Sunday, July 31, 2005


Note: the twisted stitch in the scarf from the July 29 entry is from Vogue Knitting International Fall 2004 issue, pattern #23 "Posh Pullover". The stitch pattern doesn't seem to have a name.

That said, here's a review of the book: Erica Knight is another inspiring designer that gets my thoughts going. There's just something about beautifully photographed knitting that is endlessly attractive for me. One of the more memorable pieces is the pair of satin ribbon slippers (on the cover) that I swear I'm going to make some day! Knight leads knitters through a variety of unconventional knitting materials, and is very good at also giving examples of household items rather than sticking with sweaters and scarves. I think her sensibilities and hip style sense make knitting look positively the hippest of the hip. She gives an example of knitting with wire, and also knitting by cutting up those omnipresent poly bags that everyone brings home from shopping. Cutting into my stash of those things is definitely on my list. Caveat: I read knitting books for the photos and rarely use the directions, so if you want a more technical review of her pattern writing, please find other reviews.

Here's the full cite:
Simple Knits with a Twist: Unique Projects for Creative Knitters, by Erica Knight, April 2004, Stewart, Tabori & Chang,
ISBN: 1-58479-361-9 Softcover, 128p. $19.95

Saturday, July 30, 2005


I lusted after this book for weeks on end before I took the plunge. Maggie Jackson's designs are mind-bending in many good ways. The photos of Ireland are delicious, yet there's just enough over-the-top giddiness about celebrating it all that it ends up being silly. There are photos of the caterer for the project. Maybe I've just become dour in my middle age. It has the Xenakis touch, always lush, and perhaps it's he who makes sure that there's a bit of the behind the cameras scene brought into the work itself.

Anyway, the way that Maggie puts together fabrics and embellishments is worth study. I simply adore the way that she creates many textures within a fabric, using stitches and attached thingies. Between the various slits, holes and attached thingies there are endlessly attractive pieces. There are also some things I consider just plain weird, but I like weird. Especially because so much knitted design is the same, with very fearful people who don't seem to be able to think of much outside what's already been done a million times. Yay, Maggie! The book goes through various colorways so that each chapter has its own color theme. I enjoyed savoring the effects of each color and how the various types of yarn that Maggie produces look in the various colors. There's a good variety of garments too, so it's not just sweaters and more sweaters. I also like the way she uses diagrammatic illustrations. For some reason, I always get a boost in understanding the garment construction when I see these diagrams. Maybe it's from my sewing background. They complement the photographs and really give a great sense of her design thinking.

Here's the full citation: Maggie's Ireland: Designer Knits on Location
by Maggie Jackson, April 2004 Wyrick & Company ISBN:1-893762-18-1 Hardcover (Trade Cloth)168p $37.95

I was wandering around in a nearby knit shop in the Berkshires very early this past spring, Colorful Stitches, and found a MaggiKnits kit, on sale for $285.00. It had been marked down from $400.00

Friday, July 29, 2005

In the studio

Scarf, Noro "Silk Garden" yarn - 45% Silk, 45% Kid Mohair, 10% Lambs Wool, twisted stockinette stitch (I don't know the official name of the stitch), size 15 needles

I've become obsessed with this twisted stitch. I think I'm doing about four things now using it. This one is almost done, and very lacy because of the huge needles. I like doing the stitch with smooth rather than fuzzy yarns so far because it has such great lines, and I like them to show clearly. I found it in a magazine sweater pattern and didn't want to do the whole sweater. The magazine sweater was done in a light blue cashmere blend yarn and is utterly smashing because of the twist pattern. I apologize for not being able to cite it.

The studio is really jumping these days with projects. I at last realized that I can listen to internet "radio" while I'm in there and so I'm spending hours and hours listening to "radio" from all around the world and that keeps me going with the knitting - "just have to do a few more rows here so I can listen to the rest of this show" and like that. And I'm brushing up on my French, German and Spanish too!

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Mixed fibers, linen stitch, size 11 needles

This project was one of the first in which I intentionally used analogous colors (from the "color wheel" in color theory) to form the fabric. Since then I've played much more with analogous colors and like how they work together in fabric. I like to think of three analogous colors, then sometimes stretch beyond that limit with maybe one yarn, to add something that stands out within the fabric and catches the eye.

The linen stitch is very difficult for me to do for long periods of time. There's not a piece I've tried using linen stitch that hasn't become screwed up because I can't concentrate enough to keep the same number of stitches in every row. Ripping it out makes me even more upset!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

In the studio

Triangle shawl, mixed fibers

This is probably my last fling using many many yarns in one piece. I've made lots of these now and it's time to move on, although I do love them very much. I'm going back to a mix of EuroFlax tan linen with several other linens and fuzzy yarns, adding in sequins and yarns with sparkly fibers in them. I'm also back to making it all rather lacy by using large needles. So it'll be a very loosey goosey drape in the fabric. I've made balls of yarn by selecting arbitrary lengths of the various yarns, being sure to use the EuroFlax between each different color. This makes for much of the shawl being the rich tan of the linen with the other colors contrasting and coming forth, and a lot of earth tones make it look like something you could pick up off a forest floor. I'm also not weaving in the ends so that it'll be a rather shaggy, barbarian sort of looking thing. At the end of each row I'm tying a big loop to make a loopy fringed edge.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

In the studio

White wool worsted, rib stitch.

