A Swap A Month July Goody Box Swap

Just because it isn’t July yet doesn’t mean that I haven’t already sent and received my July Goody Box Swap!  I joined A Swap A Month on Ravelry when the July swap was still taking sign ups.  My partner is carajv, who seems to be my twin in opposite world.  She has been knitting since childhood and just picked up crochet, whereas I’m the opposite.  She also raises sheep, which is one of my life fantasies.  (I say fantasy because I actually know nothing about raising sheep, so I couldn’t possibly even consider it as a dream at this point in time.)  We messaged back and forth on Ravelry and I was so excited about getting her package together, that I basically ran out and bought everything within a few days and mailed my package in mid-June!  I hope this didn’t create too much pressure for carajv, whose package to me arrived on Thursday night.

(Note to self: Wrap your next swap as well as carajv wrapped this one!)

I started by opening the note.

I love the stationery!

Then it was on to the smaller package.

The first package included a skein of Austermann Step in Colorway 003, 4 dpns, and two patterns.  The first, Laura’s Sockies by Laura Grutzeck is from Rosie Knits, the pattern line of Rosie’s Yarn Cellar.  Rosie’s is one of the shops I visited during my whirlwind LYS tour of Philadelphia.  The next pattern is Wristers by Kathleen Taylor.  I just reviewed her latest book here.  It seems like carajv has been very observant!

The second package was very squishy and I knew from reading the card it would have handspun yarn from carajv’s sheep.


This package included two yummy skeins of yarn, each weighing in at over 100 grams.  The color is a beautiful, undyed cream.  The yarn is ultra soft, and I really can’t wait to get it wound into cakes!  As if that wasn’t enough, carajv also included a little bag with some super cute notions – a stitch holder and cupcake stitch markers – as well as a pencil and 5 Hiya Hiya dpns.  There were two great patterns in this package, too!

Perhaps this swap will help me get over my fear? hatred? of double pointed needles.  Or, perhaps not ;).  But either way, I have some amazing yarn, cool notions, and great patterns to play with!

June confessional

After successfully avoiding yarn shopping and extraneous crafty purchases for most of this year, June was filled with hauls of all kinds!  I decided to write up one giant post with all of my purchases during the month.


Year of Projects preparation

If you’ve been following the chatter in the Come Blog-A-Long group on Ravelry, you know that many of us are gearing up for the second Year of Projects.  This year, instead of working my way through one book, I will unveil a list of projects I’d like to complete and techniques I’d like to learn by June 30, 2013.  (My official list will be posted this Sunday, July 1.)  I happened to see a copy of Alasdair Post-Quinn‘s Extreme Double Knitting in real life, and decided to order it, along with a digital download, from Cooperative Press.

Surely, double knitting is a technique I must experiment with, right?

Knit-A-Way, Take 1

This month, I had the pleasure of taking a wonderful 3-week Bruges lace class at Knit-A-Way with Tatyana Mirer.  (Side note: She is a great teacher, and if you are in the New York City area, you should definitely take a knitting or crochet class with her!)

Knit-A-Way's storefront.

For the first class session, I bought a skein of Brown Sheep Company’s Lamb’s Pride Worsted in Victorian Pink.

This was actually the first time I used Lamb's Pride, though I've been seeing it in yarn shops for years.

It didn’t end up being a good fit for the class projects, but it did whet my appetite for more shopping…

July Goody Box Swap

This next shopping spree doesn’t really count because none of it was for my stash.  I joined A Swap A Month on Ravelry just in time for the July Goody Box Swap.  For my swap partner, carajv, I bought two skeins each of Classic Elite Classic One Fifty and Frog Tree Alpaca at Knitty City.  I had so much fun in the shop, feeling all the yarns, that it was almost inevitable that I would go shopping again…

Interweave Hurt Book Sale

And then it was time for the Interweave Hurt Book Sale.  Many of the books I’ve been eyeing throughout the year seemed to be calling me seductively.  And, since a few could also fall into the category of “things I want to learn during the second Year of Projects,” I convinced myself to buy four.

From top to bottom: Domino Knitting by Vivian Hoxbro, Start Spinning by Maggie Casey, Power Cables by Lily Chin, and Pop Knitting: Bold Motifs Using Color & Stitch by Britt-Marie Christoffersson.  Yummy.

