Book Review: Haiku Knits

January 24th, 2010 | Comments Off

Cover of Haiku Knits

Author: Tanya Alpert
Publisher: Potter Craft
Rating: 4 Skeins

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What can I say? I’m a sucker for elegant Asian-inspired designs. Growing up, “Asian-inspired” too often meant cheesy red and gold adorned with dragons, bamboo, or farmers in conical hats. Asian influences have become more widespread since I was a kid in Wisconsin, but I still get a thrill out of seeing Asian-inspired designs that are beautiful.

This book features 25 total patterns. Over half of these patterns are sweaters, vests, and summer tops. Most of the remaining patterns are scarves and wraps, with one hat and one skirt pattern to round out the collection.

The patterns in this book come in a very small range of sizes; most patterns only have Small (34-36″ bust), Medium, and Large (40-42″ bust). A number of the patterns are simple enough to scale easily, but I would hesitate to recommend this book for knitters who fall outside of the prescribed size range as the scarf patterns alone would not induce me to buy this book. However, if you do fall in the prescribed size range, there are some stunning sweaters to choose from.

Pick of the Projects:

The cover sweater would have made this list, except that you already know what it looks like. :)

Snowflake from Haiku Knits Snowflake (Easy). This sweater is a beautiful example of fashion as art. The actual knitting is simple, requiring only a bit of stockinette, ribbing, and a basic lace stitch; all the magic is in the construction of the garment. The sizing is given as “one size fits most” but it probably looks best the way it’s pictured: hanging on a small frame with lots of positive ease.

Cocoon from Haiku Knits Cocoon (Intermediate). Unlike the previous selection, this is a fabulous everyday-wear sweater. The picture to the left doesn’t really do justice to the cable’s subtle twists and turns. This pattern is written only for bust sizes 34″-40″, but the construction is simple enough that a moderately-experienced knitter could size it up or down.

Long Night from Haiku Knits Long Night (Intermediate to Advanced). The book calls this a capelet, but it really is more a shrug or a flyaway cardigan. The showstopper part of this sweater is the exaggerated sleeve, the construction of which I can only describe as Norah Gaughan-esque. One of the recommended yarns (the sweater is knit with two yarns held together), Blue Heron Rayon Metallic, lends a little sparkle. Unfortunately this pattern only comes in two sizes, Small (32-36″ bust) and Medium (38-42″ bust), and sizing it up farther will require some significant effort.

The review copy of this book was provided by Potter Craft.

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CogKnition posted this on January 24th, 2010 @ 8:19pm in Book Reviews | Permalink to "Haiku Knits"

Book Review: The Alchemy of Color Knitting

January 24th, 2010 | Comments Off

Cover of The Alchemy of Color Knitting

Author: Gina Wilde
Publisher: Potter Craft
Rating: 4 Skeins

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I love color, particularly vibrant jewel tones—a quick glance through my Ravelry projects page will confirm this. I’m always on the lookout for designers who have a good eye for color, so when Potter Craft offered to send me a review copy of this book, I took it.

The first chapter (8 pages) introduces basic color theory—the color wheel, different color schemes, etc. This section seems a bit superfluous to me, as it is much too short for people who want to learn more about color and how to use it—”Trust Your Preferences” is not a satisfying recommendation—and it is totally redundant for people who have, say, read the Wikipedia page on color theory.

But if you want patterns that use bright colors and use them well, this is the book for you. I counted 25 patterns total: 11 sweaters (including a tank and a baby cardigan), 8 scarves/wraps/shawls, and assorted accessories.

The size range for the garments is a little on the small side; there are generally only 4-5 sizes for each sweater. The smallest size is usually a bust measurement between 30 and 36 inches; the largest size is usually between 42 and 46 inches.

Like Shibori Knits, another Gina Wilde book, all the yarns are Alchemy Yarns.

Pick of the Projects:

My favorite project in the entire book is the Clematis Scarf, which is the stunner on the cover. But you can see what that looks like, so here are my picks of the others.

Peacock Cardigan from The Alchemy of Color Knitting Peacock Cardigan (Experienced). This lacy, long cardigan is knit in a worsted-weight yarn and features belled sleeves and a small shawl collar. This small photo really does not do the sweater justice. The bell sleeves add some elegance and edges of this cardigan are beautifully finished, a detail I always appreciate. The only down side is that the pattern is written for four sizes: 30″, 36″, 42″, and 48″.

Impressionist's Wrap from The Alchemy of Color Knitting The Impressionist’s Wrap (Beginner). I love ombre, as you know, so this project jumped out at me immediately. This wrap is worked in Alchemy Yarns Haiku, which is a luscious silk/mohair blend. Two strands are held together throughout, changing the color of one strand at a time to get the ombre effect. The stitch pattern creates a slightly ruching at the color changes.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow Gloves from The Alchemy of Color Knitting Somewhere Over the Rainbow Gloves (Intermediate). This is a basic glove pattern highlighted with beautiful floral embroidery. The embroidery chart is included, but you will have to find an embroidery reference if you don’t already know how to form the stitches. The pattern is written for one size, a women’s medium (8″ palm circumference).

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CogKnition posted this on January 24th, 2010 @ 6:13pm in Book Reviews | Permalink to "The Alchemy of Color Knitting"

Getting My Brooklyntweed On

January 9th, 2010 | 2 Comments

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you know that I got a new camera for Christmas! My 10-year-old Canon Powershot A20, which took the vast majority of pictures on this site, has now entered retirement.

My new camera is another Powershot, the SX20 IS. I chose this one because it’s an SLR-like point-and-shoot with a long zoom and image stabilizer.

And now I can do stuff like this:


These buttons, from The Button Drawer, are destined for the Tangled Yoke Cardigan.

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CogKnition posted this on January 9th, 2010 @ 2:47pm in Life as a Knitter | Permalink to "Getting My Brooklyntweed On"