Review: The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary

STC Craft provided a copy of The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary free of charge. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

The Knitting All Around Stitch DictionaryWendy Bernard, author of The Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary, follows the success of that volume with a new stitch dictionary, The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary. Both books include stitch pattern instructions for working back-and-forth, in-the-round, and top-down. Top-down, you say? That is different!

Most stitch dictionaries only give instructions for back-and-forth, and perhaps in-the-round, knitting, leaving knitters to translate the instructions for top-down knitting on their own. The stitch patterns presented in both these volumes are not necessarily new and earthshakingly original, but they do offer a nice variety of lovely utilitarian patterns including knit/purl, lace, cables, ribs, fancy stitches and even mosaics, a recent personal favorite.

Moss CirclesMoss Circles pageThe swatch photos are large and clear, and text and charts are given for each of the 150 stitch patterns. When a fabric is reversible, both sides are shown. There’s plenty of white space, enhancing readability. For those who prefer a physical book, the hardcover with a concealed spiral binding allows it lie open and flat, behaving just as a book should.

 

KnittingAll-AroundStitchDictionary_p273There’s an inspirational project to go with each chapter, so you can see how to use one of the stitch patterns in a design. Overall, the book looks clean, modern and appealing. It’s pretty to look at!

I’m an avid stitch-dictionary collector. I’m also a serial swatcher, so I was really happy to see that Wendy  gives plenty of gentle encouragement to do just that: swatch to learn about the stitch patterns and how they behave. Does a swatch ever lie? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

KnittingAll-AroundStitchDictionary_p008I had just a couple of minor complaints, and they are truly minor. The swatches are all made with knit-in garter stitch edges: top, bottom, and sides. While this makes for nice, tidy samples that lie flat, it doesn’t help me know ahead of time what the fabric might look like without an edge treatment. Of course, I can and will swatch for myself, but having this insight ahead of time would be nice. The sans serif font is a bit light for comfort, but that might just be these old eyes. I’ll whip out the reading glasses.

More About Wendy Bernard

Custom KnitsCustom Knits 2Custom Knits Accessories

It’s no surprise that Wendy gives us these top-down offerings, since she is known for her top-down designs. If you aren’t familiar with them, check out Custom Knits, Custom Knits 2 and Custom Knits Accessories, all of which help you “unleash your inner designer” (her words). These books are full of real-world, real-body designer how-tos that really will help you successfully design and alter top-down sweaters that fit. I was lucky enough to have a bit part in the production of Custom Knits, and I learned a lot about top-down design from that experience. Let’s put it this way: When I moved to a new house 18 months ago, I had to severely pare down my book stash, cutting it by about 80%. Wendy’s books made the cut.

You can find Wendy Bernard blogging at www.knitandtonic.com.

 

In Search of Crochet Charting Software, Part 1

Granny Square for blog post(2)Question: What software do you use to draw crochet symbol diagrams?

I’m asked this about once a week, and more often than once a day at fiber events.

My Answer: Adobe Illustrator

The reaction to this response is almost always a sigh, a shake of the head, and a quick retreat with shoulders slumped. (Even if the question was posed online, I can hear the sigh and feel the disappointment.)

Why the universal sorrow? Because drafting crochet charts is not (yet) as straightforward as typing in a set of text instructions and having a program spit out a lovely finished chart. Instead, you have to understand crochet diagrams and the construction of the crochet fabric, as well as have the skills to draw the chart using a vector-based drawing program like Adobe Illustrator, which is pricy to purchase, or the free, open source Inkscape. It takes practice, and the learning curve can be steep.

Even among those who do have the requisite skills, their approach to drawing a crochet diagram varies, even when they are using the same software. Having studied this matter for some time now, I have even come to recognize certain telltale “signatures” that hint at which illustrator drew the diagrams for a particular publication.

I asked some of these folks to share examples of their work. What follows are variations of granny square-style motifs. They aren’t all the same motif, but they do offer a glimpse into the ways that individual diagram drafters put their own stamp on their work. Unless otherwise noted, all of these diagrams were drawn using Adobe Illustrator.

Karen Manthey_Granny SquareYou might recognize Karen Manthey’s work. Karen is a prolific tech editor and illustrator who works behind the scenes on many of the publications you are familiar with. Here’s an example of a classic granny square from Karen, with alternating black and blue rounds.

