We take a look at some of the latest knitting, crochet and crafting books available now.
You probably don’t need us to tell you what an accomplished knitter Kate Atherley is. A teacher and designer based in Toronto, Canada, Kate is the lead technical editor for Knitty and has had her designs published in countless books and magazines.
In short, she is a knitting goddess.
So, who better to complete a dictionary of knitting! But what is it and why do you need it?
Kate Sums up it up perfectly in the introduction to her book.
‘There are many books, magazines, online tutorials and store classes that show the mechanics of knitting, but very few that address how to read the instructions.
I’ve recently been helping a good friend of mine to knit a lace hat for her daughter. I don’t think she’d mind me saying, that it’s a little out of her comfort zone, but she’s determined. One of the things I’ve noticed at our regular meetings is the language of knitting. I learnt to knit 4 decades ago (gulp) and I think I’m fairly fluent in Knitting, to be fair, I’d say my first language is knitting, with English coming a poor second.
Whilst running through the pattern row by row with my friend, I’ve been consciously adapting my language to suit her ability and understanding. Several times, she’s had to phone me to clarify what something means, and I think had she had a copy of The Knitter’s Dictionary, she’d have been able to know what to do next herself, whether it meant looking for a tutorial online or trying to push through herself.
A note to my friend if you’re reading this – I wouldn’t have it any other way and have loved our regular knitting meetups!
The Knitter’s Dictionary is a cross between a dictionary and an encyclopaedia. Laid out alphabetically, to make it easier to locate the term you’re after, many of the subjects include more information than a basic definition. Containing anything and everything knitting related from Across the row/round to Z Twist, the book includes a wealth of useful information. Laid out clearly with diagrams, charts and drawings where necessary.
Before launching into the A to Z dictionary, Kate has written a brief chapter titled ‘Getting Started with Patterns’. Here she imparts the knowledge all good yarn shops should reiterate ‘Familiarise yourself with the pattern, gather your tools and materials you need’. It’s a brief chapter because that’s all it needs to be, but it makes it much easier to understand.
Moving on to the Dictionary properly, one of my favourite things about the book is the number of helpful things Kate has included that most knitters only learn with experience. For example, Yarn Attributes – Kate has broken this down into colour, texture and weight and it can be found under the letter Y, of course!
Unlike crochet, the terms and abbreviations are pretty much the same whether they’re English UK or English US, but as Kate is from across the pond (Canada rather than America), I was a little concerned that some of the terminology we’re more familiar here, might not be included. For example, Gauge is what our international friends use instead of Tension, so I immediately looked up Tension to check if it was there and was impressed to see Kate has indeed included it.
One last thing to note, The Knitter’s Dictionary measures only 15 x 29 cm/6 x 8 inches, so it’s perfect for slipping into your project bag.
For those of you that haven’t heard about Helical Knitting, it’s best known as a way of creating jogless stripes in the round. Many knitters first foray into the technique will have been via the Hyacinthus Armwarmers design that Jen released last year as part of the A Year of Techniques book.
Following on from the success of her design, Jen was inundated with questions about the technique. This got her thinking and she began swatching and experimenting with the technique. The latest book in the SNTLA series of books is the result of these explorations.
The book is split into four chapters, with a brief introduction at the beginning and a list of extra resources, abbreviations and acknowledgements at the back.
In Chapter One, Basic Helical Stripes, Jen explores helical knitting in its most well-known form. As in the two previous SNTLA books, a design or two is included in each chapter, specifically created using the specified technique. In this case, the Bramante Cowl is the perfect pattern for practising the basic 1×1 helical stripes.
In Chapter Two, Jen explores working more helical stitch patterns, beginning with garter stitch and moving on to other two row patterns. Here Jen has created a Stitch Dictionary, with suggestions for patterns. The Whitney and Cortona Cowls have been designed to in order to better grasp the techniques.
Taking helical knitting a step further in Chapter Three, Jen has designed the Bramante Mitts, which allow you to add shaping. Whilst the opportunity to follow charts while working helically can be put int practice with the Sangello Cowl. Chapter Three also includes a useful section on troubleshooting.
Two round helical knitting has been explored in depth within the first three chapters, but things start to get a little crazy in the final chapter. Jen delves into working three or more helices of stitches. A section on the limitations of the technique and Jen has also included some suggestions for ensuring helical knitting is the right technique to use when trying to eliminate the jog or seam in your circular knitting. The techniques can be further explored by knitting the Tiss or the Andrade Cowls.
As with all the books in the series the techniques are explained clearly and are easy to follow. Close-up photographs are used throughout the book to make the process easier and there is an accompanying series of video tutorials to ensure you master each.
