securing of rights would not be automatic: 'No one will give you recognition merely on the grounds of the justice of your cause'. She pointed out that the reticent of the women in regard to taking organisational responsibility was largely related to their isolation. All had voiced their individual concern over tax liabilities, working hours, differing rates of pay: but the negotiation of separate arrangements for them, as for other contract workers, was advantageous only in the short-term. In the long-term, as the women testified, such arrangements led to the undercutting of prices, loss of quality control and exploitation of their skills. She concluded by calling for one rate for the job, a co-operative spirit in any further organisation, stressing the logic for such workers of combining with the trade union movement. (Footnote: see Mary Jones, 'Homeworking Research Project', Dublin: AnCO 1982, 88)
Ms Ní Mhurchú's own enthusiasms were prompted by the potential for organisation represented by 3,000 Irish women workers - women outside the traditional workplace - but nevertheless receptive to the call to combine. In responding some time later, one handknitter acknowledged the relevance of the trade union movement to workers such as herself.

'I feel that it is through your organisation that our hope lies. I approached the idea of unions with the same scepticism as the other people present, but your generosity and the openness of your contribution and that of your colleagues to our problem has given me restored faith in our community and I feel we can really make this project work. (footnote : Letter, member of the Traditional Handknitters Association to Padraigín Ní Mhurchú, November 1982.)
The IWWU offered information and accommodation; members of the Traditional Handknitters Association used Fleet Street as a meeting place for the period of their existence as an association. Predictably, difficulties arose, but although the prospect of placing further resources in this direction was not promising at this time, the potential for the development of less orthodox organisation projects remained. It marked one of the few areas of optimism when the persistence of the shorter working week at De La Rue increasimgly threatened large-scale redundancies among IWWU members."

and thats it, it paints a slightly different picture of the decline of the piece-workers, and a far less rosy picture than you often get! No wonder women left it and would have probably discouraged children from doing it as work, this also puts a slightly different light on the decline noticed in knitting in the later 80s.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

review of New Encyclopedia of Knitting Techniques

 New Encyclopedia of Knitting Techniques by Lesley Stanfield and Melody Griffiths.

 Inside the cover it states "a comprehensive visual guide to traditional and contemporary techniques" and I would be hard-pressed to disagree. There are no garment patterns in this book, this however is an excellent introduction to knitting and a comprehensive reference to most techniques for knitters. Illustrated with both diagrams and photographs. It's also described as a lightly updated edition of the best-selling "Encyclopedia of Knitting Techniques"

 Starting with the basics this book then goes into a variety of cast-ons, and a variety of techniques, along with advice on reading patterns and choosing patterns, though it does only show the threaded on method of adding beads. There is a section on design that's not comprehensive but good basics. The second part of the book is a stitch collection, along with most of these there are sample garments for inspiration. All of the stitch collection are charted as well as an explanation of how it works and how the fabric behaves with these patterns. They also provide a key to the patterns at the back, as well as a comprehensive index.

 This would be a good book for a beginner or intermediate knitter to expand their repertoire  More experienced knitters may also want it but it covers the same territory as a few others in the field. A good book, worth adding to your library as a reference if you need one, if I didn't have a comprehensive library of reference books I'd be buying this one to add to the collection. The only thing really missing is a bibliography or other recommended reading list.

 Obtained from Dublin City Public Libraries who pay me my wages but offer no inducement to write these.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Review: Cool Stuff: Teach me to Crochet

Book Depository, Dublin City Public Libraries, Ravelry

Cool Stuff: Teach me to Crochet by Leisure Arts Originally published in 2002 and aimed at the Teen/Children audience.

The book opens with some very clear photographs of how to proceed with left-handed instructions.
They start with some Daisies after learning how to do chains and suggest some uses.  This is a fairly simple, nicely done.

 Next project is a loopy hair scrunchy. Simple and straightforward.

 Spiral coaster comes next which shows how to count stitches and using a stitch marker/

 Expanding from the Spiral coaster there's a soft drink cozy, all of these are worked with single crochet.

 Half double crochet is introduced and a Round Pillow project.

A Ruffled Hair Scrunchie helps to introduce double crochet.

A curlicue key chain helps expand skills.

 A striped scarf uses only the chain and single crochet and hides the ends with a fringe.

