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.