Knit-A-Way, Take 2

When I returned to Knit-A-Way for my second Bruges lace class, I brought my own yarn from home (Galler Yarns Parisian Cotton).  It just worked out better for swatching, but I felt compelled to pick up somethings in the store.  After all, that’s why yarn shops hold classes – because they are hoping to increase sales!

From left to right: A set of INOX 16″ circular needles; a Dritz Loop Turner, which is supposed to be helpful for weaving in difficult or short yarn tails; a Susan Bates Silvalume Handi Tool, which seems a wonderful, all-purpose helper notion; and a Clover Soft Touch crochet hook.

Color obsession at Knitty City

When I learned that the Sparkling Wave Scarf from The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet would be the final project in my Bruges lace class, I knew it would make a great holiday gift for my friend, OB.  I have definitely been trying hard to make all of my Holiday Stashdown Challenge gifts with stash yarn, but, after some investigating, I learned that OB really wanted any gift items made in charcoal yarn.  I strolled over to my LYS, Knitty City, to hunt for a machine washable charcoal yarn in a natural fiber.

After a lot of debate – including wandering out into the street with 4 skeins of yarn to see which one looked more grey in the sunshine – I ended up with a skein of madelinetosh tosh sport in Kale.

I know, I know. Kale doesn't sound like it would be charcoal.

Even Tatyana agreed that it was a great choice for the scarf.

My progress so far.

Knit-A-Way, Take 3

My final purchase of the month was something totally unexpected.

In the last class session, Tatyana brought her sloper for me to see and we were discussing how to design projects that actually fit.  She heartily recommended Sweater 101: How to Plan Sweaters That Fit… and Organize Your Knitting Life At the Same Timeby Cheryl Brunette.  Although I am not necessarily planning to make a sweater, the book really caught my eye.  Once I got home and read about the book’s origin, I was even happier to own a copy.  According to Tatyana, the schematics for different sizes are absolutely flawless, and after seeing her beautiful designs in person, I’m sure she is right.

Holiday Stashdown Challenge – Week 7

(Join along with me any time if you need a head start or moral support for your holiday crafting. You can read more details here.)

Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions for this week’s Holiday Stashdown Challenge topic!

The most stressful part of crocheting or knitting from stash, for most of us, is finding projects for scraps and small skeins.  I know I’m a bit timid about mixing lots of colors and textures into one project, especially when I plan to use the projects for gifts!  My favorite one skein projects, by far, are hats.  I love to crochet and to knit hats.  I’ve mentioned before that my favorite crochet hat book is Get Your Crochet On! Hip Hats & Cool Caps by Afya Ibomu - it has quite a few great one skein hat projects inside.  I don’t have a favorite resource for knitted hats… yet!  I recently started paying attention to Ravelry’s features after being a member since 2007 (yes, it’s true.  I ignored it for years), and I plan to use the advanced pattern search to find some patterns for one skein projects if I run out of inspiration.  (I’m assuming that I will be mojo-less once I get closer to my holiday crafting deadlines).

If you haven’t already guessed, motifs are my favorite scrap projects.  When I first moved in with MC, I made a massive scrap throw for us to cuddle under while watching movies on his projector.  It has endured spills, cat sneezes, and a life of laying over the back of the couch, and it is super cozy!  I only used yarns that were machine washable and dryable, and I actually collected up scraps from friends to add to the variety.  For organizing it, I used a tip I learned when I began quilting – as long as the colors immediately next to each other “go together,” you can experiment quite a bit as long as you have more than 7-10 colors in the project.  At that point, matching each yarn becomes less important.  I planned some squares and for others, I just pulled the yarn at random from my stash bag.  (Note to self: Must take picture of scrap blanket!)

I’m currently working on some scrap yarn hexagons that will eventually transform in to a Christmas stocking.  I’m not yet sure what other motif projects I have up my sleeve for the holidays, but I’m sure that all of the pet projects I hope to make for the holidays will be made from scrap yarn.  Although I have some fantasies about making this, I know that at the last minute (when pet gifts are most likely to be made), I will probably not have the brain power left to try and piece it together.

