Archive for the ‘eBooks’ Category

Jolie with Pointy Sticks

August 18, 2012

Well! It only took me AGES, but I finally have a little collection of accessory patterns available, just in time for autumn.

I’ve talked a little about the philosophy behind this collection as I’ve worked on it, but I’m going to mention it again. The idea behind this collection was to create a somewhat cohesive set of accessories that could be mixed and matched to offset a fall and winter wardrobe. Like most knitters, I have an absolute ton of hats and cowls and mitts and such, but they’re often knit in isolation from one another and can’t really be worn together without making me look a little crazy. Watching old movies, one of the things that struck me about the curated wardrobes of the actresses was how well the accessories worked together. I wanted to create small patterns using minimal amounts of luxury yarn that would create a set of accessories that could be worn as part of a well matched wardrobe.

Myrna 3

Myrna cowl and mitts

I’ve listed two sets as individual patterns, meaning that while there are six patterns listed for the collection, there are actually instructions for eight different accessories: two hats, two cowls, two shawls, one set of mitts, and a cravat.

So let’s talk a little about the patterns! You’ve seen Rosa and Dorothy before.

Rosa and Dorothy

Rosa has been updated to include a second, larger size, and a second suggested yarn. Both suggested yarns are from Rocky Mountain Dyeworks. I love the rich colors that Hasmi, the creative force behind Rocky Mountain Dyeworks, teases out of fibers. The original red Rosa was knit in Bow Falls Fingering, a tight BFL. The new version is knit in Kicking Horse Sock, a merino/bamboo blend with a soft hand and oodles of drape. I asked Hasmi if she had any colors suggestive of a yellow rose, and she dyed me THREE absolutely gorgeous shades, which I alternated to create a subtle gradient from light to dark. I absolutely love the result. If you previously purchased Rosa, you should have received an update to the pattern, and if you wish to purchase the whole collection, the price of Rosa will be automatically discounted at purchase.

Dorothy is included in this collection as well, the only way to purchase the pattern through Knitting Kninja. Unlike my other shawl patterns, Dorothy is a raglan shawl, which makes it easy to drape over the shoulders and wear. It’s also easy to wrap around as a scarf. I used Knit Picks Imagination sock yarn for this version, an alpaca blend that adds a fuzzy halo to your knitting. Each section is fast and fun to knit, with a great deal of texture.

Clara

Clara is a bobble and lace hat. I don’t always love bobbles, but there’s something about a bobble hat that I adore. I have a saved picture in my files from ages ago of a bobble hat with diamond lace and I knew I wanted to make something similar one day. Clara is that something similar. It’s a one size hat, because the lace makes it very stretchy in order to fit a wide range of head sizes. Clara’s lace comes together in the decreases to make a star shaped top that just added to the fun little details. Knit in Sanguine Gryphon Traveller, it’s a warm hat despite the holes. I suggest substituting Cephalopod Yarns or Verdant Gryphon Traveller. Each skein is enough to make at least two hats.

Edith

Edith is a beret and cravat set knit in A Verb for Keeping Warm Metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is a gorgeous silk/merino blend with a somewhat rustic hand. The beret is covered in little twisted stitch cables that interlock and wind up the hat. They are echoed slightly in the ruffle cravat. The hat comes in two styles, a shallow beret (shown) and a slouchier version for those who want a little more substance. You can make a shallow beret and a cravat in any size from just one skein of yarn, which makes this a good value for an expensive and luxurious yarn.

Ida

Ida is a colorwork cowl knit in the inevitable Malabrigo yarns. Inevitable, because, let’s face it, I love Malabrigo. I am not the best at colorwork, so the thick Malabrigo Worsted made this a breeze, since it knits up fast and limits the amount of colorwork you actually need to do. Stranded colorwork meant a lot of loose strands inside the cowl and I was worried about snagging, so I used some Malabrigo Lace to knit a lining. If you haven’t knit with Lace, it’s kitten soft and just a delight against the skin, which means that my cowl is unbelievably warm and soft. I made it a bit oversized to compensate for the extreme warmth of a stranded, lined merino cowl.