 A floppy hat is the next project, this introduces the importance of gauge.

 A dog's toy ball is next up, in different sizes.

A Cat's Toy fish is up next

 A cotton dishcloth starts small and increases.

 A CD Holder or small bag is next.

 A Ripple Lap Warmer is the last project

 There are some pages at the back with US vs UK terms and US hook sizes vs Metric. There are also some reminders about the stitches with some very clear photographs, again with clear left-handed instructions. The back cover of the book also features a ruler.

For a beginning kid this isn't a bad book at all, in fact it's not a bad book for many ages. Teens may find it a bit kiddish but overall it's a good gentle introduction to crochet.

 Obtained from Dublin City Public Libraries who pay me my wages but offer no inducement to write these.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


I police comments pretty strictly and for this I give no apology. If your comment looks like spam and reads like spam it will be deleted. I have an open comment policy to enable legit people to comment but at this stage I'm deleting 5-8 comments per DAY. A few legit comments may have been deleted, but I doubt it.

I get an email for every comment, I try to deal with stray comments as soon as possible, feel free to email me if something slips through, my contact details are on the sidebar, or at least were last time I checked.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Review: the Cool Girl's guide to Crochet

Book Depository; Dublin City Public Libraries; Ravelry

By Nicki Trench

This one is aimed at teenagers and folks in their 20's opening with a chapter entitled New-age Crochet.  Much talk about it no lomger being associated with black-clad grannies of Southern Europe. This leads into a section on how it's now hip and cool and if you're a man you can use it to pick up girls. Can you see the eye-roll that induced? Then "crochet is so much easier than knitting" and I started to realise that this really wasn't being marketed at me. The closing quiz is full of puns.

Rapidly leaving that chapter I flicked through the what you need and what to do with it chapter which has a pretty good run-down of yarns and what they're good for, apart from the slightly smug "if you buy a woollen garment that has been hand knitted or crocjeted in South America, it is sometimes rough on the skin and may even have bits of wood and straw tangled up in it that haven't been removed at the fleece combing stage; it seems the South Americans are less concerned with the roughness of some garments, maybe because they use these as jackets or over-garments and wear something else underneath them." or maybe it's all they have and can afford? Or maybe they keep the nicer stuff for themselves and sell what the tourists are willing to buy...

First steps in crochet are covered with a right-hand assumption there is no mention of the possibility of left-handed knitting that I noticed. There is a mention of the differences between UK & US terms.  There's plenty of good photographs of techniques here.

Part three are patterns with a preamble talking about them and how they could be adapted.

First up is a beanie hat using three basic stitches it's a pretty good beginner piece. Worked in an Aran yarn with a 4.5mm hook

A flower throw is up next using a granny-square variation, seamed with a double crochet seam, worked in an aran-weight yarn with a 6mm hook

Next is a simple shawl in Rowan Kid Silk Haze and a 3.5mm hook

A pet's playmat is up next with a fringe, in aran-weight yarn and a 4.5mm hook

Summer flower camisole has simple appliqued flowers sewn on after making this garment that's worked in pieces and then seamed. Worked in 4ply cotton

A stripy dog blanket worked in an Aran-weight yarn and a 5mm hook would make a great stashbuster.

Striped hairbands have a tie fastener worked in Rowan Handknit Cotton and a 3.75mm hook

A bag made with debbie bliss cotton dk and colinette point five, a mesh bag that some may want to line, uses 3 & 5mm hooks.

A tie bolero is up next in debbie bliss baby cashmerino and 2.5, 3.25 & 3.5mm hooks, made in pieces.and sewn this can be tied around or in the front.

flower power beaded belt links flowers with robust beads and ties with a ribbon, worked in Dk cotton and 4.5mm hook

Summer brimmed hat is a floppy hat with an applique flower and contrast trim, Rowan handknit cotton with a 4mm hook and cotton glace and a 2mm hook for the flower, I suppose, check for errata on this one.

Daisy cashmere scarf uses granny-square variations sews them together and adds pompoms. Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino and a 3.25mm hook

Fingerless gloves in Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk Dk and a 3.75mm hook

Beaded purse uses aran yarn and a 3mm hook. It has a contrast frill and handle

Ribbon slippers have a ribbon threaded through the top and flowers sewn on. Worked in a chunky yarn for the body with 4.5mm hook and a dk yarn and 3.25mm hook for the flower.