Instead, I will probably make pet blankets for my cat, my mom’s dog, and my dad’s cat.  For the cats, I plan to make freeform blankets.

My cat loves this blanket, my first journey into freeform.

Since my mom is more sensitive about her decor, I will have to be more conservative about whatever gift I plan for her dog.  I’m thinking of either a motif blanket using the same motif in different color combinations, or different motif patterns in the same size, shape, and color combination.

If you need some inspiration for a Holiday Stashdown Challenge post for next week, here’s the prompt for Tuesday, July 3: What are your favorite last minute handmade gifts to give?  Share your tips for quick gifts with us!

Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class – Year one finale in Bruges lace

(This post is part of my Year of ProjectsCrochet Master Class series. You can read the other posts in this series here.)

I am having great fun with Bruges lace, which I’m learning from the master herself, Tatyana Mirer, in a three-week class at Knit-A-Way.  I’m the only person in the class at the moment, and it is a fabulous experience to spend the time with such an amazing teacher and designer.  Last week, I mentioned that I had bought a skein of Lamb’s Pride Worsted at the shop for the class, and it was more or less a disaster.  The yarn is actually quite nice, but it is really just not a good fit with Bruges lace swatches!

My Bruges lace square in Victorian Pink (which looked lavender to me when I bought it).

After the first class, I decided to use some Galler Yarns Parisian Cotton that I have on hand from some designs I have done for them.  I don’t use crochet cotton thread that often, but it is absolutely perfect for Bruges lace.  It was also just about the only yarn I cared to touch during the two days last week which were well over 95 degrees and extremely humid!

I should mention that I haven’t blocked any of these swatches.

A Bruges lace circle.


A Bruges lace curve.
A Bruges lace oval. I had a lot of fun with this one.
The first part of a Bruges lace wave.
A Bruges lace square in progress. I lost my trusty 00 crochet hook on the subway shortly thereafter :(.

My favorite technique was adding an insert to the Bruges lace square.  I see a lot of interesting possibilities for granny squares.

Bruges lace motifs are join-as-you-go, so I could avoid at least some of the yarn ends...

On Thursday, I’ll have the last class.  Tatyana will be showing me some tubular techniques, and I’ll also be starting the Sparkling Wave Scarf from The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet.  I plan to make it as a holiday gift for my friend, OB, as part of my Holiday Stashdown Challenge.

I’m surprised that it has been almost a year since I joined in on the Year of Projects through the Come Blog-A-long group on Ravelry.  Even though I had been planning to work my way through Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today’s Top Crocheters anyway, I had a wonderful time joining in with other crafty bloggers along the way!  Next Sunday, I’ll share my plans for year 2 of the Year of Projects (which I’m still formulating in my head).  You might want to join in, too!

This year, I had a chance to try out many techniques from Crochet Master Class that I had never used before, like hairpin lacesingle crochet entrelacpainted crochetfreeform, and Bruges lace.  I experimented a lot more with techniques I had used before, like woven crochetTunisian crochetfilet crochetdouble-ended crochetIrish crochet, and the bullion stitch.  I so wanted to be like Minding My Own Stitches, a YOP blogger who faithfully completed every project in one book.  Alas, I found that I wasn’t inspired to work with some of the techniques from the book.  And there are other techniques that I didn’t cover that I definitely want to return to, like overlay crochet and tapestry crochet.

I’m very grateful to harleagh from When Did I Become a Knitter for hatching up the idea of blogging through a book, and, of course, to Rita Weiss and the late Jean Leinhauser for compiling a collection that really inspired me to push myself creatively and to further develop my crochet techniques.  I look forward to more exploration in the next year!

Winners: Color knitting giveaways

According to Random.org, the winner of Fearless Fair Isle Knitting: 30 Gorgeous Original Sweaters, Socks, Mittens, and More by Kathleen Taylor courtesy of Taunton Press is #12…



And the winner of Knitting: Colour, Structure and Design by Alison Ellen, courtesy of Trafalgar Square Publishing, is #13…


Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone who entered and spread the word about the giveaway.  (If you missed out on the giveaway, you may want to check out my reviews.)


