Category Archives: Book Review

Davaar – Kate Davies and Tom Barr

Davaar – Kate Davies and Tom Barr

I like the publications from KDD (Kate Davies Designs). I think I have all of them. Their publications are beautiful; lovely designs and beautiful photography (like the one below).

This one has a series of essays on various aspects of Davaar, and then the patterns.

There are 10 patterns; things like a hat, cardigan, scarf/shawl, etc.

I am quite keen to make the Iola cardigan (on the one on the cover) and maybe use a variation of this stitch pattern on a sock

If you are a knitter, her patterns are beautiful and interesting, it’s definitely worth trying one.

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Filed under Book Review, Knitting, Knitting - Colour work, Sock Knitting

Patty Lyon’s Knitting Bag Of Tricks

Patty Lyon’s Knitting Bag of Tricks

This book is great. It contains very useful information. The focus is on why and then the how just happens. The structure of each stitch is described; knit, purl, m1l, k2tog, etc, and then there is information about how to improve each stitch. There is information on joining a new ball (always at the start of a row? maybe not), stitching pieces together, casting on and off, and shaping.

There is a great discussion on gauge and why we should all be knitting a swatch and then how to use your swatch to modify the pattern to suit your gauge.

I bought the Kindle version, but on my Kindle Oasis, the images were missing. However, when I used the Kindle app on my Ipad the images were there. Just something to be aware of when purchasing the e-book.

It is definitely something I will refer to in the future.

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Record, Map and Capture – Jordan Cunliffe

My embroidery teacher brought this book to class, and clearly, I had to find a copy. This is like the intersection of two of my great loves; stitching and maths. Not to mention story telling with stitching and maths.

Here’s a bit of a book description …

This stylish and fascinating book from up-and-coming textile art star Jordan Cunliffe shows how raw data, maps and personal experience can be distilled into textile art, producing mesmerising works with deep meaning, whether obvious or hidden, and concentrating on the smaller, quieter moments that make up our lives.

Jordan explores the use of stitched data to tell stories, pinpoint special places on maps, convey secret messages, and record personal detail, for example daily walks or nightly sleep patterns. Her finished work is beautifully precise, including a long strip of fabric containing a stitch for every day of her life, a reimagination of a favourite childhood book in unreadable code, and pleasing beaded representations of secretly important documents.

Almost any aspect of your life can be represented in graph or map form, and here are many practical ways to achieve this, whether it’s recording the colours of flowers on a favourite path to create your own unique palette, or encoding your most private thoughts in beaded morse code. This visually stunning book explores a new way of working and will help you explore a fresh new angle in your embroidery and textile work.

Illustrated with a wealth of examples of the author’s own work as well as pieces from other data focused artists from around the world, Record, Map and Capture in Textile Art proves beyond all doubt that data can be beautiful, and can inspire stunning works of stitched art.

I have so many ideas for my memory/special things project. I can incorporate special pieces of fabric, use evenweave fabric (my preferred choice) maybe even put in a secret code.

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Filed under Book Review, Canvas Work, Cross Stitch, Embroidery, Inspiration

Knitting the Threads of Time – Nora Murphy

Knitting the Threads of Time – Nora Murphy

I am not sure where I first heard about this book, Brenda Dayne may have mentioned it on her podcast. I found a copy on Abebooks and it slowly made it’s way to me (I wasn’t in any hurry).

Here’s the blurb …

In an era of global warming, war, escalating expenses, declining income, and drugs and violence in schools, many mothers feel they have little control over their families or their worlds. Nora Murphy eloquently demonstrates that many women do control one tiny thing: their next stitch.

While tracing the frustrations and joys of knitting a sweater for her son through the course of one cold, dark Minnesota winter, Murphy eloquently brings to life the traditions and cultures of women from many backgrounds, including Hmong, American Indian, Mexican, African, and Irish. Murphy’s personal stories — about her struggles to understand esoteric knitting patterns, her help from the shaman of the knit shop, and her challenges sticking with an often vexing project — will appeal to knitters as well as everyone else who has labored to create something from scratch.

