knitting book

November is book month at

The Best of Knitscene: A Collection of Simple, Stylish, and Spirited Byy Lisa Shroyer. Published by Interweave Press (November 8, 2011).

20 most popular knitting patterns and expert advice from the first five years of Knitscene magazine. Knitscene is an Interweave publication and started out in 2005 with a mission to showcase new designers and unusual yarns. The designs are simple and stylish with this compilation of patterns showcasing designs that have been popular with real knitters – these include some of my favourites: Central Park Hoodie by Heather Lodinsky, Equinox Raglan by Debbie O’Neill, the Geodesic Cardigan and the Riding to Avalon sweater by Connie Chang Chinchio, the Berkshire Dolman Sweater by Melissa Wehrle and the Opulent Raglan by Wendy Bernard. The patterns have been restyled and reknit and re-photographed and tweaked a little to incorporate current yarns and colours.

The Best of Interweave Crochet: A Collection of Our Favorite Designs By Marcy Smith. Interweave Press (September 13, 2011).

A collection of favourites from Interweave crochet including the extremely popular Babette Blanket by Kathy Merrick and my two favourite crochet sweater designs: Northern Dreams pullover and the Big Bow Cardigan both by Julia Vaconsin. As well as patterns you will also find a series of “Beyond the basics” articles including Tunisian Crochet Primer by Kathleen Power Johnson.


The Knitter’s Companion Deluxe Edition w/DVD. by Vicki Square, Interweave, 2010.

This is a handy little book that would be an asset to any knitter. It is a knitting reference book, with a non exhaustive but nevertheless wide range of topics, from basic to complicated. Some of the topics covered include the basics of knitting (continental/English methods, slipped stitches, yarnovers, gauge and reading patterns and charts), specific techniques (cast-ons, joins, increases, decreases, bind-offs, blocking, seaming, hems, borders and edges), some decorative techniques (beads, buttonholes, duplicate stitch, French knots etc). There are other sections of the book, but the one I like the best is on preparing to knit, which includes tables and information about yarn and needle sizes, metreage/yardage estimates for sizes of garments, and abbreviations. I love being able to quickly look up a stitch abbreviation, or how to do the Kitchener stitch or to remind myself mid row how to do a left lifted increase.

It is small format, hard cover and wire bound, which I love because the pages stay open where I leave them, and it won’t get trashed in the bottom of my knitting bag or handbag. Each technique or instruction has either an illustration, table or a photograph, which combined with the layout of the pages makes the information really easy to find and use. There are also tip boxes throughout the book, with practical hints and tips on how to apply the techniques.

There is a pair of accompanying DVDs in this latest issue of The Knitters Companion, with over 5 hours of practical instruction and demonstrations of all of the techniques described in the book. The book and the DVD are a useful pair of resources, I have used the book to quickly look up how to do a certain kind of increase, and then later sat and watched the DVD for a more detailed demonstration on how to catch in a float when fair isle knitting. This book and DVD set do not cover every technique or consideration that a knitter will ever encounter, but it is a very useful reference for common knitting techniques and would be a worthwhile addition to a knitter’s library.

About the reviewer: Kate is a busy mother of four with many craft projects on the go, including, but not limited to, crochet, knitting, sewing, dyeing, paper making, spinning, felting and bookbinding. Kate has challenges in the areas of finishing things, saying no and craft supplies storage. She also has a very very patient and tolerant husband.


Around the World in Knitted Socks: 26 Inspired Designs Stephanie van der Linden. 2010 Interweave Press.

If you have been part of the online knitting world in the last few years, you would know that knitted socks are firmly back in favour. There are thousands of patterns for socks, tonnes and tonnes of big brand, boutique and hand dyed sock yarns in all kinds of fibres, and stacks and stacks of books about sock knitting. As with any popular trend, some books will be great, some will be very ho hum, and most will be somewhere in between. Stephanie ven der Linden’s book Around The World In Knitted Socks is an exceptional book.

First published in German, and recently published by Interweave Press, this book is full of patterns like I had never seen before. I am a fairly new knitter, and most of my online resources, eg Ravelry, are sourced from the USA and other English speaking western countries, and most of the patterns for socks that I love are based on a pretty standard model of cuff-down or toe-up, short row heels or heel flaps, a few reliable toe methods, and all kinds of embellishments. I am completely excited to find a sock book that is based on European sock design, and seems to come at the sock design process from a very different direction. Sure, at its most simple, a sock is a tube for keeping feet warm, but it is a joy to see how gussets, toes and heels can be used as an integrated part of the design, instead of necessary shaping in an otherwise decorative sock.

