Mon Tricot stitch dictionaries

Mon Tricot's 'Knitting Dictionary: 1030 Stitches Patterns' and 'Knitting Encyclopedia: 1500 Patterns'

It will probably not surprise you to hear that I dote on stitch dictionaries. This goes back to when I was fifteen and finally comfortable with knitting after a two-month trip to stay with a friend in Denmark who also knit. I came back home, and knit clothes for my dolls, and yearned after the Harmony Guide to Stitches that was in a rather eclectic shop near our apartment (my usual purchases from them included stickers and jelly beans). I eventually was given the book as a present, fortunately, at which point I went through and marked each stitch I wanted to try. (Looking at those marks now, I can see how my taste has changed in some ways and not in others.)

What does this have to do with Mon Tricot? Follow this link.

DSD and other people’s designs

I came up with the DSD double decrease several years ago. It’s a double decrease that is visually an exact mirror of sk2p: work ssk (or any of the other left-leaning single decreases), slip it back to the left needle and pass the next stitch over it, then slip it to the right needle again.
It took me a while to find a name for it. I knew I couldn’t have been the first person to invent it, and I wanted to use the same name as other designers. When I asked on Ravelry, I got a kind answer from Annie Maloney (Ravelry patterns, stitch dictionaries), who also designs lace. She told me that she calls this decrease a double slip decrease because that is what Barbara Abbey called it in her book about lace design. Annie Maloney abbreviates it as DSD, so I do likewise.

I didn’t know if I’d ever come across it again in anyone else’s work, but amazingly, in the last couple of months I’ve come across examples in two books I’ve had for a very long time: my Mon Tricot stitch dictionary and Susanna Lewis’s Knitting Lace, which provides charts for a 19th century stitch sampler and talks about lace design.

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Ways of searching for books about fiber arts, and a lacemaking book review

Medallion from Handmade Lace & Patterns, by Annette Feldman

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the value of needlework books for finding information about specific fiber arts, like knitting or crochet, or many other things that might interest you. (They can also open up rabbit holes if they show you a new craft.)

I started looking at needlework books as a source for specific crafts before I went to library school, but library school gave me some useful vocabulary about this kind of research.

If I want to find information about knitting lace, I might start with a book about knitting. If I look for books about lace knitting, that is narrowing my search. If I look for needlework books, that’s broadening my search because knitting is a subtopic of needlework.

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Needlework books

Before the web existed, it was sometimes hard to find much information about handcrafts, online or not. (Usenet and Gopher were useful, but insufficient.) I combed the libraries where I lived, and haunted bookstore craft sections.

I learned to broaden the kinds of books I looked at, and if you’re fond of handcraft books, you might want to look at some of these too.

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Book Review: Knit Mitts, by Kate Atherley

When Kate Atherley writes a knitting book, I always want to get a good look at it. She knows her stuff and is quite thorough about explaining it. So I was pleased to see Knit Mitts: Your Hand-y Guide to Knitting Mittens & Gloves at the library last week. (My book budget is tight, so I like to get a good look at a book before buying it.)

This book is written for everyone from beginning mitten or glove knitters to those who have knit many a pair; for people who want to knit custom mitts to those who just want a rote pattern; for knitters who want a basic design to those who want fancy cables, lace, or colorwork.

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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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Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible: a book review

Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible: 260 Exquisite Patterns by Hitomi Shida

I’ve been admiring Hitomi Shida’s stitch patterns for quite a while now and have been planning to buy one of her stitch dictionaries. So when Tuttle Publishing offered me a copy of one of her books in exchange for a review, I jumped at the chance. It wasn’t until after accepting that I realized that it was even more exciting than I’d thought: this is one of Hitomi Shida’s stitch dictionaries translated into English for the first time, with a complete glossary of the chart symbols and an explanation of how to read Japanese knitting charts.

Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible: 260 Exquisite Patterns by Hitomi Shida, translated with an introduction by Gayle Roehm, will be available on October 10. You can preorder it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through your local bookstore.

I’ve flipped through a few Japanese stitch dictionaries at fiber festivals, and I’ve read a little bit about Japanese charts online, but this is the first chance I’ve really had to use any of these charts. Here are the things I knew before even opening the book:

  1. There would be a lot of gorgeous stitches that aren’t in any of my other stitch dictionaries.
  2. Japanese knitting symbols and charts are completely standardized; once you know how to read them, you can open any stitch dictionary and understand what’s in front of you.
  3. They are also different from any of the English language knitting charts I’ve encountered. This makes having an English language guide to Japanese charts valuable.

So, what did I think of the book? The short version is that aside from a very few minor quibbles, I was impressed. Moreover, I would have been willing to spend twice the list price of $17 to get this book.

Recommended for: cable lovers, knitting designers, and confident knitters who are ready to move beyond basic lace. This book will be especially useful for anyone who wants an English explanation of untranslated Japanese stitch dictionaries.

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