Book Review: 60 Quick Baby Knits

Blogged under Good Books, amigurumi by Tammy on Wednesday 1 July 2015 at 10:06 am

60 Quick Baby Knits: Blankets, Booties, Sweaters & More in Cascade 220™ Superwash (60 Quick Knits Collection) is published by Sixth and Spring books and retails for $17.95 in the US and $21.95 in Canada. All of the projects are knit using Cascade’s 220 Superwash yarn, and the 60 projects were designed by a variety of professional knitters/designers. A few names that may look familiar include Jeannie Chi, Lee Grant, Tanis Gray, and Veronica Manno.

Of course, with 60 patterns that means you get a really big selection, and I have to admit a fondness for making baby items. They are smaller so usually quicker than adult patterns. Now as far as being really “quick” as the title suggestions, I think that may be kind of subjective depending on your skill level. All of the pattern are designated beginner, easy, intermediate, or experienced. The majority of projects are categorized as intermediate, so if you are a beginner knitter, that means these may not be that quick for you.

So for intermediate to experienced level knitters, these would probably be pretty fast to make. The photographs are also a good point of this book. There are lots of them, which means you can get a good visual idea of what the finished item will look like. For me, that’s a big plus.

If you have the skill level needed and want a good selection of patterns to pick from for your baby knits, then definitely consider taking a look at 60 Quick Baby Knits. For those with less experience, one nice point of this book is that you can have projects that will expand your skill level but are not a huge commitment since they are so small.

Book Review: The Funeral Dress

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Monday 15 June 2015 at 1:57 pm

The Funeral Dress: A Novel is written by Susan Gregg Gilmore and published by Random House. (You can read an excerpt of it on the publisher’s site here.) It is about 350 or so pages and runs $16.00 in the US and $18.00 in Canada for the paperback version.

This book somehow became my summer 2015 “read,” and I’m not exactly sure how that happened. I think I started reading it even last summer, and since then, it has been one of those books that I pick up and put down. I get hooked for a little while but not enough for me to just finish it already. It has been hard to determine why this is the case because the story is actually pretty good, and the historical connection to a clothing factory in 1970 Tennessee is a solid and interesting setting.

So why did it take me so long to finish this book? I have been wondering about this, and other than the fact that I am a very slow reader and really struggle with just reading for pleasure (probably due to so many years having to read and synthesis what I’ve read for a grade and/or for a research paper), the biggest hurdle for me on this book was the switching of point of view. This is a trend I’ve seen gain popularity over the years, and sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t, at least for me. I want the story to move forward, and when I’m forced to move back and forth and hop from one character’s mind to another’s, I get impatient after awhile.

I found that once I sat down and relaxed into the joy of just reading for no other purpose than falling into another world for a few hours, I finally got through the book and enjoyed it. However, I can’t help wonder if we were in just one person’s head (for example, Emmalee’s who I think is the protagonist) would I have finished this much sooner. It is a good story. I just felt like it moved slower than necessary.

(A review copy was provided by the publisher.)

Book Review: Knitting Beaded Purses

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Monday 15 June 2015 at 1:36 pm

Knitting Beaded Purses: A Complete Guide to Creating Your Own (Schiffer Books) is written by Nancy Seven VanDerPuy and retails for $16.95 in the US. It is a 64 page paperback with color photographs showing “how-to” elements as well as colored graphs for the patterns used to make seven beaded purses.

The beginning of the book includes some brief history about beaded knit purses and basically what it requires. This includes a discussion of materials, and this moves into a fairly good size techniques section. In the techniques chapter of the book, basic knitting stitches as well as casting on and off are covered, and this is where the full-color photographs are included. This is followed by more discussion of how to actually include the beads with the stitches and how to assemble the knitted purse once its parts are constructed.

The projects section starts with a basic explanation of how a beaded purse is made, and then each pattern that follows is really the same as far as how to make all the sections and put them together with the difference being the pattern such as a rose, beach scene, or graphic design. So once you get the concept of the basic bag, you then need to follow the graph pattern to form the different types of purse patterns. Sprinkled throughout color photographs of similar purses already finished.

The last part of the book show how to finish the bags. This includes lining if you want to do that, and then there is a gallery section showing of more beautiful knitted beaded purses.

The projects are obviously beautiful but also not for the immediate gratification type of crafter. While the instructors are thorough and there are plenty of illustrations to help guide you through the projects, just be prepared that each of the projects is fairly involved. While there are basics about knitting included, I would be surprised if a total beginner could take on any of these. However, for more experienced knitters who love the look of these cute purses, this looks like a good go-to book to get started.

To get a chance to win a copy of this book, head over to my Ravelry discussion group, and look for the June FOs thread.
(A review copy was furnished by the publisher.)

