Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Review: Simple Knitting by Erika Knight

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Simple Knitting

Have you ever considered knitting your own dishcloths? No?  Me neither… that is, until I started reading Simple Knitting.  This gorgeous book, tagged as ‘a how-to-knit workshop with 20 desirable projects’ is an exercise in tactile seduction.  Illustrated throughout in subtle muted tones and featuring natural materials such as bamboo, silk and cotton, its modern, minimalist aesthetic is instantly attractive.

The book is split into two main sections.  The first covers the basics of knitting; from choosing your yarn and needles to the knitty-gritty (sorry) of making those first stitches. There’s also a helpful glossary of abbreviations and a clear explanation of how to read knitting patterns and charts, all written in Erika Knight’s reassuringly calm and encouraging tone. The section is rounded off with a useful library of stitches and textures including a variety of cables and ribs.

The patterns section of the book comprises twenty projects, primarily home décor items and accessories.  Beginning with a simple scarf and progressing to a v-neck pocketed cardigan, taking in mittens, cushion covers and socks on the way, the patterns progress in difficulty through the book. Each begins with an experience level rating, a ‘what you’ll learn’ summary and a list of the stitches used, as well as the usual yarn and needle requirements.

photo credit: Yuki Sugiura

And even fairly experienced knitters can learn something from this book, be it socks on 4 double-pin needles, beginning steps in intarsia or short-row shaping. Never claiming to be encyclopaedic or definitive, Ms Knight says she simply teaches the methods she herself finds most effective.  This emphasis on education extends the life and usefulness of the book – even when you’re not knitting the projects, you can refer to it over again for the cast-on method, invisible seaming or stitch library. That said, I defy you to look through this book and fail to find at least one must-knit project!

I might lack the patience to produce the huge colour-block throw but I’ve already bookmarked the knitted notebook covers, socks and intarsia pincushion for near-future knitting. That is, of course, once I’ve finished my dishcloth.

Simple Knitting by Erika Knight, Quadrille Publishing, £16.99

Knitting Book Review and Giveaway!

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

In The Loop

Although knitting’s well and truly established in the mainstream, there are some artists taking the medium to the extreme. In the Loop: Knitting Now looks more closely at this phenomenon.  We asked our resident knitting ninja, Katy of Girl Industries for her take on it…

In the Loop focuses on the resurgence in popularity of knitting, and its rediscovered role in activism, identity and culture.  Published by black dog, and edited, or rather curated by Jessica Hemming, this book was born out of an academic conference held in in England in July 2008.

It’s a thought-provoking collection of writing by academics, artists, historians and a poet, amongst others.  The predominantly scholarly tone of the book meant that I did have to cast my mind back to my university days in Paris to recall exactly what the Lacanian theory of the gaze was, again, but the majority of the book is accessible and enjoyable if you have an interest in grassroots homespun activism, or the sheer joy of knitting.  And fear not, there are lots and lots of illustrative photographs, which quite often speak for themselves.

RACHEL BETH EGENHOEFER, Knit Negotiation, 2004

One of the first essays in the collection acknowledges knitting’s image problem, and from there, a succession of theorists show how the profile of the craft is being raised on an international basis.  I was delighted to see the International Fiber Collective’s Gas Station Project featured here.

It is refreshing to read about like-minded knitters in Africa, North America and the UK as well.  Everyone’s heard of Shetland wool, but did you know that Lerwick and points north had cultivated an edgy fibre arts scene?  Even the murky world of knit lit (yes, really) is explored in this fascinating collection of pictures and words.

All in all, an inspiring read, that balances a sense of humour and a do-it-yourself aethestic alongside more lofty concepts of art and activism.

In The Loop

In the Loop: Knitting Now by Jessica Hemmings, Black Dog publishing, £24.95

And we’ve got a copy of the book to give away!  To be in with a chance, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post, making sure you include some kind of contact info.   The winner will be chosen on Wednesday June 17.