Myrna

Finally, Myrna. Myrna hasn’t gotten a lot of attention on Ravelry since I added it, but in some ways, it’s my favorite pattern in the lot. Knit in Sanguine Gryphon Bugga!, I wanted to utilize what I think is the absolutely perfect stitch quality of the yarn. It knits up more neatly than almost any other yarn I’ve worked with, and I wanted to show off the color and quality of the yarn. Myrna is knit on small needles to create a neat, stretchy set of mitts with negative ease. There is nothing fancy about these mitts other than the yarn and the button tab. They’re simple as can be, but perhaps because of that, they’re my favorite to wear. The matching cowl uses stripes of stockinette and a textured slip stitch lace pattern that creates little half moons all around. Another button tab pulls the cowl down in front and turns the stripes into a gentle accordion shape.

The whole collection is available for US $16.00.

Digital books from Melanie Falick

July 20, 2012

I was really excited to get a chance to review a number of new digital editions of Melanie Falick/STC Craft books. I really love the quality, layouts, and gorgeous photography that they utilize for their knitting books, and I was very excited to get a chance to look at these books on one of my portable devices. The iPad is quickly becoming my favorite place to store knitting PDFs and books, as I can take it along with me and I don’t lose it as easily as I tend to lose paper patterns.

The first thing then to know is that, unfortunately, the file format of these books is currently incompatible with the iPad or the Kindle. The books have to be read in something called Adobe Digital Editions, and although they are saved in an epub format, they cannot be opened in iBooks. For me, this meant that the only place I can read the review copies is on my large desktop computer. I think these editions would be most useful to someone who owns a laptop, which I unfortunately do not. In the meantime, I’m just going to have to hope that Apple and Adobe hash out their differences and make it easier for the consumer.

If you do have a laptop, and you like to take it with you to coffee shops and knit (this is what I imagine people with laptops do, because it’s what I’d do if I had a laptop) then I think these digital copies of some really great books could be ideal for your purposes. You don’t have to lug around a library’s worth of hardcover books to be able to access the pattern you want, nor do you have to photocopy the pattern and risk losing a sheath of papers. Instead, you could be sitting at a table, laptop open in front of you, sipping a tea, and working on a cute little hat for a friend’s new baby. See how glamorous your life is?

The two books I looked at were Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson and Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick. Joelle Hoverson is the brilliant mind behind Purl Soho, and she’s a master of color and texture as well as elegant and striking simplicity. This makes her a really ideal author for a Melanie Falick book since their aesthetics are very compatible.

The colors of some of the photos were a little faded in the compression, but overall the images were clear, bright, and cheery. In some cases, an entire page of the publication was composed of a single picture, something that I think works better in a print format, since it’s more integrated into one’s view of the page spread. It wasn’t distracting, but I’d have preferred to see these photos moved into a page with text so I could mentally pair it with the words. All page numbers and pattern names were clickable, making it easy to navigate to a referred to example. In the case of pattern names, the navigation took me to the page on which the pattern started, often skipping a photograph of the item in question, so a little back tracking was necessary. This is something I think might be more seamless on a touchscreen device, leading me once again to hope for a resolution of Adobe and Apple’s differences!

Both books are excellent in their own right, and I enjoy the simplicity and elegance of the patterns. The Baby Bonnet from Last Minute Knitted Gifts is a gorgeous example of a simple concept made special through a combination of interesting textures and elegant color. Weekend Knitting has nearly 40 patterns including a couple of beautiful examples of two color brioche stitch. The nice thing about both of these books is that the patterns can serve as base recipes from which the knitter takes off and adds his or her own touch. The examples provided really show the effect color and texture have on a simple knit, so it’s easy to extrapolate and add a personal touch in a way that can be a little harder with a more complex pattern.

While I would like to see these books available in more formats, the quality of the patterns, photography, and the convenience of an ebook lead me to recommend them to those who have laptops. For the rest of us, our day may be coming soon! If you’re interested in trying a free pattern to see what it’s like, enjoy this pattern for the Airy Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts.