Anyway in case you don’t know what I am talking about, my fabulous sister – Sapphires N Purls – got me a gift certificate to Amazon for Christmas. With it, I purchased two knitting books. I’ve not yet made anything from either of them (again, life happens…) but I really hope to make something at some point in the foreseeable future!
The first book is Modern Top-Down Knitting by Kristina McGowan.
As a novice knitter I will say the general technique of top-down is very daunting. My sister is always telling me I am a fearless knitter though so maybe I can convince myself to give something from this book a try even though it seems like it would be too difficult for me right now. Here are a couple of the patterns that stand out to me most:
Jill’s Dress – page 123, pictured on the front of the book. I really love this dress. It’s a nice, modest length, very basic and simple looking yet with a casual elegance about it. The seamwork is actually crocheted on after the dress itself is knit. Some have complained about this and would prefer these details be knitted in as you go. But I happen to like them being added later. It gives you the versatility of deciding “Hey, I like this just fine the way it is!” after knitting the dress without adding the details. Or if you want them, go ahead and add them. I can see where the complaints are coming from but in my opinion it’s a good thing for the pattern to be written this way as it gives the knitter a choice in how the final piece will look.
Cecily Sweater – page 95. This is a darling little short sleeved sweater. Again it is very plain and basic, but it has a sophisticated look to it that would make it ideal for casual, every day wear as well as for something a bit more formal. I will say though that I do NOT like the collar of the sweater – it’s like a loose turtleneck (but not at all like a cowl neck) and to me it just seems “off”. After looking over the pattern I discovered the collar is added after the rest of the sweater is complete. Perfect. That means it can EASILY be left off. The sweater does start with a provisional cast on of course so those stitches can be picked up to make the collar so use of a different cast on would be in order but that’s no big deal.
Ruffle Cuff Arm Warmers – page 85. I saw these and thought “Cute!” and then I read the pattern and… eh, not so much. They start with store-bought socks which the feet are cut off of and then a ruffled trim is sewn on to the cut edges. Not a fan of this though the finished look was nice. I would much prefer the entire things be knit though… I am a fan of socks, I cannot see buying a cute pair of socks only to cut them. As the part of the socks used is simply a straight tube, I can’t see how it could possibly be difficult to simply knit the entire piece yourself, rather than destroying a lovely pair of store-bought socks.
Overall the book is ok. I would not say that I totally love it, and I certainly do not love every pattern that is in it. As a top-down book, I hoped for more sweaters and tops to be included. There are several patterns I really think do not quite fit the “top-down” idea of the book – a wire knit ring, a belt, arm warmers, one too many hats, slippers… I just think the book could have been better had it included more sweaters and blouses instead of all those accessories which I personally don’t feel are what “top-down” is about. But that’s just me.
The second book I got is Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks! by Judith Durant.
I am a huge fan of sock yarn. So many pretty colors, such soft fibers, and of course not limited to making socks! I saw this book and thought it was a great one to have because who doesn’t have left-over, un-used skeins of sock yarn around that they can’t quite figure out what to do with? All those lonesome little skeins and no ideas what to make with them…. this book is bound to have the answer! Here are a couple patterns that caught my attention:
Umbrella Lamp Shade – page 246. This is such a lovely piece and certainly not something I personally would have ever thought to knit! The very top bit is crocheted and then the panels are knit and then everything is seamed together. It’s light and lacy and I can imagine it would be a conversation piece for sure… how many hand-knit lamp shades have you seen lately? And of course this gets my creative juices flowing and thinking of other pretty lamp shades that could be knit – the options here are truly endless!
Swan Shawl – page 137. This is a very lovely lace shawl – very elegant and feminine. Not really anything else to say about it!
Loreli’s Gift – page 115 – this is a gorgeous lace scarf. Like the above mentioned shawl, I don’t really think there’s anything else to say about it. Lace, gorgeous, that’s it! lol
Overall I love this book. There really are so many lovely patterns included. There are some I don’t like of course, but many of them are lovely. There are a number of sock patterns included which is a little disappointing since the whole premise of this book is that sock yarn can be used to make things other than socks. Also, though this is a mostly knit book be aware there are patterns that utilize both knit and crochet as well as some all crochet pieces. The book is divided into 4 categories – From Head To Toe (and Fingers Too), It’s A Wrap!, Knits For Kids and Bag It and More. Each section has about 24 patterns included. So there is a pretty decent variety of items included though I will say personally I wish the section for kids (babies, really) was a bit shorter… we don’t all have babies to knit for. But I suppose those who DO have babies in their lives would appreciate the number of items included in that section.