I’m still working on my homework for the Bruges crochet class I’m taking with Tatyana Mirer at Knit-A-Way.  I’m using Galler Yarns Parisian Cotton and a 00 (3.5 mm) crochet hook.  So far, I’ve finished the oval and am mostly finished with the square.  I still need to complete the curve and start two swatches for use in class by Thursday.

My Bruges lace square in progress.

I started swatching for a cable knit hat I plan to make my Dad’s partner in time for the winter holidays.  I’m using the Nude Ewe Ron yarn I received in the Blog Hub Swap.  This is all part of my Holiday Stashdown Challenge.

The yarn is a lot softer than I thought it would be, and I love the natural color.

I used three different stitch patterns on the swatch.  The first stitch at the bottom, from 400 Knitting Stitches, is a definite no – it doesn’t work for this project in this yarn. The middle stitch is one of my favorites from The Very Easy Guide to Cable Knitting. For this project, it is a maybe. So is the top stitch, which is from Cables Untangled. I like the look, but it is a bit more involved that I’d like for a hat worked on circs.  I’m going to sleep on it before casting on.  Do you have a favorite?  (As for all of those yarn strands… I’m trying a new trick I picked up online.)

In book news, I’m about 17% through Halfway Human.  It’s starting to draw me in a little bit more, and I suspect I haven’t reached the heart of the story yet.

For more Works in Progress, visit Tami’s Amis.  For more Yarn Along posts, visit Small Things.


There’s still time for you to win my color knitting book giveaway!  For more details, visit this post.

Holiday Stashdown Challenge, Week 6

(Join along with me any time if you need a head start or moral support for your holiday crafting. You can read more details here.)

So I’ve been at this challenge for six weeks and it’s time to take stock and see what’s been accomplished.  I have just two projects finished but I have several more in progress, which isn’t bad considering I have about 5 months to go before my deadline!

Finished projects

My finished hats.

Started projects

  • Vintage Hexagon Christmas Stocking by Christy Hall in stash acrylic yarn – I decided to make this stocking for four of the men on my dad’s side of the family.  After trying it out, I realized that I don’t love the hexagon pattern, but I do appreciate the construction diagram.  So I’ve actually been making hexagons from other patterns.  To date, I’ve finished 5 of the 17 I need for one stocking.  Once the first one is assembled, I’ll decide if I want to continue with the other three stockings or if I’ll need a backup plan.

    This is my favorite hexagon so far, using the Motif 35 pattern from Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs.


  • A cabled hat for my Dad’s partner in The Nude Ewe Ron - I’ve picked out three cable stitch patterns and I’ve just started swatching using this beautiful, undyed yarn I received in the Blog Hub Swap this spring.

    This yarn has to be made into something special.
  • Pineapple Doily Shawl by Laura Garsten in Galler Yarns Hirten-Tweed - This project will likely end up being for my mom, since the yarn is originally from my grandmother and I think she will cherish it the most.

Chosen projects

  • Lala the Panda by Stacey Trock in stash acrylic yarn –  This is for my little cousin, CJ.  I have the yarn identified, safety eyes, the stuffing, and, of course, the pattern, but I don’t plan to start it until some time in the summer.
  • Something using these slipper soles for my sister.  I bought these slipper soles in her size last year, so I’d like to make something using them this year.

The rest of my list

There are quite a few more people on the list.  I will definitely make gifts for the women in my dad’s family (the first three on the list), even if it is just a repeat of my washcloths from last year.

If I work through at least 5 skeins of yarn from my stash, I will buy some charcoal superwash wool yarn to make a hat for MC.  As for everyone else, I don’t have a plan yet.

  1. Grandma
  2. Aunt I
  3. Cousin MS
  4. MC, my special guy
  5. OB, my crafting buddy and exercise cheerleader
  6. JS, my other crafting buddy
  7. CG, my BFF from high school
  8. Aunt K
  9. Uncle T
  10. RP, colleague and work buddy for the last four years
  11. CA, my other colleague and work buddy for the last four years
  12. JM, another BFF from high school
  13. My cat
  14. Mom’s dog
  15. Dad’s cat

I know my list is too long but I’ll just stop making gifts and start buying as I get closer to my deadline :).  I feel pretty good about what I’ve accomplished so far during the challenge and I’m happy to have more reasons to work through my stash.  My dream is to reduce it enough that I can buy new yarn guilt-free!