Book Review: 50 Garter Stitch Gifts to Knit

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Monday 25 May 2015 at 12:58 pm

50 Garter Stitch Gifts to Knit: The Ultimate Easy-to-Knit Collection Featuring Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted is a collection of projects assembled by the editors of Sixth and Spring that showcase the yarns from the Universal Yarn company. This book sells in the US for $19.95 and in Canada for $22.95, and it is 144 pages in length.

Each of the fifty projects in this book has two to three color photographs, including one of the entire finished project plus one or two close-up or sectional type photographs to enable you to see the stitches more closely or to see specific details of a project. The skill level of each project is indicated by a key with either 1, 2, 3, or 4 rectangular shapes filled out indicating beginner, easy, intermediate, and experienced. I did not see any for beginners. Most are either easy or intermediate level projects.

The variety of projects seems to include just about everything from baby sweaters to accessories to home decor items. With fifty projects and the price point being around $20, that works out pretty well on a per project cost basis, and I think most items would appeal to the intermediate to advanced knitter. The back of the book includes brief instructions on knitting basics, but this is really a project-based book designed for someone who has taken a step beyond knitting basics. In other words, I would not recommend someone try to learn to know with this book and no other resources.

I was surprised to see color work and even a doll project in here. Garter stitch seems so limiting, but clearly that does not have to be the case. One item to keep in mind is that since these are geared toward garter stitch, most of the finished projects are on the thicker side, heavy shawls and hats. I saw plenty of projects here that would be good for gift giving but also for making and keeping.

(I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.)

Book Review: The Art of Weaving

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Sunday 24 May 2015 at 3:28 pm

The Art of Weaving was originally authored by Else Regensteiner in 1970, and since then it has been revised a number of times. Most recently, this book is in its fourth revision. It is published by Schiffer Publishing and retails in the US for $34.99.

At a little over 200 pages, this is a very large reference book, obviously designed for the serious weaver or someone who wants to intently study the craft. It takes a comprehensive approach, first starting with weaving equipment, then yarns, then important technique information such as warp and weaving patterns.

As weaving has started to become more popular in recent years, it is nice to see this book is updated and available again. I found it to be very thorough and easy to find information. It is packed full of photographs and diagrams. There is a 12 page color insert in the first part of the book, and admittedly, it would have been nice to see more of this (color photographs) throughout the book.  The lack of color and general format gives the text an overall dated look. However, the subject matter is really timeless, and it nice to see that this information is being preserved and passed on.

(A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

Book Review: Vogue Knitting Stitchionary

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Wednesday 13 May 2015 at 11:35 am

Vogue® Knitting Stitchionary® Volume One: Knit & Purl: The Ultimate Stitch Dictionary from the Editors of Vogue® Knitting Magazine (Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Series) is the first volume in a series of knitting stitch books. It is published by Sixth and Spring Books. In the US, it retails for $19.95 and in Canada for $23.95.

As with most Vogue publications, this book is very visually appealing. They purposely used the same type of yarn throughout to make sure stitch definition and gauge was consistent, but even though it is all the same yarn in this book, different shades of green are used for each of the sections. The photographs of the swatches are clear, and generally speaking, the information is easy to find. To test it out, I looked up a few stitches I was interested in learning a little more about, and I had no trouble finding them.

The organization of the book starts from simple to more advanced, thus building on the level of difficulty. All the stitch patterns provided focus on using knit and purl in various combinations.

A stitch dictionary is really important for anyone serious about yarn crafting for a number of reasons. For those with little experience, it can be a helpful resource guide. For intermediate level knitters, this is a good refresher book, and of course, for advanced knitters who may want to attempt pattern writing and designing, a book like this is a must.

Keep in mind that this is a techniques driven book, so you will not find projects in here. However, you could adapt patterns using the stitches in this book. Another option is to make the swatches for practice and then stitch them all together for a beautiful afghan. If you have been thinking of adding a knitting stitch dictionary to your personal craft book library, this first volume is a good place to start.

(A review copy of this text was provided by the publisher.)

Book Review: Colorwork Knitting

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Thursday 7 May 2015 at 10:21 am

Colorwork Knitting: 25 Spectacular Sweaters, Hats, and Accessories is published by Stackpole Books. It retails in the US for $21.95; the UK for L14.99; and Canada for $25.95. Sarah White is the author and designer, and she also writes and designs knitwear for and In additiona, she has authored two other fiber books: Quick & Easy Baby Knits: 21 Cute, Comfy Projects and Picture Yourself Felting Your Knitting.

The back of the book includes a visual index of all 25 projects, so you can get a look at all of them in one spot, which I found helpful. I also found most of the projects cute and very wearable, staple items that are functional. They include fairly fast projects like hats and gloves all the way up to more involved projects such as sweaters. The book covers all types of color work, from simple projects that use self-striping yarn to more complex that require intarsia. Each project provides multiple color photographs of the finished knitwear so you can see exactly what it looks like from various angles.

