Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Reviews Aplenty

File under "as though my queue isn't long enough already"....I got a treasure trove of books for my birthday!  There have been some really interesting titles published this fall - many featuring my clients, which necessitates me talking A LOT about how awesome said books/patterns/yarns are.  We all know what weak sales resistance I typically have in these situations, and I've done a great job of convincing myself I need these books on my shelf...and so do you, because if I'm going down with the ship, I'll need a little company.

Here's my birthday book booty:

1. The Knitter's Life List - I actually hadn't heard of this book, so I was really delighted to start flipping through it.  While drinking tea this morning,  I learned all sorts of interesting little factoids.  It's kind of like an encyclopedia for knitters - overviews of types of fiber & yarns, interviews with influential knitterati, a comprehensive listing of every fiber show, etc. etc.  There aren't any patterns in this book, but it's so full of useful information that patterns would almost get in the way.  I'm deeming this an essential reference book for the knitter's bookshelf.

2. Knit Local - Tanis Gray's tome about American-based yarn purveyors is nothing short of amazing.  There are lots of companies you know and love - Brown Sheep, Brooklyn Tweed, and Quince & Co., for example - and several that are new to the scene and may have escaped your notice til now.  The book's introduction sets the tone and, in and of itself, has plenty of food for thought.  The remainder of the book is comprised of profiles for each yarn company grouped by region and including patterns using that company's yarn.  It's a fantastic way to get to acquainted with new yarns that come from your own backyard, which means there is an added benefit of reducing the carbon footprint (ie, not having to ship a large quantity of yarn halfway across the world) and supporting our own economy, which you don't need me to tell you needs all the help it can get.  Having attended my first TNNA in Columbus this summer, there are many familiar faces in this book (Cestari, Bijou Basin Ranch, Imperial Stock Ranch, The Fibre Company, Mountain Meadow wool) and still more that I can't wait to try! 

3.  Weekend Hats - Despite the fact that I no longer have to wait for the train on the painfully windy elevated station that is sandwiched between the Kennedy Expressway (what genius thought of that?!), I still firmly believe that I need more hand-knit hats.  When I started posting about these patterns for my various clients,  I knew immediately that this book had to be mine.  There's a hat for every persuasion designed by most of the usual suspects from the knitting world.  Beanies, cloches, berets, you name it - I defy you to pick up this book and not find at least three patterns you're dying to make.  What's on my to-do list?  I'm in love with Connie Chang Chinchio's Union Long Beanie (I love anything that gives an orphan button a good home!), Elizabeth Parker's Pebbled Beanie, Gudrun Johnston's Hued Toque, and Jared Flood's Wanderer Cap.  I'll probably also be adding the Ogee Beanie, Welted Toque, and Semolina Earflap hat to my queue.  See what I mean? 

4.  The Knitter's Book of Socks - How many sock-knitting books can you own? At last count, I had 13 sock titles on my shelf.  After this latest round of sock books came out, I found myself wondering which, if any, were worth adding to my collection.  I've picked up several new sock books and found them to be simply lovely, but not exactly earth-shattering.  I do happen to have Clara Parkes' other books (The Knitter's Book of Yarn and The Knitter's Book of Wool), and I absolutely love them.  They're informative, interesting, and feature great patterns.  Yet still I resisted this book - it wasn't til I listened to Marly Bird's Yarn Thing podcast with Clara as the guest that I realized this was a book worth getting.  It's got more than just the usual "here's how you make a sock" sound bites - Clara goes in-depth with her explanations of achieving proper fit and making socks that withstand the test of time.  I can't recall reading anything about moisture management in any of the other books I own.  And then there are the patterns - I've already cast on for the Rocaille Socks!  There are also some fantastic designs by your favorite sock knitterati - Cookie A, Marly Bird, Anne Hanson, and Melissa Morgan-Oakes all represent.  So let's say that, out of all of the sock books that have come out this year, you can only choose one to purchase....better make sure it's this one!

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