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Knitting Pattern Essentials (POTTER CRAFT, 2013)

I think of this book as my life's work. Yes, I know that's a trite and over-used term. But in this case, there's no other expression that captures what this book means to me.

Consider the following.
  • In the eary 80's, I wrote a 100-page manual (on a 25-character memory type-writer!) called Advanced Knitting and Design.
  • I taught classes from it, mostly locally, and from them the very large and very successful Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters' Guild was formed.
  • That guild brought in teachers who pushed me onto the international stage.
  • From thence my career expanded and became the life I live!
So now, many years and classes and students later, I have honed that original material to this very comprehensive and beautiful book.

How I'd want this book to be used
My favourite knitting is most often from an existing, non-knit garment. I measure it, find yarn, swatch, draft, and knit. And that's what I wish for you!

So, with that in mind, the chapters are the following:
  • preparing to draft (measurements, understanding ease, understanding shapes, swatching)
  • basic shapes (drop shoulder, modified drop shoulder, set-in sleeve, raglan)
  • shoulder and neck shaping
  • hem alternatives
  • side shaping
  • sleeve alternatives
  • cardigans
  • fabrics, finishes, and fixes
  • 8 patterns
What you are meant to do is read chapter one, then from chapter 2 plus any following chapter that applies combine the shapes that fulfill your vision and produce your garment.

More about that fabrics, finishes, and fixes chapter . . . . It's a very important chapter that helps you understand your knitting. (This is what I do in classes: this is what students most love: this is what we all need!)

When you draft your own patterns,  you need to understand your fabrics (common stitch patterns and their selvedges) plus how they behave.

And then you'll want to know how to finish your pieces . . . with those bands for which there are truly terrible instructions in most knitting patterns: pick up and knit 101 stitches around the neck . . . evenly. In this section we completely liberate you from such unhelpful stuff. (Besides, you won't actually have a pattern to follow, will you?)

And then you might need to know how to fix things that don't turn out as expected. And, trust me, this can happen. It's all part of the process.

Sometimes this means ripping, sometimes it does not. Both are covered in the book. But please do not think that if you have to rip you have failed! Quite the contrary! We don't learn, and we don't suceed, if we don't rip a little. it's our knitting badge of honour to recognize a mistake and rip it out!

I rip! Truly, I do! And i don't mind it at all!  (What I tell myself while doing so is After this project you were going to find more knitting: you just found it!)

To finish, there are 8 patterns in the book--mostly to show you the range you can achieve by combining shapes--even if you are only an intermediate knitter!

And speaking of skill level, I want this book to be for everyone! Drafting knitting patterns is not rocket science! Add, subtract, multiply, divide. Everyone can do this!

And you know what? Nothing could be better for you than to challenge yourself in this way. Your brain will thank you! Rudolph Steiner thought knitting the perfect human activity--and so insisted every 6-yr old in his Waldorf Schools learn how. And they don't use patterns!  They learn basic math skills and spatial relations that will serve them their entire lives--and be a proven hedge against memory loss and Alzheimer's.

So, please, open this book with confidence and optimism, knowing that you can do it and that
  • your closet will thank you (because you will knit stuff you'll actually and proudly wear
  • your wallet will thank you (because you won't waste money on garments that are never worn)
  • your brain will thank you (because you will love long and healthy)
  • knitting will thank you (because you have honoured your craft)
I look forward to hearing from you as you discover your abilities, empower yourself, and produce great work.

Enjoy!


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Warm Knits, Cool Gifts (POTTER CRAFT, 2010)

This book, also with Potter Craft and also with my daughter, has differences from other books I (we) have done.

  • It has the broadest focus of any book I've (we've) done.
  • It has the broadest range of patterns of any book I've (we've) done.
  • It does not have a direct teaching component (although the chapter intro's call upon research and thoughts and years of experience).
To override the latter (because I do think of myself as primarily a teacher), a very clever editor suggest 'call outs'--which are boxes or notes that occur in the patterns on the subjects of 1) INSPIRATION, 2) FLATTER AND FIT, and 3) TECHNIQUE. (The latter are particularly wonderful because a recommended technique is explained--the why and how of it--right when you are using it. I thought that a terrific addition to the book, and it made my teacher's heart very happy!)

