Functional Friday: Vogue Knitting Stitchionary #6

I am not sure why, but on the Vogue Knitting site there were not volume 4 and 5 of this stitchionary collection. Perhaps I will have to go looking for them later, I know volume 4 is all about crochet. I could really really use that one, my crochet skills are not what they should be. Volume 5 is all about lace; as we know, lace and I don’t get along, but maybe volume 5 would help me along and I will be able to knit lace with less difficulty.

VKS 4

Volume 6 is al about edgings! I think my shelves are going to be filled with books containing fancy edges; between VK Stitionary and Nicky Epstein they’re taking over the whole shelf!

This book is split into seven chapters: Ribs, Texture, Cables, Lace, Colour, Unusual and Crochet. The chapters are also arranged in order of difficulty, the easiest at the beginning and challenging ones nearer to the back. All this information is given to you in the ‘how to use this book’ section. One thing I really REALLY liked was the fact that in this section the authors told you what yarns they used for what chapters and the needle sizes.

VKS5

In each chapter the yarn is all corresponding, I love the effect this has on the book aesthetically. If you are flipping through the book rather quickly it is easy to see when you have progressed from one chapter into the other. The yarn is different and although it is a coordinating colour it is not the same. The book is, essentially, colour coded.

One thing the Nicky Epstein books had that the VK Stitionary’s did not was the patterns for the photos displaying the edgings used on an actual garment. However, these are Vogue Knitting books so all the garments are probably taken from the magazine, you just have to go through and find them.

Even though this is a review of the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary, I would like to add this little story on the end of it. I subscribe to Vogue Knitting Magazine and I was sure my subscription was coming up, but I wasn’t sure when. I checked the magazine rack at a local book store and the newest VK Magazine was out and I had not received it. I went online and clicked through to renew my subscription; right after I did that, I wondered if I would be getting the issue I missed or if it would start on the next one.

VKS 6

Instead of guessing I called the VK Magazine subscriber services and got some of the best  customer service I have ever received! The customer service representative told me I should have received the latest issue with my current subscription and she wasn’t sure why I hadn’t. I didn’t even have to ask for another one, she just said she would have one sent out immediately. Then she realized I was on an automatically renewing subscription and they should have notified me that I was going to be renewed soon. For some reason no one had tried to renew my subscription. I hadn’t even known there was a problem, but we worked everything out and I was EXTREMELY glad I had called!

I’ve worked in retail and currently work in an office where there is a call centre, I know good customer service when I see it. I’ve always been happy with Vogue Knitting, but this was really very exceptional. Thank you Vogue Knitting!

Functional Friday: Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume Three

This one is about colour-work! This is something that should be really popular now because the Nordic sweaters are everywhere! The patterns in this book are wonderful for creating your own designs. You would be able to sub in different stitch patterns if there are lines you don’t like!

VK Stitchionary 3

My friend Megan helped me find things about the book to talk about. Her first notion about this book was the proportions. This is something I didn’t really think about, but the book is slightly odd; it is wider than it is long and relatively unwieldy.

Megan also found the advertisement in the back about the needles pictured on the cover. Lantern Moon is the company that makes the needles and they are handmade, which you really don’t see very often. There are a lot of yarns out there which are handspun and hand dyed, but not many handmade needles are seen out there in the world today.

We also managed to find a couple stitch patterns that we thought were misnamed, for example the stitch called catacombs is a geometric pattern that strikes me as Myan. The sample for this stitch was knit in a very cheerful colour of pink! We thought a stitch with the name catacomb would be more subdued and perhaps have a skull or two. Something a little more catacombs of france or Jolly Rodger-ish?

That is really just aesthetics though; the book itself is a conglomeration of colour work stitches from Vogue Knitting. What wouldn’t there be to like?

Functional Friday: Stitchionary Volume One and Two

Alright, the next book review on the docket is the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary! The first one is about basic knitting techniques and there are lots of stitch patterns. I know we have all seen a Stitchionary so I am going to glaze over Volume One because the Knitting on and Beyond the Edge books were very similar to these. Volume two is something I haven’t really talked much about, aside from complaining, cables!!

