Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blog Tour: California Revival Knits, by Stephannie Tallent

Hoo-boy. Barely recovered from my trip to Atlanta, in the throes of making sock monkey bike helmet covers for the middle school's Wizard of Oz production (don't ask),

it is the perfect time to take a break and look at a new book full of pretty things.  Today we are a stop on the blog tour for California Revival Knits, by Stephannie Tallent.  You may know Stephannie from her blog, Sunset Cat, or from her many designs appearing on Ravelry and elsewhere.  In California Revival Knits, published by Cooperative Press (digital/PDF available right now, for $16.95; digital plus preorder for print is 26.95 plus shipping), Stephannie presents a collection of designs inspired by a style of California architecture.
To me, California Revival can include Mission, Spanish Colonial or Spanish revival styles; at a certain point, unless you're a historical architectural scholar, the differences are very tiny. Regardless, all those styles feature stucco, red tile roofs, coved ceilings, tile tile and more tile (with Spanish, Moorish or Mexican influences) and wrought iron. 
Stephannie walks us through a visit to Adamson House, a preserved California Revival house in  Malibu and introduces us to some of the pottery companies that still create tile characteristic of the Revival style. For those interested in the design process, Stephannie ncludes an explanation of she began with a particular architectural style and turned it into a collection of knitting patterns, for example, using the rich colors of the characteristic Revival tile to create a palette for the items in the book.

I counted 16 patterns (although Ravelry says 14, probably due to variations, like mittens and fingerless mitts), all for adult women. Two of these are sweater patterns, this tile inspired pullover with beaded accents

and my favorite pattern in the book, the Wrought cardigan.

Both are sized from XS to 3XL (finished chest circumferences extending to 55-ish inches) and feature full schematics and color charts.

With the exception of the Catalina Star pillow

the remaining patterns are all accessories.  The Peacock Stole is lovely lace (there's a Peacock cowl, too)

knit in a sportweight yarn (the cowl is shown in laceweight and fingering weight).

Stephannie obviously has a "talent" for colorwork; the Stairstep Tam does a great job of taking the California Revival palette and translating it into stranded motifs.

There are several pair of mitts and mittens, including the pretty Quatrefoil Mitts, in harmonious shades of blue (love that kitteh, too)

as well as am intarsia mitten and cowl combo that probably qualify as The Mother of All Duplicate-Stitch Projects (they use intarsia and beads, too).

Sockknitters will enjoy two pair of socks, one colorwork (the Fringe socks) and one featuring twisted stitches, the Wrought Socks:

And speaking of twisted stitches, you'll find Wrought Mitts and Beret  to go along with the Wrought Cardigan and Socks.

Sock patterns come in three sizes, some of the mitts/mittens in 2 (others in one size fits all), and the others in one size fits all (except the sweaters, as noted above). Fingering weight yarn (category 1) is the most common category of yarn used, and interestingly, nearly all the yarns are handdyes, mostly from small producers.

To sum up:  Stephannie Tallent and Cooperative Press present a lovely collection of garments in California Revival Knits, with pretty photography, all the amenities like charts and schematics (for sweaters), and lots of beautiful detail.  I especially love the use of semisolid handdyed yarns, and the creative ways that Stephannie Talent used her love of a particular style of architecture as jumping-off point for a terrific collection of patterns.

Next stop on the blog tour: Yarn A-Go-Go.....on April 30th.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Preview: Koigu Magazine No. 3

What fun!  It's time to preview another Koigu Magazine.  This one should be on your LYS shelves very soon, and as usual, is a mixture of different styles, different types of garments and different techniques, with one common factor: the wow of Koigu color.

Garment shown is Enchanted, by Taiu Landra

If you're a fan of Koigu, like I am, you know that Koigu colorways are like potato chips or M-and-Ms: so delicious it's impossible to limit yourself to one. And I think that is why so many designers like using multiple colorways when they knit with Koigu yarns.  The cover garment is one of several modular garments made with Koigu. I love the way one can acheive a stained-glass-like effect with modular knitting, as with German designer Angela Muhlpfordt's charming blanket with a geodesic effect.

