Book Review: Sequence Knitting

Book review of Sequence Knitting.

For my birthday this year, I bought myself two books I’ve been yearning for: Sequence Knitting and the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook. Both have to do, in rather different ways, with demystifying particular design processes, though sequence knitting is also a new method for knitting complicated patterns using extremely easy-to-memorize methods. I am pleased as can be with both these books. I’ve already learned a lot from both of them. I have so much to say about each of them that I can’t possibly review them both in one post.

Sequence Knitting: Simple Methods for Creating Complex Reversible Fabrics, by Cecelia Campochiaro. Sunnyvale, CA: Chroma Opaci, 2015. ISBN: 9780986338106,  website: sequenceknitting.com, on Ravelry: Sequence Knitting

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Book Review: The Twigg Stitch

review of a book about Twigg stitch, a new knitting technique.

Twigg Stitch: A New Twist on Reversible Knitting, by Vicki Twigg. Interweave, 2014. ISBN 9781596688223

(Ravelry listing)

I picked this up at the library because Twigg stitch is billed as being a brand new knitting stitch method. It might well be – that is, I haven’t seen it in any of the books I’ve read, and certainly people are constantly reinventing techniques that other people came up with separately. Anyway, if anyone else has invented it, those instances are pretty obscure.

I had a good time playing with a tiny swatch, though I’m still not very good at the technique. (If I go on with it, practice will help a lot.)

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A Knitting Library: Lace design

Knitting Lace, by Susanna E. Lewis.

I’ve come a long way in lace design over the last few years, but I feel I still have a long way to go. There are three major things I’ve learned from:

  1. Knitting lots of lace swatches out of stitch dictionaries. Stitch dictionaries will be a separate post, I think.
  2. Being persistent with my own lace designing, and being willing to swatch multiple times to get a single stitch pattern to look good. (I don’t always, and I have to do this less and less often as time goes by, but still.) Also, using a mistake in one design as a design feature in another.
  3. Reading what I can find about how lace works. And that’s what this post is about.

Here are the two books I’ve used the most to learn about designing lace stitch patterns so far:

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A Knitting Library: basic reference

I wanted to add  book posts to the mix again. I am, after all, a reference librarian by training. Also, I learn best from text and diagrams. A conversation on Ravelry led me to the idea of gradually posting a list of books I’ve learned from, and possibly a few websites as well.

I’m going to start with the books I turn to when I have a question—one part of my core collection.

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Hiatt’s Principles of Knitting

I have some knitting books. Not nearly as many as some designers I know (I like to rely on the public library), but still, about fifteen knitting books.  Almost none of them are pattern books; instead they fall into two categories:

1. Stitch dictionaries. I never met a stitch dictionary I didn’t want. Mind you, I have one that is more in the nature of a horrible warning instead of a good example – but I’ve still found some stitch motifs in it that I haven’t seen elsewhere. (Let me just say that some of the photographs don’t even show a full repeat of the stitch pattern.)

2. Reference works, such as Montse Stanley’s Knitter’s Handbook.

I’ve also browsed a number of books from libraries and ordered others through interlibrary loan. It’s a great way to pick up techniques.

A classic in the field was republished in a much revised version a couple of years ago: June Hemmons Hiatt’s The Principles of Knitting. I bought it as an ebook, and it’s been languishing on my tablet ever since. (I’ve learned my lesson: reference books only work for me in paper, especially if they’re as long as this.)

So I checked the hardback out of the library recently and have been browsing it with great delight. One difficulty, however, is that Hiatt uses wonderfully internally consistent and logical terminology for knitting techniques that doesn’t necessarily match up with the names used by anyone else. (She has good reason to do this – she says herself that for some things, there’s already great variation in terms, so if she has to pick something, she might as well pick something that makes more sense.) If one is only using Principles of Knitting, this doesn’t matter. But it makes it very hard to look for techniques in the index to see what she says about them.

Take knitweaving, which I wrote about last week. It wasn’t in the index and I didn’t have the slightest notion of what she might have named it. I didn’t find it when flipping through the pages. (There are 700 pages; it’s easy to miss things.)

It turns out that she calls it inlay and has a very thorough chapter describing both kinds of knitweaving/inlay, its advantages and drawbacks, and discussing how to use it functionally as well as decoratively.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend the book to anyone with the caveat that cross-referencing with other work is difficult.

PS. I think I’d qualify it as my desert island knitting book. You know: if I could have just one knitting book, what would it be? This is it.

Rav Hisda’s Daughter, vol 1: Apprentice

Most novels seem to take textiles for granted; that is, they’re just part of the background and one doesn’t need to think about where they come from, even though in pre-industrial-revolutionary societies, the production of textiles is part of everyday life. (From what I can tell, at least.)

It is therefore a pleasure when I come across a novel which has textile production at least given a mention, and a joy when it’s really woven (ha! that wasn’t on purpose) into the story.

Rav Hisda’s Daughter, by Maggie Anton, is somewhere in between.

A little background: It’s set in Persia, in the time after after the fall of the Temple in Jerusalem. It’s based on stories from the Talmud. There are Jews who follow Rabbis and there are Jews who don’t. Christianity is still in its early stages. I haven’t double-checked the dates yet, but I think Islam doesn’t exist yet. The Persians are Zoroastrian and the Romans are not yet a Christian empire.

I don’t think any of the rest of what I’m writing is spoilers, but I’m going to put the rest behind a link just in case.

It’s not one of my favorite books ever, but I will be reading the sequels.

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