So, what follows here discussions on the following subjects:
  • the book's focus;
  • alternative photos of some pieces;
  • an alert to free patterns (on the PATTERNS page of this website) not included in the book or developed after the book was sent to print;
  • the inevitable errata.

The book's focus

I don't  want to take too much away from the chapter intros here, so instead I'll tell you the back story of the book.

The truth is that it was originally planned as a Christmas book--gifts and decorations for that particular season. My publisher thought that focus too narrow, so we broadened, we deleted, and we kept knitting. I most remember one car trip in which Caddy and I discussed the projects and she found the chapter headings: For the Wee Ones, For Family and Friends, Keeping Warm, and Feeling Festive. Such a clever girl!

The result of all this is a book that started with an idea too narrow and became a book with the broadest focus and range of projects of, really, any book I've ever seen. Two responses I hear repeatedly are the following.
  • What a beautiful book!
  • All of this stuff  is included?!?!

Alternative views / photos

There are always pieces in a book that aren't photographed as the designer intended. This happened less often here than in other books I've done, but there are still pieces I'd like you to see differently.

Kids' Sport Sweater (page 36)
The photo on page 36 does not show the dark side panels (although you can almost see one on page 41). The photo to left shows them.










Argyle Watchband (page 44)
We called when we saw the galleys, to ask why the watchband was not shown on a wrist. They explained that it was too small for the models. Caddy explained that it wasn't: they just weren't willing to stretch it as needed. So here, to left, it's shown on a real wrist. (It's meant to to be tight, as most watchbands are!)







Baby Doll Dress and Petticoat (pages 71-78)
The MATERIALS list for the Petticoat (page 77) explains that it requires a slip, the instructions (page 78) explain how it is attached to the slip, and the schema (page 78) gives the knitting's dimensions. But nowhere is there a photo of just the Petticoat--the slip with the lace panels attached. The publishers didn't think that showing a model in her undies fit with the prettiness of the book (and considering the photos to left, you might agree), and they really hoped you'd 'get' it. In case you didn't, to left is a photo of the petticoat and a close-up of the attachment.

















Simple Felted Scarf (page 87)
 The people at the photo shoot got really creative with this piece, and I understand styling it to keep the chest warm. But this was not how Caddy intended it to be worn--at least not the only way--so her vision is shown at left.













Architectural Shawl (page 98)
This is the only piece whose photo saddened me. The model standing with her arms wide in both photos does not  show you how the garment hangs. (In their defense, some pieces are just difficult to photograph. Do you show the knitting or the garment?) You also don't see is how pretty the piece is--which you'll probably have to take on faith because the photo at left might not do it justice either. I suppose you'll just have to see the dark blue one on me or the stone colored one on my friend Mel. (I do think the garment is better made in a more neutral colour.) Honestly, whenever we wear ours we are stopped, admired, and asked for the pattern! I am really sorry that even my photo might not incline you to make such a wonderful garment!









Easy Open Heart (page 135)
The MATERIALS list for this calls for ribbon, but the photos never show it with ribbon. I thought you might like to see how pretty it is with its ribbon!














Mini Evergreen Wreath (page 137)
The MATERIALS list for this calls for ribbon, but the photos never show it with ribbon. I thought you might like to see how pretty it is with its ribbon!











Leftover-Sock-Yarn Stocking (page 139)
I originally intended this piece to be a riot-of-colour--like the leftover sock yarn we all have in our stash! But my publishers wanted something more controlled. So I made the piece you see in graded reds, thinking all the while that it defeats the purpose originally conceived. So here is a photo of the stocking they rejected--made as suggested in the second note on page 143. (The yarn carried throughout was a green: the yarns carried with it were whatever I put my hands on.) And while I say in that note that you can come here and see both alternatives, I haven't yet knit the second--a stocking with random lengths of anything! If you make one, please send me a photo.)

The Nordic Stocking (page 151)
I don't have a photo of the stocking here, but I did say in the pattern that you could replace an area of the hearts with someone's name. On the TIPS page of my website I tell you how to find and print an alphabet to knit.


Free Patterns

There is always stuff removed from a book, or adapted from a book, or that evolves from a book. So here are results of all three, available as free patterns on this website.

Adult verion of Ear Flap Baby Hat
My daughter showed up for a day of skiing in her adult version of this hat. I begged for one and thought you might like one too! It is on my PATTERNS page.










