Almost done with my Legacy Frock Coat!
It's an actual garment now, and it fits oh so beautifully!
I wanted to try it on without putting it on waste yarn. It's not the putting the stitches on so much as getting them off that stresses me out. I had a 24" gauge-sized needle so I just knit with that for a while before trying it on. All was well after the first sleeve, but when I went to put my other arm in I heard the little pop-pop-pop of stitches coming off the needle. Oh well. They didn't run anywhere, so I just slid them back on the needle after taking a few pictures.
On an unrelated topic, I had a thrill the other day: the first piece of mail addressed to Kangath Knits!
Custom Knits Accessories by Wendy Bernard, photography by Joe Budd, pub. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012
This wonderful book is not so much a pattern book---more like a step-by-step guide to building your own designs. Sure, in order to make it an effective guide designer Wendy Bernard had to put in some templates, and as long as she was doing that, she filled them in a little (just to demonstrate, mind you) and ended up with 21 patterns and variations that make it hold its own in the world of pattern books.
These patterns are for berets, bonnets, slouch hats, and headbands; scarves, shawls, stoles, and cowls; gloves, mitts, socks, and legwarmers. Divide the number of designs by the number of pattern types and you'll see there's not more than one or two of each represented. That's because Bernard is leaving room for you to riff off her designs---inspired, perhaps, by the suggestions in the "make it your own" section following each pattern.
For instance, for the Sangria Shawlette she suggests working it in stripes or with a ruffle at the bottom. She also recommends a couple different yarn ideas. (Incidentally, this is the first book I've seen that opens with a section on substituting yarns!)
But if you've read the introduction to its chapter you will also have the tools to change the shape (maybe knitting a full circle instead of a semicircle, or using the sangria lace pattern in a rectangular shawl) or substitute lace patterns (easier if you've also read the section on using stitch dictionaries). Why not do both, and have an original pattern of your own? Bernard even includes step-by-step tutorials on how to determine the amount of yarn your customizations would require, and how to find out whether you might already have enough in those half-used balls you have stuffed in odd corners of your house (or maybe that's just me).
Each design includes a pattern features box which details, um, you know, the pattern's features.
For instance, the Sand Dollar Slouch Hat (photo at left) features top-down construction, simple cables, and simple shaping, whereas the Jacquard Slouch is worked from the brim to the crown. It helps to be able to see these details at a glance instead of having to comb through the pattern for them.
But skimming through the patterns in this book is a breeze. Efficiently phrased instructions (thanks in part to Sue McCain) and generous use of white space prevent eyestrain when searching for construction elements.
All the designs look extremely stylish yet wearable. The socks and mitts come in a variety of sizes, but the hats are only given in one size each (although each has different measurements). I know customization is the point of this book, but why should we big-headed gals be expected to do all the work when big-handed and big-footed knitters don't get the same treatment? Grrrr!
Bernard includes helpful tables for fiber behavior, yardage requirements, and head and hand measurements, as well as diagrams of various shawl and hat shapings. Stitch patterns are both charted and written out. Schematics are rare, but she describes how to make your own---and why you might want to.
She also has a section on converting stitch patterns from working flat to in the round (for hats, mitts, and socks), and several methods for hiding color jogs when working in the round.
This book would be a fabulous addition to a budding designer's library, but it's really written for knitters, timid or fearless, who are ready to launch into improvisatory knitting. Small scale accessories are a pressure-free way to start this journey, and Bernard provides compelling chord changes to solo over.
Disclosure: Stewart, Tabori & Chang sent Kangath a free copy of Custom Knits Accessories for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Stewart, Tabori & Chang or Wendy Bernard.
I gave a friend of mine some kefir recently, so I thought I'd post a tutorial about how to use it. If you bought your kefir starter I hope it came with instructions, but if your husband brought it home late at night in a paper bag the instructions were most likely in the same frazzled condition as the woman who gave them to him. Hm, that sounds like I have someone in mind. . . .
Put your starter in a glass jar with milk. You can also apparently use water or coconut milk, but I haven't tried it. Our family of four uses 1 1/2 - 2 pints of milk for one batch of smoothie.
Cover the jar with a paper coffee filter and hold it on with a rubber band. It wants to breathe.
Set a non-metal (such as plastic or melanine) strainer over a measuring cup or blender.
Stir with a non-metal utensil like a spoon or spatula. Feel free to choose an unconventional grip, as my model did here. Never use metal, ever, ever. I'm not sure what will happen if you do (maybe the spoon would melt or the kefir would mutate) but I'm a firm believer in rules. I saw the movie Gremlins.
