My life has been full of wonderful, rewarding activities this past month, and I have had very little blogging time. One project involved this beautiful beaded yarn from Tilli Tomas. I will have more to say about this yarn, but in the meantime see Linda Marveng's review of Tilli's Beaded Lace here.
Another project was playing violin in the pit orchestra of Opera Louisiane for Michael Borowitz's condensed version of Wagner's Ring Cycle. Yep. The entire 15-hour Ring in well under three hours. Whew.
Publishing companies often send me their books to review, and indeed my book reviews are among my most popular posts. (Other contenders being my Inkscape Schematic Tutorials and muffin recipes, the latter mostly being popular with my family at breakfast time. . . . )
Visit these sites to see trailers for books I will be reviewing later this fall:
The Knitted Slipper Book by Katie Startzman (an adorable video with handmade sets and characters)
Lena Corwin's Made by Hand (showing the variety of projects detailed in the book)
And now, back to knitting!
The Yarn Whisperer by Clara Parkes, pub. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013
What secret does the great cellist Pablo Casals know about swatching? Which knit stitch is like whole-grain bread? And what does Barbara Walker's husband have in common with mine?
Clara Parkes answers all these questions, as well as others you never thought to ask, in her collection of 22 free-standing essays subtitled "My Unexpected Life in Knitting." Parkes runs the popular and useful on-line magazine Knitter's Review and is the author of The Knitter's Book of Socks, The Knitter's Book of Yarn, and The Knitter's Book of Wool---the last two being helpful tomes of use to anyone in the fiber community.
Parkes has a poet's appreciation for the interconnectivity of seemingly disparate aspects of life: an old sweater and a run-down farmhouse, a yarn stash and a flower garden, a sailboat and a Stradivarius. I have a sense of affinity with the metaphors she chooses, which are drawn from music, gardening, baking, and of course knitting. Her language dances and gallops, chuckles and sings.
This book has a lightness to it, an ease. It made me laugh and even filled my eyes with tears once or twice (the Acknowledgments got to me for some reason). And I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader.
Comment on this post by September 30 and say what kind of fiber you would be made of if you were a yarn. I'll use a randomizer to draw the number of one comment and identify the winner on that day's post. The winner will have a week to contact me with shipping information, and I'll send the book.
If I were a yarn, I would be linen. Tough and stringy when working up, but softening with use. I would like to say I'm organic merino, fluffy and elastic, but that would be a lie. Still, linen is beautiful and takes dye well. And my husband loves it.
Disclosure: Stewart, Tabori & Chang sent Kangath a free copy of The Yarn Whisperer 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 Clara Parkes.
I'm pleased to be able to present my Ingång Pullover design from Willow yarns. "Ingång" is the Swedish word for entryway, and since the yoke of this sweater features Bohus-inspired arches I thought the name fit.
Bohus knitting is stranded colorwork with fistfuls of color on one row, slipped stitches, and purl stitches. This design only calls for two colors per row, but the slipped stitches and purls give it the impression of having more.
My husband doesn't like a lot of flashy colorwork, and I assume many people share that feeling. These colors look subtle, but it took quite a bit of swatching to come up with a pattern that looked subdued and still read as a pattern. At first I was surprised by that, then became frustrated (and whiney) as nothing seemed to be working. The whining (specifically, the complaint "I need a color between these two colors") inspired a technique that led to the final design. You can see it working between the upper two sets of arches where two background colors are blended with purl stitches.
The sample size of Ingång (Medium) is too small for my husband, but my son and Willow's professional model are pictured below wearing it. I think it fits my son better, and there are weird shipping wrinkles on the model, but both men look great!
Usually when my blog goes quiet I've been working steadily.
I can't show you the actual project yet, but I can tell you this yarn is wonderful. It's softer and less splitty than some cotton yarns, and comes in an array of lovely vivid colors. I wish it were organic! It's rather linty, and it doesn't hold up after multiple reknits, but that's because it's so deliciously soft.
Knit to Flatter by Amy Herzog, photography by Karen Pearson, pub. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013
Let me just start by saying I love this book. It is an invaluable resource for knitters concerned about fitting and flattering particular figures as well as for designers wanting to target specific body types or maximize versatility of a design.
Herzog begins with a tutorial on finding your body type by drawing lines on photographs of yourself in form-fitting clothing. I admire her non-judgmental language here, her encouragement of camera-shy folks, and the clarity with which she delineates the purpose of these photos. Herzog underlines the fact that people's main perception of you is based on your attitude and speech rather than the size of your [insert name of pet peeve body part here].
She continues with each of the three main body shapes as viewed from the front: top-heavy, bottom-heavy, and proportional. Below are photos of two very different top-heavy models: Ann has broad shoulders and Jackie is busty. But they both look great in the Draper Vest/Cardigan! The long vertical lines of the lapels combined with a little waist shaping are the secrets here.
Herzog doesn't laugh at my bottom-heavy longing for this design, however. She tells me how to modify it to better suit me! Modification ideas are given in a sidebar, with page numbers referencing the instructions to implement them (which are given in a later chapter).
I really don't have to concern myself with all that, though, because in the very next chapter (my chapter) is the captivating Flutter Pullover. I have avoided wide necklines for years because they tend to fall off my "delicate shoulders" (Amy's term for the nearly nonexistent nubs sloping down from my neck to my arms), but she has me convinced to give them another try. When I knit them myself, I can use my own measurements and have more success. Jessica (at right) has narrow shoulders, but the boatneck makes them look wider. Worth a try!
Herzog has some designs in this chapter that she says will flatter non-busty knitters, but none of her bottom-heavy models are in this category, which is a disappointment to me.
Herzog's grasp of figure-flattering features is phenomenal, but not all the photos prove her skill. Pose, camera angle, and styling combine to make the garments below appear less than flattering. Still, I'm not sure the line of lace rippling over the front of the Cypress Cardigan was the best idea for Morgan, or that the Stoker Cowl's sleeve and torso lengths are the best combination for Tessa (though I agree her shoulders do not look at all narrow in this piece).
The next chapter discusses curvy and straight shapes, larger or minimal busts, long and short torsos. Here's Morgan again, looking fantastic in the Enrobed Wrap. This sweater looks sensational on curvy figures, and straighter figures could tie the waist tie more simply, letting the diagonal lines promote the illusion of shaping.
The final chapter is all about modifications---when and where to make them, and what other parts of the garment one particular modification will affect. Herzog fits an enormous amount of information into just a few pages. I know I will use these pages as a reference for years to come.
Photographer Karen Pearson did an excellent job for the most part producing varied and natural looking full-length photos. In a few instances she might have taken a more direct shot rather than from below, but this is just my perception. The nine models are without exception wonderfully vibrant and the styling creative though at times a little risky.
Patterns are given in around ten sizes. Schematics and charts are given where needed and instructions are clear. I don't think of this as a pattern book exactly, but it's great to have well-written examples to follow and modify before tackling designs plucked from the vast unknown.
I've tried not to put any "spoilers" in this review, but you can find out more about Herzog's thinking on her blog and decide for yourself whether to take the plunge. I found this book---and not just "my" chapter---an extremely educational and entertaining read. Highly recommended!
Disclosure: Stewart, Tabori & Chang sent Kangath a free copy of Knit to Flatter 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 Amy Herzog.
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knit designer, musician, writer, and mother
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