Tag Archives: Accessories

Review: Little Women Knits

Review: Little Women Knits post image

First, the facts:

Title: Little Women Knits

Author: Joanna Johnson

Illustrator: LaurelJohnson

Published by: Slate Falls Press, 2020

Pages: 48

Type: Patterns

Chapters:

No chapters, just the patterns

The In-Depth Look:

If you know Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, you probably have an image in your head of the four sisters, rambling about their Massachusetts home, doing what they can to stretch a penny while dealing with the challenges of growing up in each others’ pockets.

I sometimes think that the reason this is the best-known of Alcott’s stories is because we can all relate to the difficulty of growing up and figuring out who we are, while also feeling nostalgic about the past when things seemed, if not easier, at least more simple.

That is the vibe this pattern collection hits. When I say it’s not the most adventurous collection I’ve seen, that is in no way a complaint about the patterns. It’s more that they exude a sense of charm and a warm hominess.

The patterns here are a bundle of different types–shawls, socks, wraps, a sweater–meant to be cozy and comforting in a troubled time. Just like when the original Little Women took place during the Civil War (when things were anything but settled or secure), I think we all are longing for a sense of solidity and just want something warm to cuddle in while waiting for the world to make sense again.

Really, this collection couldn’t have come at a better time.

The designs are by Joanna Johnson, who always seems to find a creative way to capture the essence of her literary inspirations. (If you haven’t you should check out her Anne of Green Gables and Sherlock Holmes collections.) These patterns are not full of fancy stitches or complicated construction, but they are the kind of straight-forward comfort you get from a simple cup of cocoa on a cold day. Sometimes all you really want is the familiar instant kind with marshmallows you grew up with.

Sure the fancy homemade kind with heavy cream and melted chocolate can be luscious, but knitwear doesn’t have to be fancy and furbelowed to hit the spot any more than chocolate does. When you just want to snuggle into some wooly warmth on the couch, you want something soft that’s well-designed, like the shawl here that ties at the back–all warmth, no drama.

In addition to the reassuringly simple designs, we have lovely hand-drawn illustrations by Joanna’s talented daughter Laurel Johnson, as well as beautiful atmospheric photos by Christa Tippmann. The hand-dyed yarns which all look fabulous all come from Rachel Lundstrom.

All in all, this collection is like a warm hug–sweet, simple, and comforting.

I think Louisa May Alcott would be proud.

This review copy was kindly donated by Slate Falls Press. Thank you!

My Gush: Sweet and gentle; pure comfort.

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Review: Gradient Style

Review: Gradient Style post image

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First, the facts:

Title: Gradient Style: Color-Shifting Techniques and Knitting Patterns

Editor: Kerry Bogert

Published by: Interweave Knits, 2018

Pages: 160

Type: Knitting patterns

Chapters:

Introduction
Getting Started
The Projects

KS: Gradient Style

The In-Depth Look:

I’ve always loved gradient yarns–the way the color flows from one shade to the next appeals to me. These days, there are so many talented dyers putting out such lovely color combinations, but it’s not always easy to find the right patterns to go with them.

This book addresses that.

To start, the book talks about how to choose and use gradients, whether that’s through putting together your own combination or using one commercially available. There’s a nice description of how to use the Color Wheel with all its hues and tones, compliments and analogous colors. There are suggestions for combining and using your own choices–should they be semi-solids? Speckled yarns? A mix of both?–as well as a discussion on how to blend the colors in your knitting. All useful information.

This is followed by nineteen patterns of various things you can knit with your gradients. There is the usual blend here–some sweaters, some scarves, some cowls, socks, even a pair of mittens. All of them (obviously) use gradients, sometimes set against a solid color, sometimes in blocks, sometimes as a fair isle style stranded color pattern.

Really, I’m never going to complain about patterns using color gradients.

You can get a copy of this book at your local shop or buy it here at Amazon.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!

My Gush: Who doesn’t love gradients?