I have used wood in a pinch, but I think the kefir might colonize the wood grains and I'm not sure how I feel about that.
You will be left with rubbery curds in the strainer and a creamy substance in the vessel. I'm not exactly sure which is properly known as the kefir, but apparently it doesn't bother me enough to research it.
Put the curds back in the same glass jar without washing. The kefir likes continuity. Fill the jar with milk (or whatever) and cover it with its hat. Use the cream in smoothies (you'll probably want to sweeten it) or as a buttermilk substitute. Much of the good bacteria will die in the oven, but it has the same properties as buttermilk and let's face it---your spouse can get tired of washing the blender all the time.
Leave the kefir at room temperature overnight or for a week or longer. If you jiggle the jar gently from time to time, it won't separate as much into curds and whey. But since you have to stir it in the strainer, I don't think it makes much difference. The longer you let it sit, the more distinct its flavor becomes. Sometimes we like a little vanilla to cut the tang, sometimes we just drink it through a straw (it helps to keep your nose away from the smoothie).
Enjoy your kefir!
Knitting from the Center Out by Daniel Yuhas, photography by Jody Rogac, pub. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012.
This book appeared on my doorstep last week, and as you know, when I receive a book for review I don't just flip through it and look at the design photos. But that's what I do first.
I like pretty pictures in my knitting books (and cookbooks, for that matter) because they are inspiring. I can look at a pattern (or recipe) and decide whether it looks good. But it's so much more appealing to look at a shiny photo of a styled item and think, "I would wear/use/eat that."
On that first flip through, I saw that the designs had been beautifully styled and well photographed, that they were appealing but too simple to be interesting for a knitter of my exalted experience.
I have seen reviews of this book which said there was nothing new in it, that it was okay for beginners, but that anyone who knew an increase from a decrease would be yawning by the time they reached the last page. I have seen other reviews which warn that beginning knitters should not even contemplate knitting these designs lest the unwary crafters self-combust.
All I can say is they must not have read the book.
The lovely Geometric Shrug (above and on the cover) is a wonderfully simple way to show off handpainted yarn. The instructions are well written, with separate instructions for left and right (no short-cut "reverse shaping for left side" here) and a clear schematic. But the construction (which I won't give away, like the end of a suspense novel) is simply ingenious.
And indeed, each of the 28 designs in this book has its own clever, fascinating twist---not simply to be clever or fascinating, but to demonstrate the mechanics of a technique or to solve a problem posed by the object itself. For example, the starfish toys on the cover were knit without breaking the yarn. Whee!
But if all this sounds too intense, never fear. Illustrator Sun Young Park has rendered the rough sketches provided by Yuhas as charming and copious diagrams throughout the book. Anyone having difficulty visualizing one of his unusual constructions need only study these and all will be well.
Most of these designs are more interesting than they look and easier than they sound. I mean you don't really need to know about the Fibonacci series or Archimedian spirals to knit the items in this book. (But isn't it fun to read about them in Yuhas's enthusiastic prose?) On the other hand, the necklace at right isn't just a giant striped I-cord looped around and around. Get the book. You'll see.
All the patterns are accompanied by effective charts, sketches, and/or schematics. Yuhas also thought up variations for many of his designs (maybe he just can't stop) and included these at the end of each pattern. Sizing is generous for the most part, and tables or instructions are given for customization of many of the designs where sizing matters.
There's another thing that puzzles me about the other reviews. Most of them tout the starting place of the heel-up socks as unique. Have they forgotten about this by Kathleen Sperling? Her socks put the center at the back of the heel (not the bottom), but they look more like socks. Just had to mention it.
The photography in this book is really fine. I would like to see the back of the leaf-yoke sweater, and I want to see how the hood of the hood-down hoodie looks when it's worn. But these are minor issues. For the most part, models and pieces are well-lit, details easily discerned, and photo tutorials very clear.
I know I haven't gone into quite as much detail as usual about specific designs from this book. They're all amazing and useful. Garments are normal-looking (well, maybe not the cone hats so much) and wearable, yet fascinating to knit (I'll see if this is actually the case when I get around to working one of the patterns). I'm just running into the problem of not wanting to give too much away.
This book is a wonderful resource for designers, beginning through expert knitters, and topologists.
Disclosure: Stewart, Tabori & Chang sent Kangath a free copy of Knitting from the Center Out for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Stewart, Tabori & Chang or Daniel Yuhas.
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