My Virtual Sanity

Have you ever felt the need to share your thoughts with virtual strangers just so you can pretend that you have adult conversations during the day? Well, that's what I'm about to do. Be prepaired for my life as a stay at home, obsessive knitter, and my attempts to stay connected with the rest of the world.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

3 Cheers for the Library

"Having Fun isn't hard when you've got a library card!" ~Arthur
(Come on, chant it with me)

I live in a suburb of Denver. Those of you who know Denver, know that the entire front range is essentially one giant connected suburb with a small "down town" in the center. My local library is very small. I think the largest section in it is the children's section. They have very good story time activities throughout the week, and I have taken the kiddos to those on occasion. They do not have a very large adult fiction section, though, so I don't tend to get books for myself. I had never even thought that the library might have "how to" or pattern books until someone on the knitlist suggested that someone else look at their library for a particular book before buying it.

"Pshhhh, my library is so small they couldn't possibly have any knitting books of interest" I thought. A couple weeks later, I decided to actually look. I believe that all, if not most, of the libraries in Colorado have online websites complete with catalogs. I typed in "knit" and "knitting" in the topic search and amazingly it came up with 80 titles! True only about a dozen of these are physically in MY library, but all the rest I can request online from my computer and then pick up at my library (they call you when the books come in).

Sooo, sitting happily on my desk right now I have 7 knitting books, all of which came from the library. I thought you might like a little review of my borrowed books. After all, I wasn't shy about telling you what I thought of the Debbie Bliss book.

"Knitting on the Road" by Nancy Bush
The socks I am currently making come from this book. I am making the "Conwy" on page 23. I like this book, although I think I would only make about half of the sock patterns listed. There are 17 patterns with very good instructions. Each pattern has a full page picture of the sock, as well as a short blurb about the place that the author visited that inspired the design for the book. I believe the goal was to feel like you had gone on a trip with the author to all these places. I must say I just looked at the pictures and skipped the blurbs. I'm really not all that fond of the colors she chose. Most are bland colors much like the cover of the book. We all know, though, that colors can be easily changed. Each pattern also includes a chart (either for color work or for lace). All yarn, gauge, finished size, and misc. Information of this kind is nicely separated in a side bar on the page, so it is easy to find and reference. So far in the 1 sock I've made, the fit has been absolutely perfect. I'm very pleased. What I really like about this book is that because so many of the patterns are lace, rather than Fair-isle you have an infinite possibility for color and different socks.

"Last- minute Knitted Gifts" by Joelle Hoverson
I picked this book because several of my knitting parent friends have talked about items they've made from it. I must say, however, that I'm not impressed. This is not a book that I will be buying. The information at the beginning about different types of fibers and how to care for them was very interesting, and helpful, but the patterns just didn't inspire me. Maybe it just felt too "Martha Stuart-esk" to me. Not that I don't like Martha, but I generally don't like her retro colors or feel. This book gives me that same feeling. If you really like that, this might be worth checking out from the library for a trial run.

The book is separated into sections based on the amount of time required to make them (a very nice organizational idea). Each pattern again has the important information (size, yarn, gauge, etc) all set aside in a nice little side bar, and provides a very nice photo of the finished project.

The first section: "Less than 2 hr Gifts" includes baby booties, tassels, pompoms, a kerchief scarf, tiny little sweater and stocking minis, and felted pot holders. I could see maybe giving the booties, pot holders, or kerchief as presents, but the rest smack of "wrapping decoration items" to me. I don't really consider a pompom a gift, but that's just me.

The second section is "2-4 hr projects", which includes a baby bonnet, leg warmers, a scarf, children's hat, tea cozy (cashmere because we all need to use EXPENSIVE yarn on a tea pot), fingerless gloves, and a lace scarf. The bonnets I thought were ugly in that "Martha Stuart-esk" way I described earlier. No one wears leg warmers anymore... unless you're a dancer. The rainbow scarf was actually very pretty, but is just a k2, p2 rib. It was the yarn that made it pretty. I didn't find the hats particularly inspiring, as they are just basic hats. I have never understood the point in a teapot cozy, much less in Cashmere! I have friends who really liked the fingerless gloves, and this is probably the best pattern in this section, but I, personally, don't see the point in them. I don't work in an office with air conditioning pounding down on my poor little hands. That brings us to the lace scarf. I'm not sure what I think of this. It seems just a bit short, and very simple lace. I have found other free patterns online that I like much better, but it's not a bad scarf.

"4-6hr projects" includes a child sweater, baby pants, 3 more scarves, a drawstring pouch, and "Gusseted floor cushions". The scarves look simple, but nothing outstanding. The floor cushions are essentially thick square cushions. They are intriguing looking, but in the orange she chose smack of 1950's or 1970's. And once again, we have the little pouch, which is more of a wrapping, not a gift in and of it's self.

"6-8hr gifts" and "More than 8hr gifts" have much more promising items in them. I'll list them briefly: Simple garter stitch patchwork baby blanket, felted yoga mat bag, cowl, camisole (nice, but the model needs to wear a bra with it, and a nice little shrug), cabled purse (with lining!) and 3 toys (bear, bunny, and elephant). The final section includes: a sweater, Herringbone Poncho (ugly frumpy design, but very intriguing stitch pattern), afghan in increasing colors of natural alpaca (simple slip stitch pattern, but very pretty effect), a rippled scarf, and a men's zippered sweater. None of these are by any means difficult or challenging projects. They seem to have simple stitch patterns, and simple lines.

