Saturday, May 2, 2015

Review of "Colorwork Knitting" and Interview with Sarah E. White!


I am so excited to have the opportunity to review the new knitting book Colorwork Knitting: 25 Spectacular Sweaters, Hats, and Accessories by Sarah E. White!  I love knitting, and designing, with color so a book that looks at 5 different colorwork techniques (striping, striping with self-striping yarn, slip stitch, stranded, and intarsia) is right up my alley. Sarah has published a few knitting books and is the knitting expert for About.com and CraftGossip.com and blogs at Our Daily Craft.  Before I received the copy of the book, I had the opportunity to ask Sarah some questions.

ChemKnits: When did you learn to knit?  What was the first thing you ever made?
Sarah: I learned from my grandmother when I was maybe 10 years old. My first project, like probably everyone’s, was an amoeba-shaped something. Back then I exclusively knit squares and rectangles. It wasn’t until after college that I really got into serious knitting with shaping and the like.

ChemKnits: If you had unlimited time and no deadlines, what would you start knitting?  
Sarah: I would probably take up knitting intricate lace shawls. I love the look of them, but don’t have the time or patience for them right now.

ChemKnits: Where did your inspiration for Colorwork Knitting come from?
Sarah: I love color knitting, and I know a lot of knitters do, too. But I also feel like it can be intimidating for knitters to get started using color. So I wanted to write a book that would provide knitters with relatively easy entry into the world of color, starting with self-striping yarns and moving through making your own stripes, slip-stitch knitting, stranded knitting and intarsia. Likewise the projects vary in skill level, too, from scarves, mitts and hats to socks and sweaters. So I really feel like there’s something here for everyone.

ChemKnits: Your latest book is all about different types of colorwork, which is your favorite technique?
Sarah: I’m really interested in slip-stitch knitting right now. I think it’s underrated and can make some really interesting designs with very little work on the part of the knitter (my favorite!).

ChemKnits: What is your favorite yarn to knit with? 
Sarah: There are so many yummy yarns out there it’s hard to pick a favorite, but some of the favorites that I worked with in the book include Malabrigo worsted (of course!), Socks that Rock by Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and Spud and Chloe Sweater.

ChemKnits: You have hundreds of designs!  What are your favorites?  
Sarah: Oh, man, that’s a hard one, too! The Candle Flame Cowl is one of my favorites, because it uses a lacy pattern in a bulky yarn, which is interesting. The bright yellow color is always great on dreary winter days, too. I knit the Grace Note Shawl for my mother-in-law and I wish I had time to make myself one, too. It’s pretty easy but really lovely.  And for sentimental reasons I love this baby striped hat because it’s the first thing I knit for my daughter when she was still in the NICU (born six weeks early).

ChemKnits: What type of project do you recommend for first time knitters?  
Sarah: When I teach knitting in person I always start with a basic, bulky Garter Stitch Scarf. And I teach the knit cast on so once they have the cast on down they basically know how to knit.
My students often joke that they’re really making a Garter Stitch potholder because they might not have the stamina for a whole scarf, so that’s another option, just knit until you want to be done and move on to the next thing. Which should be Stockinette Stitch or ribbing to introduce purling.
But I think anything practical is a great first project, whether it’s a scarf or a washcloth, because it’s great to start off knitting something you can use.


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When Colorwork Knitting: 25 Spectacular Sweaters, Hats, and Accessories showed up on my doorstep at the end of April, I was so excited to open the glossy color pages.  The book is divided into five sections of five patterns utilizing the specific colorwork technique: Knitting with Self-Striping Yarns, Making Your Own Stripes, Slip-Stitch Knitting, All About Stranded Knitting and Intarsia Knitting.  If you are new to colorwork, you can learn about these techniques in the introduction while looking at samples of finished objects on the same page.  At this stage in my knitting history I've done a lot of different colorwork projects, but I also picked up some great tips from Sarah. I've never thought about wrapping the different colors from my project around a stick to see smaller amounts close together!

The chapters are arranged in order of difficulty, starting with using self striping yarns. Each chapter begins with a deeper introduction to the colowork technique that include pros and cons to the technique.  I love pros and cons lists!  Each pattern includes clear instructions and multiple full color photographs from different angles.  I really appreciate being able to see the garments from different angles before you decide to cast on.  The pattern instructions themselves are written clearly and are not intimidating.  While this book focuses on new colorwork techniques, there is a section to help with other knitting and finishing techniques at the end of the book.

Colorwork Knitting is written for a beginner, but there are plenty of patterns an advanced knitter can enjoy as well.  You can dress your entire body in a riot of color, from accessories like hats, gloves and scarves to garments like sweaters and socks.  I fell in love with the Sunburst Horizontal Stripe Scarf.  The garter stitch pattern is simple enough for a true beginner while being eye catching enough that I want to have some in my closet.  I am a sucker for ombré knitting so the Ombre Striped Mitts immediately drew me in.  I love how the fingers are each a different color.  I am inspired by how half way through the Brick Stitch Scarf you switch the main color and contrasting color, I now want to apply this to other scarf patterns, too!  The Two-Color Cable Hat would be perfect for a sports fan in vibrant colors that twist together but would also look great with less contrasting colors.  This project immediately went into my queue, I cannot wait to try two color cables!

This book has everything I love in a knitting book.  Detailed photographs, a visual index of patterns (seriously, this is a feature that I LOVE in a book and I don't understand why everyone doesn't do it) and even websites of where you can buy the yarns featured in this book.

Before I started my first ever colorowork project, I was really nervous that it would all fall to pieces.  I wish that I had a copy of this book back then!  After reading this book, I feel inspired to add colorwork to my knitting in new ways I'd never considered before.  If you are feeling intimidated by colorwork, don't be.  Let Sarah be your guide and introduce you to the wonderful world of Colorwork Knitting!


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This review was written at the request of Sarah E. White, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You should check out what Sarah has to say about her book, too!    

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