100 Knits

100 Knits post image

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First, the facts:

Title: 100 Knits: Interweave’s Ultimate Pattern Collection

Published by: Interweave Knits

Pages: 512

Type: Pattern Collection

Chapters:

Hats & Socks
Scarves, Cowls, Shawls & Wraps
Cardigans
Pullovers
Tanks & Tees

KS: 100 Knits

The In-Depth Look:

Are you a fan of Interweave Knits magazine, or its sister publication, Knitscene? How about their books?

Because this book–full to the brim of 100 patterns–is a selection of their most popular recent patterns, along with their five most popular patterns of all time (as of publication, anyway).

This makes for a HUGE collection. Over 500 pages filled with all kinds of things to knit–hats and socks, wraps and sweaters of all descriptions. And all loved by countless knitters, because these were all selected by the number of people who have “liked” them or knitted them.

It’s an impressive list of patterns by an impressive list of designers. (The list of credits runs five pages.)

So, no, these aren’t new patterns, but there’s no question there are a lot of them, all good, all popular for a reason! It is well worth checking it out. You can order it here or get it at your favorite shop.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!

My Gush: Huge collection!

Review: Wool Studio

Review: Wool Studio post image

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First, the facts:

Title: Wool Studio: The knit.wear Capsule Collection

Author: Meghan Babin

Published by: Interweave Press, 2018

Pages: 143

Type: Patterns

Chapters:

No chapters, just patterns

KS: Wool Studio

The In-Depth Look:

Wool Studio is (usually) a digital look-book collection by Interweave of (and I quote) “sophisticated, simple, and luxurious knitwear.” The idea is that you browse through each collection and buy the patterns you like.

According to this book’s introduction, though, “the premier of Volume 1 received an enthusaistic reception, but we also heard the feedback from all our ‘book people’ who wanted a print copy of their favorite new designs.”

This is their response–the first two volumes of Wool Studio in print.

(Yes, this means if you may already have some of these patterns, if you’ve bought them directly from Interweave.)

The design concept for the Wool Studio collections is centered around the “less is more” philosophy and it shows in these patterns. Clean lines with no fuss. The shapes are basic and, while there are stitch patterns and neckline details … because these patterns are not boring … they’re not frilly or fussy.

The designs are very modern, and very neutral. It would be easy to add any of them–the sweaters, scarves, wraps, any of it–to your wardrobe without skipping a beat. Because they’re fairly classic in style, they’ll fit with anything, no matter how funky or simple your wardrobe is. (And, of course, if you like color, you can knit these in any palate you like–nobody said “sophisticated” had to be “neutral.”

That said, this book includes 21 patterns by a stellar group of designers: Bristol Ivy, Emma Welford, Mary Anne Benedetto, Linda Marveng, Amy Gunderson, Sarah Solomon, Veronik Avery, Norah Gaughan, Kate Gagnon Osborn, Lana Jois, Amanda Bell, Andrea Babb, Susanna IC, Kephren Pritchett, Grace Akhrem, and Amanda Scheuzger.

According to the introduction, “Wool Studio is a slow fashion retreat–a place for reflection, simplicity, and clarity. We selected each of these designs with minimalism in mind, so that the process of making the projects–from selecting the yarn, to knitting, to wearing the finished piece for the season–is an experience that brings joy and serenity. Wool Studio is for those who pause for slow fashion.”

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press . Thank you!

My Gush: Cool and modern

Review: Knit Mitts

Review: Knit Mitts post image

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First, the facts:

Title: Knit Mitts: Your Hand-Y Guide to Knitting Mittens and Gloves

Author: Kate Atherley

Published by: Interweave Press, 2017

Pages: 143

Type: Mittens and gloves

Chapters:

Introduction: Why Fit Matters and How to Use This Book
1. Hand Size and Mitten Fit
2. Yarns & Warmth
3. Making Mittens and Gloves
4. The Basic Patterns
5. Accessories and Design Customizations
6. Patterns
Abbreviations
Stitch Glossary

KS: Knit Mitts

The In-Depth Look:

Everybody loves mittens, right? Because fingers get cold in the winter time (and the autumn, and the spring, and in air conditioning, and … you get the picture).

