Book review: Decorative Knitting

Swatch from Decorative Knitting

A friend suggested that there’s no reason why my book reviews should be limited to new books, and this made sense to me. So when I acquired a nifty book at a local craft supply reuse shop called the Scrap Exchange, I immediately realized that it was a good candidate.

Decorative Knitting, by Kate Haxell and Luise Roberts, is a book about ways of embellishing and decorating knitting. Many of these are fairly standard techniques, but some of them are quite unusual. When I was flipping through the book, the moment I knew I needed to buy it and look at it more carefully was when I noticed the swatches of inlay.

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Shawl obsession

two shawls

I realized yesterday that I’ve gotten behind on getting blog posts ready because I’ve been obsessed over the last few weeks with knitting some lace shawl samples. (One is done, one is getting blocked today, and one is just getting started.) I was just going to let today’s blog post go, but then I realized I can share some sneak peeks of the shawls in question because I’m planning to self-publish them.

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How the crescent got its hump

Occasionally I read forum posts or blog posts or project pages on Ravelry complaining about the “hump” in the center of the top edge of a certain kind of crescent shawl. Some people speculate that it has to do with what kind of cast-on is used, but I think it’s inherent to the structure of the shawl itself (though sometimes it appears and other times it doesn’t).

Here’s why I think that.

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Blossom: a free needlework chart for any craft

Blossom: a free needlework design for any craft

This month, the random number generator chose blossom, suggested by Rebecca & Amy on Patreon.

I usually develop a complicated knitting stitch pattern for each word, but I also like to provide a basic chart for any craft that’s worked on a grid: beads, cross stitch, whatever. I also try to provide an image of the pattern repeated all over not as a chart. I use a bunch of filters and things to try to make it look interesting while retaining the encoded layout. It doesn’t necessarily look like a finished object for any particular craft, but I just want to give a sense of it.

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Blossom: a free lace knitting stitch pattern

Blossom: a free lace knitting stitch pattern

This month, the random number generator chose the word Blossom, suggested by Rebecca and Amy on Patreon. I was pleased to be able to make lace with no double yarnovers that even looks somewhat like flowers.

Each month, my Patreon backers have the chance to suggest words for me to encode as knitting stitches. A random number generator helps me choose the word of the month, and then I get to work, first turning the letters into numbers, then charting the numbers onto grids in various ways. Finally, when I make the chart into lace, I turn the marked squares into yarnovers and work out where to place the corresponding decreases. (I usually make lace; occasionally I make cables instead.) I also make a chart for any craft that uses a square grid for designing; this goes in a separate post.

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Snug: a free mosaic knitting stitch pattern

Snug: a free mosaic knitting stitch pattern

I’m occasionally going back to look at the needlework charts I’ve been posting to see what interesting stitch patterns can be made from them. My hope is to inspire you to see how to do this yourself.

This month’s stitch pattern is a mosaic knitting chart made from Snug. I ran out of time to knit a swatch, but the nice thing about mosaic knitting is that the charts are similar to the final appearance of the knitting.

The thing about mosaic knitting is that it just looks difficult. It’s really easy to do! Basically, you’re knitting two row stripes, and slipping stitches from the row below to make the contrasting pattern. If you can knit stripes, you can knit mosaic patterns.

Here’s an article from Twist Collective about how it works.

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Product review: Addi Flexiflips needles

Flexiflips in a star shape

Back in the fall, I started seeing discussion of a new kind of knitting needle set from Addi: Flexiflips. They’re like a cross between double-pointed knitting needles and circular needles. There’s three in a set, designed for knitting items in a small circumference, like mitts or socks, or toys.

I was instantly intrigued. I like my double-pointed needles, but sometimes I do get frustrated with them (most notably when they break or when I pull one out of my knitting by accident).

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