One thing that helps is that I’m pretty sure my family and friends don’t read my blog regularly.  I know they occasionally stop by via my Facebook page, but in general I can post freely about my projects and my stumbling blocks without worrying that I’m providing holiday gift spoilers.  I know that some other bloggers have to be super secretive about their projects.

Confession time: I’m drawing a blank for a prompt for next week.  So if you are joining along in the Challenge, perhaps you can suggest what we should share in our post next week?

Book Reviews and Giveaways: Color knitting roundup

I recently received several books focused on color knitting techniques from publishers for review.  Each book is great in its own way, but all three take very different approaches.  I’ll start with a short review of each book, and then I’ll talk about how they compare to each other.  And then, I’ll have a giveaway for my review copies :).

Book Review: Fearless Fair Isle Knitting

I received a review copy of Fearless Fair Isle Knitting: 30 Gorgeous Original Sweaters, Socks, Mittens, and More by Kathleen Taylor courtesy of Taunton Press.  As the title suggests, this book is specifically about the stranded colorwork technique named after the Scottish Fair Isle.

This book is written in a very conversational tone.  Kathleen’s approach is to reduce the anxiety and stress a new Fair Isle knitter might experience through the use of humor and step-by-step instructions and photographs.  She frequently compares the “fearless way” of Fair Isle knitting with other (presumably fearful and anxious) ways.

Fearless Fair Isle Knitting is essentially organized into two sections.  The Fair Isle Basics chapter covers increasing and decreasing, joining yarn and adding colors, chart reading, using DPNs or circular needles, tensioning for floats, blocking, steeking, and fixing mistakes.  The steeking section is particularly detailed and includes pictures of different methods.  Not only is Kathleen unafraid of steeking, but she even advocates knitting your sweater sleeves together with steeks in between to cut out later.  After reading this section, you will feel fairly relaxed and ready to approach Fair Isle.  (I know I did, and I’ve never had a desire to even attempt Fair Isle knitting before.)

The rest of the book is devoted to the projects.  Each of the remaining chapters features one Fair Isle design which is shown in at least three different projects (except for the complex Dragon Ride, which is only shown on my favorite project, the Dragon Ride Shawl).  There is an interesting variety of projects, including

  • 6 women’s garments (sweaters, cardigans, vests, and the Nordic Snowflake Dress, which I love),
  • 4 children’s garments,
  • 4 bags,
  • 4 hats,
  • 5 mittens/mitts/gloves (including another favorite, Genevieve’s Graduation Gloves, in two variations),
  • 2 pairs of socks,
  • 2 men’s garments,
  • 2 scarf/shawls, and
  • 1 holiday stocking.

The book is very focused on Fair Isle knitting, so Kathleen assumes that the reader has comfort with the basic knitting stitches and techniques, including cast on and bind off methods, increasing, and decreasing.  The patterns include instructions for blocking, assembling, and steeking when applicable.

I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars for an intermediate knitter who has wanted to take the plunge into Fair Isle knitting but was too afraid to do so.  For the general knitter, I would give the book 4 stars.


 Book Review: Knitting: Colour, structure, and design

Trafalgar Square Publishing was kind enough to send me a review copy of Knitting: Colour, Structure and Design by Alison Ellen.  This book is an exploration of knitting design, with an emphasis on construction, fabric structure, and colorwork.

Alison has been a teaching knitting design workshops for 30 years, and the book is written as though you had an inside tour into her classes.  The book would also be of interest to anyone working with freeform knitting.

The Introduction explores different ways of approaching knitting construction.  Alison says,

Experimenting with knitting is not something many of us have time for; it is simpler to follow a knitting pattern.  However, if you enjoy being creative, it is worth putting aside some time to play and see what happens.

If you see some of yourself in that quote, this might be a great book for you.

Knitting from Pre-History to Present reviews the recorded history of knitting and discusses how it was primarily a functional craft up until the end of World War II.