My granny square (shown above) looks a lot like Karen’s.

 

 

 

 

Lindsey Stephens Granny Square

Lindsey Stephens, designer and tech editor, presents a black-and-grey diagram. She can be found at www.poetryinyarn.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robyn Chachula_Granny Square DiagramRobyn Chachula, author of Vintage Modern CrochetBlueprint Crochet and other best-sellers, draws in AutoCad Lt then moves the drawing into Illustrator to create jpgs as needed. She’s a trained architect, so she uses the drawing program she knows best.

 

 

 

 

 

Joan Beebe_Granny squareJoan Beebe provides another classic granny. Look her up at ssknits.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charles Voth Granny SquareCharles Voth offers this variation on a granny square. He can be found at www.CharlesVothDesigns.ca. He also teaches a Craftsy class called See It, Crochet It: Reading Stitch Diagrams. Check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Granny Square_Alla KovalAlla Koval draws diagrams for all of her designs. You can find her patterns at mylittlecitygirl.com.

But back to the original dilemma. Is there a software program that helps the ordinary crocheter draw stitch diagrams? In my next post, I’ll share a bit more on the subject.

Meanwhile, if you are drawing your own crochet diagrams, pipe up in the comments section and let me know how you are doing it!

The Lonely Doll Knits a Scarf

Recently I discovered something that made me very happy: The Lonely Doll books are still in print. These picture books by Dare Wright were my favorite stories oh-so-many years ago. After all, the eponymous Lonely Doll is named Edith, and we Ediths have to stick together.

Of the several Lonely Doll books that I owned, my most favorite was A Gift from The Lonely Doll, in which Edith decides to knit a scarf for her friend, Mr. Bear. Because she wants to keep the gift a secret, she keeps the scarf hidden in a basket. There’s a not-so-surprise ending, but I won’t be responsible for spoilers. You’ll have to read the book yourself!

The Lonely Doll got me thinking about other picture books with good fiber-y content. I’ve rounded up a few titles here.

 

 



Charlie Needs a Cloak
 was especially popular at my house, because we actually had a Charlie.

 

 

 

 

 

I read Amos’s Sweater so many times, I still have parts of it memorized: “Amos was old, and Amos was cold and Amos was tired of giving away all his wool.” He really is a pretty grumpy old guy, but by the end of the story he’s no longer cold. Oops, I promised no spoilers.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sheep in a Jeep, Sheep Go to Sleep, Sheep in a Shop, Sheep on a Ship (and others!) are classics and provide all the sheep rhymes you can stand. Read all of them and you’ll be dreaming of sheep, for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven’t read this one, but can’t resist the rhyme.

 

 

 

 

 Adorable illustrations!

Now it’s your turn. Comment below with your favorite fiber-related picture book. I’m off to find a small person who would like to hear a story or two.

Sneak Peek: Crochet One-Skein Wonders for Babies

Wanna see a sneak peek at a few of the designs from Crochet One-Skein Wonders for Babies? Alrighty then! With 101 patterns (at just under 19 cents per pattern), this may be the only baby crochet book you need for quite some time.

PrismPinafore.jpgBabyBootees.jpg
MaxBackpack.jpgIntoTheWoodsVest.jpg
AprilShowersCape.jpgOctagonPants.jpg
BenjaminTheBear.jpgCrocodileStitchPixieHat.jpg
Images excerpted from Crochet One Skein Wonders for Babies (c) Judith Durant & Edie Eckman. Photographs by (c) Geneve Hoffman Photography. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Excerpted from Crochet One Skein Wonders for Babies (c) Judith Durant & Edie Eckman. Photographs by (c) Geneve Hoffman Photography. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Creativebug’s Mother’s Day Sale

Mother's Day Sale

What Mom really wants this weekend is a day or two off, but if you can’t give her that, give her the next-best thing: some Me Time with her favorite craft! Creativebug has a really great deal on for Mother’s Day, and the cool thing is that you can watch all the Creativebug classes for that price, for an entire year.

That means that you can binge-watch (binge-craft?) to your heart’s delight, anywhere and any time you can find the time.

And Moms, if you don’t get something totally awesome for Mother’s Day, you can still buy something for yourself. You have my permission.