Monday, August 30, 2010

Beyond Knits

Every once in a while I choose books for knitting examination that branch away from standard knitting techniques. Today I'm reviewing a books on color theory, knitting with beads and fiber felting. Two of these books I want to add to my permanent collection.

ColorSense: Creative Color Combinations for Crafters by Susan Levin

So this is not a book just for knitters, but it is important to think of color combinations and how they work. This is something that I have trouble with.

This book is a FANTASTIC reference. It not only discusses color theory, but gives pages and pages of examples. There are monochromatic, two color, three color, complementing color, contrasting anything you can imagine. Flipping through the pages looking at the color examples gives me so much inspiration. It is inspiring me to dye yarn, to knit colorways...

To show how extensive this resource is, in the section Monochromatic Combinations there are two pages of red, two pages of red/orange, two pages or orange, etc.

The book contains a color wheel so you can examine the color theory yourself. There are also color squares that you can pop out of the book to move swatches of different shades around to find a combination that you like.

I want this book to become a permanent part of my collection. Too bad it belongs to the Cambridge Public Library....

Knit One, Bead Too: Essential Techniques for Knitting with Beads by Judith Durant

What a fantastic reference for making beaded knitting projects. I tried to figure it out on my own when I designed a beaded Christmas ornament, but it did not come out as elegant as I would have liked. This spiral bound book (for easy hands-free reading) is such a great reference that I put it on my wish list. I want to own this book. This is by far my favorite Durant book.

Durant explains different kinds of beads and the yarns you can use with them. There are examples of the different ways to incorporate beads into the knitting for comparison so you understand the difference. The book is separated into seven chapters: Tools and Techniques, Bead Knitting, Beaded Knitting, Slipstitch Bead Knitting, Cary-Along Bead Knitting, Hook Bead Knitting, and Putting it all together. Chapters 2-6 begin with techniques and then show patterns that use the technique.
The Patterns:
  • For Home: Carpet Coasters, Grape and Berries Pillow
  • Bags: Turquoise Mixed Bag, Golden Purse, Mermaid Shoulder Bag, Sampler Beaded Bag (using all of the techniques in the book)
  • Accessories: Colorful Diamond Gloves, Iridescent Beaded Scarf, Magic Mohair Beret, Beady Tam, Wedding Stole
  • Clothing: Crystal Cardigan, Beady-Eyed Cable Socks, Beads-Go-Sporty Pullover, Drop-Bead Evening Shell, Zulu Inspired Vest
The beading in the patterns ranges from complete (you almost cannot see any knitting) to very subtle (you need to be under a light to see them). The types of patterns are varied, which gives wonderful examples of how beading can enhance knitting. The patterns are beautiful, but the real value of this book is in the beaded knitting instructions. As a reference book, it belongs on every knitter's shelf.

Felt Style: 35 Fashionable Accessories To Create and Wear by Chrissie Day

I love making felted projects, even if sometimes I end up shrinking something a wee bit too much. I have a book of felted patterns in my library that I bought for a particular pattern, but was disseminated with those remaining. I'm hoping to like this one.

There is an extensive Techniques section, all of which are listed in the table of Contents. The instructions for different felting techniques are FANTASTIC with illuminating photographs.
  • Bags - 8
  • Jewelry - 5
  • Scarves - 5
  • Accessories - 5 (Muff, Pumps, Belt, and another Bag)
  • Hats (7)
This is not just a knitting book, this is a true felting book. Some of the patterns are felted-knitted fabrics. Others explore felting with fibers directly. When the patterns involve no knitting, there are brilliant step by step photos of the process so you can see how things should appear at each step. You also learn how to felt fibers onto fabric... something that I'd never imagined until this book.

I'm not really impressed by felting onto fabric. There is one bag that is cute, but a lot of the projects come out looking very crafty-homemade. I like my projects to look hand knit (vs machine), but I also like them to have a sophistication. The most impressive thing about this book is how techniques are illustrated. There are some cute patterns, but many are not to my taste or my technique. The patterns that are most impressive are the ones that are felted from fiber. This is not a craft that I'm interested in learning at the moment. (The next thing that I'm going to learn is crochet!)