All the sample garments in the book have been knitted using the newly launched ‘Something to Knit with Aran’ yarn, which is available in ten shades. It’s the perfect choice for the designs and there are several kits for the designs available from the A.C. Knitwear Webshop.
It’s worth noting that Jen has deliberately focused on creating cowl designs in the book because they are the perfect canvas for mastering the different techniques. Having worked your way through them and the Bramante Mittens, you will be a helical knitting expert.
Unlike its siblings exploring knitting techniques in more detail, Something New to Learn About Helical Knitting is only available as an e-book at present. You can purchase it from either the A.C. Knitwear Webshop or Ravelry. Purchases include several bonus designs, these are only available via your Ravelry Library but you’ll be given a code to enter to access them.
Since 2008 Spoonflower has been empowering individuals to design their own fabrics and bring their visions to life. In addition, the company has over 750,000 designs on the largest indie design marketplace in the world ready for you to peruse at the click of a mouse.
Like any fabric hoarder, cough.. collector knows, it’s imperative that you hang onto your favourite material, even if it is just a scrap, until you find the perfect project for it. Between the covers of The Spoonflower Quick Sew Project Book, you’ll discover more than 30 stash friendly makes. Anda Corrie, designer, maker and the author of TSQSPB understands sewists and has included items to make which use the smallest piece of fabric to several yards. She’s also taken much of the guesswork out of finding the right project for your treasured material, by grouping the makes by the amount of fabric they require.
In Chapter 2, Notions and Trims, there are even project ideas for using up your cherished scraps. Our favourites are the Covered Buttons and the Fabric Scrap Twine. The Tiny Circle Rose in Chapter 3 which is dedicated to making the most of an 8 inch/10 cm square of fabric is incredibly cute and would make the perfect little gift.
Despite not claiming to be sewists or quilters, we think we’re probably among the majority of those makers that purchase fabric, usually in Fat Quarters, just because it was too lovely to leave behind. Encouraging us to use some of our stashes, Anda has created some delightful Fat Quarter projects in Chapter 4. With babies being the general theme here at Olann and, the Dribble Bib has already been added to the list of favourite projects, as have the vintage-inspired Pop-Up Puppets. Which could be making an appearance as the mini Olann and people grow.
Things start to get a little bigger in Chapter 5, with each project requiring one yard of material to make. Of the eight in the book, the Travel Playmat, Advent Calendar and Knitting Caddy all caught our eye.
Using larger amounts of fabric can sometimes feel quite daunting, so Anda has included several useful tips and suggestions at the beginning of Chapter 6. Armed with this knowledge, we think its fair to assume you could be tempted to have a go at making the Drawstring Picnic Blanket! Billed as being perfect for quick clear up, we envisage it being used for yarn stash diving. You tip out the contents of your yarn stash on to it (one crate anyway), remove the skein or skeins you were after and then scoop them up again before anyone sees.
A list of materials is included with each project and details about each fabric used in the samples have been included should you want to find them on the Spoonflower site. A small biography for some of these designers has been included in the book. There’s one in each chapter and they include a little background information on the designer and an insight into their working process. Perfect research for those toying with the idea of designing some fabric themselves.
Rachele Carmona is a prolific crochet pattern designer. Having learnt to crochet in 2005, Rachele discovered she loved making and designing crochet blankets. She has made more than 300 to date and has amassed a huge blanket loving following on Instagram as @cypresstextiles of over 100K.
In her latest book, The Art of Crochet Blankets, Rachele has chosen to use the work of other art forms and their makers as her inspiration. In a marketplace already quite saturated with crochet blanket designs, Rachele strives to create something different.
By studying the work of creatives who are considered ‘influencers’ in their own field, Rachele is expanding on the idea that craft is evolving and a fusion of creativity is happening.
Broken down into chapters, Rachele has chosen to explore Weaving, Digital Art, Fabric Design, Paper Cutting, Cement Tile and Quilting. Focusing specifically on the work of Maryanne Moodie, Francisco Valle, April Rhodes, Maud Vantours, Caitlin Dowe-Sandes and Tula Pink. Each chapter begins with an introduction to the maker and the particular pieces of work that inspired Rachele’s designs. Three for each discipline, eighteen in total.
All of the designs have an extra element to them that makes them stand out above many of the crochet blanket designs available already. Whether it’s the play of textures, shapes or colours, you can’t help but be drawn to them.
Our absolute favourite, Boho Desert, inspired by Fabric Designer April Rhodes print Arid Horizon is really quite radical in how it differs to the norm. Long panels of desert-inspired print have been perfectly captured in crochet by Rachele. Think Mid-Western ponchos or horse blankets.