Stephanie ven der Linden takes the reader on a journey abroad, presenting 26 original sock projects, each influenced by design elements particular to different countries and regions, such as travelling and twisted stitches from German Alpine regions, stranded knitting influences from areas such as Latvia, Estonia, and the Netherlands, lace styles inspired by Spain, Austria and Belgium, exquisite patterning from Morocco and Turkey, Scottish Argyle, Irish Aran and high fashion from Italy.

Apart from having my head stretched in the best kind of way with the patterns and design influences, I think that this is a genuinely good book. Each project is very well photographed, and the instructions are clear, and is broken down into cuff, leg, heel, foot, toe and finishing, with clear charts for colourwork and patterned stitch work. Each project is designed for use with a fairly standard sock yarn (Regia), which makes yarn substitution easy. The techniques section at the end of the book is fantastic, and the instructions for Kitchener Stitch has made sense to me like no other instructions ever have. There are photographed instructions on short-row heels, decreases, twisted and travelling stitches, two coloured stranded knitting, Kitchener stitch, knitting with beads, and embellishing.

I have already cast on Nordic Inspiration (Sweden) [the top image and it also graces the book cover], and can’t wait to improve my colourwork, and then would love to make Scent of Lavender (France) [image below], Vacation in the Mountains (Switzerland), Classic Kilim (Turkey) [image below], and Brussels Lace (Belgium).

About the reviewer: Kate is a busy mother of four with many craft projects on the go, including, but not limited to, crochet, knitting, sewing, dyeing, paper making, spinning, felting and bookbinding. Kate has challenges in the areas of finishing things, saying no and craft supplies storage. She also has a very very patient and tolerant husband. She is currently home with sick children and knitting her heart out!


Cowl Girls: The Neck’s Big Thing to Knit by Cathy Carron. Sixth&Spring Books (2010)

Cowls are the perfect thing to knit for the cooler season, and because they are so quick to knit up they make fabulous gifts – its not too late to start. Many of the projects this book are knit in bulky yarns, so can be finished quickly and would make for great last-minute gifts.

The designs themselves are all so different, but with one thing in common – they are interesting and dramatic, some even verging on the weird and wonderful! But there are some really good basic designs that you could play around with and get started on. To see thumbnails of all the designs featured in the book, go to Cathy Carron’s webpage where you can see all the cowl girls in action. (Some images of my favourite designs are featured below.)

The patterns themselves are all pretty straightforward but you might need to have some knitting experience or at least someone experienced to get you started. But I think as a beginner there are quite a few pattens that once you do get started and you get the stitch pattern down, you can just keep knitting around and around until the you reach your final size. Also for more experienced knitters there are some more challenging designs so you won’t get bored. The book tends to mention specific yarns so if you don’t have access to these you will need to swatch (which you should do anyway) and the gauge sizes are all given at the beginning of each project.

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Knit & Purl Pets by Claire Garland. David & Charles (2010)

Has your child, or a child you know ever begged for a pet? Pleaded so hard that their eyes nearly popped out of their head, clasped hands desperately in front of them and promised with all their heart to walk and feed the pet and clean up all the mess, every single day, I PROMISE mum! Surely it can’t just be my kids.

This book might just be the solution. Knit & Purl pets is full of great patterns for the cutest of knitted pets, including traditional pets like a kitten, puppy, guinea pig and rabbits, moving through a mouse, rat, tortoise, hen and snake, and all the way to a chameleon, pony and a stegosaurus. Who hasn’t dreamed, at least once, of having a pet dinosaur?

The patterns are presented in order of complexity, with some nice easy patterns at the start of the book that would be suitable for a beginner knitter. Many of the patterns are knitted in one piece, and some use techniques like icord and knitting in the round. I really like the way that these patterns are presented, each with a difficulty rating, a generic yarn (no need to chase down a specific brand or suitable substitute), equipment list, gauge, and notes on construction, finishing and safety for small children. I also really like that each pet has multiple photos, so that the knitter (or the child requesting the pet) can really see what the project will look like. All measurements are written in both metric and imperial, which I really appreciate. There are good, clear instructions for making up the pets and the techniques section is also clear and well illustrated. The end of the book includes a list of suppliers, including some in Australia, and I love it when international authors include suppliers in my own part of the world.

I can’t wait to make a chameleon from self striping sock yarn, and a guinea pig from eyelash yarn. And I promise to look after them every day. Honest.

Reviewed by: Kate is a busy mother of four with many craft projects on the go, including, but not limited to, crochet, knitting, sewing, dyeing, paper making, spinning, felting and bookbinding. Kate has challenges in the areas of finishing things, saying no and craft supplies storage. She also has a very very patient and tolerant husband.

[ps. did you know Claire Garland has a blog – and she has some free patterns like these cute knitted chicks and these knitted mouse finger puppets would make great stocking stuffers and these knitted christmas puddings – perfect for this time of year! .Ed.]