The only good thing about my favorite bookstore closing in Downtown Indianapolis a couple years ago was my opportunity to scavenge. The store was insane- not really busy, per say, but disheveled. The cookbooks, which were half of why I went, were pretty much gone, except for those crazy expensive ones with no real purpose but to look pretty on a counter. So I went to the other half of my trip’s purpose- KNITTING BOOKS. Admittedly, this section was less full than I expected, but a good two-thirds of the shelves population remained behind. I sat for probably a good hour on the floor with piles of books, sorting through what I already had and what was there, seeing what was worth buying. I bought A LOT of books that day. Seriously. I won’t even give the number because it is a bit ridiculous. All of the books got shelved once I got home. A few made it to my dresser. One is one that I go back to again and again and again. That book is Weekend Knitting, by Melanie Falick.
Weekend Knitting is not just a book of fabulous patterns, but of fabulous ideas to enjoy knitting even when needles aren’t at hand. My favorite example of this is the “Knitting Film Festival” section. This section lists many movies good yarny scenes, such as Chicago, Chicken Run, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Wizard of Oz- only to name a few. Honorable Mentions for this category would include the “Gentle Hand Massage” and “A Good Read.”
Choosing my favorite pattern from this book was immensely difficult. The patterns are easy to follow, detailed, and useful. My favorite pattern from the book is actually one I haven’t tried yet, but will be casting on very soon- The Perfect Pie Shawl. The pattern is pretty and delicate looking while still being useful. (Unlike the many lace shawl patterns you find online that look as though a glance at a nail could unravel it.) Honorable Mention patterns would have to be Lace Edged Pillow Cases and The Farmer’s Market Bag.
All in all, this book is a definite must have for all levels of crafters. My best suggestion for you is to buy this book immediately. If you don’t believe me, check it out at your local library first, but it will be VERY hard to send this one back in just two weeks.
This book is not the first of Vickie Howell’s that I have reviewed, and I can pretty much assure you that it will not be my last. Vickie Howell’s books are full of color, imagination and patterns that are as amazing for the recipient as they are for the crafter. New Knits on the Block is the perfect example of this- fun knits for kids to enjoy, rather than hide in their locker at school. (Come on, who doesn’t have a picture of them in a horrible Christmas sweater?)
The first thing that I love about this book is that it has toys AND wearables. So many pattern books with toy patterns are either all toys, or one or two mediocre toys that are really only good for two year olds. Another big thing I love about the toy patterns is that, while you are assembling a hand made toy, it does not require Dr. Sheldon Cooper to figure out how to do it.
It is SO hard to choose a favorite toy pattern. I love the tool set, the pirate bath set and the robot jammy bag, but my favorite has got to be the Guitar Pillow. The finished guitar itself is 11 by 33 inches! It is perfect for a little one to play and dance along to their favorite songs or movies without all of the horrible extra noise made by the plastic ones you get at department stores. The pattern is well written, easy to follow, and even comes with a pattern for felted guitar picks! (My nephew is SO getting one of these ASAP.
As far as wearables, I love the range the patterns have. Princesses, firemen, mermaids can all be brought to life with these whimsy and colorful patterns. My favorite wearable, though, is another my nephew will be getting ASAP- the Knight Rider Chain Mail Dress Up. A step outside the modern super-hero, this could even give a reason for the Knight and the Princess to play TOGETHER, rather than a tea party or an Avenger’s fueled battle. (Though I have to admit my nephew will also get two empty coconut shells with his chain mail!)
This book is a must have for those with little ones in their lives. The patterns include some that are great to make for specific children, but also a bit more universal ones to make for a few last minute baby shower gifts to have on hand!
Starting out as a new knitter the plethora of reading material can seem overwhelming. Being a former bookstore employee and current library card holder, I have come in contact with many, many books full of knitting patterns and techniques.
This “top 5” guide is a compilation of the titles I have found most helpful and entertaining to read and knit. Of course, this is all my opinion. Be sure to leave your thoughts and favorites in the comments!