Hot water bottle cover is pieced, in big wool and a 5.5mm hook, personally I'd be inclined to work it in the round.

Cushion cake two worked pieces, joined with a frill and decorated with s flower. Worked in aran-weight yarn and dk for the flower and 5mm & 3.25mm hooks.

Loopy cushion is worked in aran-weight yarn with a plain back and some contrast stripes, worked in pieces using a 5mm hook

Clutch bag with bow is worked in dk yarn with a 4mm hook and lined. Note the lining isn't included in the materials list

Last pattern are placemat and coaster worked in cotton with 5mm hook

The book finishes with a love questionnaire, to which I have to ask why? Also knitty magazine makes an appearance in the useful websites list but not ravelry and a quick look at the copyright page reveals that it was originally published in 2006, this edition is 2011, so double check the resources.

I wasn't terribly impressed, but then I'm not the market for this, which also would mean that it probably would be short-lived in someone's collection.

I got this from Dublin City Public Libraries who pay my wages, but have offered no other inducement to reviewing this book. Many thanks to the Cataloguers who pass Knitting and Crochet books on to me.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Review of Vintage Knits for Modern Babies

 Kindle editions  

 Book Depository; Dublin City Public Libraries; Ravelry

 Vintage Knits for Modern Babies
Hadley Fierlinger

I will admit that some of these patterns are very cute, and I do agree that good quality yarns are a good thing, particularly if there is a stay-at-home parent with an awareness of yarn (probably another knitter or crafter), but chances are that some parents won't have the mental capacity to launder some of these as they need to. And from what I know of children they will get sick (and do other things) on a lot of things, ensuring it can be cleaned can be very important. On the other hand some of the garments would also be great special occasion garments. Hadley also gets some kudos from me for dressing a little girl in blue, loses some for not having schematics and for the addiction to seams, even in hats.
The book starts out with an introduction, an introduction to the background of the author and a run-down of some of the fibers used.

Next we have some Pattern instructions and Special Techniques. The patterns are sized from 0-5 years, she also lists what her experience levels mean.

First pattern up is the Layette Cap, a fairly simple hat, knit flat in Cashsoft Baby DK on 4mm needles, then there's Pompom booties; Tiny Trousers and a Crossover jacket to match, all in the same yarn, all knit flat and seamed.

Next up is a Matinee Jacket, using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK this is knit with 2 fronts, a back, sleeves and then joined to knit the yoke. Has some seed stitch details. Honestly, I'd make the body as one piece to the armholes, these are paired with slippers with a "feminine strap"

Nana's Bunnies are a pretty simple toy with minimal shaping, two colours in an organic cotton that uses low-impact dyes to minimise issues with children sucking on them, Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Organic Cotton and 3.5mm needles for this. If you make a few you can put them on the Bunny Mobile that has a decorated embroidery hoop and some Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino trim

Next is a Wavy Cashmere Blanket, knit in 15 balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (which would set you back about €94 in This is Knit - price from website on 25/1/13) with 3.25 mm needles. Done in 3 colours this could also be a great stashbuster for DK weight yarns! Basic Feather and Fan changing colours every 4 rows.

Angora Bolero - knit in pieces, this is knit in Sublime Angora Merino (and my edition has a typo in the number of balls for the pattern in the larger sizes, check before committing with ravelry and publisher errata) this would be ideal for a girl who is going to be involved in a wedding or event.

Organic Heirloom Blanket, a simple eyelet pattern in Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Organic Cotton and 5mm needles.

A Modern baby Bonnet, in Sublime Baby Cashmerino Silk DK and 4mm needles, uses a button fastening, seamed down the back.

Vintage Pixie Cap, basically a peaked hood in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK with 4mm needles and a button fastening. Matching Mittens as well, seamed again.

Anya's Cardigan is an exception to the rule, worked in one piece to the armholes this raglan cardigan is round necked and the eyelet pattern adds interest and could be omitted, a good piece to adapt. Knit in Rowan Wool Cotton with 3.25 and 3.75mm needles.

Cabled Booties in Jo Sharp DK Wool with 3.25 and 4mm needles, this has a plain foot and mock cables along the leg.

