Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Smell

Not really stinky though. Like rosemary, actually. I spent a few minutes out in the garden yesterday picking what’s likely the last of the coreopsis flowers for this year. I now have enough for another small dye bath if I can’t wait until next summer for more. While I was at it, I plucked the stray chestnut leaves out of the branches of the rosemary bush in my herb patch. I think I got some of the oil on my fleece shirt because I can still smell it today. We’re lucky here that we don’t have to bring my rosemary inside in winter although sometimes we lose a branch or two to frost and one exceptionally cold winter I lost an entire 3-foot plant so it can be a bit dicey at times. My rosemary is just beginning to bloom on a couple of the branches, though mine never really has huge numbers of flowers. I can see why it’s latin name, Rosemarinus, means “dew of the sea” however because it looks like it’s splashed with pretty blue drops the colour of my grandson’s eyes. As the “herb of remembrance” I hope the bracing odour will help my little brain!

Now that I’ve had a chance to try on my now-dry Earthly Beret, I can say that it fits really well and looks quite cute. I would be starting on the fingerless gloves to match but I already cast on the Frankensocks for Stargazer. Plus the Seaweed Shawl is still stuck in the middle of the blossoms section. I can’t have too many projects going at once or I feel like nothing ever gets finished! Besides I want to incorporate some of the lace pattern from the hat into the gloves so that will need some work in Knit Visualizer. That’s the kind of design work I enjoy.

Speaking of knitting design, I thought I might review “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns” now that I’ve had a chance to read it – apart from the many many columns of numbers, that is. This book from Interweave is a follow-up to Ann Budd’s wonderful “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns” which featured socks, hats, gloves, mitts, scarves and sweaters rendered in a unique chart format. You work a gauge swatch and match your gauge to the size garment you want and follow the numbers to complete it. While you’re at it you can choose different options in various areas to make your particular garment unique. In this book, Ann revises and expands on the sweater and gives you a lot more options to personalize it than in the first book. She includes chapters on drop-shoulder, modified drop-shoulder, saddle shoulder, raglan and circular yoked sweaters. Sizes range from a finished circumference of 26” to 54” in 2-inch intervals which should fit most people, small or large, children, women or men. Gauges are 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 stitches per inch and Ann recommends that if your gauge comes in between you will need to adjust needles or yarn to get one of those numbers exactly. All through the book there are tips and schematics and options to choose from plus 18 complete sample sweater patterns called Copy Cats.

I like the format of both of Ann's books. They are hardcover with an internal metal coil binding so the book lies flat. There's even a pocket in the back to keep notes. An elastic built into the back cover comes around to keep the book closed in your knitting bag or you could use it to keep your place if necessary. I use it differently than that myself - I copy the pages I need (scanner or photocopier) and highlight the columns of figures for the size I'm knitting, adding notes on changes where necessary. That way I don't get confused or mark up my book.

Where this book really shines is the ability to create your own sweater design with Ann having done the hard math stuff for you. Just pick a style, plug in a pattern stitch if you want, choose detail options (neckline, collar, front opening, button band etc.) and start knitting. This book is a perfect place to start if you are new to designing but have some ideas to explore, have handspun or other special yarn without a suitable pattern, want to knit for someone and only know their chest size or just want a relatively simple sweater without digging through a gazillion patterns to find something similar. Know that these are relatively loose-fitting sweaters with no waist shaping or bust adjustments so if you like your garments more curvy, you’re going to have to do a bit more math yourself. However Ann does cover how to do basic waist shaping though not bust. (There are other resources for that. Knitty covered a lot more tricky shaping stuff here. And Sandi did a great job on Knitting Daily, links to some posts are here.) But I think Ann covers just about anything else you might need to know to make a great-fitting sweater for anyone! Go forth and knit one.

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