Chic Knits TGIF Library    
Friday, May 4, 2007

. . . greetings from the Chic Knits TGIF Library . . .

Ah, the power of BOOKS!

Without them, I, and my knitting, are nothing! I learned to knit when I was 10 years old, but my teacher was more entranced by the hook, and turned to the needle only during the winter season when the grandchildren needed mittens. Many a snowy afternoon was spent knitting to "The Guiding Light" with my Busia. My first finished project was a pair of lopsided gems -- one with a normal sized thumb, the other with one fit for a golf ball. Grandma was unconcerned.

So books became my guiding light rather quickly. There was just no single person to turn to when my need surpassed my technique. Many of you have written to me about this too and have asked me to share my library with you...

Here's something small and precious right-off-the-bat that would've changed my life in the day:

Basic Knit

I have become especially entranced with Japanese knitting books - their graphs, line-art and economy of text just key into my brain with direct information.

This book by Ondori is no exception - and just look at the cover with the lace-mitted Demo Hands! Deelightful!

After you are introduced to the Basics, you are shown how to Shape Armholes (Left & Right); How to Shape Shoulders without Binding Off; and my favorite: Sewing in Sleeves, using a Back Stitch or Crocheted Slip-Stitch.

These are all the fabulous techniques that can launch the beginner into the world of the expert, where craftsmanship is Queen.

And speaking of queens -

If you have traveled beyond the basics and are hungry for Total Inspiration, look no further than this:

Knitting Beyond the Edge

From the needles of the incomparable Nicky Epstein, springs the third collection of her incredible decorative edge finishes. I have to confess, I have looked through this book many, many times now, and each time is as the first: EUREKA!

In this outing, we are treated to a stupendous variety of cuffs and collars; corners and edges; necklines; and closures. I own many a stitch pattern book but there is something about seeing them in action that enables me to go to a next level like no other.

My friend and muse, Edie, is a dedicated knitter of kid's clothes and her simple decorations on the garments using Nicky's series keeps inspiring me to higher ground. For instance:

used with permission

This is an Edie favorite - she sprinkles flowers randomly all over the garment - but how it changes when shown as a complete collection of finishes - placket, collar, decoration.

Page after page of incredible suggestions are packed with possibility - many have multiple treatments represented and you can isolate details at will to fit your inspiration - this is probably why I keep coming back for more - everytime I open it, I see something different. And, for those of us who are shy about finishing - the book includes engineering advice about all the edgings used - from how and how many stitches to pick up on a neckline, to buttonbands and more.

This is the kind of book that leaves you ready to explore and expand on your own -- excuse me while I go visit a special Shawl Collar...

the Chic Knits TGIF Library is always open HERE. . .

Comments (6)

Friday, August 24, 2007

. . . more from Chic Knits TGIF Library . . .


Temperance writes: "Yummy yarn, love the green, but the red is truly luscious. I am feeling ignorant, however, rare breed yarn? How is it different / better then common sheep yarn?"

It took a tour of a barnful of sheep at the first fiber fest I went to for me to realize just how many types of wool might be in the world.

I'd really never thought of it before!

Indeed. Just what Fiber had traveled my Handiwork Highway? Well. Merino Definitely. Hmm. Shetland -- actually owned and wore many cabled sweaters in high school. Uhm.

That's IT!

Yet out in the greater world, the world of Alice Starmore, Gladys Thompson or Shelagh Hollingworth, there were many other types of wool: Bainin, Harris, Guernsey, and more -- and they might not have been made from the same breed of sheep.

I became interested on a personal level a few seasons ago when I started making sweaters to work outdoors in. I've worked as a photographer for many years and my *uniform* between October and May (!) is a long-sleeved black turtleneck, cabled aran-weight sweater topped by a black or dark brown down vest. (Colorful scarves rescue my femininity from oblivion!)

It quickly became apparent that many of the wools out there for handknitting were not up to rigors so I started the Quest for the Worker Yarn. I was especially romantic about Bluefaced Leicester and Wensleydale Long Wool, both produced from small flocks in the U.K. hence the *rare breed* designation. A spinner friend of mine told me about this book:

In Sheep's Clothing

This tome is a most useful handbook. Although it's subtitle is "A Handspinner's Guide to Wool", for a knitter, it is a most enjoyable and enthusiastic introduction to the fold.

Breed information is presented in chapters by wool types and then a sample of each fleece is pictured with details about their characteristics.

All in all a most informative read and bookshelf staple.


Summer 2007 in the USA has been filled with romance. Even if your dance card isn't too full, chances are your closet is! Everywhere I go, I see skirts, ballet flats, ribbon-tied wedgies, slip-dresses, and lace.

And we have in our house, a designer most accomplished in the language of lovely sentimental knitting:

Romantic Hand Knits

The incredible Annie Modesitt has put together a collection of 26 designs of the most feminine sort. Here you will find lace, ruffles, texture and color combining in ways that charm and enchance the wearer.

Annie calls romance "falling in love with life" and her designs reflect the joy of the female form. There are flirtatious trimmed wraps; cabled and laced tops; fitted, fetching skirts and wonderful accesories you will not see anywhere else. I am especially in love with a hat called "High Society" a ribbon-trimmed lace cloche.

Form and function with beauty is what we love about clothes. Making them is what knitters love doing.

"Romantic Knits" gives you the blueprints and palette to create your own masterpiece.


the Chic Knits TGIF Library is always open HERE. . .

Comments (7)

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