Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Well Duh!

We took Nana out for dinner (Thai!) for her 81st birthday last evening but I completely forgot to bring her socks to give her. She did say she had the warmest hands ever with her new gloves though so that was good. Guess I’ll have to get the Sea Monkey Socks to her later. I tend to be off on my gift-timing at the best of times!

I’m not sure I really wanted this information but I found out what my sweet doc’s family emergency was. His son, only 19 years old, died in his sleep while attending university in Ontario. They aren’t exactly sure what happened but think it was caused by a virus. I feel so sorry for my doc and his family (he and his wife have 2 other children). What a horrible thing to lose a child, especially one so young and vibrant and bright with a big future that now will never be realised. I’m tearing up just typing this. Sometimes life (or death) just isn’t fair.

So what can we talk about on a happier note? I know – books! I ordered a couple of new ones and got them last week. One I took back to the store right away. I was disappointed in it not being of the same caliber as the author’s first 3 books. Or maybe just not as interesting to me. The older I get, the less I like “cutesy” stuff. Guess I just like a bit more “edge” to things. Too fluffy/sparkly/fairy makes my teeth hurt! Must be the more cynical part of me that’s been developing lately. Oh wait – that’s sliding back into the dark again, isn’t it? I was looking for happiness.

Well, one book I got that I was very happy with is “The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques” by Margaret Radcliffe (Storey Publishing, 2008). She’s also the author of “The Knitting Answer Book” (one that I don’t own). I actually met Maggie once years ago when she and Lily Chin were teachers on a knitting cruise to Alaska. They and their fellow cruisers stopped by Birkeland Bros wool for a shearing, carding and spinning demo. I was the spinning part. Lovely ladies! Anyhoo, Maggie has outdone herself with this big colourful hardcover book. I’ve been knitting forever and I’ve already learned several new things.

You know how much I like “technique” rather than “pattern” books, right? This one is an absolute doozie! I can’t begin to tell you even half of what’s in here but I’ll go through the chapter titles and give you snippets. You’ll just have to trust me that there is ten times more than that, all illustrated with colour photos. After this grey and white winter, all the colour is so very welcome!

1. Color Basics: the language of colour as it relates to knitting and planning your own combinations.

2. Stripes: planning and executing various stripes both flat and in the round, plus diagonally and with pattern stitches. Pattern: Reversible Scarves.

3. Pattern Stitches: a large selection of stitches including slipped, extra wraps, chevrons, picots and more all using 2 or more colours. Tricky manipulations are well-illustrated. Pattern: Windowpane Bag.

4. Multicolor Yarns: how to deal with the different types of multicolour dyed yarns including a selection of stitch patterns. Patterns: Hiker Socks; Double-Trouble Bag.

5. Stranded Knitting: contemporary versions including variations. Lots of ways to manipulate knitting with several yarns simultaneously. Pattern: Stranded Hat.

6. Intarsia: how to manage many yarns and the ends they produce. Includes how to do it in the round and shaped intarsia.

7. Other Techniques: helix, shadow, mosaic, twined, entrelac and more. Pattern: Helix Mittens.

8. Finishing Touches: cast ons, bind offs, borders and edgings. Some really cool surface additions and lots of i-cord variations. Patterns: Ruffles Socks; I-Cord Coasters.

9. Design Workshop: considerations, sweater architecture, problem solving. This chapter could have been longer (or an entire book on its own) but the author ran out of space.

Appendix: glossary of basic techniques with illustrations, using charts, sizing, abbreviations, bibliography, acknowledgements and an index. Did she miss anything? Not much, if anything.

You can probably tell by my gushing that I’m pretty taken with this book. Actually it’s the best I’ve seen on this subject, bringing a whole lot of information into one (rather large and heavy) package! It’s the kind of reference book that goes next to Montse Stanley on the shelf to be referred to again and again. I’m still in the process of reading it from cover to cover but I know that I won’t be able to take it all in in one – or even several – goes. My final vote? Extremely Juicy!


yarnpiggy said...

I've had my eye on this book for a while now (even though I'm terrified of colourwork other than plain stripes!). Good to know that it's a keeper. :-)

Louisa said...

I think it will help you overcome your terror! It's got lots of options to try anyway. Start small and just think of it as playing instead of something scary. You can always frog if it's not working!

Personally I need to practice not stranding too tightly. I knit it with two hands and my right hand is forgetting how to knit. ;)

Cynthia said...

Louisa, that book sounds wonderful. It's going right on my wish list. I always enjoy your reviews; thanks.