We follow Nora as she knits her son a jumper and muses on the roles of knitting, textiles and craft in the lives of women. Ms Murphy’s writing style is conversational, you feel like you are sitting together knitting over a cup of tea.

If you like knitting, social history, women’s history, then you will enjoy this book. It is an easy read, with short chapters (I did a lot of ‘just one more chapter’).

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No Idle Hands; The Social History of American Knitting – Anne L MacDonald

No Idle Hands – Anne L MacDonald

I have had this book (on my Kindle) since 2020, but I had a sample of it for much longer. I finally decided to read it.

Here’s the blurb …

“Fascinating . . . What is remarkable about this book is that a history of knitting can function so well as a survey of the changes in women’s roles over time.”–The New York Times Book Review

An historian and lifelong knitter, Anne Macdonald expertly guides readers on a revealing tour of the history of knitting in America. In No Idle Hands, Macdonald considers how the necessity–and the pleasure–of knitting has shaped women’s lives.

Here is the Colonial woman for whom idleness was a sin, and her Victorian counterpart, who enjoyed the pleasure of knitting while visiting with friends; the war wife eager to provide her man with warmth and comfort, and the modern woman busy creating fashionable handknits for herself and her family. Macdonald examines each phase of American history and gives us a clear and compelling look at life, then and now. And through it all, we see how knitting has played an important part in the way society has viewed women–and how women have viewed themselves.

Assembled from articles in magazines, knitting brochures, newspaper clippings and other primary sources, and featuring reproductions of advertisements, illustrations, and photographs from each period, No Idle Hands capture the texture of women’s domestic lives throughout history with great wit and insight.

This was great, if you are at all interested in knitting and history, then this is the book for you. This was published in 1988, and therefore doesn’t cover the last thirty years, but, despite that, it is very interesting. Who knew that knitting was big in the 1930s (and not during war time)? What it also highlights is how women’s roles have changed over time, and how knitting has changed from a necessity to a relaxing hobby that’s good for mental health.

A review

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The Knitting Sutra – Susan Gordon Lydon

The Knitting Sutra – Susan Gordon Lydon

I first heard about this book on the Cast On by Brenda Dayne podcast (I love this podcast – I support it on patreon). I found a copy at Abe books for a pound.

Here’s the blurb …

Available for the first time in paperback, The Knitting Sutra reveals how women can learn to knit their way to nirvana.

When Susan Gordon Lydon was coping with a broken arm, her craft took on new significance. While knitting was essential to strengthening her hands, it also provided her with a newfound sense of peace and creativity. Immersed in brilliant colors, textures, and images of beautiful sweaters, Lydon found healing and enlightenment in a way she had never imagined. Capturing this journey of discovery, The Knitting Sutra recounts her remarkable membership in a community of craftswomen around the world, from sweater makers in Scotland to Navajo weavers, and the adventures that her craft led her on.

As she masters new techniques and conquers old obstacles, Lydon’s story conveys how the lessons she learned from knitting, such as stillness and interdependence, later sustained her through a cancer diagnosis and even the incapacitation of her hands. The Knitting Sutra is both a meditation on craft and an affirmation for anyone seeking heartfelt comfort. 

I read this while recovering from Covid (there’s a 2022 sentence for you). I found it interesting and motivating (I wanted to get back into the knitting). I do like a book about knitting. I liked it so much that I have ordered her other knitting book Knitting Heaven and Earth: Healing the heart with Craft. It’s not going to arrive until July though.

If you’re into knitting, and how knitting can improve your mental and physical health, then this book is for you.

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The Fabric of Civilization – Virginia Postrel

Fabric of civilization – Virginia Postrel

I saw this at my local book shop and had to buy it.