Baby Clothes Hanger Covers in leftover light worsted or DK and 5.5 mm needles as you use the yarn doubled and decorate with buttons.

The Apron Dress is cute, fastening with buttons, this is loose and can go from dress to tunic. Knit in Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk this is knit flat and has a pocket.

Ballet Blossom Cardigan is knit in RYC Baby Alpaca DK and 3.25 and 3.75mm needles. A wrap cardigan with a flower detail.

Charming Raglan Pullover is a pretty plain raglan jumper knit in pieces it has buttons at the back opening, knit in Jo Sharp DK Wool with 3.25 and 3.75mm needles.

Double Breasted Car Coat, knit in RYC Cashsoft DK with 4mm needles, this is an a-line coat with a large collar and pockets. There's a Petite Beret to match with a contrasting i-cord that threads through.

Lavender Sachet has embroidery applied and a ribon to hang it with, knit in Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Organic Cotton with 3.25mm needles.

Birdy Cardigan is a round-necked cardigan with duplicate stitch birds, knit in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino with 3.25 and 3.75mm needles.

The Hooded Caplet is knit in White but admits inspiration from Little Red Riding Hood. Knit in RYC Cashoft Baby DK with 4mm needles. Pompoms decorate the twisted cord ties.

The book also has a useful terms and abbreviations list inside the front cover. 

The patterns are pretty and classic, a pretty good book of nice baby patterns, but use the yarn that would suit the parents.

Borrowed from Dublin City Public Libraries who pay my wages but offer no other inducement to write this.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Grannies Inc guide to Knitting - review

    Kindle Edition

 Grannies Inc Guide to Knitting - Katie Mowat

Book Depository copy; Dublin City Public Libraries; I can't find it on Ravelry

0091943612 / 9780091943615

A pretty good guide to knitting, starting with some basic stuff on yarn, then the basics of knitting, mentioning both continental and English style of knitting, it starts teaching caston by the simple knit cast on and progresses to more complicated.  It is a whistle stop tour of knitting, without a huge amount of detail, but she does suggest using youtube to help.

The projects

Cable Beanie - a pretty straightforward cable hat, a good introduction to cables in a small project.

Baggie Beanie- a slouchy hat, ribbed at the bottom and then plain for the rest.

Snowflake Earflwpper, an earflap hat with some colourwork.

Bow Headband a pretty plain headband with a bow, using an elastic hairband at the end to help it stay on, which is clever

Berry Beret - a pretty lace pattern, probably a good introduction to lacework.

A super snood - a long snood.

Two-gauge garter scarf - using two sizes of needles to create tecture.

Diamond scarf - in a chunkier yarn than the berry beret but a similar stitch.  Chunky lace

Cosy Collar - a fairly tight-fitting cowl/neckwarmer

Lacy Cape, a rectangle with a button, knit in lace.

Utility Wrist Waarmers, ribbed wrist warmers with button details

Fingerless Gloves - worked flat fingerless gloves with a lace panel on the back of the hand.

Mittens knit in a chunky yarn with cables.

Dancing legwarmers in a chunky yarn

Slouch socks - need ribbons to hold these DK weight socks up, has a cable and lace detail down the front and are seamed up the back.

Wellie Socks in a chunky yarn, knit flat with a cable detail knit horizontally before knitting the socks from the cuff down.

Reusable shopper - knit in cotton yarn with a lacy stitch.

Argyll Bag - chunky knit simple bag

Laptop Cozy - intarsia pattern

iPod cover - with an intarsia pattern on the front

While the patterns are done in the Grannies Inc yarns they do suggest some substutions at the back of the book.

It's a fairly trendy book that would be good for a teenager or 20something to get into knitting, many of the patterns are quite straighforward and not bad, just not my type of pattern

Got a copy from Dublin City Public Libraries who pay my wages but aren't affiliated to my blog

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Review of Learn to knit, love to knit

Book Depository; Dublin City Public Libraries; Ravelry

Learn to Knit, love to knit
Anna Wilkinson
With some clear diagrams on how to knit and 20 modern styled patterns this isn't a bad book, it's not my style, but if I was starting out the opening how-to photographs are worth it. I have similar patterns to any of the ones that attracted me elsewhere in my collection. The lack of schematics for the clothing is somewhat annoying, though there are fairly detailed lists of sizing info, including bust, length, and sleeve seam. Most patterns go up to 14 or 16 UK sizing (38-40 Inch or 97-102cm)

First section is learn to knit: First up is a striped scarf and mittens, with pompoms. Knit in superbulky weight yarn. Varying stripes that can be decided by the knitter.

