My current work in progress:

1. Drachenfels, designed by Melanie Berg, knit from Madelintosh Pashmina in the Black Walnut, Seasalt, and Mineral colorways on a 4 mm (U.S. size 6) needle.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Hats!

I recently got on the review list for books and booklets from Annie’s (formerly Annie’s Attic) and received a booklet this week.

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This is More Than a Dozen Hats & Beanies by Carri Hammett, a 48-page booklet with patterns for 15 hats. There are hats for men, women, and children. Here’s the thumbnail index:

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The hats are all knit from either DK, worsted, or bulky weight yarn, and the models are all knit with popular, readily available yarns. The designs are cute, and the patterns seem clear and easy to follow.

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There is a section in the front with basic techniques for knitting hats, and in the back, more basic knitting information:

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Do you have hat knitting on your agenda for this autumn/winter? This booklet has patterns that will cover a lot of heads.

Who’d like my review copy?

To be entered in the drawing to receive this booklet, please leave a comment on this post by Sunday, September 2, 2012, at 11:00am Eastern Time. I’ll draw a name at random from the comments left.

Meanwhile, I am working on the left side front of my denim jacket.

WIP082912 240x143 Hats!

Have you noticed a trend? Poncho, Felted Coat, Denim Jacket. I am knitting all outerwear items.

Since I haven’t worn a sweater indoors in years, I figured I’d start knitting things I might actually have a chance of wearing: jackets and coats for autumn and winter.

I’m in the planning stage for my project for after I finish the denim jacket. More outerwear!

Here’s my little princess, contemplating the need for outerwear.

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Circular Thinking

I recently got a review copy of Nicky Epstein’s new book Knitting in Circles.

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This is the second in a series of books (states Epstein in the Introduction) on knitting techniques incorporating geometric shapes. The first was Knitting Block By Block. I wonder what the next one will be?

Knitting in Circles has instructions for knitting 100 circle motifs and 20 patterns for garments and accessories.

The circles are created using a number of different techniques — some are knit from the center out, some from the outside in, and some from top to bottom. Everything you need to know about creating the basic shapes is detailed in the shaping chapter.

The next chapter is titled “Texture & Techniques” and contains instructions for circles that incorporate cables, entrelac, bobbles, short rows, and more — techniques that you may not be familiar with. As Epstein points out, circles are a great way to practice an unfamiliar technique.

The next two chapters, Lace & Points and Colorwork have instructions for circles employing those techniques.

The last circle-technique chapter is “Eclectic” — circles that don’t fit into the other categories. There are some fun, creative circles here, with applied motifs and i-cords, appliques, embroidery, ruffles, etc.

Each circle has a large full color photo on a gallery page. (My apologies for thew less-than-great photos –the light is not cooperating as I take them.)

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There is a smaller photo of each circle next to the pattern instructions.

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And there is an index of thumbnail photos of all the circles in the back of the book.

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The patterns. There are 20 patterns for garments and accessories, all incorporating circles in one way or another. I have to admit — I did not care for any of the garments. They are all wonderfully creative but are just not me. Like this poncho.

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There are a couple of lovely afghans, however, a great purse, and a wonderful hat. An afghan:

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A hat:

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There’s a techniques section in the back of the book with instructions for construction, knitting techniques (and it amused me to note that the drawings accompanying the info on how to magic loop are, I am 99.9% sure, the ones created by Potter Craft for my book Socks From the Toe Up), and joining circles.

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I think my favorite statement in the whole book is in the section on Joining: “Don’t like to sew? Get over it!” Yep, sometimes you just have to sew! icon smile Circular Thinking

Denim Update:

Here is the back of my denim coat as of Friday night:

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At the time that photo was taken, I estimate I had another 10″ to knit. I’m almost there at this point, so will be finishing the back of the coat today. Because the denim yarn will shrink about 17 – 20% in length on the first washing, I’m knitting each piece longer to compensate for said shrinkage.

Lucy plans on just hanging out and relaxing today.

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I’m Blue

I’m not sad, I’m blue. Literally.

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This is one of the idiosyncrasies of working with denim yarn. The dye rubs off on your hands. If I were using wooden needles, the dye would rub off on the needles. I am not — I am using my beloved Signature circulars with stiletto tips. The blue does wash off the hands with a bit of scrubbing!

The yarn is Rowan Denim, in the Memphis colorway (colorway 229). This is the medium blue. I have a ton of it and it is a good thing because I have embarked on a large project.

This is the back in progress.

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It’s going to be a jacket or a coat. I guess you’d call it a coat because it’ll be long. The pattern is my own — I put together some cable motifs and started knitting.