Woman's version of Groovy Pullover
This summer I delivered the man's version of this sweater to my son and was truly, truly amazed at how handsome it was. And my next thought was "I want one!" But as I was starting it, I remembered how attractive A-lines are on women, so I changed the pattern to give it an A-line. And I also left out the bottom section, which is what fills in the stitch pattern's natural scallop. (Guys certainly don't want scalloped hems, but girls do!) The necessary adjustments to the original pattern are quite minor, and they appear on my ADAPTS page.

(I know that the photo to left probably doesn't do it justice--in that you cannot see the stitch pattern very well--but that's clearer in the book. What you need to see here is the shape and the scalloped hem.)




Kinky Boot Stocking
I always intended a third stocking for the book, but my publishers didn't love the one I offered. I can see now that it's a little campy for such a pretty book. But I've never shown this stocking to anyone who didn't love it. So, its pattern is on my PATTERNS page also.














Architectural Pillow
I loved the technique of the Architectural Shawl (which was developed long ago for, but not included in, THE KNIT STITCH) and made pillows for this book. But there just wasn't room in the book, or the publishers didn't see the point, so you get them for free on my PATTERNS page. (You'll note there that because the pillows were felted, the technique was simplified.)

 



The errata

This is the sad part for me. Please believe me when I say that my stomach takes a tumble every time I find something. And please understand that I am as shocked as anyone when we find an error. How can this happen--after 5 people reading through the book as many as 9 times?!?!? But it does.

Vested Hoodie (page 25)
  • MATERIALS list, for Vest, color of yarn should be gray (not rust)
  • MATERIALS LIST for Trim, Sleeves, Hood, color of yarn should be rust (not gray).
(By the way, the color numbers, the pattern itself, and the yarn information at the back of the book are all correct.)

Kids' Sport Sweater (page 37)
  • GAUGE, should read 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4" (10cm). (DUH!)
Glasses Case (page 47)
  • Rows 4 and 6 With CC, p4, *sl 1 p-wise, p3, repeat from * to end--p3 instead of k3.
Sweater Sally Made Instead (page 69)
  • There are 2 errant 'purl' dots, right in the center of the 26-stitch repeat for the Front/Back, right above and below the \--4--\.  I hope it's obvious that they shouldn't be there.
Groovy Pullover
Here are 2 errors, both on the same page.
  • page 80, right column, 4th line under EDGING, should be p7, not k7.
  • page 80, under LOWER CENTER SECTION SHORT ROWS, ROW 2 should read "Sl 1, k24" not k22.
The next part of this is not so much an error as a clarification.
  • page 81, right column, last paragraph, WAVY RIDGE BODY. Further editions will carry the following note. 
Note that the previous instruction is for rows 1 and 2. On row 2, you will slip the marker as you encounter it. This occurs again in the Sleeve and Sleeve saddle.

  • Further occurences (referrred to in the note) are on page 82, right column, last paragraph, WAVY RIDGE BODY, and on page 83, left column, middle of page, under SADDLE.
But this next is a bit of silliness that I cannot explain.
  • page 83, 4th line under SADDLE, should read "K6, pm" NOT "K1, pm, k5, pm." 

Architectural Shawl
  • page 101 and 102, STRIPS 8 and 10: both should read End after working a WS  row--not RS row--before the buttonhole.
Cardilero (103)
It wouldn't be wrong to make the garment without the last correction (I think Caddy has even done so): it just wouldn't look like the photo. But we hope that the printer's odd changes to the row numbers don't confuse you: it really is a 20-row repeat, and seeing row numbers on the left shouldn't confuse RS and WS rows: odd numbered rows are RS and should be read from right to left.
  • p105, ribbed edging should end after 8 rows, not 9.
  • p106, the row lines for the chart should be to the right of the chart: odd numbered rows are RS rows.
  • the row numbers don't line up with the chart: but it really is a 20-row repeat!
  • p106, stitches 13 and 14, for the duration of the chart, should be RS purl, WS knit (in other words, RSS).
Center-Panlelled Vest/Sweater (page 107)
  • There should be a line, under SIZES, that reads      S (M, L, 1X, 2X).