It’s therefore not a surprise that there are lots of books and patterns for mittens in the world. Not quite as many as for sock patterns, but close! So, why do we need more?

Because (this may be a surprise) not everybody has the same size hands. Some people have long fingers, some have plump hands, some have short little fingers … there are variations.

Which is why it’s useful to have a book that explains all the mysterious intricacies about making the perfect pair of gloves of mittens–how to measure your hands, how to pick your yarns, what you need in a cuff, how to attach the thumb … you get the idea.

Then after all that, wouldn’t it be nice to have just good, well thought out, basic patterns to work with? Ones that you could use to kick off your own explorations of color and stitch patterns?

And, how about some pretty patterns that already have the work done for you and have already paired up the right cables or stitch patterns into, say, ten brand-new patterns?

See? That’s why we needed another book about mittens and gloves–because Kate Atherley has already done all the heavy lifting for us.

You can pre-order your copy from Amazon.com!

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!

My Gush: You only think you know everything you need to know about mittens.

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Review: The Knitted Hat Book

Review: The Knitted Hat Book post image

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First, the facts:

Title: The Knitted Hat Book: 20 Knitted Beanies, Tams, Cloches, and More

Edited by: Interweave Knits

Published by: Interweave Knits, 2016

Pages: 127

Type: Hat patterns

Chapters:

No Chapters, just a list of patterns

KS: Knitted Hats

The In-Depth Look:

Just like it says on the cover, this book is full of knitted hat designs. Twenty of them, suitable for women (all of them) and men (some of them).

It’s an editorial collection–brought together by the publisher, rather than from the mind of a single author, but the designers are all top-notch: Meghan Babin, Rachel Coopey, Faina Goberstein, Tanis Gray, Melissa LaBarre, Annie Rowden, Courtney Spainhower, Melissa Thomson, Robin Ulrich, Alexis Winslow, and Heather Zoppetti.

Not surprisingly, they’re all good designs. While they run the gamut of beanies to tams to cloches and so on, they’re mostly all close-to-the-head styles. One or two have a little more room built in for decorative draping or slouching, and the silhouettes vary a bit, but (from a personal perspective) none of them would really suit my own head of curls–close fitting hats make my hair puff out at the bottom and always look fairly ridiculous unless I have my hair pinned or braided back. There are only two designs in this otherwise nice book that would look remotely good on me … but then, that’s a persistent problem for me with knitted hats. I need a little width in the brim to balance the curls below and knitted hats almost never have brims–an unfortunate oversight, I think, since I wear hats as much to keep the sun out of my eyes and off my face as to keep my head warm.

I’m getting off point, though. The twenty designs here are good knitted hat designs. There are color and stitch patterns to play with and plenty of details to add interest.

It’s a good collection, and you should check it out over at Amazon.com.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!

My Gush: A nice collection.

Review: Drop-Dead Easy Knits

Review: Drop-Dead Easy Knits post image

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First, the facts:

Title: Drop-Dead Easy Knits

Authors: Gale Zucker, Mary Lou Egan & Kirsten Kapur

Published by: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2016

Pages: 144

Type: Sweaters, wraps, accessories, and more

Chapters:

1. Cold Hands, Warm Hearts
2. The Waiting Game
3. Drinking Buddies
4. Family Entanglements
5. Bursting with Joy
6. No Sheep at the Shore

KS: Drop-Dead Easy Knits

The In-Depth Look:

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but all too often, when a knitting book is labeled as “easy,” what the designers really mean is “boring.”

And, really, is there anything worse than slogging through endless rows of a boring knitting project? (Obviously things like flood and famine and visits from despicable in-laws have their own category of “worse.”)

Luckily–there’s this book. Thirty designs that are easy and fun and stylish without being mind-stultifying and dull.