MoMo's Throw, Angela Muhlpfordt

Another showstopper is Maie Landra's jacket, again using hexagons in multiple colors to create a lovely multihued fabric with drape:

Color Vision, Maie Landra

Fair isle and other stranded techniques are another great way to play with multiple balls of Koigu. Check out Barb Brown's wonderful Butterfly Socks, which are shown using several miniskeins of Koigu in random order for the contrast colours (in your honour, Barb, I've added the "u" to "color"). The directions for these socks give the knitter the option of randomly selecting colours for the butterfly motifs that go down the socks, and it's fascinating to me that even though the two socks use the colours in a different order, they don't look mismatched at all.  (Of course, these would also look divine with a single contrast colour of Koigu used for the motifs....)

I love the stitch pattern on the sole of the foot that repeats the striping in a different pattern.

One aspect of Koigu Magazine that I enjoy is seeing how different designers decide to play with their Koigu colors. After noodling around with quilting the past year, I was inspired to take multiple colorways of Kersti and create a brick-shaped patchwork for the front of this vest:

Candy Girl by me

Then it was fascinating to see how the same order of colors I used for the blocks stacked up on the back, when knit in simple stripes.

If you're in the mood for something done in a single colorway, check out Barb Brown's lovely Lucky Lady shawl, done in a blue like the sky on a summer day.

Lucky Lady, Barb Brown

Or how about this stunning cabled sweater from Korean (I think) designer Unjung Yun?

Golden Wings by Unjun Yun

 Laura Grutzeck designed this beautifully-tailored top, great for multi-season wear,

Laara, by Laura Grutzeck

or if you prefer a slightly more relaxed silhouette, there's Anniki Lepik's charming short-sleeved sweater.

Lilu, by Anniki Lepik

Perhaps I"m projecting, because when I designed Candy Girl, I was definitely thinking about Kersti, Taiu Landra's daughter, but there are several patterns that would be adorable on teen and tween girls, as well as women.  Brooke Nico designed this adorable dress (which could also be worn as a tunic), Gamine, with two different lacy stitch patterns (one on the bodice, the other on the skirt).

Gamine, Brooke Nico

 Laura Zukaite created a charming ensemble using a delicious red set of colorways:

Kadri, by Laura Zukaite

Crochet fans will be pleased to see this versatile cardigan:

Garden Cardi, Lindsey Stephens

and Mary Beth Temple's Mitered Crochet Throw shows another stylish way to use multiple colourways:

Mitred Crochet Throw, Mary Beth Temple

(That Mary Beth Temple --NOT to be confused with Mary Beth Klatt, who is a completely different person who had nothing to do with these designs -- also sneaked in a cute knitted cap:)

Beanie, Mary Beth Temple

Totals for those who like the numbers:
  • 6 pullovers (3 long-sleeved, 3 short-sleeved)
  • 7 cardigans (all but 1 or 2 are knitted, the others crocheted)
  • 2 skirts
  • 1 dress/tunic
  • 3 sleeveless sweaters/vests
  • 1 lace shawl
  • 1 hat
  • 1 pair stranded socks
  • 1 knitted throw and 1 crocheted throw
  • 1 doggie sweater
  • 1 little girl's ensemble (hat, dress, sweater and skirt) 
There you have it: a sneak preview of Koigu Magazine No. 3. It will be arriving in stores soon, or ask your local purveyor of Koigu to order it for you!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Blog Tour: Beyond Knit & Purl by Kate Atherly

Hmmm. It didn't seem like that long since I blogged last, but apparently, it's been a little while.  Nothing major going on here: getting lots of yarn dyed for the trunk show at Loop kept me busy for a while,then a sweater to finish for the lovely folks at Universal Yarns, and now I'm finishing up a week with the kids on spring break. I am glad that our lovely friends at Cooperative Press sent me a review copy of Beyond Knit and Purl: Take Your Knitting to the Next Level, by Kate Atherly.  I agreed to be today's stop on a blog tour, so let's take a look.