Stitches and How They Work includes illustrations and written and charted instructions for several knit and purl combination stitches, cables, entrelac, lace, zig zags, increases and decreases, short rows, circles and squares, and bias and modular knitting swatches.  Pictures of different samplers are shared and there is explanation of how the fabric texture and structure is impacted by the different techniques and stitch patterns.  Some color play is introduced in this chapter.

Techniques is a brief chapter exploring different methods for holding the yarn and needles.  Alison encourages flexibility here.

Colour features more samplers and explores stripes, slip stitches, Intarsia, and Fair Isle/jacquard knitting.  Here is also where Alison talks about color theory.  She has an interesting 4-step color exercise that is intended as an introduction to design.  She also talks about dyeing basics, including how to wind the yarn into hanks, dye yarn using natural and chemical dyes, and dip and tie dye methods.

The Materials chapter reviews different yarn fibers with an emphasis on natural (animal and plant) fibers.  There is also a brief introduction to spinning, and a discussion about the different ways yarn twists.

Joining, finishing, edges and extras, as the name suggests, talks about techniques for joining, seaming, casting on and bindig off while also providing instructions for button holes, tubular knitting, and preventing holes in your work.  For most techniques in this section, there is an illustration, photo of the hand in action, a swatch, and a written description.

Knitting patterns explains tension (gauge) and the math behind sizing patterns.  The patterns are all for tops and include 6 modular designs, 2 entrelac designs, 3 children’s garments, a shell jacket, and a zig zag waistcoast.  The projects are shown in white space, without models.  There are fairly detailed instructions for construction.

Knitting: Colour, structure, and design is not a book about how to design perfectly fitted sweaters, nor is it a book with stunning patterns that will go viral on the internet.  It is a book written for your inner knit nerd – the one who asks why the yarn, colors, stitches, and textures come together in a certain way.  I would recommend this book for someone who takes a contemplative approach to knitting – who likes to swatch and play around with yarn to see what happens.  If you are interested in learning more about designing, this book will provide you will a lot of background on all of the elements of a knitted fabric.

I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars for a confident knitter who learns well from written descriptions and who likes to create small projects or swatches.  I would give the book 3 out of 5 stars if you are looking for patterns or a “how to become an overnight sensation as a knitting designer” book.


 Book Review: Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting

I received a review copy of Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting by Mary Scott Huff from Wiley.  Like the other books in the Teach Yourself VISUALLY series, this book has limited text and emphasizes step-by-step photographs and charts.  This book takes an encyclopedia approach to color knitting and explores many techniques briefly.  Mary assumes you already know the knitting basics and aims to help you differentiate the types of color knitting and provide you with basic skills for each technique.

Why Knit In Color? gives an introduction to color theory and terminology.  The chapter includes a pattern for rainbow reptiles, knit snakes worked in various color combinations to illustrate primary, secondary, tertiary, and analogous colors.

Color Knitting Yarns shares the properties of different animal, plant, and synthetic fibers, with particular emphasis on how the different fibers react to dye and the color options available.  Mary also discusses the structure of the yarn (plys, texture, weight, and dyeing method) – again, with an emphasis on why certain yarns might work well with different types of colorwork.

In Explore Stripes, Mary shares tips for joining new colors and jogless knitting.  She also includes patterns for a striped hat, vest, and turtleneck, as well as 12 color charted stitch patterns using stripes.

Discover Slip-Stitch Patterns starts with swatches showing the possibilities of slip stitch knitting for colorwork.  Mary includes tips for slipping stitches whether working flat or in the round.  She includes a hat, mitten, scarf, and baby cardigan pattern using slip stitches, as well as 12 charted stitch patterns using slip-stitches.

The next chapter, Discover Stranded Colorwork, explores different stranded colorwork traditions such as Fair Isle and Scandinavian.  As you might imagine, since Mary is also the author of The New Stranded Colorwork, this section has a little more detail and includes pictures to demonstrate strand orientation (a fancy phrase for “which yarn goes on top”) and float tensioning.  She also talks about misconceptions about stranded colorwork and shares some more information about steeking and working in the round.  This chapter includes patterns for a blouse, waistcoat, and cardigan, as well as 12 charted designs for stranded colorwork.

In Investigate Intarsia, Mary shares tips for changing colors, organizing your yarn supply for different colors, and weaving in ends.  This section includes patterns for a tunic, sweater, and tea cozy.  There are 8 charted intarsia designs.

