Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I Love My Little Easter Egg

A quick reminder to all before I begin my post today: Don’t miss the opportunity to enter the contest that I’m currently holding! Details are available in my prior post.

Now, on to current events …

Those of you who visit frequently likely know that I drive a little orange convertible Mini-Cooper, aka My Little Easter Egg. Well, let me tell you, I just love that car! It’s fun to drive, reasonably priced, great on gas, and all of that good stuff, but she’s more than just that.

Yesterday, after several busy days of yarn dyeing, I had to bite the bullet and make a trip to the supermarket. There was no way to avoid any longer the fact that my refrigerator was so empty that I if spoke into it I could probably hear an echo!

I hopped into My Little Easter Egg and wound my way through the streets of my immediate neighborhood until I emerged at the main road where I needed to turn west toward the supermarket. I did not, however, turn west. My Little Easter Egg took me east.

“What are you doing? Where are we going?” I asked. She just giggled and said, “Vroom, vroom!”

There was nothing I could do but relax and enjoy the ride. A few miles down the road, we made a left turn and then another right turn into the parking lot of a large shopping complex, anchored by Target and Mervyn’s. I couldn’t imagine why on earth My Little Easter Egg had brought me to this destination, but all became clear as she drove further into the parking lot, around to the back and settled herself into a spot square in front of Barnes and Noble.

Ah ha! What a darling little car! For the last month, I’ve felt an increasing yearning for some new knitting books. Apparently, this has not gone unnoticed by my dear little orange friend. I knew that I should not indulge myself with such luxuries, but how could I disappoint her? And so I ventured into Barnes and Noble to have a look at the knitting section. Here is what I bought:

The Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns published by Sterling is, of course, a stitch dictionary. I’m embarrassed to admit that I only own one other stitch dictionary right now (I had a second one that a friend borrowed and promptly told me I would not be getting back!). This new dictionary appealed to me for several reasons. First of all, it is indeed a “big” book. It has over 550 stitch patterns, but more importantly, the book itself is large. It has only two stitch patterns per page which means that the pictures are sizable enough that one can really see the stitch pattern clearly. The instructions are written in both row and chart format, which is a nice added touch. There are also quite a number of lace and cable stitches, which I particularly appreciate. On the downside, there’s a section of “Creative” stitches that’s quite extensive. Although they’re fun to look at and some are very nice indeed, there are also quite a number in that section that are nothing other than “creative.” They have no beauty or symmetry or anything really to recommend them in my eyes, but I suppose all dictionaries will have some stitches that simply don’t appeal to some readers. This dictionary just seems to have a heavier dose of those than some others I’ve seen. There are also a few small sections at the back for things like “jacquard” patterns that really seem like nothing more than filler. A few pages of jacquard stitches barely touches on the subject and seems out of place in this book. Overall though, I’m happy with the book and think I will get a good deal of use out of it.

1000 Great Knitting Motifs by Luise Roberts is a book of charts for colorwork. I’m a sucker for these books. I’ve got several already that are each focused on a different type of chart – Fair Isle, Celtic, Native American, and such. This book touches on numerous areas, with sections for motifs of different origins, including Aztec and Inca, Scandanavia, Lapland, and many others. The book is OK, but I chose it largely because it has a healthy section of Fair Isle that I thought might help augment the Fair Isle book I already have (and my next project – the Fair Isle sweater – is looming large in my mind!). As it turns out, many of the charts in the Fair Isle section are not really Fair Isle after all, in that they use three colors per row rather than the traditional two-color patterns of Fair Isle. This may seem like a minor distinction, but the two-colors-per-row rule is part of what makes Fair Isle Fair Isle. I’m certainly not a purist about such things, but when I say I want to make a Fair Isle sweater, part of what I mean is that I want to have the fun of knitting with one color in my right hand (throwing the yarn to knit) and one color in my left hand (picking continental style to knit). Three colors per row just throws the whole rhythm of Fair Isle knitting out of whack.

The final book I purchased is Meg Swansen’s A Gathering of Lace. I haven’t gone through it enough to provide an opinion yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I bought it not so much for any specific patterns, but more just to have one book with lots of different styles and shapes of lace shawls to review. I’ve done very little lace knitting, but I enjoy it and plan to do more in the future and so I thought it would be helpful to examine the different structures and the way the lace stitches are handled as the different shapes of shawls are created. I’ve read a bit on the internet about lace shawl construction but I think having one book to examine at my leisure may be of some use. And besides, the pictures are soooooo pretty!

That’s it for my trip report. What about you? Do you have a book or two in your library that standout as "Must Haves"?

As to actual knitting … At long, long last I’ve reached the final stretch of the knee-high socks that I posted about so many weeks ago. It’s unbelievable that I’ve taken so long to finish these, but soon (hopefully next post) you will see a picture of the completed socks. I’ll also then post a picture of the six colors of superwash merino that are now eagerly awaiting their turn on the sticks. I see lots of highs and lows in my future, as I begin the rather daunting task of the Fair Isle sweater that these six skeins will become.

Happy Knitting!


loribird said...

My "Must Have" books include Nancy Bush's sock books, and Elizabeth Zimmerman's books, particularly Opinionated Knitter and Knitter's Almanac (for its portability.) I love my Gathering of Lace as well, it is a very good book for learning lace.
Of course, you'd be hard pressed to make me give up any of my knitting books. Those are just the ones I'd grab in case of fire. (along with my spinning wheel and current sock, of course...)

anne said...

ooh, books—and all great choices!. i love me some stitch dictionaries!

Stacey said...

Sounds like the Easter Egg did good! :) I looove my "Knitters book of finishing techniques" by Nancie Wiseman - I use it all the time as well as my Nancy Bush sock books! I also take the Barbara Walker treasuries out of the library a lot....

Dorothy said...

Gotta love those Mini Coopers - mine always seems to want to turn and go off island to our LYS. I think she knows the way all by herself. If I had to get rid of all books except one author - it would definitely be Elizabeth Zimmerman's. Her Knitting Without Tears started me on the road. Also love Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel (did I spell that right?).

AmysBabies said...

I wanted to tell you how much you inspire me to try knitting again! Your yarns are beautiful and you are a wealth of inspiration and knowledge : )