Wednesday, December 24, 2008

For those who think knitting is just for girls ....

... may I introduce Maury the Knitting Mouse and our new mascot here at By Hand, With Heart.

Don't you just love him? My dear MIL got him for me at Thanksgiving -- something she normally doesn't buy and something I normally wouldn't like, but this guy is just so cute. And not only does he knit, he sings "Deck the Halls"!

Merry Christmas to all my knitting buddies! May Santa bring you lots of great knitting stuff ... let me know what he brings.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Books: Great Christmas ideas ....

... or uses for your Christmas bucks!

I haven't posted since October 1st ... but I have been knitting up a storm (primarily for Christmas gifts, but also for another knitting book that should be out this Summer/early Fall). I've also been reading lots of the new knitting books that have exploded on the market lately. Here are some ideas for your reading and knitting pleasure:

1. Knitting history -- do you love it as much as I? I love reading about knitting, especially if the book can lay flat and I can knit while I read. If you've already got the classics: Richard Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting, Anne McDonald's No Idle Hands: A Social History of Knitting, and Susan Strawn's Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art than your shelves REALLY need Nicky Epstein's latest opus, Knitting on Top of the World: The Global Guide to Traditions, Techniques and Design. This book is destined to be a classic in the knitting history panoply. Epstein's designs are a bit outre for me, but the information and the suggestions and just the shear inspiration of this work make it worth the money! The pictures and coffee-table styling of the book make it a great read-while-you-knit kind of book.

2. Technique books -- I'm sure you own all the classic stitch dictionaries like the Barbara Walker A Treasury of Knitting Patterns (vol. 1 thru 4), the Vogue stitchionaries (vol 1-3, vol 4 is [shudder] crochet!), or the Harmony Guide books from Interweave Press. Melissa Leapman has managed to go WAY beyond any of these with her latest two books, both on cable knitting: Cables Untangled: An Exploration of Cable Knitting and Continuous Cables: An Exploration of Knitted Cabled Knots, Rings, Swirls, and Curlicues. The first does a great job of dissecting cables and proving once and for all that cables are NOT hard to execute. The projects within the book cover the variety of hand-knit items where cabling looks great. The second book explains how to make design your own cable panels and pieces by explaining how to make cables grow from nothing (by hiding increases and decreases within your knititng) and how to design cables that imitate fancy celtic knots, braids and even nautical rope! Again, the projects are a great variety, using the techniques described earlier. But both of these books go beyond just being simple pattern books ... and this is why I'm highly recommending them for Christmas gifts (or Christmas money spending) ... the last one-third (if not more) of each of these books contain a cable dictionary -- smallest bits of cable pieces that can be joined together to create your own cable patterns. I predict that Melissa Leapman, based on these two books, will soon join the ranks of Barbara Walker and Vogue Knitters as classic authors for knitting designers.

Merry Christmas -- and let me know if you get any knitting books for Christmas that can compete with these.