Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Reviews: Time to get knitty with it!


Werewolf Hat from Vampire Knits
 I know it's hard to believe, but fall and winter will be upon us soon. Let's celebrate in anticipation of cooler weather with a round-up of new and upcoming knitting books!

The Knitter's Life List
To Do, To Know, To Explore, To Make
Storey Publishing
ISBN: 9781603429962
by Gwen W. Steege

The Knitter's Life List includes in-depth profiles of types of yarn; an overview of classic techniques, styles, and designs for sweaters, shawls, hats, mittens, bags, socks, and more. There are profiles of ground breaking designers, based on original interviews; and museums, festivals, and other places and events that will feed the knitters curiosity. Wonderful to browse, readers will be inspired to master new techniques, learn about their favorite designers, try yarns made of rare fibers, and experiment with color. Knitters will delights in the challenging checklists they'll strive to check off. [Marketing Copy]
My Take
I love the format of The Knitter's Life List. I'm a huge fan of making lists, but the downside, of course, is that they either feel incomplete or too long to me. I don't think anything can be done about that.
Intermediate knitters will delight in adding this one to their collections. If anything, the lists can be a terrific set of guidelines for how to mentor others as you continue coping with your own knitting addiction.
Gwen Steege gets major brownie points from me for securing interviews with some of the great greats of the knitting world like Ann Budd. (If you don't know who Ann Budd is, team up with someone who's dying to run out and buy this book. She'll be happy to enlighten you.)
The only bone I have to pick with The Knitter's Life List is that it doesn't contain any actual patterns. It refers to various projects every knitter should try, but doesn't provide the patterns for them. Not to worry, plenty of other books cover that ground very well, but don't provide the nice overview that Life List does. Combine this one with Stitch 'n' Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook by Debbie Stoller and/or Knitting Without Tears Kathy Zimmerman, and you're invincible.
Goodreads review available here
Or, you could check-out the book below for patterns galore!

Courtesy of Taunton
100 Fabulous Patterns for Wraps, Socks, Hats, and More
ISBN: 9781600854033
Classic Elite

Pair soft, supple yarns in eye-catching colors with timeless yet contemporary designs and you have answered every knitter's dream. For more than 20 years, the studios of Classic Elite Yarns have created enduring patterns that beg to be knitted with their sumptuous products. In this pattern collection, a follow-up to best-selling Classic Elite Knits, the focus is on quick-to-make accessories. Knitters of all skill levels will love this value-packed collection of 100 patterns for socks, wraps, hats, gloves, bags, scarves, and more. Knitters can indulge themselves or find something to knit for every member of the family. The 120 color photos showcase the range of high-quality yarns as well, including cotton, wool, bamboo, angora, cashmere, and blended yarns. Classic Elite Quick Knits will keep knitters' hands busy for a long time to come. [Marketing Copy]
I felt like I was in a candy store as I flipped through the pages of this book. I love the patterns in here. They offer a lot of different ones to choose from and most of the projects are small and simple. I've seen a lot of other books claiming to contain "weekend knits" but most of these truly are weekend knits. You'll find plenty of fun hats and gloves in here and none of the projects require much yarn, so there's plenty of inspiration in here for anyone who has a random skein lying around that they want to try. I know a few books like Designer One Skein Wonders are kicking around knitting stores (and my own bookshelves). Those books are terrific, but some of the patterns are a bit outre. Quick Knits is a good book to go to for that basic beret or cute sock pattern that you think should be really easy to find but keeps evading you on Ravelry and
Goodreads Review available here

I would also like to take this craft moment to mention a book that I missed when it first came out because I was feeling very anti-vampire. My local library had a copy of Genevieve Miller's Vampire Knits: Projects to Keep You Knitting from Twilight to Dawn (oh yes, she went there.) Once you get past the stupid premise, there's actually a lot of cute fun stuff in this book and the materials are very affordable. Most of the yarns featured in Vampire Knits are available through KnitPicks for about $3-$5 a skein. So if you know of a teen you'd like to bring into the fold or if you are a teen who wants to know what the fuss is about, this is a wonderful book to start with. I can't wait to make the Werewolf Hat.