Knitters should have some knitting experience before attempting most of these projects, and this is stated in the book. For example, you should already know basics such as knit and purl. However, there is a techniques section in the back of the book with instructions and full-color photographs for more advanced techniques like cabling and duplicate stitch.

If you break down the price per project, you get a lot for your purchase, and there is a large variety of different types of projects: sweaters, hats, socks, gloves, cowls, and scarves. For knitters who have some basics mastered already and have been eager to try to expand into colorwork, this is a good and clearly written introduction that will take you through all levels of this technique.

(Note: I was sent a review copy of this text by the publisher.)

Book Review: Knit Noro Accessories

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Wednesday 22 April 2015 at 1:35 pm

Knit Noro: Accessories: 30 Colorful Little Knits (Knit Noro Collection) is published by Sixth and Spring Books and retails for $24.95 in the US and $29.95 in Canada. There is no specific author or editor for this book. Obviously, it was put together by the Noro company to showcase its yarns. However, there are a number of designers’ work included in the book such as Debbie O’Neill, Karen Baumer, and Erica Schlueter. I would have liked a quick reference list included in the back of the book since sometimes the designers can make me decide whether or not I want to purchase a book. I asked to review this particular Noro book, out of the number that they have published, because I prefer to make accessories versus sweater and similar garments.

As with all the Noro books, I was not disappointed with the wonderful yarn colors and general “eye candy” included. The photographs are always well-done, and this book is no exception. You are able to get a good idea of what the finished product will be since there are close up as well as full views of each o the 30 projects. Some of my favorite projects are the Random Cable Mitts (long fingerless gloves that reach up well past the wrists and are full of beautiful cable-work); the Modular Neck Wrap (a loose fitting type of cowl with pretty button accents); and Cloche Hat (gathered at the to with a wide band in the center).

Beginners should expect to need additional assistance with the projects, as there is very little supplementary instructions as far as knitting basics. There are charts in the back and very brief illustrations of some stitches, but I don’t think there is enough here for anyone who is not already able to knit.

One drawback I have found with this book, and with many these days, is the tiny print and light text. Granted, my eyesight is pretty bad, but I think a book that you are going to use to craft an object should be very readable for everyone, not just 20 year-olds who good vision.

Otherwise, I love flipping through the pages of this beautiful book. There is just an overall feeling of luxury and richness that spills from the pages.

(The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book.)

Book Review: Crochet Boutique Hats

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Saturday 11 April 2015 at 12:33 pm

Crochet Boutique: Hats: 25 Fresh Takes on Classic Crocheted Hat Designs is published by Lark and written by Rachael Oglesby. It retails in the US for $17.95 and in Canada for $19.95.

The 25 projects in this book included three different skill levels: beginner, easy, and intermediate. Most of the patterns are beginner and easy; I counted 5 that are designated as intermediate level. This one aspect of the book that I really like because hats should be fun to make for anyone at any skill level, but they tend to be especially good projects for beginning crocheters.

Many of the beginning level projects also use thick yarn and large hooks, so again, it is very beginner friendly, or for those who just want immediate gratification, there are plenty of patterns that will fit into that category too. The author was also careful to use easy to find yarns such as Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick (for the Bulky Shells Beret); Patons Kroy Socks (used in the Wide Ribbed Beanie pattern, which is a great unisexl hat); Bernat Cotton-ish (for the Daisy Beret, a very cute beginning level hat); and even Lily Sugar n’ Cream (for a cute Bucket Hat). Color photos are abundant and provide multiple views of each hat, both on a model as well as laying flat.

I will say, that there are a few hat designs that do not personally appeal to me, but really, just a small number. Most look like something I would enjoy making and wearing. This would be a good “go to” book for someone who has mastered basic stitches like slip stitch, single crochet, and double crochet and wants to start making finished accessories.

(A review copy was sent to me from the publisher.)

Book Review: Q & A a Day, 5-Year Journal

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Saturday 28 March 2015 at 3:23 pm

Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal is a five year journal published by Potter Style, retailing for $16.99 in the US and $18.99 in Canada. If you have ever attempted and failed at keeping a daily journal, this is a great solution because it requires very little writing and offers daily prompts in the form of fill in the blanks, questions, or commands. Here are a few examples:

“Today you’ve got too much _________________.

What do you want to remember about today?

Pick a color for today.”

These are placed at the top of the page, and then there are 5 sections below it to write in, one section for each year. This mean after you have completed the first year, you will be answering the same questions the next year and also able to see what you wrote in previously.

Each section is just four lines long, so if you want to write a lot, there is not enough room for that. However, that is kind of the point I think of how this diary is formatted. Who doesn’t have time to write four lines a day? Plus, even if you miss a day (I have forgotten a few times), you can catch up very easily since it doesn’t take a lot of effort.

Even though this is a quick way to keep a personal journal, I have to admit that the prompts have made me stop and think over my day a few times. It has made me slow down and sort of be in the moment, so I have really enjoy it.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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