Sean's Fingerless Gloves (page 119)
I don't understand how I could see a yarn label for LANG and print it as LANA GROSSA. But the yarn is definitely Maxi Tosca by LANG (although I had been told it's been discontinued). This means that the following corrections should also be made.
  • page 170, should read LANG Maxi Tosca, not LANA GROSSA.
  • page 172, MUENCH YARNS information should be replaced with the following:
          Estelle Designs (for LANG yarns)
          2220 Midland Avenue, Unit 65
          Scarborough, ON, Canada
          M1P 3E6
          or
          Berroco, Inc. (for LANG yarns)
          P.O. Box 367, 1
          4 Elmdale Road,
          Uxbridge, MA
          01569-0367 USA




















































































Mother-Daughter Knits, 30 Designs that Flatter and Fit (POTTER CRAFT, 2009)

This book is a joy and a wonder and more than a dream-come-true! It is not only the unimaginable delight of a collaboration with my daughter, but it is the culmination of years of work and what I consider my most significant offering to our world. And it's a gorgeous book! Thanks to POTTER CRAFT!

To follows are 4 sections in which I discuss these subjects:
  • the collaboration,
  • the book's special focus,
  • the garments,
  • the errata,
  • some reviews.

First, the collaboration 

Imagine this scenario. You do something you love, but your daughter--despite your trying to teach her--does not share your passion . . . until one day when you are teaching her boyfriend . . . and she takes his knitting from him . . . and she gets it . . . and then she takes off as if she had invented it!

The story could have ended there. But it didn't. Because then she started designing (and selling) amazing stuff! And then she started teaching! Oh my, what wonderful phone calls ensued!

And the story could have ended there. But it didn't. Because soon after, I was looking for a publisher. And I landed where I did because I happened to mention that my daughter was designing and knitting and teaching . . . and I was saying this to a woman who's dream had been a two-generation knitting book! (Her offer to publish a collaborative work with with my daughter was probably the main reason I settled with Potter rather than other fine publishers.)

To speak practically for a moment--to put the obvious emotional resonance aside--why a two-generation knitting book?

Because my daughter and I represent the two demographics of the knitting world. To speak in broad strokes, this would be the 60-yr olds and the 30-yr olds. Are we different in what we design and we wear? Absolutely! But I'll let the book provide evidence to that.



Second, the special focus of the book--knits to flatter and fit

While the collaboration itself could have been enough, Rosy (the aforementioned editor) asked about a focus to the book. She knew that I was a teacher and wondered what I wanted to teach?

(This reminds me of a conversation with Cat Bordhi--in which I said that I was a teacher, not a writer, and that I could not imagine writing a book that didn't teach something. She then said "You should tell people that." So there: done deal.)

I thought of all that I had learned, over the years, about sweater lengths and styling. And, believe me, this hadn't always been a wonderful process. 

  • Sometimes I'd design a garment for a publication, and the final photo (over which I'd little or no control) would show the garment . . . badly. Why? What was wrong? 
  • I went to my own closet and experiemented: why did some sweaters work with some pants or skirts but not others? 
  • And why did a sweater I loved-once it had stretched out to an inch longer than intended--suddenly looked wrong?
So I did the math, I did the research, and then I prepared to produce the concrete evidence for what I suspected to be true--that there were ideal lengths for each of us, that there were simple rules for pairings bottoms with tops, and that knitters needed to learn to not blindly follow patterns.

I literally did this . . . on New Year's Eve . . . with paper dolls. My excitement at the glaringly obvious evidence kept me awake until 2am and had me up again at 6. Who knew that paper dolls could be so instructive? And who knew that this material could be explained so easily?

To the left, I show two of these original paper dolls. (While the drawings are rough, I must admit that I envy her her hairdo!) The top drawing is a short, unshaped sweater to ideal length; the lower is the same sweater worn too long. Do you see how much heavier the lower figure looks? (Poor girl! All she did was follow the pattern!)

So from this simple start, I expanded--with more dolls, some math, lots of writing. The result--the first chapter of this book--explains the following:
  • how to find your perfect length for our most common styles;
  • what to wear with it;
  • the (potentially 5 but often only 2 or 3) places you should never follow a pattern;
  • how to adjust a pattern so the finished garment is perfect for you.
In addition, every garment in the book tells you what style it is, what modifications to make, where to make them, and how to make them--by referring you back to the relevant page in the first chapter! How cool is that!

There is lots more to say about this, but I'll stop here. I've probably said it better in the book, so best that you look there.