Stitchionary #2

Even though I am really sick of cables from my grandmothers sweater, I LOVE how they look. They add depth to a garments with solid colours and a little elegant flair. The patterns are broken down into five sections; easy, diamonds, pretzels, braids and allover.

This book is so friendly to knitters of all skill levels; the easy section has mock cables as well as some nice simple ones. It’s really great to have cables with training wheels to ease into the book.  As with most cable dictionaries there are written instructions as well as charts. I personally prefer charts, I find them easier to follow and you can see how the stitches are moving. It is a bit easier to anticipate how you are going to cable things, which makes it easier to tell if you are screwing it up. When you’re cable something the wrong way, it will be more noticeable because the visual of the chart keeps you in line.

Cables JulissaPiotr Jankowski | Team Ponam

The all over cables would add a needed punch of pizzazz to any plain sweater. I am really thinking about making a bathing suit cover up with one of the lacier cable patterns. I am not sure why, but I have the mad urge to make a white bathing suit cover up for my honeymoon.

This book would be really great for aspiring designers. There is even a section in the back about combining the different cables into a panel for the front or back of a cardigan or sweater.

Functional Friday Review: The Ultimate Sock Book

Alrighty! Book review number two! Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Sock Book.

 The Ultimate Sock Book

As I anticipated, there is a much longer history in the sock book as compared to the hat book. There’s just much more known about the history of socks; from 8th Century BC, through the ages and up to modern day. Historical documents encouraging knitters to participate in war efforts, vintage pattern books and post cards were included as part of a gallery. Pictures with elaborate 17th century stockings and reincarnations of renaissance socks were inserted alongside text. It is quite easy to see the evolution of socks and hosiery and how the socks we wear today were innovated.

The next section is ‘Basic Techniques’. Most of the time when I speak to someone who has never knit a sock, they’re really intimidated by it. They think it is going to be very complicated and only people with a lot of experience could make something like that. This is completely false! Anyone can make socks and not all of them are difficult, even if they look like it.

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

The basic techniques are explained in very clear language all the while ensuring the reader doesn’t get discouraged or worried about the skill sets needed. I really liked the short introduction to the chapter because it essentially says what I’ve just reiterated. Don’t panic, just give it a try, it’s not that bad!

The instructional photos are well drawn and in colour, which is really great when something intricate is being portrayed. The knitting needles, yarn, waste yarn, darning needle and any other implement can all be different colours.

Blending in with ‘Basic Techniques’ is ‘The Anatomy of a Sock’. This section goes through the different parts of a sock, transitions into the construction of toes and a heel then moves to the next chapter ‘Designing Socks’.

This is my favourite part of the book. They’ve given you all the information you need about socks, and now they tell you how to make your own. There are details on taking measurements and a very large index for choosing yarn. Finally, the last thing in this chapter is universal toe-up and top-down patterns. You can essentially plug in a funky stitch and BAM, you’ve made your own sock pattern!

I’ll give you three guesses of what the next chapter holds, and the first two don’t count… ‘Stitch Patterns’! I suppose it would be quite cruel to hand over a universal sock pattern and no stitch patterns that will work for socks. I really like quite a few of the stitches provided and I can see they would work really well for socks. That saves anyone a little more inexperienced from choosing a stitch that, ultimately, will not work. See here for the scarf stitch catastrophe.

Finally in the very last chapter you are given pre-made sock patterns. There are a few plain ones, but most have something unique about them in order to recommend themselves over the sock patterns you are now able to make yourself. I saw the Sockies pattern and am going to make myself some to wear with my Toms. I saw a store selling the little socks, which you can’t see when wearing these really REALLY comfy shoes, but they were quite expensive. I am currently wearing my Toms with normal socks and long pants, so you can’t see anything but the tips of the shoes for now anyway! But I digress.

Overall, I really like Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Sock Book. I love that it allows you to create your own sock designs. It doesn’t just give you patterns, it gives you tools. The old saying ‘Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime’ is something I really believe in and I learn to ‘fish’ wherever I can… so to speak. There are many books out there filled with patterns you can blindly follow, but books that allow you to make your own path are a bit harder to come by.