Explore Entrelac provides an introduction to the architecture of entrelac and explores why you would use flat or circular methods, whether to knit even or decrease blocks, and then shares tips and step-by-step instructions for entrelac in the round and flat.  The patterns in this chapter, for socks, a tote, and a tam, are all worked in the round.

The next chapter, Make Modules, explores modular construction using squares, rectangles, triangles, and curved shapes.  Mary discusses changing colors, size, and knitting direction within one module to create different effects as well as joining methods and edgings.  This chapter includes patterns for a scarf, a shoulder bag, and a skirt, as well as  12 charted colorwork patterns for modules of different shapes.

In Embrace Embellishment, Mary shares ideas for adding bits of color to other projects using embellishments.  She defines embellishments as functional, decorative, structural, integral, and/or applied, and provides examples of each type.  The patterns in this chapter are for a cloche with a knitted applique flower, a cardigan with yarn embroidered details, and a fish shaped handbag with colorful fins, as well as 12 embellishments including a tassel, flowers, embroidery designs, and edgings.

Enhance Your Color Knitting Skills focuses on the technical details which will improve your color knitting.  This chapter explores steeking, hems, chart reading, buttons, cast on and bind off methods, seaming, wet splicing to join yarns, and blocking.  These techniques are transferable to other knitting projects.  The book ends with an Appendix which includes the list of terms for pattern abbreviations, a bibliography, and a list of suppliers.

This book provides an overview of different color knitting techniques, and can serve as a nice pictorial reminder of different tips and tricks.  As with most books that attempt to cover a lot of ground, there isn’t enough detail in any one section to serve as a definitive guide.  The projects are varied and each demonstrates a particular technique.  This book is helpful as a reference guide but may not have enough detail in some sections for a newbie to color knitting.  If you learn best from photographs and can piece together the steps in your mind without a lot of text, this will be a great book for you.  If you have some exposure to different colorwork techniques but need to be reminded of tips and tricks, this would also be a helpful book.  I give this book 4 stars for an intermediate knitter looking for a single book to explain different colorwork techniques with plenty of patterns and stitch examples.


The Comparison

As you can probably tell from my reviews, each of these books is really targeting a different knitter.  All three books are directed at intermediate knitters, and none includes any information about “the basics.”

While all three are technique books, I would say that Fearless Fair Isle Knitting: 30 Gorgeous Original Sweaters, Socks, Mittens, and More has the strongest pattern collection.  The other two books primarily use the patterns as a vehicle for demonstrating a method or technique.

Fearless Fair Isle Knitting is only exploring one technique, so you would need a great interest in Fair Isle/stranded knitting to be engaged by it.  Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting is a primarily visual exploration of different color knitting techniques that can serve as a quick reference guide.  Knitting: Colour, Structure and Design gives a much deeper exploration into knit fabric.  This is a book that you will need to sit down and read, but where you will learn a lot that can be useful for any project.

As far as writing style, Fearless Fair Isle Knitting feels like your funny friend is teaching you a new technique for your birthday; Knitting: Colour, Structure, and Design feels like you won a free private lesson with an accomplished designer and teacher; and Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting is more about the images than the text, so you don’t really get a sense of the author’s “voice.”

If I didn’t live in New York City apartment, I would probably keep all three in my collection!  But, since I have limited bookshelf space, I decided to keep the most general book, Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting, because it would be helpful to show in my knitting classes.


The Giveaways

Since shelf space is at a premium, I’ll be giving away my review copy of Fearless Fair Isle Knitting, courtesy of Taunton Press, and Knitting: Colour, Structure and Design, courtesy of Trafalgar Square Publishing.  These giveaways are open to all readers here on Earth (intergalactic shipping is just getting too costly).  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, June 23, 2012.

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me which book you’d like to win and why.  What has been your experience so far (if any) with color knitting?
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)  If you have additional entries, please let me know if you will use them towards the same book or a different book.
  • This is actually two separate giveaways.  Two lucky readers who have actually followed these instructions will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class – Bruges crochet from the master herself

(This post is part of my Year of ProjectsCrochet Master Class series. You can read the other posts in this series here.)