This little gem is one I began in a series of thin scarves. Elissa Halloran asked me for thin scarves, so I decided on a series that would include lots of flash (sequins) and a variety of textures and weights. This wool feels marvelous. It's "Vail" by Colorado yarns, and it feels good going through my fingers. I decided on smaller needles than the larger sizes I've been using for scarves lately to create a lot of loose drape. This scarf is on size 9 needles, so there's drape, but not the loosey goosey texture I've been doing in scarves with long rows and several yarns. Using only one yarn and having the scarf be on the firmer, heavier side (thanks to the rib stitch) helped me enjoy the contrast from many of the others in the series.

All day yesterday in the studio I made myself work on the sequins for a berry red wool scarf. The sequins are turquoise, and on the red they're quite interesting. I'm counting on them at least being visible in a photo! With a few more hours of finishing I should finally be able to take a bag full of thin scarves to Elissa!

Monday, July 25, 2005


The dreamy photos capture my imagination. Although I spent many hours with this book, I'm not going to knit anything based on the patterns. I bought it because it's eye candy. So I can't really make comment on the quality of the patterns, although I have found XRX Books to generally be high quality when I have used them. I enjoyed very much the variety of designs and the range from simple to very complex pieces that would keep your mind wrapped up in counting for the entire piece. After absorbing all I could in terms of enjoying the various ideas, I donated it to my local library. I'm sure I'll visit it from time to time for the pleasure of looking at the photos. I was inspired each time I opened it.

Here's the whole citation: Arans and Celtics: The Best of Knitter's Magazine by Alexis Xenakis; November 2003; XRX Books;
ISBN: 1-893762-05-X; 108p. $19.95

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Knitting with fabric

I've crocheted with cloth strips more than knitted with them. This is my most recent esperiment and I'm not altogether happy yet. That's a size 19 needle and the fabric is heavy silk charmeuse. Maybe I'll be happier with something other than stockinette stitch.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Since I'm a sucker for Xenakis's photography, I love this book. It's been in my bed for quite awhile because I ruminate over the shapes and ideas as I'm falling asleep. The variety of shapes and weights and textures is wonderful food for thought as I forge my own designs. The editors have selected casual as well as delicate and dressy wraps and ponchos. There are more than a dozen, but that's ok by me. It feels like there are a hundred, because when I leave the book alone for a few weeks I go back to it and there are more ideas for me to ponder.

Here's the whole citation:

Ponchos and Wraps: A Knitter's Dozen; Alexis Xenakis (Photographer); April 2005; XRX Books ISBN: 1-933064-01-3; Softcover (Trade Paper)80 p $15.95

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

This is the first purple and gold piece, with color names "curry" and "eggplant" from Dale of Norway. It's beautifully soft. The stitch is a variation pattern on stockinette with right twist then left twist in the knit row, then a purl row. You cast on multiples of four. I like that the colors are not straight purple and gold.

On the library front: My library is purchasing blogging software to be used for various library communications. I'll probably be shifting my newsletter on scholarly communication and open access to a blog format. So that means four blogs for me. How did this happen?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


I consider this to be a companion piece to the one I posted about yesterday. It's the same giant needles but a doulble rib, k2,p2.

I've begun to prepare some sample pieces for my Art Night knitters. Our school colors are purple and gold, so I've taken up a few scarves and hats in purple and gold to see if I can inspire them to think about the color possibilities and the sense of school spirit that wearing the colors can enhance. Photos to come.

Besides Art Night, my programs in the dorm now include clusters of one I call The Librarian is IN. I begin just as the reference desk in the main library on campus closes and offer personal service regarding using databases, learning about what's on the library web site, and all things web-oriented. I don't have a collection of print materials in my little office, so I just use what I can via my web connection and dispense advice about going to the library to get other stuff.

And yes, Elizabeth, you should leave a comment now and then.

Monday, July 18, 2005


As part of my library life I'm a faculty in residence. I live in a dormitory with older students and no freshmen. On weekends I usually set up an open studio that I call "Art Night" and I start at 9pm. This past spring semesters I've been trying to make it known that knitters and wannabes are welcome. I'll be doing the same thing this academic year.

I got this deep green Allagash yarn as part of a Webs grab bag. This one is a single rib pattern, k1,p1, and I think it's dreamy. I used huge wood needles and they have a very comforting "clunk" sound while I'm knitting.

Wool, rib stitch, size 15 needles Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 17, 2005


My latest book purchase is providing me with inspiration for small projects that will use up all my short strands of yarn. Freeform Knitting and Crochet by Jenny Dowde has lots of interesting tips.

