Bargello Knits by Patty Nance, pub. Cooperative Press, 2013.
Remember those Bargello needlepoint kits from the 60s and 70s? They were ubiquitous in my hometown craft stores, but I never quite knew what they were. A little research uncovers that Bargello is a type of needlepoint embroidery that uses simple stitches in mathematical patterns to create motifs.
I love that word, "mathematical."
But no calculations are necessary when working the patterns from this book. Patty lays out the method and the terminology with patience and wit so you can design your own Bargello knits (and I fully intend to do so!), but she also includes 28 fully worked-out patterns. Anyway, with her method, most of the mathematical precision is in the hands of the yarn dyer, so we can admire it without having to work for it.
After detailing the development of Bargello knitting, Patty dives into an explanation of different ways yarn is dyed then launches into the technique itself, stopping along the way to describe helpful tools and useful skills. She includes a section on making changes to Bargello knitting without completely unraveling it (and your sanity). Last in this chapter are 5 pages of photo tutorial.
And then come the designs!
I'm not in love with Patty's Bargello scarves and headbands and mitts, but they serve as a fine introduction to the technique before taking the next step: joining to work in the round.
I absolutely adore these socks. My perfect idea of easy knitting---the dyer chose the colors and their lengths, the only thing for me to do is keep track of four balls of yarn. Intarsia captivates me, so that's a welcome task.
I should mention that the accessory sizing seems to follow industry norms. It's just disappointing because I don't have an industry-sized body.
The yarn called for seems to be widely available for the most part, which is great because yarn substitutions may result in garments with a very different appearance. Patty is careful to specify whether the color sequence should be short- or long-repeat, and whether it should be dyed around or across the hank (and she explains what these terms mean and how to determine them) but differences in the size of the hank itself when dyed and the exact length of each color may show up as sequences of rectangles instead of squares, for instance.
This book is very good about presenting every chart, table, and schematic, any reader could want. The photos by John Doukas and Patty Nance clearly demonstrate every feature of the project or swatch. I don't know whether it's intentional, but the whole book has a slight 60s vibe to it. Appropriate, given that that's when Bargello needlepoint was hugely popular.
Sprinkled throughout the book are valuable tips Patty picked up as a knitter and seamstress, making it a worthwhile investment even for those who only admire one or two of the designs. Click on over to Donna Druchunas's article on How to Read a Knitting Book for more details.
Disclosure: Cooperative Press sent Kangath a free copy of Bargello Knits 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 Cooperative Press or Patty Nance.
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