The book is not bad, it just isn't my taste I think. Nothing called out to me "KNIT ME!" It also finishes with the very "Martha Stuart-esk" how to package your hand made gift section. I must admit they look very pretty all wrapped up. I just don't know if I would ever have the time or patience to do it that way.... maybe some day when I open up my own hand knitted boutique shop :D

"Knitting from the Top" by Barbara G. Walker
My copy has a different cover, very 1070's. That doesn't matter though, because I really like this book. This is not a pattern book, it is a reference book. It explains IN DETAIL how to design your own sweaters, all top down, so that you can try them on as you go. You have to read the entire book, as with each new basic design, she draws on elements that she taught you in a previous section. The basic designs include: Reglan Pullover, Reglan Cardigan, Cape, Seamless Skirt (several styles), Reversible pants (lounge wear, let's not wear these to work), 4 different types of sleeves, Dropped -shoulder sweater, and finally a hat.

My copy is copyright 1972 and does not have any color pictures in it. It has some nice diagrams, and examples of what your stitches will do. It is very much a "make your own sweater" book. I was not planning on making a sweater when I picked this up, and feel that I can't use it to the best ability before having to return it. This is definitely a book that I will buy eventually, though, and put on the shelf next to my "Knitting without Tears".

"Knit and Crochet with Beads" by Lily M Chin
I love this book. I don't think it's necessary to buy it, however. Borrow it from the library, or a friend and learn the principles, then give it back. Again, I think of this book as a reference book. It has several patterns in it, but none of them really spoke to me (other than the very beautiful shawl on the cover). It gives very good instructions on different types of beads, and how to incorporate them into your knitting and crochet. She lists 3 different methods for knitting with beads: prestrung beads, separate strand, and hoisted atop stitches. She gives patterns for each type of beading so that you can practice, and shows you the varying results you get depending on how exactly you employ those methods. Given my style, I think I am inclined to use the "hoisted atop stitches" method the most. This simply means that you put your bead on a small crochet hook, slip the stitch off the needle, slip the bead from the hook over both loops of the stitch, and place the stitch back on the needle. It doesn't require any preplanning on how many, or which order beads need to go in like the other 2 prestrung versions do. She then gives 2 different methods for sewing or embroidering beads on a finished garment. Finally, she provides 5 different methods for crocheting with beads.

After having read this book, I am excited to try to add beads to my knitting. I plan to make my mother-in-law a branching out scarf for mother's day, and now am excited to try adding beads to it to make it just that much more special!

"Adorable Knits for Tots" by Zoe Mellor
I may have to review this book again at a later time. I haven't spent much time with it honestly. I won't be making anything from it before I return it, although there are a couple designs that I like. I especially like the "Lacy Sweater" on page 30. This has a pretty little girl sweater with a flower worked in bobbles and cables. I love that. Like most pattern books, though, there are only a few that speak to me. The rest are just kind of "eh". I think I will revisit this book at a later time, when I want to knit that sweater. Maybe then something else will speak to me.

"Creature Comforts" by Amy Bahrt
This is one of those books where I am very tempted to just copy all the charts in the book, as this is really the best part of it. The sweaters are all the same basic shape, the only difference between it and the next one are the colors and the animal depicted on it. I am planning on using 4 different colors of blue and some tan and white that I have to make a baby blanket for the little boy we are expecting in March. I may not start on it until after I have to return the book, so I may either copy the charts that I need, or just renew it. Charts provided in the book: Car, Cow, Duck (4 different types), Giraffe, elephant, sheep (2 different types), bear (2 different types), fish, Train, Fire Truck, Chicken, Bunny, reindeer, Scotty Dog, and Sail Boat. I won't go into detail on the instructions for the patters, as I said before I really think the charts are the most important component. As my husband commented, all the sweaters are the same. They just have different colors and different animals on them. This is definitely worth looking at, though, if you have a baby in your life.

"Bags" A Knitter's Dozen
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I will be buying this book. It has 20 different bags in it everywhere from backpacks, to lacy evening bags, to giant felted totes. I love the small compact size of it, and I love the patterns. The instructions seem to be good, and again it has all of the important first information off to the side in that easy to reference side bar. It describes how to wet felt, how to needle felt, how to make a twisted cord, and many other great things for people like me who have never made a bag before. I will be renewing this book if they will let me, as I already have a pretty little lace bag on my to do list. After the Olympics that is. It also has great diagrams on how to put things together, how to sew in a zipper and may other things. I can't wait to add this to my "Presents for Dawn list" which already includes a set of Denise interchangeable needles. Hint Hint, I would really like some Denise interchangeable needles.

Well, I got through all 7 books, but kinda ran out of steam by the end. Sorry. Now I think I've spent enough time in cyberspace and want to get back to my sock.


Blogger b.b. said...

I love my local library for knitting books. I can't afford to buy books that I might only knit one pattern out of, so I love being able to "try before I buy." And really, a lot of the fun for me is just looking at all the pretty things ;)

8:18 AM  

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