The full citation: Freeform Knitting and Crochet
, Jenny Dowde, September 2004,Sally Milner Publishing Pty, Limited ISBN:1-86351-327-2Softcover (Trade Paper),160p.

I appreciate what she includes regarding design, but feel a little let down by how little it actually is. She invokes the feeling that you should study design, but then really only mentions it. I think what knitters need is lots of ideas regarding design. I feel she explained the technique in a few words and then spent lots and lots of time giving instructions for things like fragments, which she admits should not really be made according to instructions. I think she should have spent the effort more on design and left the basic technique up to readers to discover. Espcially since that's what freeform is all about.

But....I'm always a bit put off by how much space lots of knitting books dedicate to technique. Almost every knitting book editor feels obligated to include basic knitting lessons as though every single book must have them. I disagree. Only the most remotely placed individuals cannot get ahold of knitting technique information.

In Jenny Dowde's case, I think it was a seriously misplaced idea that she should coddle the beginning knitter. The beginning knitter is going to have extreme difficulty doing things she's proposing anyway. They involve a very high level of ingenuity, and beginners are still learning how to hold the needles and yarn at the same time.

But I still like the book, only wish there were more illustrations and inspiring tips for advanced knitters who are leaving patterns behind and taking off in freeform ideas. I also think she does a very good job of describing the techniques that are needed to accomplish projects using the freeform ideas of putting together fragments. Her Funky FX chapter also rocks. I'm definitely going to be adding some funky fx to my knitting in the near future.

This book is in my bed, which means it ranks high.

Friday, July 15, 2005


Pillow tops are satisfying because they don't take forever and I can unleash my yearning for drama. It's becoming an easy way to design textiles and experiment with ideas without having to go on forever. It's over in a flash and yet it's enough knitting to help me decide if I like it or not.

Hey look - I joined the Knitter Librarians web ring. I had to make a committment to talk about librarianship. Not hard. I started working in my school library when I was 13. I flirted with bookstores and even took a student job reading for blind students, but it's libraries that have sustained me for lo these many years.

Pillow top, mixed fibers, stockinette stitch Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Teva Durham has published a collection of her designs that is inspiring and delightfully contemporary, yet they're looking back at a long tradition. It's called Loop-d-Loop. She writes that those words describe for her a lot of what knitting is all about. Her web site, Loop-d-loop,, gives a good preview of the book's contents. She has very strong style elements and her designs strike me as being good for beginners because they'll knit up quickly. She generally encorporates nice big bulky yarns that make small pieces go together in a snap. I get tired of looking at the same old things, so I was encouraged by Ms. Durham's designs to believe that there's still more to invent when it comes to knitting.

I got this book at my local independent bookstore, because I don't shop for books on the web and want my bookstore to be around for a long time. If you like Loop-d-Loop, I recommend you get it either from your local book store or yarn shop.

The whole citation: Loop-D-Loop, by Teva Durham and Adrian Buckmaster, June 2005. Stewart, Tabori & Chang
ISBN: 1-58479-414-3 (hard cover) 176 p., $29.95

Loop-d-Loop Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

In the studio

The photo of the skein was taken in my apartment and with this different lighting in my studio the yarn looks like another color. But...this is what I'm making from the scrumptious silk I got at Woodstock Wool Company - the Tuesday entry below. It's a very special pleasure to work with this silk. I've tried this rather plain stitch, but I think it will show off a complicated stitch beautifully.

Tussah silk, "luxe silk" thin scarf, garter stitch selvage and stockinette pattern. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My latest skein from Woodstock Wool company. Their dying technique renders subtle variations in color. Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 11, 2005

Really big shawl, Wool, huge basket weave pattern Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I'm dreaming

This cotton shawl is still on the needles, but I'm sure it's going to be a very comfy piece of clothing. I'm randomly interspersing rows of knit, purl and double-wrap stitches so that the effect is more lacy and with great drape than a heavier texture that would result from just knitting or purling. I'm also using the Turbo needles, so the pleasure of the cotton yarn is enhanced by the speed of the way it slips on and off the needles.

"Denim" cotton shawl, garter and stockinette stitch with double-wrapped rows randomly spaced. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Up close

See those little amber flecks? Those are the sequins.

Noro Kuryon with sequins - up close Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

More sequins

I've decided to undo the bind off stitches of this scarf and add some length to it because I found another ball of the same yarn. I have sequins on the end most visible in the photo but will try to get a photo that actually makes them visible. With so many colors in the yarn it was difficult to decide what color sequins to use!

Thin scarf, seed stitch, Noro Kuryon wool yarn, sequins Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 01, 2005


Closeup of the sequins - can you see the little darlings? Posted by Picasa

Well...I tried. Because the sequins are clear they're not very visible. I've sewn a row up each side and one down the middle on the front and back of the scarf. They add a nice subtle flicker of light as the scarf moves. I'm doing more and more sequins with more bold colors. You'll see soon.