Bag Style: 20 Inspirational handbags, totes, and carry-alls to knit and crochet, Pam Allen and Ann Budd
While very light on technique, Bag Style is full of beautiful, high quality patterns. Bag Style’s patterns have a decent time commitment and are not for the faint at heart. He difficulty level isn’t immensely high, butt this definitely wouldn’t be the book to find your first project in. If you’re looking for always fashionable bags for any occasion, this is the book for you.
ColorWork Stitches: Over 250 designs to knit, edited by Susie Johns
I believe ColorWork Stitches is a must-have for a knitter’s library. From simple embellishments to a full alphabet, ColorWork Stitches is a wonderful guide, especially for anyone new to colorwork or in need of ideas to brighten up otherwise bland yarn colors This too is fairly light on technique, but definitely has the goods to back it up.
Stitch n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook, Debbie Stoller
This was actually the first knitting book I purchased. Now this is important: if you are offended by the title, then Stitch n Bitch is not for you. SNB is without a doubt the best book I have found for learning technique, especially when the reader is going in blind. Stoller includes step by step illustrated instructions for everything you need to know to start out and fabulous patterns to practice what you learn. This book is a must have for new knitters. (Be sure to check out her other titles as well!)
Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Joelle Hoverson
After 34 pages of wonderful basic information for newbies, Last Minute Knitted Gifts has a full 76 pages of gift patterns for any occasion broken down by time commitment. I was most impressed by how well Hoverson compiled patters for anyone, regardless of age and gender. If you are on a budget, be sure to pay attention to the fiber type, weight, and gauge of the projects to make correct substitutions, as the suggested yarns are a bit pricey. In all honesty, this is one of the best investments I have made in the knitting department.
*drumroll* Number 1:
Awareknits: Knit and crochet patterns for the eco-conscious stitcher, Vickie Howell and Adrienne Armstrong
Being a HUGE Green Day fan, I was excited to see their frontman’s wife Adrienne had collaborated with pro-stitcher Vickie Howell to create an eco-friendly knitting book. I was even more excited when I purchased and read Awareknits and realized just how fabulous it is. This book is just great pattern after great pattern with projects for every member of the family as well as the home.
The best part? All of the patterns use eco-friendly yarn and have tips to keep your projects green. This book is truly what it says it is. Stellar patterns for the “eco-conscious stitcher”.
Looking for a few more titles? Here are some honorable mentions:
Mason Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne
Knit One, Felt Too by Kathleen Taylor
Big Girl Knits by Jillian Moreno and Amy R. Singer
Hollywood Knits by Suss Cousins
This pattern comes from the “One Skein Wonders” collection and is super easy to work up, however, the pattern is TINY!!! Like toddler tiny! After seeing the pictures posted on Ravelry, I decided to go down a needle size because I usually wear an extra small… gauge was fine and it was working along very quickly. By the time I got to the end I realized that for as tiny as I am, it hit about halfway down my chest (and I’m small chested) and that was after adding a few rows into the pattern. It fit my three year old perfectly and the bottom of the shrug hit right at his waist. It fit my nine year old how I was expecting it to fit me – about mid torso. Fortunately, there was a nine year old in my son’s class that was having a birthday… she now has a cute little cotton summer shrug. This first one was knit using the Bernat Cotton Tots in their Natural/Oatmeal color.
The second attempt, I made some adjustments: cast on 63 instead of 53, adding two stitches to each section, and used a size 11 needle – going up a size from the recommended 10.5. For this shrug, I used the Lion Brand Cotton solids and it used nearly the whole ball. I like how this one came out – it’s a looser knit than pictured on the pattern website, and again, I added a few rows so that it hits mid-torso on an adult (size Small).
This was my first try at raglan shaping and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. This is a great beginner garment (or, if you just want a quick knit!). I like that there is no seaming, as you cast off the sleeves, the underarm just works directly into the body. Be aware though, if you choose to make this in an actual adult size, it will take more than one skein…. You can find the pattern at: http://www.oneskeinwonders.com/patterns/shrug.php or on Ravelry by searching Shrug This.
You can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.