Shopper with dropped stitch detail is not bad, knit in bulky weight yarn, a slightly complicated technique made easy by it not being crucial if you err.

Wristwarmers with contrast rib feature on the cover, knit in DK weight. the contrast colour is used for the cast-on as well.

His or hers bobble hats - bulky weight hat with pompom

Hand Puff and collar with embroidery, knit in a superbulky weight bouchle yarn. The embroidery produces a slightly tartan effect. Puff (or Muff as we used to call them before it became slightly rude) is also padded and lined.

Simple round neck sweater with raglan sleeves. This sort of simple jumper is crying out to be made in the round and the yoke done as one piece, but alas, it's made in pieces and seamed. Dk weight yarn.

The Cripped cardigan with cabled sleeves - I can hear some of my friends already mocking the bobbles in the pattern, round necked from the sizing on the models I'd be inclined to be very careful with sizing and probably make it much longer. Then again I dislike over-tight cardigans that gape. Knit in pieces, dk weight yarn

Lace collar with tie fastening, button detail to front, tie to back, an ornamental collar in laceweight yarn.

Lace top with bow, vertically striped sleeveless top made in mohair, with a bow.

Random Striped Sweater, horizontally striped raglan in dk weight, plain sleeves with contrast cuffs.
Second section is love to knit

College-style cardigan with patch pocket, knit in 4ply, with a textured stitch, if I was making this I'd make it bigger, longer, and I'd be really careful about the placement of the patch pocket.

The Shawl Collar Cardigan with floral embroidery is knit in a dk weight yarn, v-necked this one would tempt me, longer again, probably in the round the photographs have the intarsia/swiss darned/embroidered parts looking quite puckered, you'd need to be very careful with this one to make sure that the stretch when embroidering equals the stretch when wearing.

The Fair Isle Band Sweater with short sleeves I like the pattern but very boxy, knit in DK weight. Pieced.

Textured Cardigan with ribbed waist, knit in dk weuight this has no full-length photo near the pattern. it looks interesting but this is where I would like to see a schematic.

Fair Isle Rib tanktop, I assume this 4-ply tanktop comes to approximately the waist. for me this would be too short, I'd do another repeat of the pattern for extra length.

Cabled Tam and Snood, bobbly cables knit in a dk weight yarn.

Polka-dot socks. Polka dots added as french knots afterwards. These have ribbing at the back of the leg, which can be very good for folks like me with wide calves. The heel is knit plain, I'd do a slip stitch heel, but then again I live in boots.

Cabled Cardigan with short sleeves (and frilly collar) I like the main pattern of this one. the pattern includes instructions on making the buttons, this one could be very nice in a cotton yarn. At first glance I liked this one but the collar wouldn't suit me.

Tartan sweater with three-quarter length sleeves - knit in 4-ply this is and interesting design and one of the few I would think about knitting but then I looked at it again and I'd have to play with it to make it work right. Some day I may make a variation inspired by it. Ribbed portion of the side gusset helps make it more fitted.

Tweed cape - worked in a slip stitch in DK weight yarn, the shoulders look a bit funny to me in this and would definitely not flatter me.

Got a copy from Dublin City Public Libraries who pay my wages but aren't affiliated to my blog

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Animal Hats - review

Book Depository, Dublin City Public Libraries; Ravelry
Animal Hats - Vaness Mooncie

Knit in chunky yarns these are entertaining, not sure if I'd wear many of them, your mileage may vary.

There are two schools of thought with animal hats, that they only belong on young children or that they're fun for all ages, if you think of them as the latter, this is the book for you.

The hats are done in two sizes, children's and adults, all bar two (Pig and Cat) with ear-flaps and mostly in chunky or aran weight yarns so a pretty quick knit.

First up is Chicken - beak and cox-comb included

Frog has two big stuffed eyes

The Penguin has a bow tie and buttons to tie up the wings.