Kate Atherly has been teaching knitting for nearly a decade, and when teaching newbies, she was asked the same questions, over and over:

What’s easy to knit? What’s a good first project? Where can I find good patterns? And inevitably: I’m tired of scarves. What’s next? 
Her book is her answer to these questions, and more importantly, to address the big challenge that new knitters face:  the fact that "there’s a big gulf between knowing how to knit and purl and knowing how to choose and successfully work a pattern."

Spring Leaves Shawl (Chapter 10)

Her book begins by helping new knitters (and probably a lot of not-so-knitters) make sense of knitting patterns. Chapter 1 starts off with advice for how to select a knitting pattern. Atherly begins by explaining difficulty ratings; gives some tips for how to estimate pattern difficulty with a quick scan; covers the importance of checking for errata and updates; and includes a chart, setting out type of garment along with typical skills needed and how that translates into easy or hard.

Lace Bookmark (Chapter 10)

Chapter 2 walks you through pattern prep, touching on issues like sizing, ease, fiber selection, gauge, quantity of yarn to buy and needle size. Chapter 3 covers issues that arise when actually reading the pattern, including terminology, how to read pattern-speak, reading charts, and how to reverse shaping. Chapter 4 addresses some issues that your pattern might not cover, such as how to join a new ball of yarn, how to measure your progress, and even what to do if things don't seem to be going well. Chapter 5 then covers a few additional issues, like continental vs. English knitting; care of knitwear; and additional references for both technical advice and patterns.

Cat Toy (Chapter 7)

The next section of Beyond Knit & Purl cover very specific skills that a newbie knitter needs to master. Chapter 6 is devoted to shaping, showing various types of increases and decreases, along with photographs of how to work them and -- very helpful -- clear photos of what the increases and decreases look like knit into a swatch. The chapter ends with three basic projects designed to illustrate these techniques, including washcloth, scarf and baby sweater.

One-Piece Baby Sweater (Chapter 6)

Chapter 7 explains knitting in the round, again with lots of photographs showing how to hold the needles and join, how to work the first stitch, distributing stitches and troubleshooting. You can practice by working a kitty-cat toy, then progressing to a slouchy hat, wristwarmers, and double-layered mittens.

Slouchy Hat (Chapter 7)

Chapter 8 looks at socks, giving a structural overview; outlining top-down and toe-up approaches, and starting the knitter off with a mini-sock. Next up is a toe-up basic pattern, a tutorial on Judy's Magic Cast-on, a cuff-down basic and ribbed patterns, and a brief section on designing socks.

Bias Scarf (Chapter 6)

The next few chapters cover specific skills:

  • Chapter 9 covers cables, including how to  read cable patterns, charts, and includes a quickie pattern for a coffee cup cozy; the knitter can then progress to a chunky cable scarf  and hat, and cabled socks.  
  • Chapter 10 is lace: basic mesh and fishnet patterns, reading charts, gauge, lifelines, and blocking. The first project is a sweet lace bookmark, and then the knitter can practice her skills on a Crest o' the Wave scarf, and two triangular shawls.
  • Chapter 11 covers colorwork, from basic stripes to fair isle to intarsia. Projects begin with a cell phone cozy and include a candy-cane-themed Christmas stocking, a zigzag tam, and herringbone socks.
Houndstooth Socks (Chapter 11)

The book closes with the usuals -- glossary, bibliography and acknowledgements.  (You can purchase the book in print, digital or both forms here. The cost is $16.95 for the PDF version, and $26.95 (plus shipping) for both print and PDF version.)  There's a lot of good technical information in Beyond Knit & Purl, perfect for a knitter who's mastered the basic stitches but wants to learn more complex techniques without getting overwhelmed. The manageable projects will allow the less-experienced knitter to stretch her wings, again, without being overwhelmed and discouraged.

To learn more about the book and Kate, follow along with the blog tour:  next stop:  LeeLeetea.......on April 8th.