Friday, October 30, 2009

Review: New Stranded Colorwork

Today, we got a few boxes from Amazon (BamBam's birthday is the end of next month ...) and one of the books was actually for me ... and about knitting.  I just spent the last couple of hours since dinner reading this book ... drooling over this book ... and plotting my next project!

Mary Scott Huff's newest book, The New Stranded Colorwork: Techniques and Patterns for Vibrant Knitwear is an amazing mix of knitter's "eye candy", glorious and unique use of color and traditional/classic designs that mean that this book will be usable for a knitter for many years to come.

Personally, I bought the book because I fell in love with the pattern on the right front cover:  Norwegian Blue is a gorgeous combination of blues, taupe and a blaze of red!  Wow!

But as I first browsed through the book, I found many more beauties:  Timberline (which is knitted for a man, but I'd make it for myself!), Kjersten (a gorgeous jacket in green and black with accents of red and orange that look great rather than gaudy), Kiss that Frog (which would be a great sweater for one of my boys), the Johnny Jump-up Leg Warmers (which would be a perfect Christmas present for my little ballerina), the Bee's Knees (which , altho it's designed for a toddler, I would make for my String Bean who LOVES bees but I would change the border from sage green to a pretty pink), and the lovely, final design which is called Wedding Belle and is meant for the Bride once she realizes that the gorgeous gown she chose is a bit nippy and needs something other than her groom's jacket!  These are gorgeous.

The really cool thing about this book ... for me, who can't follow directions/rules to save my life ... is that the design motifs are charted.  So, I can lift a piece from here and an element from there, with a color scheme from another and I've got a unique sweater or hat or leggings or socks or whatever!

I also love that she's got very clear and concise directions for the techniques she's used throughout.  And some of these techniques are extremely unique to Ms. Huff -- she suggests making two sleeves at one time by casting on the sleeve stitches together, with steeks between and then slicing, sewing and finishing off the sleeves!  Genius!  She also clearly describes how to add the traditional (but optional) ribbon bands to the sliced fronts and recommends a certain kind of thread that "buries itself into the knitting without kinking" -- cool, huh?

I do have one small quibble ... the Koi Vest (that's shown on the front left cover) hasn't been finished properly ... the armhole flares out and should pull-in (either a case of the shoulder sts not being slanted properly or the facing band being too thick -- either way, a detail that should have been rectified especially as it is featured on the cover ). 

Also, the felted bag that is shown on the front cover is an oddity that doesn't fit with the other designs -- a case of "which of these items doesn't go with the others"?  It's a very funkey design, with its flower appliques and neon color scheme while all the others are classic styles with colorwork that, well ... works! 

Hmmm ... I wonder what they were thinking?

Even those couple of designs aside ... check out this book -- it really is a great addition to my knitting library!

Happy knittin'
Mary C. Gildersleeve
By Hand, With Heart -- hand-knit designs

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