The Elephant has a trunk, ivory and big ears

The monkey is the typical sock monkey style

The pig doesn't have ear-flaps but does have a curly tail.

The fox and also called Professor of Cunning is intarsia work

The lion has a loopy mane

The Mouse uses a variety of yarns to create texture

The Rabbit has big floppy ears

The cat uses bouclé wool to create texture

The Dog has an eye patch and floppy ears can be worn buttoned up

The Koala has big pom-pom ears

The Panda has button eyes.

The Cow has horns and friesian markings

There are also suggestions for lining the hat with either fleece or a knit lining.

The book closes with some basic how-to's

Got a copy from Dublin City Public Libraries who pay my wages but aren't affiliated to my blog

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Mindless knitting

Sometimes you do want something complex, but there are also days where you want something complex and involved to knit, and then there are days when you want something mindless. But sometimes that mindlessness is almost mindful, almost meditative.  I'm doing the throw from the Knit & Stitch series and the first one is a garter stitch square, which is one of the simplest things, and also one mistake can be very obvious.

So far I'm happy with it (sitting on Ruth Frances Long's Treachery of Beautiful Things), while sipping some lemon & ginger tea.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Review: Simply Crochet

So I picked up a copy of the latest Crochet Magazine on the UK market, Simply Crochet. Surprisingly Easons had it in stock, they're legendary for not getting in crochet magazines.  Very sparse Ravelry Page.

I have to preface this by saying that I actually do like their website.  It's quite cool.  Food for creative thought.

The magazine itself is along the same lines as Molly Makes, more matt than most magazines in this sector, it looks very slick.

It opens with a few pages of inspiration and trends, the first section is about Bedroom ideas.   After some atmospheric pictures there are the patterns for that set.  First A Bright Blanket; then pillowcase edgings;  then cool cushions in a granny square stripes; some bunting; a hanger cover, frames, Granny Square Lampshade, all multi-coloured and probably great stashbusters.

Some Amigurumi lovebirds are next, an extract from teeny tiny crochet

Lecchi Blanket is next, a mellow blend of colours

Magical Circles is a scarf with links, interesting construction.

You're Collared a cute collar with buttons to decorate by Jane Crowfoot

Jane Crowfoot talks about inspiraton.

Pearly Queen is in a silk and mohair yarn and over 1,000 beads to add to this soft piece, something like an old-fashioned bed jacket. Designed by Nicki Trench

A discussion of Amigurmi is followed by a cute dragon and then by an interview with Stephanie Lau

Carol Meldrum offers a mock cable cowl

Sounds Like love is a heart headphones cover by Brenda K B Anderson

Nicki Trench's Comfort Blanket is largely plain with some border detail.

Then because it's February there are hearts, a plain heart pattern; set of hearts; heart corsage, cards and gift tie; mirror hanging; heart sachets; cute bookmark.

There are some yarn reviews followed by a how to get started section. Which includes how to work left-handed

Some Bracelets are followed by an interesting hat using granny squares; Hip to be Square by Lisa Gentry

A small baby cardigan by Sirdar is pretty simple and open.

Flower Power is a motif pattern

Heart & Home is a backing for a hook board, a different piece, from the book Granny Squares by Barbara Wilder, Melanie Sturm and Stephanie Gohr

There are some reviews of Craftsy and Etsy, followed by a quick interview with four women who have make crafting their living.

Strangely there's another Crochet essentials set of pages with no left-handed information.  This feels like duplication.

It's an interesting magazine that I'll be keeping an eye on; most of the patterns in this issue weren't really my aesthetic but there were a few that caught my attention, it shows potential and I wish it well in the future.

I bought a copy for myself from Easons.


Seriously my stash has reached too-large proportions.  I have to use some of it up, so I'm going to try hard not to buy any unnecessary balls in the next year. Unnecessary? Well if a project needs a ball or two to be finished, that's allowed, otherwise stash must be used.
Over the weekend I knit myself a hat. It's an orange version of The Elusive Blue Rose Hat and it's 123m used up.

I also finished a swallowtail that used 361m of yarn, so so far this month I've used 484m so far.

I'm kinda planning to do some colourwork to use up some of the odd balls.  This year is going to require a lot of semi-designing.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Evil Knits - Review

Book Depository Link, Ravelry Link, Dublin City Public Libraries Catalogue Record

It gets bonus points for the mad cracked nail illustrations in the primer.