The trio of designers–Gale Zucker, Mary Lou Egan, and Kirsten Kapur–say in the introduction:

“Whenever the three of us get together, Mary Lou invariably has something wonderful on her needles. In admiration, we ask what she’s knitting, and the answer is inevitably, ‘Oh, this? It’s easy. No really. I know it doesn’t look it, but it’s drop-dead easy.” And, of course, as soon as she says those words, we’re scrambling to acquire the pattern and cast on. It’s become something of a running joke. Despite our advanced knitting skills and projects aplenty in progress, we cannot resist a wonderful, stylish pattern that is drop-dead easy.”

Sound familiar?

Yeah, I thought so, too.

Nobody ever said “easy” had to be “boring.” Or that it had to be geared toward absolute beginners … because, here’s the thing. Beginners need challenges, and experts need a chance to relax. You can be a Decathlon-level knitter, able to leap complicated cables and swim through intricate lace before scaling a pattern to size, but sometimes you just want something soothing and relaxing. Something you can knit while chatting with your friends, or give your brain a break after the heirloom Wedding Ring shawl you just whipped up for your niece’s baptism last week.

And the beginners? Sure, almost everyone might start with a crooked garter stitch square, but after that, doesn’t everyone want to make something fabulous, no matter their skill level? Something that will make you stretch those burgeoning skills without being too intimidating?

Which brings us back to this book. Thirty projects to keep you warm and entertained but not stressed. Yes, there are some stitch patterns and some shaping and such. A couple cables appear from time to time, and some projects are quite large (like the full-size Star-Eyed Julep Throw afghan)–while others are very simple or very small. There are sweaters for you, your baby, and your dog. Accessories to keep your head, hands, feet, and shoulders warm. Blankets and a pillow to cuddle with … it’s a really nice variety of pattern types here. There are even a couple of toys, including the cutest teddy bear I’ve ever seen.

Because that’s the point–we all need variety to play with, don’t we?

All projects come with a promise that you don’t need to study to be able to knit them. Each pattern has a difficulty rating and, whenever there is a bit that might be a little challenging than the rest, there’s a nice “Concentration Zone” warning to alert you that this is the time to put down your glass of wine to focus before you get to the next “Cruise Control” section.

This is a great book. A nice variety of patterns in all ways–the type, the style, the difficulty, the structure. And all of them are pieces that are going to be great to have around when you’re done knitting them.. Almost all of them are designed by one of the three authors, though there is an afghan by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne, a hat by Theresa Gaffey, and that adorable Bear in a Bunny Suit by Susan B. Anderson.

Really, you owe it to yourself to at least check out this book.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Clarkson Potter. Thank you!

My Gush: Love it!

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Review: Weekend Wraps

Review: Weekend Wraps post image

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First, the facts:

Title: Weekend Wraps: 18 Quick Knit Cowls, Scarves & Shawls

Author: Cecily Glowik MacDonald & Melissa LaBarre

Published by: Interweave Press, 2016

Pages: 126 pages

Type: Wraps and accessories

Chapters:

1. A Few Quick Cowls
2. Cozy Shawls
3. Wrapped in Wool
4. Not Quite a Sweater

KS: Weekend Wraps

The In-Depth Look:

From the authors of one of my favorite books, comes this new collection of patterns.

They say in their introduction that they started with the questions: “What would you want to make over a weekend, if you could really just spend a few days relaxing and knitting? What would you want to wear on an autumn weekend away?”

Then, with the instructions that all the designs use worsted or heavier yarn so the projects could be finished in a weekend, they set their designers to work.

The list of designers is like a list of all-stars, too. In the order of appearance, they are: Carrie Bostick Hoge, Emma Welford, Thea Colman, Angela Tong, Rachel Stecker, Melissa LaBarre, Kate Gagnon Osborn, Leah B Thibault, Tanis Gray, Bristol Ivy, Leila Raabe, Kristen TenDyke, Jocelyn J Tunney, Cecily Glowik MacDonald, and Amy Christoffers.

