Another new knitting book I got for Christmas this year was Cathy Carron's Cowl Girls: The Neck's Big Thing to Knit. I might have bought this book just for the clever title, but I put it on my wish list because I'm a huge cowl lover. (when hats don't look great on you, cowls are a lovely alternative with the added bonus of being a scarf/headcovering all in one).
But the book has more than cowls. There are patterns for the "Gaiter", "Dickey", "Snood", Balaclava, "Infinity scarf", "Donut", and even a knitted "Necklace" and a clear definition of each in case you don't know the difference!
Almost ALL of the patterns feature a wool or wool/blend yarn with two exceptions:
"Zig and Zag" (which is featured in Classic Elite Yarns, Verde Collection, organic cotton)
And "All that Glitters" (which is featured in Euroflax linen by Louet).
Cathy does note that "most of the designs are for cold-weather wear, but many could be adapted in silk, cotton or linen for warmer climes" and, I would add, for "wool free knitters".
Regrettably she does not provide those wool-free alternatives in this book so, you'll have to figure them out yourself, but there's such flexibility in garments like these that I don't think it will be too hard.
Cathy does provide excellent instructions at the back of the book for those who prefer to knit these patterns on straight needles rather than "in the round".
All in all, a great collection of interesting and easily adaptable patterns that even a wool free knitter can work with.
I've started in on the "Candy Wrapper" Cowl -- more on that tomorrow!
Much as I love the mattress stitch, it only works for vertical seams. That's why it's good to have the "Invisible Horizontal Stitch" in your bag of tricks as well.
With right sides facing, you simply insert your needle under the first "V" below the bound off edge on one side. Next,cross over and insert it under the first "V" below the bound off edge on the other side and pull snuggly. As long as you are joining to pieces with the same # of bound off stitches, you'll just work V to V all the way across. Studio Knits has a great visual tutorial on this stitch here.
Notice how my seaming yarn just disappears even on the underside? It's magic.
So, the Lizard Ridge Afghan is FINALLY all seamed. It wasn't really as bad as I thought it would be. Now to decide on the color for the border. I'm going to try an attached I-cord border -- sure hope I like it!
So I was knitting at the hairdresser's today (I've made it to the 3rd row of the Annis shawl and so far so good) when the woman next to me leans over to ask me what I'm making.
She tells me she's a knitter too but she knits toys. Knits them and gives them away. She tells me that she knits from patterns by Alan Dart, have I heard of him? I haven't. She tells me I should look him up, that his toys are amazing.
So of course I come home and look him up. I've often toyed with the idea of knitting a toy, but I have never seen knitted toy patterns like this.
Now I see the purpose for eyelash yarn. Isn't this bear pattern a beauty?
And there's more, oh, so many more. I want to knit toys, lots and lots of Alan Dart toys.
Of course I cannot knit toys right now, not even adorable, to die for, Alan Dart toys, but as soon as I finish these 3 afghans, a handful of shawlettes, a few scarves and cardigans I'll be getting right on it.
How I'll ever choose my first toy, I don't know. They are all so cute.
I love Hanukkah Hiram and I'm not even Jewish.
You'll find Alan Dart patterns here. You'll find the Ravelry Group here.
Thinking about Christmas knitting for others is only one-half of the equation. Thinking about what I'd like to put on my own Christmas list this year is the other.
I'd like my stocking to be stuffed with lots of little knitting notions: stitch markers, a knitting magazine or book , small scissors, darning needles, T-Blocking pins, stitch holders and row counters. It seems I can never have enough of these accessories as they get spread out over multiple projects and stored in multiple bags and locations.
Upgrading to this wooden ball winder by Strauch Fiber Equipment is certainly tempting. All reviews claim it works wonderfully and you don't have the issues that come with the plastic winders. Definitely not a cheap gift, but I think I'll ask Santa to watch for a sale.
I managed to read 4 novels while I was away and a couple of knitting magazines as well. I love it when the Spring/Summer issues start hitting the newstands. Finally, at long last, there's lots of projects, tips and yarn suggestions for the wool-free knitter.
I had a copy of Interweave Knits Spring 2010 issue. They have a marvelous article on rediscovering cotton with a side by side analysis of several popular cotton yarns currently on the market. The yarn spotlight is on Tahki Yarns Good Earth Cotton, and there are several patterns suggesting wool-free yarns. There were several new(to me anyway) wool-free yarns suggested like Savanna Zitron by Skacel; Reynolds' Rise and Shine; Berroco Naturlin; and Reynolds' Saucy Sport to name but a few. I was especially drawn to the jellyfish bag and that just might make it to my list of Christmas gift knits this year.
Creative Knitting's March 2010 issue was filled with wool-free projects as well. About half the patterns feature some sort of variegated or self-striping yarn. Some of the wool-free suggestions included Laurel from Schaefer Yarn Co.; Jasmine from Louisa Harding Yarns; Kollage's Temptation; and Cotton Supreme from Universal Yarns. My favorite pattern, "Spring Greens for your Table" (a set of quick knit placemats) are done up in Super 10 from Kertzer.
So, plenty of wool-free yarns to try or try again in new patterns. It's amazing how many of these projects got knit up in my imagination while I basked in the sun.
I took the magazines out of my bag when we got home and they have the deliciously summery smell of sunscreen and salt air, there might even be a few grains of sand stuck between the pages. I think I'll be looking through them often!
Another birthday gift I received last month was a set of Colonial Rosewood Interchangeable Knitting Needles (spoiled I know). I had read a lot of a reviews on a lot of interchangeable needle sets and there were pros and cons for each one EXCEPT for these Colonial needles -- all pro's and scarcely a con to be found.
Now that I have the set in my own home I can see why. The rosewood is so smooth and the tips have lovely pointed ends that just slide so neatly under the stitches. Pointed ends are such a blessing to a tighter knitter like me.
The cables are not the least bit stiff but they are very sturdy and the needle tips attach easily and seamlessly and there's no end of ways to combine cables to get just about any size you could imagine. I haven't tried the adapters which turn the circular cable into a straight needle but I really like that added feature.
Of course I've only just begun using these needles so I'll have more to say after I've knit with them enough to produce significant wear and tear. But for now I think I made a really good choice.
I suppose the one thing I would change (and others have mentioned this as well) is the case. It's a lovely silk fabric but I would have preferred a color other than hot pink AND I worry about how it will survive the wear and tear of daily use. There's always some little thing to stand in the way of perfection isn't there?
There aren't a lot of knitting books written specifically for the wool free knitter, but Shannon Okey's alt fiber from Ten Speed Press is a good one. Included in this book are 25 projects for knitting green with bamboo, soy, hemp, and more. Amy Singer says that if No Sheep for You had a sister book, this would be it.
Like Amy, Shannon also takes time to educate the reader about the variety of plant-based yarns or "alt fibers" as she calls them. Unlike No Sheep for You this book does not cover acrylic yarns.
Shannon has also written an excellent section on natural dyes which I found fascinating. Ingredients, processing and what "mordanting" means. Makes you want to try dyeing yarn yourself and also makes you a more ecologically aware consumer.
There are some lovely patterns in this book as well -- skirts, socks, shawls and sweaters -- and each pattern is created for a specific alt fiber -- no need to search for a substitute. (Gotta love that).
So, no, this is not a paid review, I honestly do think this is a great book for all wool-free knitters to own. And I'm excited to have one more book in my knitting library that focuses on wool-free knitting.
But hey, if you plan to add this book to your collection anyway, please feel free to click on the image over on the right. Amazon will pay me a small commission and that, my friends, helps keep me in stitches. ( :