Monday, July 23, 2007

Developing Mould

Rumour has it that the incessant rain is going to let up later today. Couldn’t prove it by me. I’ve been feeling permanently damp for days. My towels don’t dry. My clothes are damp when I put them on, even the fresh ones from the drawer. My books are wrinkling. See?

Since I’m showing you that book, Myrna Stahman’s Shawls & Scarves, I might as well review it since I’ve been remiss on my book reviews lately. This book is self-published through the author’s Rocking Chair Press and was first available in 2000. My new copy is 3rd printing from 2004 so hopefully any errors are corrected. I have to mention that I got it from the Needle Arts Book Shop in Ontario. It wasn’t listed on Chapters/Indigo probably because of distribution problems from such a small press. has it listed as $173.69 used! What’s with that? I paid $35.85 for it new. Heh.

Myrna covers two quite different types of knitted warmers in this book: Faroese-shaped shawls and seamen’s scarves. These shawls are not traditionally Faroese because instead of knitting from the bottom up they are made neck down. The advantage of them is a unique angel wing shape that sits very comfortably on the shoulders and there is no long point in the middle of the back aiming at a personal spot that some would rather ignore. Once the techniques for shaping are understood, the designs plug in various simple to somewhat more elaborate lace patterns to the basic template. Most of the shawls are more dense and warmer rather than light and lacey and none are of the ethereal lace-knitting challenge variety. This book focuses more on the practical aspects of keeping you and your loved ones warm.

Each shawl in the book has a scarf using the same lace pattern and there are many more designs for scarves included. They are of a unique shape that Myrna has studied and worked with intensively. The “seamen’s” style consists of flat ends with the neck area in ribbing and the plain version (with matching cap) was originally designed for charity knitting for the Seamen’s Church Institute’s “Christmas At Sea” program. It’s a practical style which will sit nicely on or under a coat and can be made to suit both men and women. Myrna developed the way to knit the more fancy ends so that both were oriented correctly when worn. For her, designing and knitting them was like eating potato chips!

As I mentioned, this isn’t the book for you if you’re an experienced lace knitter who wants a challenge or who is looking for patterns for truly drop-dead-gorgeous lace shawls and scarves. However the designs here are still quite lovely and are well suited for the more beginner to intermediate lace knitter. They’d be perfect in handspun and/or subtle hand-painted yarns though none are shown in colour (except on the cover) because the book is only printed in grayscale. The strengths of this book are in the first chapters on hints and techniques. Everything from planning sizing and swatching yarns to reading charts is covered. There’s even a chapter on customizing the shape or the weight of yarn and one on fixing mistakes. And of course all of the knitting techniques you’ll need are there with lots of hand-drawn illustrations. The appendices include a crude map of where the Faroe Islands are located and a sample record sheet for the scarves and shawls. I think Myrna tried to include everything you’d need for successful knitting and very nearly succeeded.

Speaking of lovely shawls, have you seen the Icelandic one that Knitting Daily is reprinting from an old Piecework? It’s gorgeous! Check out this version that Sarah made quite some time ago from the original pattern. Doesn’t that make you want to dig through the stash or get out the spinning wheel and dyepot? Wish I didn’t have so many things in front of this in The Queue. Which brings me to the Crafty Report: almost up to the heel turns in T-Man’s latest socks. No progress on anything else.

BTW they showed up finally next door and are fixing the leak. Hope they don’t have any permits to wait for because the city outside workers are on strike with the inside workers shortly to follow. No garbage pickup, no gardening or mowing at the parks, no daycare or community centre programmes, city animal shelters closed, no street work or repair, etc. etc. It’s going to be a long wet…er, hot summer. I don’t really blame the unions who are feeling snubbed because the city isn’t even opening any discussion with them. They just turned their backs and skedaddled from the building. Somebody has to call chicken first and it might as well be the city since the unions have the moral high ground here (or so they claim). Talk already, darn it! Without negotiation it’s not going to end anytime soon. And I have more stuff to chuck out!

1 comment:

fleegle said...

Thank you for the book review--I was contemplating buying it, but decided, after your review, that I probably don't need it.

Hey, I cast on for the Icelandic shawl a few minutes ago. Taking a break from casting on 339 stitches and saw your email.

When I grow up, I want to spin like you do :).