Book Reviews

Book Reviews

We take a look at some of the latest knitting, crochet and crafting books available now.

The Second Drawer Down

Verity Castledine


ISBN: 9780995533325

The Second Drawer Down is the second collection of sock knitting patterns from well-known indie dyed Verity Castledine aka Truly Hooked.

Based in Nottingham, Verity’s first sock collection, The Sock Drawer, won favourite knitting book at the British Knitting and Crochet Awards 2017. This follow up book doesn’t disappoint either and is equal if not better. The softbound book contains ten original designs created to work in harmony with solid or tonal coloured yarns. The patterns are all written for top-down knitting but are fully charted and easy to adapt for working from the toe up.

Each design is photographed beautifully with clear and easy to follow instructions. Unlike many other knitting and crochet patterns, the charts in The Second Drawer Down are large, making them much easier to follow and keep a track of where you are.

There is a lovely introduction to each pair of socks where Verity describes where her inspiration came from, but as you might expect the ten designs in The Second Drawer Down take centre stage. Towards the back of the book, you’ll find a Stitchionary and a list of resources which include links to two of Verity’s favourite sock technique tutorials.

As someone who refuses to wear anything but hand knitted socks, of course, I love all ten designs, but if you had to twist my arm…

Alice, with its spirals of lace eyelets travelling down the length of the sock, caught my eye, particularly because it has been knitted using a variegated yarn in the book. If I had to guess, I’m sure that I’m not alone in buying skeins of gorgeous variegated yarn and then not using them, am I?

Neo, inspired by the 1999 film The Matrix are knitted using stranded colourwork and perfectly capture the iconic feel of the ever-changing Matrix Rain.

Gladys is a pair of cable panelled socks inspired by Verity’s granny, represent the cosiness we feel when we’re wrapped in the arms of a loved one.

An extra special nod needs to be given to Lara, which has been named after the daughter of one of Verity’s test knitters, who was born prematurely and sadly didn’t make it. Verity has made a donation to the family’s fundraising page in Lara’s honour.


Something New to Learn About Lace

Arnall-Culliford Knitwear


ISBN: 9781999785925

AC Knitwear Shop

Something New to Learn About Lace is the second book in the series of books created by Jim and Jen Arnall-Culliford which focus on a particular style of knitting.  We reviewed the first, Something New to Learn About Cables in our Sunny Summer Days Issue and couldn’t wait to receive the next instalment.

The book covers everything you need to know in order to knit beautiful lace and more.  Working from the ground up, Jim and Jen have managed to squeeze an incredible amount of information and three beautiful designs into the books 72 pages.

After a brief introduction, Chapter One: Basic Lace Techniques, launches straight into the fundamentals of lace knitting.  There is an in-depth look at the humble yarn over, which, depending on where it appears on your row of knitting can be anything but basic.  Reading charts and using them to read your knitting are also covered in Chapter One, which closes with Donna Smith’s Alpaca Scarf and Blanket design that uses the techniques discussed.

Fixing Mistakes is addressed in Chapter Two, anyone that’s frogged a lace knit, only to find they’ve picked up a completely different number of stitches than they had in the beginning, will understand the need for any advice on this subject.  A design from knitting genius Martina Behm, the Nissolia Shawl rounds off the chapter rather nicely.

Blocking does wonders to all knitted garments, but with lace, it’s a must and the detail in which it’s explored in Something New to Learn About Lace is incredible.  As are the techniques included in the Advanced Lace Techniques section of this chapter.  Rounding of Chapter Three is the pattern for the Bithynical Shawl which has been designed by Jen.

All three of the designs in the book have been knitted using the new yarn from Arnall-Culliford Knitwear, called Something to Knit With 4ply, a review of which will be on the blog over the next few weeks.

The Shawl Club Book

Seven crocheted shawl patterns for different styles and occasions 

Clare Wilson 

ISBN: 9781527223660

Having been taught to crochet granny squares by her good friend Luisa, Clare Wilson progressed on to making a triangular shawl, the first of what became a shawl addiction.  As Clare’s confidence with a hook and yarn increased and because she couldn’t find patterns that appealed to her, she began to experiment with stitches and create her own designs.  

Before long Clare had made her first design and when she showed it to her good friend Sam Hinks, the dyer behind Unbelievawool, it became the starting point for a collaborative Shawl Club. 

The Shawl Club Book is a selection of Clare’s favourite patterns from the first two years of the Shawl Club.  Each of the seven designs has been created to use a 100g skein of yarn and each pattern has been laid out clearly with a list of what you need, relevant abbreviations and important notes.  Written using English Crochet Terminology, the instructions are given row by row, with detailed blocking instructions to ensure your finished object looks like the one in Clare’s photographs.  

The designs include triangular, semi-circle and crescent, shaped shawls, a couple of which include the option to add beads.  A detailed explanation of this technique, with step by step photographs, is included at the back of the book. 

Having yet to make a crochet shawl myself, I could be tempted to try the Beaded Arches Shawlette which is a very wearable shallow crescent shawl/scarf.  The Friendship Meditation Shawl, another beaded creation, also caught my attention.  It’s a top-down triangular Shawlette that you could easily make larger if you have more than 100g of yarn. 

