Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Lots of lovely press lately, including a three-page
profile of none other than me in the Australian craft magazine, Get Creative (page one at left, featuring my lovely daughter in Halloween 2007's knitted Strawberry Flower Fairy costume). And a nice plug for the audio books of Knitting Lessons and Knitting Memories in Knitting Daily (just follow the links to buy your very own copies, just in time for the holidays). 

Those of you looking for Hélène Magnusson's Rose Pattern Scarf: fear not, it is available still, from Hélène's own site, where you'll also find patterns galore from her excellent book, Icelandic Color Knitting

Finally, have you knit something strange for someone as a Christmas or Hanukah present? Send photos and a brief description. The strangest (by my estimation, anyway) will win an audio copy of Knitting Lessons. Deadline: January 15.

Monday, December 1, 2008

As the holiday season begins to descend in earnest, some of us (namely, me) prefer to think back to the dulcet days of Halloween than ahead to the lurking chaos of yule. Also, I'll be honest, I was just plain too lazy to get around to posting about this year's costume. Well, finally, here it is: Ada in her Bouquet of Flowers ensemble, the usual hodgepodge of knitting improv and the splicing together of other knitters' terrific ideas. References include Jan Messent's Knitted Gardens and Hannelore Wernhard's The Knitted Farmyard, and for the third year running, I-cord was the workhorse of the whole operation.   Anyone else out there knit a Halloween costume this year? Please give me a holler (and send photos) and I'll post here. 

In other news, I've finished editing three new Farmer's Wife cookbooks for Voyageur Press, on Slow Cooking, Cookies, and Canning & Preserving. They're coming out soon, so stay tuned for updates!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It’s Autumn: Break out the Books & Knit!

A brief roundup of potentially promising titles.

All manner of knitting books land on my desk and I greet each newly-arrived title with a goodly amount of enthusiasm. I'm as ready to be dazzled as the next knitter. Not just ready, desperate to be dazzled. Because I'll be honest: I haven't knit a thing since my daughter's Strawberry Flower Fairy costume last Halloween, and it looks like the only project that's bound to rouse me from my summer knitting doldrums is my daughter's pot-of-flowers Halloween costume this year.

Unfortunately, the majority of books I flip through these days are a disappointment: filled with garments I wouldn't (shouldn't) wear, knickknacks I don't need, and gift ideas appropriate for no one I know. They are quirky and challenging often for the sake of it, it seems, rather than truly original and inspiring. Needless to say, I am downright thrilled when a book offers even a few projects that pique my interest. 

Nordic Felted Knits by Gerd Fjellanger (Search Press). Mostly it's the small details that catch my eye and get my mind to conjuring in this new release from the Norwegian knitting designer. The bobbles on the cuffs of a Fringed Poncho. The contrasting topstitching along the edges and armholes of a girl's sweater. The embroidered flowers on a pair of mittens, which look slightly humdrum before they're felted but irresistibly fuzzy and adorable once they've taken a spin through the hot wash. I confess a lifelong infatuation with Mary Jane style shoes, so it's not surprising that I am helplessly drawn to the square-toed strappy house slippers that Fjellanger offers in sizes suitable for both children and adults. And finally, I am not likely to crochet, let alone crochet and felt, a white rug that will skid underfoot of one manicure-needy black-haired dog and one paint-spattered five-year-old daughter. But the snowflake-on-snowdrops pattern of Fjellanger's Crocheted Rug, replete with scalloped edge, is lovely enough to make me want to reconsider it as a scarf, or a spring blanket.
Find the book at Amazon.

Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). Alas, my days of short-short sweater wearing are long behind me. Wait a minute, I never wore short-short sweaters. Nevertheless, among the myriad pages of designs-for-people-much-younger-and-less-sloppy-than-me are several that make me want to whisk up my needles. Firstly, a top-down Lion Neck Cardigan, with a ruffled collar and front that manages to look both causal and elegant. A little further along there's a Skinny Empire sweater that has a couple of appealing details, aside from the slender fit: an I-cord edging to enhance the Empire waist; and a two-tone double-ruffle neck which, I swear, looks sweet and un-fussy. The crewneck variation of an otherwise turtleneck saddle shoulder sweater, with a really nifty cable down from the armhole on each side, is probably my next knitting project. I'm not sure why I'm so taken with it except that it's simple, with graceful lines and nice detail; and it's shown in a soft green alpaca, which just seems irresistible to me.
Find the book at Amazon

Finally, I can't help myself, I'm going to flat-out squawk with happiness about two Search Press classic re-releases: Jan Messent's Knitted Gardens and Hannelore Wernhard's The Knitted Farmyard. I'm a sucker for those little knitted hothouse beds of cabbages and silly, sweet bobbing hens and roosters. If my daughter were three years younger I would instantly set to knitting her up the entire farm-and-garden caboodle. 
Find the books at Search Press.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Whole Lotta News

For starters, my new website is up and running! Please visit for a look at designer Kathleen Kearns' fabulous work on my behalf, and learn all about, well, me. In answer to the question many of you have already asked – yes, those are my daughter, Ada's, drawings of birds, butterflies and bees gracing the pages. 

Secondly, the audio version of the first knitting book I ever wrote, Knitting Lessons, is now available from Knitting Out Loud. A little-known fact: the first 20 people to purchase it from the KOL site will be entered in a drawing to win a signed first edition of the print book. Signed by me, that is. So don't delay! 

Finally, for those of you who have been inquiring after John Howe, the Brooklyn Bee Man who was the inspiration for my first children's book (to be published by Schwartz & Wade), here's an update: John and his two colonies of bees have been very busy indeed this summer on their Fort Greene rooftop. Thanks to a relatively mild winter, John had an early, abundant harvest of honey at the beginning of July and has been selling jars of it at Provisions in Fort Greene, and Marlow and Sons in Williamsburg. Supplies, as always, are extremely limited so hie on over to either location to stock up. John reports that the honey from one colony tastes strongly like mint, while the second colony produced a honey that is floral and fairly light. If all goes well, he hopes to make a second harvest closer to Autumn. Stay tuned to this newsletter for more honey updates, for info on John's wildflower seed giveaway (coming up  in late September) and of course, news about the book.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rose Pattern Scarf by Hélène Magnússon

Here it is, and much sooner than anticipated! 

Click the link to the right to purchase this pattern for Hélène's dazzling scarf, inspired by inserts knitted by Icelandic women of yore to cozy-up their fish-skin shoes. While you're at it, check out my review of Hélène's latest book, Icelandic Knitting: Using Rose Patterns on Knitter's Review, pre-order the book from Amazon, and visit Hélène at her website

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kudos for Comfort Food

While I'm busily editing three new cookbooks compiled from the pages of the sadly defunct Farmer's Wife magazine, earlier books in the series continue to receive notice. The latest: this mention in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune for the first of them all, The Farmer's Wife Comfort Food Cookbook, published by Voyageur Press this year. Brown Betty, pot pie, baked beans - they're all in here. Peruse the review then by all means, purchase your very own copy of the book.

The Farmer's Wife Cookies, Preserving and Slow Cooker cookbooks are all coming soon. As is my website. Check back often!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hello, and Please Stand By!

A muggy July 4th in Brooklyn, NY but six time zones east of here, in the grand duchy of Luxembourg, designer Hélène Magnússon is already dreaming of winter. In a few weeks her pattern for this festive rose-pattern scarf will be offered exclusively here for sale. So you'll have plenty of time to stitch up a few for your most-beloveds before the holiday season comes crashing down around us. Concurrently, my article on Hélène's latest book, Icelandic Knitting Using Rose Patterns (Search Press, February 2009) – a slightly dry title that belies the bright, happy and often elegant designs between the covers  – will run on knittersreview.com. You can pre-order the book from Hélène's blog; or contact Hélène through her website to be the first knitter on your block to own the original Icelandic-language version (sure to become a collector's item). 

It's going to be a wooly summer, so stay tuned!

Meanwhile, my website is undergoing an extensive redesign. I'll have an update on its estimated arrival in a week or two.