Having said that, however, there was only so much room in the book: I could only offer a limited and generic description of what I found. And we couldn't take the space to show you all the ways things could be done wrong.

If you want more information on this subject, and if you need more personal attention, go to my Workshops page, look up the 3-hr class Knit to Flatter and Fit. Take the class with me sometime! Or, do the homework and play paper dolls on yourself!



Third, about the garments themselves

We've written stories about the pieces in the book itself, so here I'll only talk about stuff that needs comment after the fact--about discontinued yarns, about photos that don't show something you need to know about, about adjustments you could make.
  • Tabbed Cuffs (28) These are shown upside down. (The part without the buttons is meant to be worn on the hand. I think you'll get it when you make them.)
  • Camelot Coat (39) I love this fabric after fulling (as directed). But it does pill a little--at least for a while. (I don't know if this is because I fulled it or not.) I don't mind: I just take my SUPER electric sweater shaver to it every once in a while. And--after a month of wearing--it  seems to have stopped.
  • Scarf-closing Cardigan (53) I wish we had a larger photo of this garment--and one in which I could have taken the time to make the lower edges line up. (You won't have trouble lining the edges when you wear it.) Plus I hope you can imagine it with a fuller scarf. (I have a larger, fluffy green scarf that looks wonderful in this piece.) Truly, you change the scarf, you change the outfit! 
  • Flirty Top (98) If you make this and don't like the amount of 'poof' at the hips, just sew a 2" fold into the flounce at each hip. (I"ve done this with mine, and I wear it all the time!)
  • Reversible Tank Top (123) This company has closed, but that does not mean you can't still find the yarn? It's a worsted weight, soft tape, knit to a looser gauge than the label would suggest.
  • Femme Tie (126) A word about the photo: this was meant to be tied as a man's tie. (It's a wonderful thing when worn that way and with a shirt.) Also, this used the same yarn as the previous piece, so please read that note.
  • Altered Austen Jacket (128) and Lace and Cable Jumper (134) Again, this company has closed, but this yarn is very similar to Katmandu Aran or to Tahki's Donegal Tweed--which comes in so very many wonderful colors!
  • Crinkly Blouse Sweater (145) I wish we had a photo of this piece with me standing: the garment has a very full A-line shape, and it really hangs wonderfully on the body. But this yarn--in worsted weight--has been discontinued. You can substitute (with another worsted, and the Punta Yarns Montoya  looks like a perfect choice), or you can use a DK weight (like the Classic Elite Soft Linen), or you can use the same yarn that is still available in a sport weight. 
  • The worsted weight linen did stretch out to a very large garment, so the garment works  knit on a finer yarn. If I used sport weight or DK weight, I did the whole garment on 4mm (size 6) except that I used one size larger for the first few inches of the sleeves. The garment might end up 10% smaller than the original finished measurements, but the pattern has enough ease to suit a finer yarn.
  • If you do use a worsted weight linen, I'm not sure I recommend washing it: it stretches out so very much!
Fourth, the errata

The first change is based on something I have learned from teaching my Knit to Flatter and Fit class.

In the discussion of the shaped, mid-length (page 13), I say that you have a choice whether to make it at your ideal short length or your ideal mid-length. This is true. But what I have since found out is that we probably look best wearing each of these choices with different things. So I have changed the following.
  • page 14, center column, If Your Garment is Mid-length and Shaped                                                 The header should be changed to If Your Garment is Short or Mid-length and Shaped.                               The first 2 sentences will read as follows: "Knit it to your ideal short or mid- length (page 17). If worn with an A-line skirt, the short length might be a better choice because the mid-length looks too long (diagram 10).  If worn with straight pants or skirt, the mid-length looks good (diagram 11)."'
  • page 16, caption, drawing 16, should read slim pants, not straight pants.
  • page 17, right column, 6th bullet, should read 2 1/2" (7.5cm),  not 2" (5cm)).
There is one omission and one mistake in the Camelot Coat, sleeves.
  • page 43, Left Front, second line, increase row should read "P3, *k2, p2: repeat" etc.
  • page 43, Body, you should change to larger needles.
There is one mistake in a written stitch pattern of the Sophisticated Hoodie, although the chart is correct. The written should read as follows:
  • page 70, rows 9, 11, 13: P5, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1; repeat from *.
And I am saddened by my inability to get the one-row buttonhole directions correct! My profound apologies. (The correction is shown in italics in what follows.)
  • page 79, 11 lines from the bottom of the page,      and again on page 117, right column, 8 lines from the bottom of the page should read "k5, wyif slip 1 purlwise, wyib, slip 1 purlwise, psso. (It's the second slipped stitch that I missed.)