My Crochet Closet

22 Styles for every day of the week 

Salena Baca 


IBAN: 978o811718066

Stackpole Books

Curated by Salena Baca, My Crochet Closet is a collection of 22 crochet garments and accessories from some of today’s most well-known crochet designers.  In her introduction to the book Salena, says that ‘Aside from the usual accessories like hats and scarves, crochet isn’t fully integrated into the average closet’.  As a one time shop owner and now co-editor of Olann and I can see that this is gradually changing and firmly believe this is as a direct result of the imagination and creativity of today’s talented designers.  

My Crochet Closet assumes you can already crochet, whether you’re a beginner with a rudimentary understanding of the basics or a complete expert, there Will be designs that match your ability. 

The book begins with a table of contents that includes a snapshot of each design, making it much easier to scan the pages and locate the one your after.  Following straight on from Salena’s introduction, you’ll find the designs, beginning with the Twill Tote designed by Salena herself.  Created using Raffia, the Twill Tote is a classic design that really plays to the texture of the raffia to create a very useful accessory. 

Thumbing through My Crochet Closet, I was immediately drawn to the Hairpin Half-Top, designed by Crystal Bucholz.  Until now, I have to confess to only having seen Hairpin Lace Crochet used in baby blankets and Crystal’s design demonstrates just how versatile the technique is. 

If I had the legs for them then I’d love a pair of the Savory Shorts.  Designed by Pam Dajczak, they look incredibly wearable.  My favourite garment in My Crochet Closet has to be Daring Duster, designed by Abigail Haze.  The knee length cardigan with long sleeves and generous pockets would be a fantastic wardrobe staple for anyone.  Written for sizes xs, s, m, l, xl and 2xl the Duster would fit from 76 to 127cm/30 to 50-inch chest.  Its made using 4ply/fingering weight yarn, so it would be quite an undertaking, but it would work up much faster than a similar design in knitting. 

Rounding things off, My Crochet Closet includes a list of basic abbreviations at the back of the book as well as where to find the designers and the materials featured.  

100 Knits

Interweave’s ultimate pattern collection

The Editors at Interweave


ISBN: 9781632506481


Founded in 1975 by Linda Logon, Interweave is one of the most well-known art and crafts media companies within the sector.  Since 1996, the editors at Interweave have worked tirelessly to find talented designers, unique techniques and the next great trend in a bid to keep us knitters happy.  In July 2012 the company was acquired by F+W Media who continue to ensure the Interweave name remains synonymous with arts and crafts.  The company have more than 300 books in print and manually publish dozens more, many of which remain bestsellers and can be found in art, craft and book shops worldwide.  

100 Knits is Interweave’s biggest project collection to date and contains page after page of knitting patterns taken from recent issues of Interweave Knits, Knitscene, special holiday issues and Interweave books. 

The designs in between the cover of 100 Knits have all earned their place and are worthy of an entry in this showcase. They include accessories, socks and garments, in addition to which, the editors at Interweave have also included the top 5 most knitted patterns of all time, based on the number of projects listed on Ravelry.  At the time of publication, these are the Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti, the Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer, the Central Park Hoodie by Heather Lodinsky, the Koolhaus Hat by Jared Flood and the Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark. 

The 100 knitting designs have been separated into categories to make them easier to locate; Hats & Socks, Scarves, Cowls, Shawls and Wraps, Cardigans, Pullovers and Tanks & Tees.  Each pattern is laid out clearly with charts and schematics where necessary as well as useful notes or helpful tips to ensure you achieve the best results and a handknit you can treasure. 

There are knits to suit all abilities, from beginner to advanced, plain, lace, cables and stranded colourwork, 100 Knits has them all.  One thing worth noting is that all the designs featured in 100 Knits are for adults, men and women only, the book doesn’t include any for babies and/or children. 

As a massive fan of all things Interweave and a subscriber for many years to at least one of their magazines, I love the idea of having their favourite designs in the one place. My one and only criticism is that there is no mention of the issue each design originally appeared in.  It’s a detail I’m sure many of us would have liked to see included, if only because it would demonstrate the longevity of some of the patterns. 

The designs are the star of the show in 100 Knits, don’t expect pages of knitting techniques and step by step photos.  The Editors of Interweave assume you can knit and that if there’s a stitch or a technique you’re unsure of then there’s a wealth of information at your fingertips on the internet or, if you’re like me, you’re bound to own at least one knitting bible, like Vogue Knitting or The Principles of Knitting. 

There is a list of abbreviations at the back of the book and I particularly enjoyed reading the mini-biography for each of the 72 featured designers in the About the Designers section.  

In terms of favourite designs worthy of a mention here in this review, Interweave has got everything covered.  There are only a handful of designs in 100 knits that I wouldn’t entertain,  the rest I’ve already got earmarked in my notebook or added to my favourites in Ravelry. 

100 Knits is a fantastic collection for all knitters and with its timely release scheduled for Autumn/Fall, I’d expect to see it mentioned on many a Christmas List.