The winner of the yarn to make the Vytis gloves is the first commenter, Ted, who wrote:
"I work a Renaissance Festival and we start rehearsals in February, those would keep my hands nice and toasty, and go with the period look as well."
This comment was chosen by random number generator. Congratulations, Ted! I'll be contacting you soon.
Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog, photography by Karen Pearson, pub. STC Craft, 2015.
I can't say enough good things about this book. Amy Herzog is one of my favorite knitting voices. I enjoy her non-judgmental word choices and straightforward message: we are all beautiful.
That said, when I first saw this book I looked at the cover and wondered what the publisher was thinking. the sweaters weren't attractive to me, the styling seemed off, the camera angles were unflattering...
The clouds cleared from my attitude when I opened the book and saw what it was. Of course it's not just a collection of patterns! That's not what Amy's about.
She opens with a chapter on identifying your personal style. Proposing no fewer than eight categories, complete with descriptions of fiber, fabric, and color, she gives five exercises to help label your tastes.
This is important because if we articulate what we like to wear, we are less likely to choose to knit something that attracts us for other reasons (for instance, the setting it's worn in).
Chapter Two is a crash course in sweater choice and customization which will guide us through eight meta-patterns, each with three samples worked up in different styles and yarn weights.
Each meta-pattern is written for twelve sizes from 30" to 54" bust. The patterns are brilliantly laid out in chart form, resulting in a surprising clarity, given that there are mix-and-match instructions for three radically different sweaters on the same page. It's like a cross between a knitting book and a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Novel.
The bolero below (in bulky weight yarn) is written with the worsted-weight Avant Garde Bolero and the fingering-weight Romantic Bolero. All three patterns are given in all three weights, with caveats about yarn suitability for special features such as puffed sleeves. They are only broken out by specific styles when necessary (as for the lower edge or the sleeves) otherwise they are written as one pattern. It works.
Knitters can choose to use a different stitch patterns or yarn weights or even change the increase and decrease rates following Amy's instructions. It's liberating, and the possibilities are endless.
I highly recommend this book for knitters who want to be able to customize their sweaters for fit or for style. Also for those who'd like their knitting to fit better (some important information about measuring gauge in Chapter Two), those who want to choose a sweater that flatters their body type, those who are hesitant to knit a sweater in pieces or have trouble with seaming, and those who just plain like Amy Herzog patterns.
Disclosure: The publisher sent Kangath a review copy of this book. Kangath was not otherwise compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in Kangath's reviews are her own.
Lithuanian Knitting by Donna Druchunas and June Hall, project photography by Dominic Cotignola, Double Vision Press, 2015.
Donna Druchunas has an interesting style of knit design.
Inspired by ethnic traditions and enhanced by her own quirky intelligence, she turns out items to dress in from head to toe and then some.
She has collaborated with June Hall on a masterwork which combines history, technique, designs, and even a bit of animal science---all Lithuanian or inspired by Lithuanian knitting.
This review is part of a blog tour to help raise money to publish a printed version of the book, available soon in pdf format.
The book contains over 100 pages of background material: photos, artwork, charts, maps, and text. It is always clear who is writing (the passages are labeled "Donna" and "June"), and both women have clear, engaging tones.
The introduction explains the genesis of this book. The next chapter is called "The Land and the People" and explores the way the town and the country, the people and their stories, provide inspiration for knitted motifs and art in general. Chapter Three, "The History," describes how the Lithuanian National Costume developed and takes a quick look at Jewish Lithuania.
When I signed up for the blog tour, I chose a date that would give me plenty of time to read the book and prepare a review. Or so I thought! Nearing that date and not even halfway through the background material, I skipped ahead to Chapter Seven, "Lithuanian Knitting Techniques." This chapter contains several exciting new techniques like the Bulgarian Cast On, and recipes for custom-sized socks, mittens, and gloves.
The subjects of Chapters Four and Five are Lithuanian Sheep and Wool. I was happy to have the time to go back and read them. It's worth the price of the book just to read June's loving treatment of these topics.
Chapter Six describes knitters and their traditions in over a dozen Lithuanian cities and villages.
Then come Donna's patterns! Nine mitten designs, five glove designs, ten sock designs, and three wrist warmer designs. Here are a few of my favorite socks:
I knit the "Rumsiskes in Summer" sample socks above. Note: made in Litwool, they are not intended to be worn in warm weather, but represent the colors and images of Rumsiskes Open Air Museum in summertime. This place, like Crossroads Village in my hometown, or the Rural Life Museum where I live now, replicates the buildings and tools of yesteryear.
I also started a pair of "Vytis, Lithuania's Knight" gloves for use in the book. I was especially looking forward to the patterned fingers but ran into trouble with them and ended up sending them back to Donna for reworking. I guess I'll just have to knit my own pair!
The final sample was knit in Rauma Finullgarn and more closely matches the colors of the museum gloves that inspired them.
Now for the giveaway: I'm offering the yarn used in the sample on the left (enough to knit a pair of Vytis gloves) to a randomly chosen commenter with a U.S.A. address---Knit Picks "Palette" in Safflower and Midnight Heather. Safflower is a sweet yellow, somewhere between lemony and buttery. The Midnight Heather is a deep navy blended with just enough turquoise to make it shine. The pattern is part of the book, which you can either get as a premium on the Pubslush page or pre-order on Ravelry.
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment by May 26 saying when or where you'd wear your Vytis gloves, or who you plan to give them to. Or tell me your favorite pattern from the book (there are so many good ones, but I rather like Marija's Kneesocks).
Do check out the Pubslush Campaign to raise money for the print version of this worthwhile book, as well as the rest of the blog tour. Good for all knitters, with information on design as well as solidly written patterns, the book has enough background information to attract non-knitters as well. Wonderful!
Disclosure: Kangath received a preview copy of this book from the author. No other compensation was provided. The opinions expressed in all Kangath's reviews are her own.
Duct Tape by Forest Walker Davis, pub. Quarry Books, 2015.
When this book arrived on my doorstep, my tween snatched it away before I had a chance to look at it. Eventually she looked the other way, and I snatched it back.
Forest's tone, casual yet focused, appealed to me instantly. The shiny projects are delightful and the instructional text is clear.
This book contains a balance of photo tutorials (that look like they've been attached to the page with duct tape) and detailed project descriptions (that fall just short of instructions).
For example, in the "Flowers" chapter there are photo tutorials for different kinds of petals and flower centers. There's also a gallery of various real and fantastical flowers with descriptions that tell how they were made. In addition to flowers and the obligatory wallets and purses, there are belts, neckties, dog leashes, and caps!
I don't care for the book's font, which besides looking cramped is annoyingly small in places, but a hipper person might find it attractive.
This book widened my horizons a bit---always a good thing. I haven't read many books on duct tape crafts, but I enjoyed this one.
Disclosure: Kangath received a review copy of this book from the publisher. No other compensation was provided. The opinions expressed in all Kangath's reviews are her own.
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Amy Herzog Designs
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The Sexy Knitter
Sheep to Shawl
Trappings and Trinkets
Two Sides of the Same Stitch