Last week, I finished my post with a bit of a cliffhanger about a surprise that I would share this week.  The surprise is that on Thursday, I started a three-week class on Bruges crochet with the master herself, Tatyana Mirer.

You might remember this Bruges crochet swatch using the Annaleise pattern from the Crochet Stitches VISUAL Encyclopedia by Robyn Chachula.

I made this swatch as part of my initial exploration of Bruges crochet and while writing my review of Robyn’s book.

Last year, I (briefly) met Tatyana at the Crochet Master Class book signing at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio.  I had the choice of taking her Bruges crochet class or a woven crochet class with Jenny King, who was visiting from Australia.  I knew that Tatyana also teaches at Knit-A-Way, the LYS around the corner from my Dad’s apartment, so I decided to take the class with Jenny.  Recently, my work schedule seemed to match the Knit-A-Way class schedule, so I called the shop to sign up for the class.  After several conversations about the time and dates with the owner (more about her in this post), I started what has turned out to be a series of private lessons with Tatyana (!) last week.

It’s been a great experience to interact with Tatyana as a student.  I try to see take a class with another teacher at least once a year (more about why here), and Tatyana is truly a master teacher as well as a master designer.  She brought so many amazing pieces of her Bruges crochet work with her, and I was incredibly inspired.

I assumed the shop required me to buy yarn there and I got a bit overwhelmed when I entered the shop five minutes before class.  (I’ve been on a yarn diet for so much of this year that I now feel that every yarn purchase needs hours of contemplation!)  I wanted to buy a natural fiber that didn’t require winding so I could start crocheting right away.  I ended up getting a skein of Lamb’s Pride Worsted from the Brown Sheep Company.  I’ve never used their yarns but I’ve heard a lot of positive things.  On the shelf, it appeared to be more of a lilac color, but it magically transformed into pink once I sat down with Tatyana.  (Ok, the colorway is called Victorian Pink.  But I didn’t notice that on the label when I bought it!)  The yarn itself is lovely, but I should have purchased a lighter weight yarn so the lacy aspect of Bruges crochet would be more evident.

I actually didn’t need much yarn for this first class anyway, as Tatyana brought several samples of partially completed “tape” that she showed me how to join.  My homework is to make my own samples of the Bruges crochet curve, square, and oval, and then to create the “tape” for specific lengths that will transform into the circle and the wave pattern in the next class.  I’m now on the lookout for something lighter weight to use for the samples and in the next class.  Does this mean I get to go yarn shopping again??

In other news, I finished my double-ended crochet project from last week.  In case you missed the big reveal on Friday, here is a picture of it.

My very own double-ended crochet camera pouch.

I’m now off to spend some time with my Dad for Father’s Day.  If you are celebrating Father’s Day, too, have a wonderful time!

FO Friday: Mine, all mine

Back in January, I joined the 12 for myself group on Ravelry with plans to be a more selfish crocheter this year.  The vast majority of my creations have always been gifts.  (In the past few years, I’ve been making more projects to sell or as samples for patterns, but I still haven’t made many things for me.)  I never seem to have much of my own handiwork for myself, and I was hoping to change that in 2012.

It’s unfortunate, but I’ve realized that, in general, I don’t get very excited about making projects for myself.  So far this year, I have six finished projects on Ravelry tagged with “12forself2012.”  Except for the swatches I knit for the knitting instructor certification, everything else is a tiny project I made as part of my exploration of atypical crochet technique (usually ones found in Crochet Master Class) for the Year of Projects.

But that’s all changed.  Yes, I’ve finally made something for myself that I was excited about making, that I love, and that I’ve used every day since I finished it.  (It’s still tiny, and it is still inspired by the Year of Projects, but it way more awesome than the rest!)

My very own double-ended crochet camera pouch.

I had a lot of fun making this little pouch.  (You can see some in progress pictures here.)  I decided to make it pieces, and to alternate the color placement on each side to emphasize different colors.

I think I actually prefer the back.

The pouch was a bit large, so I made a little bubble wrap casing for my camera that fits perfectly inside.

I have the cutest camera pouch around, and it also provides a lot of protection.  How’s that for awesome?  And now I’m actually inspired to make something else cool for myself…

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.