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The jacket/coat will have an a-line shape and will have a crew neck, long sleeves, and button down the front. While I’ve got a fair amount of work done on the back, there is still a lot left to knit. So this is most definitely a “long haul” project.

In the meantime, if I have to have blue hands, I wish the stain would form itself into pretty patterns like this:

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(Those hands belong to a coworker — she got them henna-ed over the weekend.)

The Sock Report

You all have seen The Sock Report, yes? It’s an online magazine/pattern store. The patterns are not just for socks, but for items knit from sock yarn. The inaugural issue has socks, shawls, a pair of fingerless mitts, and some very cute toys.

Like Twist Collective, you can buy patterns singly in electronic format. You can also buy an electronic version of the entire pattern collection. And now you can also buy a hardcopy version of the pattern collection:

I received a review copy of this pattern booklet on Monday.

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It contains all the patterns in the summer collection. It does not contain the articles and advertisements (apart from an ad from a sponsor on the inside front cover) — just the full color photo layouts and complete patterns for all projects. It’s a lovely production, printed in full color on nice paper, just like any paperback knitting book.

If you are someone who wants hard copies of patterns and you wanted more than two of the patterns in the issue, this is an excellent deal. Individual patterns from The Sock Report are $6.50 each. You can purchase either the electronic collection or the book for $16.00. For that $16.00 you get all 16 patterns, so that’s a deal. If you buy the hard copy, there is also a shipping charge, and rates vary depending on whether you want it sent priority mail or the slower and much cheaper media mail. And of course there are different rates for international shipping.

You can order copies of individual patterns, the electronic pattern collection, and the print pattern collection from this page.

As I said, the book is very pretty and very nicely produced. I did notice some oddities, however.

There is no Table of Contents or Index. The large photos of all projects come first in the book and the patterns follow. I think it would have been nice to include a Table of Contents for the patterns so you don’t have to flip through the book to find the instructions. At the very least, on the photo spread pages, it would be nice to have a notation: pattern starts on page xx.

All the patterns are charted and for the most part, the charts are nice and clear. But the pattern charts for each design vary in size, as they are shrunk/enlarged to fit the space on the page, something I find slightly jarring to the eye. For a few of patterns the charts are reduced quite a bit in size so that they will fit on a page. There are a couple that I think would have to be enlarged on a photocopier to make them usable.

Still, $16 for 16 very pretty patterns is a very good deal!

Lucy is checking for blue dye.

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Knitting the Perfect Fit

I received a review copy of Melissa Leapman’s new book Knitting the Perfect Fit last week.

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This book is all about using fully fashioned shaping t0 achieve couture results.

Do you know the term fully fashioned? I used to see it all the time in knitting patterns years ago, as in “Shape the fully fashioned armholes.” In the introduction to this book, Melissa Leapman explains the concept of fully fashioning:

“It is the construction difference between an $80 J. Crew cashmere V-neck sweater and the one that sells for $200 in the same catalog. Though both are knitted out of the same soft yarn, the less expensive sweater is usually made by assembling front, back, or sleeve pieces cut from huge bolts of machine-knit fabric and then sewn with a serger, while the more expensive sweater is created with hand-manipulated, machine-made knitting stitches.”

It’s all in the details.

The book covers a lot of basic information.

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There’s a lot of great information on increase and decrease methods, how to read a chart, etc.

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There are a number of exercises with instructions for swatches to knit that demonstrate the techniques being explained.

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There are 19 patterns for sweaters, and each one of them has information on the type of figure the particular pattern will flatter.

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The appendix has a lot of great information as well — lots of how-tos for general techniques and finishing.

I am pleased to note that all the sweater designs but one are knit in pieces. Longtime readers know of my preference for knitting a garment in pieces and sewing it together. I maintain that you get a better fit and the sweater will hang better with seams. There are times, of course, when a design lends itself to being knitted in the round, but knitting something in the rounds because you don’t like seaming does not always give the best results.

All in all, this looks like a great book for anyone who is interested in creating better fitting knits.

In other news, I’m knitting along on a massive project.

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And Lucy is chillin’.

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Basil

Look, it’s a friend for Sherman!

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This little cutie is another Rebecca Danger pattern, Basil, the Boogie-Woogie Brontosaurus. Like my last dinosaur, I knitted this guy from Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport, this time in the “Somerset” colorway. Once again I used a U.S. size 2 (2.75mm) needle to get a nice firm fabric.

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Basil used about 10 grams more yarn than Sherman did, but was still under one skein. And as you can see, Basil and Sherman are destined to be friends.

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(They will be going to live with yet-to-be-born twin girls, so they will be staying together.)

Lucy sez:

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“Stuff ‘em with catnip. Then we’ll talk.”