Here’s the blurb…

From Paleolithic flax to 3D knitting, a global history of textiles and the world they made
The story of humanity is the story of textiles — as old as civilization itself. Since the first thread was spun, the need for textiles has driven technology, business, politics, and culture.
In The Fabric of Civilization, Virginia Postrel synthesizes groundbreaking research from archaeology, economics, and science to reveal a surprising history. From Minoans exporting wool colored with precious purple dye to Egypt, to Romans arrayed in costly Chinese silk, the cloth trade paved the crossroads of the ancient world. Textiles funded the Renaissance and the Mughal Empire; they gave us banks and bookkeeping, Michelangelo’s David and the Taj Mahal. The cloth business spread the alphabet and arithmetic, propelled chemical research, and taught people to think in binary code.
Assiduously researched and deftly narrated, The Fabric of Civilization tells the story of the world’s most influential commodity.

This book is fabulous – well written and researched. It made me think about string, banking and weaving in a whole new way. There are chapters on Fiber, Thread, Cloth, Dye, Traders, Consumers and Innovators. Each chapter is a deep-dive into its topic.

If you are at all interested in Textile History (or just History for that matter), then this is the book for you. Easy to read, but very informative.

You can also listen to Virginia Postrel on this Haptic and Hue podcast.

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Jane Austen Embroidery – Jennie Batchelor and Alison Larkin

Jane Austen Embroidery – Jennie Batchelor and Alison Arkin

This combines two of my favourite things – Jane Austen and Embroidery.

Jennie Batchelor writes about Jane Austen, textile history and The Lady’s Magazine. Alison Arkin designed the projects based on embroidery designs in The Lady’s Magazine.

It’s a beautiful book with lovely designs and illustrations. There are designs for all kinds of things; phone pouch, work bag, table cloth, cushion, clutch. My favourite is the design on an apron (I am not sure if I would ever make an apron, but I like the embroidery).

Work bag, Apron and Illustration

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This Golden Fleece – Esther Rutter

This Golden Fleece – Esther Rutter

I do love a knitting history/essay book and was very keen to get this one. After much stuffing around by amazon, I bought it from the book depository.

Over the course of a year, Esther Rutter – who grew up on a sheep farm in Suffolk, and learned to spin, weave and knit as a child – travels the length of the British Isles, to tell the story of wool’s long history here. She unearths fascinating histories of communities whose lives were shaped by wool, from the mill workers of the Border countries, to the English market towns built on profits of the wool trade, and the Highland communities cleared for sheep farming; and finds tradition and innovation intermingling in today’s knitwear industries. Along the way, she explores wool’s rich culture by knitting and crafting culturally significant garments from our history – among them gloves, a scarf, a baby blanket, socks and a fisherman’s jumper – reminding us of the value of craft and our intimate relationship with wool. This Golden Fleece is at once a meditation on the craft and history of knitting, and a fascinating exploration of wool’s influence on our landscape, history and culture. 

This was a fabulous book – I enjoyed the combination of knitting (she knit a bikini!, history and travel). It is a bit like ‘Julie and Julia’ we follow Esther’s journey we she learns about knitting in various places and attempts to knit the ‘signature’ garment of that place.

Fruity knitting have an interview with Esther and here is a review at The Guardian. And her is a blog review.

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June Sock Project

Swatch for my June Sock

I finished my may sock early, which means I can try something a bit more adventurous for June.

Above is my swatch, which is a bit disappointing. The ball looks like

King Cole Zig Zag Colour Magic

which is quite pretty, but the swatch has large colour blocks (pooling) that I am not so keen on. So I have decided this probably isn’t the yarn for a special project, but is the yarn to practise a special project.

I want to make something historical and have decided on these socks from Knitting Vintage Socks

Evening Stockings for a young lady

The lace pattern requires a multiple of 6 plus 1, so I have decided to cast on 60 and make one in the round before starting the lace – the ribbing is K2P1, so a multiple of 3. It’s not possible to have a multiple of 6 plus 1 and have it be a multiple of 3.

This is different to the pattern, but I think I should be able to use the same heel (Dutch heel) and toe (round) as the pattern.

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