The book starts with an introduction to knitting and some techniques to work with, including soft circuits!  This is a pretty comprehensive introduction.

The Projects
Monkey with Miniature Cymbals - a knitted version of the clockwork toy.

Ferdy Hand Puppet - looks a lot like Freddy from Fridy the 13th...

Voodoo Doll Cat Toy - yeah, reverse stocking stitch voodoo style doll as a cat toy.

Necronomicon iPad Cosy, oh yeah, a plain bag with appliqued felt shapes and I-cord outlining.  Kinda cool, but also kinda creepy, has advice on resizing it for other electronic devices.

Shrunken Head in a jar, yeah, exactly what it says.

Zombie Egg Cosy - an egg cosy designed to stay on so it looks like you're eating it's brains...

Freak Show Finger Puppets - Bearded lady, elephant man and Lion-faced people, as finger puppets.

Creepy Clown cushion cover - yeah, creepy intarsia clown.

Monster Merry-go-round - potential for using luminous yarn...  A canopy with some dangling monsters.

Light-up ghost is a classic ghost shape with a simple LED to light it up

Abominable Snowman - a good way to learn fur stitch!  It's a pretty classic shape and style.

Kracken Tentacle - as suggested could be a Draft Excluder, throw pillow or as a cat bed.  Quite a funny piece

Nosferatu - inspired by one of the oldest adaptations of Dracula, this is pretty creepy with glowing LED eyes.

A Grue Wallet - a monster inspired wallet with a lot of detail and optional LED circuitry.

Zombie Marionette - a zombie puppet

Creature from the Black Lagoon Sleep Mask - a sleep mask knit in green with felt eyes, an icord frown and lined with felt.

Haunted House Diorama - knitted playhouse stiffened with Plastic Canvas, a pile of skulls, and some gravestones.

Little Witches are some small project.  weighted with a small beanbag they are a cute small project

Haunted Tree - a tree shape which uses PVA glue for some stiffening.

Entertaining projects but none of them really called on me to do them, the ones that involve electronics would be ideal first projects to try this as there isn't much involved in it.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Knit your own zombie - review

Book Depository Link, Ravelry Link, Dublin City Public Libraries Record

By Fiona Goble

The cover of the book talks about over 1000 combinations and it's probably true.  There are 9 basic patterns, 4 mash-up ideas and that would probably give you ideas for many more.
You basically knit a head, upper body and lower body and using Velcro attach them to each other, the arms attach using press-studs.  The pieces are knit flat, seamed and stuffed individually.  The author opens each pattern with some media examples of each type. 

The first pattern is for a classic zombie.  Only one eye, removable entrails and his ribs showing this one is pretty classic. There's also a jacket trousers and a rat pattern as accessories.

Frankenstein's monster is up next.  The pattern even includes a 40mm nut and bolt. He has slightly different trousers and jacket pattern included

Then we have a zombie cop with a thigh-bone truncheon, shirt, trousers, hat, boot and simple cuffs.

The village idiot mash-up shows how you can use a variety of the patterns to create a new monster and maybe spark some ideas

Zombie fatale is the first female character we encounter.  Her heart is removable and she has shiny bead nails.  A beehive hairdo  topped with a hat and a dress completes this ensemble.  She also has a shoe and bandage

Dracula makes an appearance too, looking quite like Sesame street's count. He has a cane, waistcoat, cape and a bat as accessories

Next we have another mash-up, the mother of the bride, another opportunity to mix and match

The zombie chef is quite scary with full chef gear including two knives.

Next up is the biker chic zombie mash-up.

Zombie gravedigger owes a lot to Baron Samedi described as female because of the purple hat, this animated skeleton screams voodoo to me.  Hat, spade and rope accessories.

Zombie rock star has removable brains and long hair, along with a jacket and trousers.

Last mash-up is of yoga zombie mostly using the zombie gravedigger parts.

Final pattern is for the bandages to make any of the zombies into a mummy.

In common with a lot of her books you have to be prepared to do some sewing with this and there's a fair bit of both sewing and detail embroidery to keep a lot of people busy.  Would be a great gift for a zombie lover or for something to make for one.  You could get several birthdays out of making parts on a regular basis.