There are two corrections to The Gray Cardigan.
  • page 108, SHAPE ARMHOLE, second line should read 86 (92, 100, 104, 112) stitches. And then, 3 lines below  number of decreases should be 3 (6, 10, 12, 16).
  • page 110, left columm, 4–5 lines above SHAPE NECK, should read "same length as Left Front to neck," not shoulder.
There is a line that should be altered in the Mini Dress.
  • page 142, SHAPE ARMHOLE, 5th line--about "1 stitch remaining"--should be changed to read as follows. Continue decreases as written until only 1 stitch remains in color B, then work decreases in MC.
Finally, the Crinkly Blouse Sweater, should read as follows:
  • page 148, right column, 8 lines from the bottom, 1X should be 77 stitches. 
  • page 148, right column, 7 lines from the bottom, the line should read as follows: Continuing on larger needles, work mistake rib with sllp stitch at end of RS rows and 1 stockinette stitch at beginning of WS rows until piece measures 9" (23cm).
  • page 149, right column, 10 lines from the bottom, 1X should be 77 stitches.
  • page 149, right column, 7 lines from the bottom, the line should read as follows: Continuing on larger needles, work mistake rib with sllp stitch at end of WS rows and and 1 stockinette stitch at beginning of WS rows, making buttonholes that match placement of buttons as follows. Next row (RS) make buttonholes K3,  . . . then continue with line as written.
In addition to this, there is an error on the yarn company page.
  • the correct phone number for Classic Elite is 800-444-5648 or 978-453-2837


Finally, some comments from my peers 

Truly elegant and useful innovations are sometimes clear and simple. This book is based on such an insight and has the potential to transform and re-energize garment knitting.--Cat Bordhi (author of New Pathways for Sock Knitters and ATreasury of Magical Knitting)

The focus on molding a pattern to ensure that a garment is flattering and comfortable is sure to carry the delight of knitting these garments into the delight of wearing them. And the mutual respect and affection that guided this joint mother-daughter venture will no doubt make the garments feel warmer. --Debbie New (author of Unexpected Knitting)

Thank you, Caddy and Sally, for creating this beautiful collection of projects I can knit for my mom--and that she can knit for me! And thank you even more for your crystal-clear explanation of how to create the most flattering knitwear for any shape. It's a must-read for any knitter!--
Debbie Stoller (author of Stitch and Bitch books and editor of Bust magazine)




The knitting experience, book 1, THE KNIT STITCH (XRX, 2002)

Years before Styles came out, my friend, Lee Andersen, had encouraged me to think about doing a series of small books . . . to teach the skills that I taught in workshops. That idea sat on the back burner until Elaine Rowley asked me what I wanted to do to follow Styles, and I answered “A learn-to-knit series!”

As I write in my blog, there was not a lot of encouragement for this book. But then it appeared as the perfect book for the perfect time—when all the ‘scarf knitters’ were wondering “What next?!”—and I had more enthusiasm that anyone could have wished. Timing really is everything.

People ask which garment I love best, and I’d have to say The Einstein Coat. (Mind you, patterns are like your children: you love even the un-pretty ones!) But I will never forget the experience of that pattern. . . .

I had seen a top in a ski shop—with opposing stripes. It was interesting, and I knew it offered possibilities. (This is often how designs evolve.) But the lower stripes of that top had been horizontal, with the upper stripes then vertical, and that had seemed backwards to me. If oriented that way, how would I—who like to work my garments from bottom to top—attach the pieces? I bought some periwinkle blue lopi, and I started knitting—turning those ‘stripes’ (in garter stitch) so the lower were vertical and the upper were horizontal. (At the time, I was teaching a workshop for the Ottawa guild: as I knit the lower part of that first coat in a very small version, they thought I was knitting a scarf.)

After the lower piece was knit, I sat and worked through how the rest of the garment would go together. (One yarn shop has called it ‘knitting origami,’ and that’s how I felt as I sat in my hotel room and puzzled it out.) The next morning I had it finished and showed it to my class. They were impressed—because, remember, they had thought I was knitting a scarf—but no-one (including me) was over-the-moon for it.