The second reason I really liked this book is the flow. It smoothly transitioned from subject to subject and chapter to chapter. The very next chapter was exactly what you were looking for after reading the previous one. This is important to me because of my background in literature. When a book or pattern is not written well, it only deters people from following through with the content. Lumpy or jarring transitions do a great disservice to writing even if the writing is good… not that I would know anything about that personally… ahem.

This book is a good fit for an intermediate sock knitter looking for the next step in their hosiery and it is a great fit for first time sock knitters.

I usually recommend Glenna C’s A Nice Ribbed Sock as a first sock pattern; simply because it is extremely clear, well written and free. I know not everyone wants to run out and buy a book in order to make socks, but I would highly recommend THIS book.

I am going to break up the book reviews a little bit by reviewing the Soak box I won from Johanne’s Knit n’ Stitch. I’ve seen them around quite a few times, but haven’t taken the plunge and bought one. I’ll let you know how it is next week!

A Bookworm Life for Me!

When I signed up for Vogue Knitting Live in NYC, I decided to go with the big package. When I went to Chicago I got a smaller package and three extra classes by themselves. This time, I wanted the tickets to the Gala and Cocktail Reception. Something else that came along with this package in particular was a $200 gift card to the Vogue Knitting website, which I quickly spent the moment it was in my hands. It will surprise none of you when I tell you that I bought books. That’s right ladies and gents, $200 worth of knitting books and it was spectacular!

VKL Books

The sparkles might be a little over the top, but when books come in the mail. That’s what it looks like to me!

I ended up getting Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 6 (I did not see 4 and 5 on the website or else I would have bagged them as well), Nicky Epstein’s Knitting on the Edge and Knitting Beyond the Edge (to go with my copy of Knitting Over the Edge) and last, but not least, Vogue Knittting The Ultimate Sock Book and The Ultimate Hat Book. Over the next few weeks I am going to review these books and give you my musings on them.

The first one up is Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Hat Book.

VK Ultimate Hat Book

One of my first problems with buying these books online was, how do you know if you’re going to like them or not? It’s not as though you can simply flip through them, look at the photos and decide if you like the patterns shown there. Not to be deterred in my book-buying experience, I went to Ravelry and looked up the books there. Not only can you see which patterns the book includes, but projects others have completed and shared with the community. I think this really gives an advantage to buying any pattern online or in print, because you can see how others have modified it or how lighting and colour change the look. A hat or sweater you previously didn’t enjoy the look of may be much more flattering when seen on a different model.

This book begins with a word from the author and a brief history of hats. I never really thought much about where knitting came from and how it evolved from a means of making clothing and generating income to a pastime of the middle class. The entire history is only two pages, but interesting in it’s general overview. There is also the ‘anatomy of a hat,’ to clarify terms used in the book, and ‘types of hats’ with illustrational diagrams. In the pages designating the different types of hats, there is a small blurb about the style origin, typical look and special construction information.

I am going to glaze over the ‘basic techniques’ page and move right on through to patterns. They are divided into five categories; basic shapes, cables, lace, colour and embellishments.

My favourite category is basic shapes. Most of the hats in this section are relatively simple, but really showing off the different styles that were covered in the ‘types of hats’ section. One in particular that I like is the Pillbox Hat. It is a unique shape that would suit a smaller facial structure, like mine. The intricate colour work in the photo really drew my eye, as well as the beautiful blue yarn.

Without giving you the whole book, I will say that I am really happy with content. Hats are one of the best gifts to knit, along with scarves, and there are a lot of interesting ideas I had not thought existed before. I guess we know what everyone is going to be getting for Christmas this year…

I will be reviewing The Ultimate Sock Book next Friday so drop in to check it out. I have high hopes for the sock patterns included there. I am also curious about the history of knitted socks. What is now a luxury was once a necessity, can you imagine having to hand-knit all the socks in your sock drawer? I guess I really shouldn’t say that since I KNOW there are people who do that. Respect to you sock knitters, respect.