Monday, October 27, 2008

Cute Wedding Gift Idea and Book Reviews

I saw this on Lime and Violet's Daily chum, so go there to read more about it. I wish I were invited to a wedding in the near future so I could do this for someone else. It's the idea of the prayer shawl: you start the bag the morning of the wedding, and work on it through the day, presenting it to the bride at the reception. So, you have been thinking of her all day and putting good thoughts inside the bag. Nice!

Well, like I said last night, in my despair over the useless socks (I will start the new ones today), I got new books. I took time of from knitting to look at two of them. I now present you with reviews of books without the actual book in hand, so I can't give page numbers or precise pattern names! Won't that be helpful? Sure!

101 Luxury One-Skein Wonders, by Judith Durant

I enjoyed the first books on this theme that I got, a lot. Pat at the LYS got this one on Friday and showed it to me Saturday. What makes me happy is that many luxury yarns come in very large skeins, which means this book has some very nice projects that are bigger than a hat or coaster. There is a horseshoe lace scarf/wrap in a soy yarn that would be nice to make in a variegated yarn, plus a lovely violet-themed shaw in a silk blend that I like enough to put on my sort list of things to do. The little lace motif that is violet-like is just precious. Another project I liked very much was a crocheted cashmere baby cap. Yes, don't all babies need cashmere? That's why they cry: not enough cashmere on their heads. I may make this out of alpaca or something not so hairy, but I do want to make it for that baby I plan to dote on come March. It is so feminine! And has holes, so might not smother a Texas baby.

All in all, this one's worth getting, if just for the shawl and scarf patterns. There's a wide variety ranging from each to hard, too. And of course, lots of mitts, hats, neck warmers and such. And I still like the graphic design of these books. Very feminine, yet readable. It's a nice change from most pattern books. I especially appreciate that they tell you on the picture page where to find the pattern, and on the pattern page where to find the picture. For folks who just want to see what's in there, grouping the photos together is really helpful.

Knitting on Top of the World, by Nicky Epstein

Well, I have to give Ms. E. credit, she's creative, all right. And this book has beautiful pictures and some very interesting commentary on knitting traditions around the world. I enjoyed reading those parts, though I realized I had read most of the original sources, so there wasn't much new to me (I have been knitting too long I guess).

But, GEEZ. Some of the patterns are totally weird. They take perfectly good traditions and mess them up. For example, there's a coat with Fair Isle patterning in it but she put the stripes right across one's hips, making the ultra-thin model look chunky.And there is a perfectly fine brown Aran-style cardigan with a funky uneven hemline (see, I am OK with some twisting of traditions) she also put dozens of knitted roses all over the collar, which completely detracts from the cables, and makes the thing look...well...too busy, I guess I'd say. There is a pretty coat (see photo--that's the book cover) using genuine Shetland stitches. Only, its back is slit all the way up to the neck. Lee says it looks like a very fancy hospital gown. And would it be at all warm? Well, NO. Same with the shrug with no back. Shrugs are supposed to keep your back and shoulders warm.

I will just mention one more. Now, Ms. E., she is good with tams. Wrote a whole book on them, even. So, she didn't feel like doing a tam for the book. No, instead she made something like a cape from multiple extra-large tam shapes. That makes the front of the thing look like two giant mutated breastplates. Really not a look I'd want to sport in public. I'd have liked a tam.

The other thing that bugged me was that, like so many knitting books, the photographer was trying to be artsy, so you don't get full views of many of the items. And the main model has such distracting looks that she, indeed, distracted me. That poor woman's hair is a pitiful mess. I kept looking at it wondering if it was about to crack and fall off. I see now that it's a Vogue Knitting publication. That makes sense. They have to be artsy 'cause they are Vogue.

I do like the book, and there are a few things in there that I might even make, though all with modifications (like removing embellishments like ugly lame crowns or lumpy collections of colored bobble doo-dads on nice mittens and fingerless mitts). So, you might want to try a discount place to get it, but since it is a great coffee-table size, it might be a fine conversation starter at your home or knitting gathering. I know we had LOTS of fun with that cape that looked like a giant bra.

Added later: I just HAVE to mention one more point. The book features three cute little baby/toddler sweaters in Aran, Fair Isle and some other style. They are perfectly fine and darling little things, though a bunch of extra flowers would guarantee that the Fair Isle one would bug a kid who spends a lot of time lying down. BUT, was it necessary to pose the Fair Isle one as a tea cozy with a too-long spout cover? Or the Aran as a really weird hat (advantage: it covers up the model's fried hair)? I forget what they did with the third one. Well, someone with the title "stylist" obviously had a darned good time with this book.


  1. oh, die luxury skeins - after your review I want it even more. I have the one skein wonders. But these books are so difficult to order here. Thank you for your review.

  2. Wonderful reviews. :D I especially enjoyed the last one. I've never much gotten those 'fancy knits' books, you know, with all sorts of design features and stuff tacked on. It only looks nice (maybe) if the model isn't moving and is bent *just so* and is sitting in a Victorian setting. Pfah. :P

    I prefer simple, classic-but-modern designs any day!


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