Friday, October 28, 2011

Book Review - A Knitting Wrapsody by Kristin Omdahl

This book - A Knitting Wrapsody - focuses on wraps, shawls, and shrugs. It has the innovative feature of including a DVD that illustrates some of the special techniques used in the book. This is a fantastic feature.

Kristin is well known in the crochet world. I'm not a crocheter, so I'm looking at the designs solely from a knitter's point of view. This book is not intended for beginners, as it really requires a good foundation in basic knitting techniques. I'm fairly experienced as a knitter, so I'm attracted to new and different techniques and design effects.

There are eighteen patterns, categorized: scarves, wraps, shawls, and skirts. They go from lacy to quite dense, solid knitting. It's really hard for me to pick a favorite because there are a lot of great ideas in this book.
Overall, the book is well-produced: there are lots of clear photos of each piece; charts and schematics are sharp and usable; the design layout is visually pleasing. The patterns seem easy to follow.

On to the patterns:

Ring of Cables – a very cute shrug with lots of lovely cables. This design is on the cover. This would be adorable on a twenty-something, and it has a really interesting construction. I love the cables! This is the first project I started. I'll be making it for my daughter in law in a wool-silk blend yarn. I’ve done a gauge swatch and I’m on my way!

I Do - diamond lace scarf, is very pretty, wearable and appealing.

Echo - Mobius - has an original stitch pattern that makes me want to try it.

Infinity cardi-wrap - just breathtaking in its unique design. A figure-8 is knitted for the back, then stitches are picked all around it to make the rest of the sweater. So striking.

Finally, the Warrior wings shawl, with its pretty scalloped edges, is another winner.

I passed the book around at my knitting group, and these patterns got the most ooohs and aaahs.

As for the downside, I couldn't see knitting the Flamenco ruffled skirt, or the Gypsy wrap... Just not wearable for me or people I know.

With the inclusion of a technique DVD, this book is suitable for most knitters, because even if you are a beginner, you can work on the techniques until you have them down, then embark on one of the projects.

All in all, there is a very good proportion of things I do want to make, compared with other knitting books I have. So this book is a winner :-)

Note: I was supplied a copy of the book by the publisher.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lots of Stuff!

I haven’t yet blogged about my trip to London in May and the fabulous Chelsea Flower Show. And I haven’t blogged about my vacation in the south of France in late August/early September. I will get to those in good time. But first I will talk about recent knitting-related stuff, especially something very exciting that just happened.


Last weekend I attended Vogue Knitting Live in LA. A knitting conference 3 miles from my house ? I’m there ! I registered for a lecture by Franklin Habit and 2 classes, with Cirilia Rose and Shirley Paden. In addition I signed up to be a volunteer and help out with registration and such. So, I had a very busy 3 days.

I’ll go into detail on all of these, but first I’ll get right to the most exciting part -- one of my designs was shown in a fashion show! My design – up on the catwalk, worn by a real model!
I was super excited and actually got a little choked up afterwards.

It’s a simple cowl and matching fingerless mitts, done in a slip-stitch colorwork design. It will be available as a free pattern by the end of October on the Premier Yarns website. I’ll post the link here and on Ravelry when it comes out.

So, I thought the conference was really good. There was a huge variety of classes offered, to the point where it was very hard to pick just a couple. The vendor marketplace was large and extensive, lots of yarn stores had nice booths, and a few brand-new yarns were launched. In spite of my large stash, I succumbed to a skein of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, in a new variegated colorway designed by the famous Kaffe Fasset.
This was one of the new yarns introduced at the conference. I saw some items made from it at the Rowan fashion show and went right to the marketplace to buy some – it was that pretty.
Another one, Polaris by Universal Yarns, was gently variegated in ivory, grey and black with sequins sprinkled through it. I couldn’t resist those sequins, especially at just $10 a skein :-)

There was also a bag of half price Noro Shirakaba in a nice cranberry red semi-solid.
I was hoping to find the famous Signature needles that I had heard so much about -- because I had just about talked myself into buying some – but I wanted to try them first. I wanted to see whether they magically improve my knitting in some way. There are several different lengths and styles to choose from, so it would be best to test them out. But, alas, Signature did not have a booth, and none of the yarn stores represented there had them. I decided to pick up a circular Addi Lace Turbo needle instead. I’ve used it a little and I like it so far.

Now, about the classes.
Franklin Habit was funny, informative, and charming as he talked about his interest in historical knitting patterns and how he goes about doing his research. He showed us some of the items he has made for his regular feature in There were some lovely pieces.
Cirilia Rose taught “Design with Confidence” and she covered a wide ranging set of topics relating to the design process, providing lots of insights into the industry. She is sweet and charming and fun.
The class with Shirley Paden was intense. We had to knit 4 large lace swatches as prep work, then in the 6 hour class we learned about the many styles of lace and the management of shaping lace to fit shapes such as sleeve caps or necklines. We knitted several complicated lace swatches in class to learn the different types of lace. Shirley showed us many beautiful samples of lace that she has used in her designs.

I had a chance to catch a few of the fashion shows. The one done by Rowan was one of the most beautiful; there were many lovely and wearable pieces. Skacel, Universal, and Premier also had good representation. A poncho/wrap that looked like a big tablecloth, and some unfortunate legwarmers that didn’t stay up, were the exceptions.
It was also great fun to chat with people too, like Wendy Bernard (Custom Knits) and Vicki Stiefel (The Laidback Knitter).

Oh, last but not least, there was a beginner’s lounge where you could learn to knit or crochet. I decided to take the plunge and learn to crochet. After 20 minutes of patient coaching I had the hang of single and double crochet. Woo-hoo! And they were nice enough to give me the crochet hook and the yarn I used to take home. My friend Ellen, an avid crocheter, was happy to hear this news, and has offered to help with any further questions I might have.

All in all, VK Live was an exciting, busy and educational time. It’s always nice to be surrounded by other knitters, and the hotel was swarming with them. Where else can you stroke a complete stranger’s shawl, and murmur “nice!” and not get into trouble? ;-)