Whilst the Boho Desert is our favourite, hands down, all of the other designs are equally stunning. Check out Layered Waves, The Northerner and Ómbre Stripes as well as the other fourteen designs on Ravelry. We’re convinced this book will soon become a firm favourite.
The designs have all been beautifully photographed and the patterns are laid out in an easy to read style with diagrams and stitch charts where required. One thing worth noting is that they are written using US crochet terminology.
Techniques, Abbreviations, Glossary, Acknowledgements, plus some information about Rachele and Yarn Resources can all be found at the back of the book.
The Ultimate Sweater Book is Amy’s latest offering to the world of knitting. We have deliberately used the term ‘offering’ because along with her previous books; Knit to Flatter, Knit, Wear, Love and You Can Knit That, Amy is also the woman behind Custom Fit – the software that generates the numbers, so you can knit designs that fit you perfectly. Her designs have featured in many well-known knitting magazines, she has appeared on television and also teaches classes online on Craftsy.
Although there it contains eight patterns (more about those later) The Ultimate Sweater Book isn’t a book full of sweat patterns. Instead, TUSB is a reference guide which represents Amy’s goal to help knitters create garments that’ll be the best clothes they’ll ever wear. The book assumes you already know what you want to knit and wear but provides the help knitters may need in bringing the garment to life.
The book covers every aspect of sweater knitting, beginning with instructions for four basic sweater types; yoke, raglan, drop shoulder and set-in-sleeve. There are instructions to knit the sweater in either Sport, DK or Aran weight yarn with both a jumper and cardigan option too.
Part one, The Basics, begins with an in-depth look at the ‘basics’. Amy guides you through the process of measuring yourself and the pattern adjustments you’ll need to make to ensure your garment is tailored to your frame. Moving on to the four sweater types, Amy explores in more detail the different parts of the garment and how these can be altered; guiding you through it step-by-step and with separate sections focusing on the Sweater Body, Sweater Sleeves and Neck Shaping.
Part Three, Embellishments, is given over to your hand knitted fabric, the yarns you use, the fibres they incorporate and the stitch patterns you use when knitting your sweater. All of which can dramatically affect your finished garment. Edges, Shaping, Trimmings and Adorning are included as is a separate section on Cardigans, Closures, Pockets and Necklines. By way of an explanation, four sweater patterns have been included in this section. The Dockhouse Pullover, Penobscot Pullover, Sunburst Cardigan and the Mill Pond Cardigan serve to highlight how changes to the basic four sweater types can be incorporated. Amy has broken down each design, listing the alterations she made and why with photographs of each providing a visual reference for the changes.
The designs make up the remainder of the book. At the beginning of each, Amy has included a little information on why she combined the silhouette, fabric, construction and stitch pattern the way she did, urging you to have the confidence to make your own perfect garment.
Check out the Campfire Cardigan on Ravelry, a variation of the basic set-in-sleeve sweater, the unisex shawl collared cardigan with cables and pockets is our favourite design in the book.
If you’re a regular user of social media, it’s likely that you’ll have seen the rise in popularity of Sashiko. Pronounced ‘Sashko’ – the I is almost silent – the art was invented in Northern Japan originally for warmth and thrifty recycling, strengthening clothes and household goods.
In its basic form, Sashiko is simply running stitch. However, if you combine this basic stitch with the intricacy of some of the designs, the finished product is incredibly detailed.
The author of The Ultimate Sashiko Source Book, Susan Briscoe, is a UK based Sashiko teacher, textile artist and designer. Her love of Sashiko can be seen in the three books she has written on the subject. Published in 2005 TUSSB is regarded as a great reference book on the subject and remains as popular today as it was when it was released.
Beginning with a brief introduction, Susan then provides an interesting history of Sashiko, looking at the origins of the technique, it’s uses, regional Sashiko techniques, patterns and designs.
In Getting Started, Susan lists the equipment and materials you’ll need to gather and in Basic Techniques, she provides you with all the necessary information to begin.
Armed with equipment and an understanding of Sashiko Techniques, you can then select one of the 10 projects in the book. They range from samplers and greetings cards to cushions and bags.
Instructions for each are clear and easy to understand with diagrams and handy tips where useful. Each project has been photographed close up so you can easily see the stitches to recreate them easily.
The Pattern Library is one of the most useful references for Sashiko you’ll ever need. It contains over 100 Sashiko patterns for you to experiment with, whilst the Gallery section of the book is packed with photographs of beautiful examples of Sashiko, sometimes combined with patchwork and quilting.
The book ends with a bibliography, list of supplies and Sashiko Pattern Index.
If you’d like to know more about Susan and stay up-to-date with her creations, why not follow her blog over at susanbriscoe.com