Tag Archives: books

Just Socks – A Review and a Finish

I purchased the Just Socks book, published by Lion Brand Yarn, from one of my local op shops/goodwill stores because I love woollen socks and they are close to impossible to buy in clothing stores these days, especially in women’s’ sizes. When I spot woollen socks for sale (especially fine ones for wearing with shoes, not boots) I generally buy several pairs.

Cover of Lion Brand Barn Book Just Socks

I am not a happy or an accomplished knitter but I can usually work from a knitting pattern if I have to, as long as it’s not too complicated. This does rely on the pattern being reasonably clear and correct.

Not one to fear leaping boldly into a project that may stretch my capabilities, I started with the Intermediate level reversible cable socks in the Just Socks book. The socks turned out OK but I did have to watch some online videos and borrow a book from the Victorian Handweavers and Spinners Guild library to source detailed instructions on the short row method that this pattern uses. I struggled with the instruction Continue until no double wrapped stitches remain. As I am an inexperienced knitter it would have been helpful to me if the pattern had set out how many stitches to knit on each and every heel row so I could count along. I did my best but one of the socks had a couple of holes I had to sew closed because I had overlooked a wrapped stitch and didn’t pick it up when I was increasing to shape the heel.

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Reversible Cable Socks in 12 ply 100% Wool. The wool is greasy, meaning the lanolin is still present, making the socks sturdy and handling the wool a dream.

The heel shaping instructions didn’t seem right though. They read:

Row 1 Knit 22, slip, slip knit, knit 20, slip, slip knit.

Row 2 Knit 1 row.

Repeat these 2 rows until only 16 stitches remain.

Traveling Sock pattern p 22 of Just Socks.

The first problem was that I had 47 stitches on my needle, so one stitch was ”extra”. The second (and more serious problem) was that the instructions said to continue until 16 stitches remain. I did, and the result was an elongated and misshapen heel that I had to cut out and redo, after checking afterthought heel patterns on the internet. I believe there were some decreasing steps missed in the pattern. Or I misread the instructions.

I wonder whether this pattern was test knitted as described before the book was published. If you are an experienced knitter please comment. Did I miss something or did the editor?

Based on my experience I could not recommend this book as each pattern was contributed by a different designer and there is little evidence that the patterns were sufficiently tested or standardized for gauge.

Book Review: Learn to Weave by Anne Field

Anne Field learn to Weave Book

Highly recommended!

I borrowed Learn to Weave by Anne Field from a Melbourne library and I am impressed. I wish I had had this book when I did my first learn to weave class because it is particularly specific and useful. It covered a few basic items I wondered about at the time such as how to join weft threads. It also described different shuttles and what uses each is best for, something I don’t recall seeing in other beginners’ books. The projects step you through the weaving a plain weave scarf, adding patterns in a set of place mats, and some lovely dish towels, plus some wearable projects. I’m personally less enthusiastic about the garments, though I’m impressed at how quickly the concept of double weave is introduced, as part of a wrap project. The projects are very well described and give you the specifics of the materials, to the level of how many grams of each yarn you require. There’s a lot to learn from those details as a new weaver. Sadly, Anne Field passed away a few years ago. She had a fine reputation as a spinner, weaver, teacher and author and was greatly admired. I plan to buy this book.

Book Review: Modern Quilting Designs

Cover shot of Modern Quilting DesignsThe City of Melbourne has just opened a shiny new community centre to give inner city residents and workers a place to go. Inner city residents are mostly high-rise dwellers who pay plenty in rates (taxes) and it might be argued that their money is too often diverted to tourism promotion and business services, rather than to services for residents.

The Boyd community hub is an exception and represents a significant investment in local amenities by the City of Melbourne. It’s also a great example of how wonderful an old building can be when you throw a serous pile of money at restoring it.

The old JH Boyd Girls High School building dates from 1884. The red brick neo-gothic school building had been abandoned for years  but, mercifully, had been preserved for its architectural significance. It now houses a cafe, art space, maternal and child health centre and library.

The Boyd library is full of shiny new books as it is a brand new facility. By that I mean every single book is brand new. Even more remarkable is that the books are grouped into subject clusters and do not use the Dewey Decimal classification system.

The Dewey Decimal system is actually older than the Boyd building, having been devised in 1876. For all its failings, it’s very familiar to all of us who visit libraries or have ever been university students.

Let me tell you, walking in to a library that does not use the Dewey Decimal system seriously messes with your mind. For example in Cookbooks-Celebrity we had the whole pantheon right next to each other: Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Anthony Bourdin, and so on. It’s great for browsing, but I didn’t check what happens when you need to find a particular book.

The acquisition policy for the new library seems to have been focussed on accessible modern titles, with plenty of foreign language books, magazines and DVDs. My beloved was disappointed by the paucity of woodworking titles and the quilting book I borrowed turned out to be, well, not that rich in actual content.

I borrowed Modern Quilting Designs by Bethany Pease. It claims to offer 90+ Free Motion Inspirations. And indeed, it does offer this. And not much more. It’s a collection of what might unkindly be called doodles or what might kindly be called modern quilting designs. There is zero information about how to learn free motion quilting, how to start each line or travel the stitching within the quilt, or how to sew the designs that are not continuous. There aren’t even any photos of actual finished quilts made using the designs shown in the book, though we are told that the author funded her college  education through long-arm quilting. Good on her for that and for getting a book published at all. That’s probably the secret dream of many of us bloggers.

Sample Modern Quiling Design

Would you pay $15 for a book full of these? I wouldn’t.

Recommendation: worth a look if you’re already a free-motion quilter looking for new design ideas. For the rest of us, don’t bother. If I’d paid US $15 at Amazon to buy this book, I’d be feeling ripped off right now.

Bento Box is the Answer

The question was what to do with my Gypsy Bandana pink fat quarter bundle.

Cover shot of Karen Snyders Book Bundles of FunI’ve been thinking about that one for a while and I finally got my answer from Bundles of Fun: Quilts From Fat Quarters by Karen Snyder.

The book cost a massive $5 at one of those remainders book sales, the kind where they temporarily fill a vacant retail space with a whole lot of (mostly crappy) books. At that bargain price I felt it was worth the risk and I’m confident I’ll get my money’s worth.

Bundles of Fun has only a handful of reviews on Amazon, but they’re mostly positive. The patterns seem OK but I’m a little frustrated by the layout and organisation of the book. I’m also amazed that the author found a way to sneak in a photo of her wedding day. I wish her well but when I publish my book there certainly won’t be any wedding snaps in it.

The Bento Box quilt pattern was described in two variations – one made with a single fat quarter bundle and the other made with two. I’m going for the larger sized quilt but may reduce it by one row of blocks as the recipient is still only seven years old and not that tall. I bought Prisma plains to complement the fat quarter colours.

One of the Prisma fabrics was double the price of the others. I asked why and was told it was organic cotton because, “some of our customers prefer more ethical choices.”

Pink and lime green fabrics before cutting

Can you spot the Ethical Choice?

Hmmm. I assume the cotton was still grown in a mono-culture, mechanically harvested and chemically processed, before it was dyed the poisonous lime green colour I purchased. I wonder what the levels of carbon emissions and waste generation were in that process. Was I really making an ethical choice or was just supporting the latest trend in consumer products marketing? I don’t know.

The lime green bled colour like you wouldn’t believe in the pre-wash stage, too.