But then I went home and bought enough yarn (in a neutral color) for a woman’s coat. As many of you know, lots of knitting followed. When it was done, it wasn’t lovely, but I knew it needed blocking. After washing in EUCALAN, and drying on my knitting room floor, I tried it on, and it was the loveliest thing! It was fabulous! I wore it to dinner with my girlfriends, and this time everyone (including me) was suitably impressed.

I’ve said this many times before, but I am so glad I had the wisdom to call it The Einstein Coat and not something frivolous I would be forever living down!

For corrections or clarifications . . .

Go to www.knittinguniverse.com, then to XRX books, then click on Corrections.



The knitting experience, book 2, THE PURL STITCH (XRX, 2003)

As some of you know, most of The Purl Stitch was done before The Knit Stitch was photographed. In fact, they were intended to be one book . . . until I realized that it was too big a book and needed to be two. Would anyone buy a book without purling, without stockinette, without ribbing?  What a joy it was that everyone did! But then, a year later, the second book appeared.

The Purl Stitch didn’t make quite the splash that The Knit Stitch did, and I understand why. There are knitters who will never go to that level, plus there is no Einstein Coat! And, besides, you can only make an ‘unexpected’ splash once! But I know that it’s a really really good book: it’s the one I recommend to knitters who will go past garter stitch, because it contains all the skills they’ll use in every garment they make! I worked really hard to make this be so.

And my favourite piece in the book? If we judge by sheer volume, it would be the Elegant Gauntlets! I’ve made more pairs of them than socks, and that’s saying something! Plus I love that they are shaped. (I designed them by laying my arm on a sheet of paper, tracing its shape, then drafting a pattern to fit.) With the current fashion of ¾ sleeves, these pieces are a wonderful accessory!

Otherwise, I’d say that the Cross-over Vest is my favourite piece.

For corrections or clarifications . . .

Go to www.knittinguniverse.com. then to XRX books, then click on Corrections.



The knitting experience, book 3, COLOR (XRX, 2005)

This was the book for which I just could not stop knitting! I wish it were half the size, but what would we leave out? There are so many skills available to us to express colour; stripes, bi-colour knitting (which I call ‘stripes that aren’t’ and that are probably my favourite knitting), two-color-stranded (or whatever we are to call this technique!), intarsia, duplicate stitch, and combinations of the above. Whew! That’s a lotta stuff!

There are things I wish could have been different for this book, but none of them detract from the skills offered in this book nor from the garments themselves. These are the garments I reach into my closet to wear—the Faith Jacket, the Collar-Closing Cardigan, both wraps in the Stripes That Aren’t chapter, the KISS purses, the Panel Party series, the Knitting Bag Jacket, and (probably the one I wear most) Wobbly Stripes. I’ve seen knitters who’ve made the pieces of this book and worn them with delight and pride, and I know that we did good work together!

For corrections or clarifications . . .

Go to www.knittinguniverse.com, then to XRX books, then click on Corrections.



STYLES: a unique and elegant approach to your yarn collection (XRX, 1998)

If you read my blog (parts 3 and 4), you will hear the story of how this book came about. It’s a cute story! But it doesn’t tell you what the book itself is about. So here’s where I do that.

I approached the problem of how to use up a yarn stash with the thought of ‘Granny Squares’ afghans or American quilts—those beautiful pieces that hardly look like they are made from bits and scraps and that have a heritage, a history, and an integrity all their own. It didn’t seem to me that knitting had anything like this . . . a body of work that taught us to use up our leftover yarns to produce beautiful fabrics.

To write the book, I had the following problems to solve.
What yarns (weights, fibers, textures) go together?
What colours work together?
What to do with yarns that are too beautiful to use?
What to do with yarns that are too awful (the dog’s breakfast) to use?
How do we arrange our stash so we know what we have and use it well?
Do we have enough? How much do we need?
What stitch patterns will integrate all these yarns and colors to produce   beautiful fabrics?
This book opens with my solutions to these problems. And then you are offered garment patterns that put all this work together. And then—because I wanted to give you all the skills you needed to go off and find your own solutions—there is a Basic Pattern Drafting chapter at the end of the book.

This book got great reviews when it came out. I sometimes think it might be fun to do a sequel, because I’ve accumulated a whole lot more yarn since then!




 


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