Friday, June 11, 2010

Review: library finds worth buying!

One of the great things about having a blog is that I can give my opinions an airing. Case in point: knitting books!  Knitting is "hot" right now ... as evidenced by the plethora of knitting books on the market. Separating the wheat from the proverbial (and ubiquitous) chaff can be tough.  I've found some really poorly executed, many over-priced, and others just BLECH!  But some of the crop are really well-done and worth adding to a personal knitting library.
When browsing at the public library the other day, I discovered two books that fall into this latter category:
  1. Knitting New Scarves: 27 Distinctly Modern Designs by Lynne Barr. 
  2. Knitted Toy Tales: Irresistible characters for all ages by Laura Long
Let's start with the scarf book.  I'm normally not one much for scarf books.  What's the point? How tough is it to make a strip of knitted fabric that will fit around one's neck????  But this book is a "sleeper".  This book is much more than a book of typical, ordinary, blah scarves.  Barr does an amazing job of bringing her reading public to a new level -- the stitch techniques rival Unexpected Knitting's uniqueness and artistry.  These scarves are true pieces of art.  To be honest ... I would probably never make these scarves as scarves.  They're a bit too funky and outre for me.  BUT, I would use Barr's various unique techniques in hand-knit designs -- purse embellishments, sweater designs or even for large afghans.  The ideas abound when browsing through this little gem.  Barr opens knitting to new horizons with her twists and turns and needle/yarn interplay.  Sensational!

I'm a sucker for knitted toys -- I think it's a great way to share the art of knitting with kids of all ages and to make something unique and memorable for the recipient.  Laura Long's book, Knitted Toy Tales, is a sight to behold and one of the best I've seen.  And I know what of I speak:  I've designed knitted toys which often get compliments:  Elegant Eliza the Ballerina Bunny, Pinocchio, Tully Greyshanks.  I've done bunnies and bears and penguins and even a cow or two (with matching binkies, of course!).  But Long's book has wonderfully creative toys ... each different than the last (some knitted toys books are just the same design dressed differently 8-<  !).  Long has bunnies, bird, frogs, Matroyshka dolls, bears, pigs, snakes, mice, elephants, fish, penguins, and even Eward Lear's owl and the pussycat in their very own knitted boat!  Very cool stuff that again gets my designer mind working overtime!  Long uses unique construction to make the toys look right (adding fabric and other embellishments to really make these heirloom gifts).  Highly recommend this one!

Check back periodically for other knitting book reviews ... I'll try to post at least a couple each month ... the good, the bad and the ugly!
Happy knittin'
Mary C. Gildersleeve
By Hand, With Heart -- hand-knit designs

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