Tag Archives: knitting book

All Wound Up – Some Thoughts on a Book

16 Jan

This isn’t at all what I expected, I kept thinking as I read the first few chapters of All Wound Up, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s newest book.

Reading her (way) earlier Knitting Rules!, I discovered there’s a lot to laugh about when it comes to knitting, and this came as news to me. I loved it. Reading it, I felt a general sense of belonging into this vague entity comprised of knitters. This was what I expected when I opened the newest one as well.

After a few chuckles during the first essay, I found myself frowning quite a lot and thinking hey now, what’s up. But I kept going, wondering when the hilarious part was going to start. And it didn’t. What I read just didn’t tickle my funny bone.

Instead something else happened. Just as soon as I stopped looking for the giggles, I found myself thinking “yes, exactly” a lot.

My heart was entirely shattered when I read October, a text which I felt evoked valuable thoughts when beginning a new year, and the text on Mother’s day made me sadder and wiser. I found solace reading about the time in one’s life when knitting just does not apply.

Chaos math and the happy affair of replacing knitted things made me nod in complete agreement. And finally, I did roar with laughter about the indoors water balloon fight – something I as a kid somehow always knew was A Very Bad Idea Indeed – about Failure to think and many of the other texts.

Now some of the texts just didn’t apply: I have never been approached in public about knitting, and though I live in a cold climate, making one mistake doesn’t easily turn into a life and death situation ’round here, and so on. But it doesn’t matter, really. Because now I know about crytoscopophilia, a condition I, too, share with so many others, and about the screaming injustice of pennies for handmade crochet.

This wasn’t at all what I’d expected. As I closed the book I did that thing I rarely do anymore: I smelled it again, I held it in my hands and felt the texture of its covers, I rifled through its pages, attempting to hold on to that fragile feeling. Having devoured the book in two days, I was left feeling my senses had been awakened, that my world view had been widened. I put it down and picked up my knitting, feeling serene, clear and calm, wiser and sadder, and cheerful.


Knitting Rules!

26 Sep

Last spring I bought a book written by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, called Knitting  Rules! , which quickly turned out to be probably the best knitting book I have.

Well, along with Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller, which is responsible for my knitting obsession. It’s the book that convinced me within 5 minutes of first seeing it that knitting is, in fact, way cool, and can produce things that are cute and beautiful and modern.

And Stitch ‘n Bitch was good, but recently I’ve been looking for books that aren’t necessarily aimed at a beginner knitter. That’s where Knitting Rules! comes in. There are lots of different types of knitting books, all of which have their role. But within its type, I think this is simply the perfect book. It’s funny, contains lots of interesting, extremely helpful factoids and knitting philosophy, and thankfully doesn’t contain knitting instructions for beginners.

I love having all those useful tips and details and just bits of general information (not to mention the good chuckles) available to me at any moment – just in case.

For instance, before I read this book, I never knew that I could ever need something like, say, a chart on how much yarn in different weights is needed for the most common sizes of scarfs. But now I know such a thing exists, and suddenly it makes perfect sense that it does.

This would’ve been useful recently , when I was in a yarn store pondering buying a couple of balls of a lovely wool and bamboo blend, but wasn’t sure how much was needed for a scarf, and abandoned the idea. Now, if only I’d had my knitting bag, and Knitting rules!, with me…

Another good example are the general guidelines in the book on how to figure out what a person’s head circumference, foot length or wing span is without chasing them down with a tape measure in hand. This is handy for the purpose of actually surprising someone with a knitted gift.

But the most important thing in this book, for me, is the attitude it portrays towards knitting. In addition to all the facts, the book offers numerous moments of recognition and feelings of belonging. It made me feel better about my stash, and about buying the tools a knitter needs. Any time I read it, I feel better about any mistakes that might bug me in the project I’m working on. I feel more confident that I can take on any project with an open and informed mindset.

All of this is does without preaching or even once sounding as if what it says is law to be respected by all knitters everywhere.

In short, it’s a book that I think would suit a lot of knitters, and I highly recommend it.

Bianca Wave

5 Nov


A while back I found a couple of knitting books on sale. This was one of them (it’s Knitting New Scarves by Lynne Barr). The book contains a lot of great looking classic scarves with a twist, and also a few I would never wear (a scarf that looks like an octopus tentacle, for one).