There are 18 designs in all–cowls, shawls, wraps, and not-quite-sweaters. All of them are quick knits, meant for adding an extra layer of warmth on a cool day. The designs are simple without being boring, with enough interest to help your needles fly as you go. There are stitch charts as well as written row-by-row instructions, and schematics as needed, as well as the occasional sidebar to discuss a stitch or technique.

All in all, a book with lots of quick, fun potential. You can get your copy at Amazon or at your local shops.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by . Thank you!

My Gush: Fast and warm!

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Review: New Heights in Lace Knitting

Review: New Heights in Lace Knitting post image

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First, the facts:

Title: New Heights in Lace Knitting: 17 Lace Knit Accessory Patterns

Author: Andrea Jurgrau

Published by: Interweave Press, 2016

Pages: 142

Type: Lace

Chapters:

1. Materials
2. Techniques
3. The Fine Art of Swatching
4. Projects: Hikes, Treks, and Moderate Climbs
5. Projects: The Seven Summits
6. Projects: The Eight Summit

KS: New Heights in Lace Knitting

The In-Depth Look:

A new lace book from the person who brought me one of my favorite recent lace books, New Vintage Knits.

The lace patterns here are inspired by mountain peaks. She says at the beginning:

“The lore of the seven summits calls to every mountaineer … Summiting a mountain always begins with a few simple steps. And as it is with climbing, so it is with knitting. Basic knit, purl, and yarnover stitches can come together to make lace that is simple but elegant; and, for those seeking further adventures, these very same stitches can unfold into spectacular designs. So I think of this book as a knitter’s approach to the seven summits. It is proverbial mountain climbing for lace knitters who are adventurous; delighted by the basics, yet yearning for more.”

True to her word, the projects here range from simple (hikes, treks and moderate climbs) to “The seven summits,” representing the tallest peak on each of the seven continents, and challenging the knitter accordingly.

The lace here is gorgeous–which didn’t surprise me at all. There are easier projects, like lace mitts or hats that correspond to a gentle hike on a lovely day, but then there are the challenging ones … big, complex, show-stopper shawls that are challenges worthy of their names.

If I have any complaints about this book, it’s that the charts can be rather small. Some of the more complex shawls have charts that span pages in the book, which I think must make them a complicated challenge to knit. The size of the squares and the symbols in the squares makes for its own challenge. I don’t quite see how the book could be published differently, but wish there were some way for a knitter to get an enlarged, easy-to-read chart. Maybe a downloadable PDF with enlarged versions of individual charts? Copy machines and scotch tape can only do so much! (And I mention this because there was a shawl in her last book, New Vintage Lace that I would love to knit, but trying to manipulate the charts into something easily usable is daunting–and I’m not the kind of knitter who’s afraid of charts!)

That said, this is a beautiful book, with some amazing lace projects–most of whom do have perfectly good charts. (It’s just a few that have so-large-they’re-too-small layout problems.) Gorgeous designs, as inspiring as the peaks they’re named for.

You should look for this book at your local shop–or at Amazon, where your purchase can help support this site!

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!

My Gush: Beautiful lace.

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Review: Highland Knits

Review: Highland Knits post image

2016-04-24 001

First, the facts:

Title: >Highland Knits: Knitwear Inspired by the Outlander Series

Published by: Interweave Press, 2016

Pages: 111

Type: Patterns

Chapters:

(No chapters, just patterns)

KS: Highland Knits

The In-Depth Look:

It’s true that the OUTLANDER series is a huge hit–and why not? A sexy time-travel romance with Highland flair and great knitwear … what’s not to love?

This collection of sixteen patterns knows exactly how you feel.

Mostly accessories–cowls, shawls, gloves, and so on–this collection is filled with knits with the feel of the fashions in the TV show.

For the most part, these projects all seem quick, easy to get from your needles to your wardrobe in no time flat. A number of them are knit in chunky yarns that knit up fast–and if that’s not historically accurate? Well, it’s stylish and warm, and isn’t that what matters?

You can get your copy at your local shop or by clicking here for Amazon.com.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!

My Gush: Easy to tackle, Highland inspired.