From the first time I leafed through the book, I was intrigued by a lot of the patterns, but still it ended up among the knitting books I’ve never used. (Those books are starting to pile up.) I always felt bad about it because this book is one of those books that deserves to be cherished and used until pages start falling off and the whole thing is covered in bread crumbs and coffee stains. Why? Because it’s so innovative. Every pattern uses a unique technique. This also happens to be the reason why I never got around to trying any of the patterns. They just seem so complicated… until you pick up the needles and *try*, it turns out.

This, of course, holds true for most of knitting patterns, at least for me. They often seem difficult when I read through them for the first couple of times, but when I start following the instructions needle and yarn in hand, everything works out easily.

So after such a long time of feeling guilty for never giving the book a proper chance, I finally decided it was time, and started knitting the first pattern I came across in the book that seemed both relatively easy and stylish to me: the Easy Wave. I like the pattern because, until you touch the scarf, it kind of looks like it’s wavy only because it’s been blocked to stay that way, somehow. In reality, the fabric forms the waves. The secret is in the rib: it’s divided on two needles, and a few rows are knitted on the other needle only. Then the stitches on both needles are joined again into one fabric.

It’s pretty slow going, but I really like the result. My only worry is the yarn: the colorway isn’t what I was hoping for. I’m using Bianca by Novita. It’s 100 % wool, and I plan to look into dying yarn. Maybe I can dye the scarf once it’s finished, and get rid of that combination of purples and turquoise that “more or less exactly fails to please the eye”. Well, my eye at least.

Book happiness!

30 Jan

I now officially hate this blog site 😀 At least for a while. I’m not one to hold a grudge. What happened? I wrote a huge entry about my new books, gushing and sighing, saying how wonderful they are… Pressed Save draft… and most of the draft was gone. Gone!

Well. I guess I’ll have to write again, feigning enthusiasm because I poured all my real enthusiasm into the last post which is now lost and alone, somewhere out there.

Well. Book happiness. The best kind of material happiness 🙂

Yesterday I was browsing teh intertubes with the intention of finding a great knitting book. I have a couple of those, but they are books for beginners, and I am now more interested in more advanced techniques, than cast on, knit and purl, as well as stitch dictionaries. Besides I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday. Needles and scalpels were involved. I’m am afraid to death of both needles and doctors, so it wasn’t a good day and I felt I deserved something nice for being such a brave girl.

I did find one of those books and it seemed promising, and because it only cost around 15€ (despite the fact it had been translated into Finnish, which normally rises the price), I ordered it promptly. I will soon be the proud owner of  the Encyclopedia of Knitting by Lesley Stanfield and Melody Griffiths. Later yesterday I popped by my other blog, and to my joy found that someone had in fact recommended that book for me. So I’m feeling pretty optimistic about it ^^

While I was doing teh browsing, I came across a book called Knitting New Scarves. Now, I’ve seen tons of these All Scarves! or All Bags! or 1001 Ideas for Scarves or Bags! books. I always pick them up, flip through them and hate them immediately. All the designs in them somehow manage to look horrible to me. They are simultaneously boring and unwearably hideously ugly.

But still I pick them up, every time, because I’m hoping I would actually see something new and inspiring in one of them. Now this book seemed interesting to me, possibly because the editorial review (which I’d never trust in a million years) promises it’s filled with new innovative techniques and ideas. Well, despite my interest I couldn’t order it, because it wasn’t available in my favourite online book store I was already ordering the Encyclopedia from (yup, I’m ending this sentence with a preposition, and no one can stop me, not even myself).

Well… to cut this story a tiny bit shorter, today I popped into a book store completely on a whim, and started browsing through some books on sale. I thought I wouldn’t find anything interesting there, I was just killing time. Guess what I found?! Yep! Knitting New Scarves, on sale for 9 euros! I grabbed it and quickly looked through it, and fell completely in love.

I’ve now looked at every design in the book, and I never thought I could be this excited about scarves. 😀 Every design is new, innovative and most importantly beautiful! At a glance it seemed the book presented so many new techniques it was almost scary. 25 of the 27 scarves in the book were ones I would love to own and to knit. It was a book that makes you want to drop everything, immediately run into the nearest LYS and buy everything and knit knit knit!

Now the only problem is which scarf to knit first 😀 Goodbye, ribbed scarves of boredom!

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