Books Worth a Look

Most of us begin the new year by looking forward, but I’m starting 2018 by taking a look at two knitting and two crochet books from 2017 which I never got around to reviewing. If by some chance you missed hearing about these, now’s your chance to find a new recommended title. These are keepers.

Stackpole Books, Interweave, and Fallingblox Designs provided copies of these books for my review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This page may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.

Mosaic & Lace Knits Barbara Benson

Mosaic & Lace Knits

by Barbara Benson

I’m a huge fan of mosaic knitting. I love color, I love pattern, and I love how slip stitches can make simple knitting into something spectacular. I’m a fan of simple lace, as well. But when I heard about Mosaic & Lace Knits, I thought, “Huh? Can you even do that?” The answer is a resounding YES! Using her innovative techniques, designer Barbara Benson shows us how to meld slip-stitch knitting and simple lace techniques into fascinating accessories.

I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the projects up close, and they are truly eye-catching. I also met Barbara in person last summer, and I think I may have squeed just a little bit over her work.

Who It’s For: Intermediate knitters up for a challenge. Experienced lace knitters and mosaic knitters looking for their next project will be sure to find something here to fascinate.

If you want to try out basic mosaic knitting first, check out my Mosaic Knitting class on Creativebug.


Double or Nothing Alasdair Post-Quinn

Double Or Nothing

by Alasdair Post-Quinn

Let’s just get this out of the way: Alasdair Post-Quinn intimidates me a little bit. Not because he’s the least bit scary or mean—he’s a gentle, soft-spoken unassuming guy— but because his mad skills when it comes to double-knitting just blow me away.

In this self-published sequel to his first book, Extreme Double Knitting, Alasdair takes us where no one has gone before, presenting in-depth double-knitting techniques along with colorful patterns that are truly stunning. He provides many step-by-step technique photos, and nice large charts to help you on your way. Running throughout the text are sidebars of Alasdair’s “Craftstory”; his life story (to date) is so interesting and so different from mine that I read it all the way through, flipping from page to page, before I started the knitting portion of the book.

Double or Nothing Waterford CrossingI have seen some of the 14 jaw-droppingly lovely projects in person and all I can say is, if you are a knitter looking for a challenge, Double or Nothing is well worth your time.

Who It’s For: Experienced knitters. As the book’s subtitle says, this is “Reversible Knitting for the Adventurous”. You may also want to look into Alasdair’s Adventures in Double Knitting class on Craftsy**.

If you aren’t yet ready for “adventurous” double knitting, check out my Double-Knitting Workshop on Creativebug.

Top-Down Crochet Sweaters

Top-Down Crochet Sweaters

by Dora Ohrenstein

How did I miss bringing this one to your attention when it came out? <head smack>

Dora gives us 14 fashionable and flattering patterns that any crocheter would be proud to wear. Many crocheters shy away from making sweaters, but with top-down sweaters, there’s no need to be afraid. You can simply try on the sweater as you work and make adjustments for fit along the way. You’ll learn about choosing yarn and stitch patterns, what makes a wearable fabric, and how to adjust the patterns for a perfect fit.

Who it’s For: Intermediate and advanced crocheters who want to make attractive, fashionable garments.

Dora also wrote The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop: Essential Techniques for Becoming a More Versatile, Adventurous Crocheter. If that one’s not on your bookshelf, it should be.


Step into Crochet Rohn Strong

Step Into Crochet

by Rohn Strong

Step Into Crochet is the book that everyone has been asking me about, when they ask me to recommend a crocheted sock book. Rohn provides clear and complete information on crocheting socks that fit, the basics of sock construction, and variations on heels, toes and cuffs. Knitters have had this information readily available for years, but until now we’ve been lacking a resource specific to crocheted socks. The eighteen sock patterns can be modified to fit your foot and ankle, and there are plenty of options for colorwork and texture to keep things interesting.

Who It’s For: Beyond-beginner crocheters who want comfortable socks that fit.


**Coupon Details: Get 25% off the full retail price of any Craftsy class. Excludes classes from our special Mastering in Minutes series as well as from our partner, The Great Courses. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires March 29, 2018.

Review: Alterknit Stitch Dictionary

F+W/Interweave provided a copy of Alterknit Stitch Dictionary for my review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This page may contain affiliate links, which help support me, but don’t cost you anything extra.

Alterknit Stitch Dictionary Andrea Rangal knittingStitch dictionaries are catnip for knitting designers, and Andrea Rangel’s new Alterknit Stitch Dictionary: 200 Modern Knitting Motifs is no exception. The book contains 200 stranded colorwork motifs with a decidedly contemporary flair. You won’t find mosaic or intarsia or texture patterns, but you will find a wealth of stranded patterns to choose from. 

The Stitch Patterns

Alterknit Stitch Dictionary Escher Bats knit
Escher Bats

Let’s start with the good stuff: the stitch patterns. The patterns were designed by Andrea’s husband Sean, who used his artistic mind to come up with non-traditional motifs, all of which work amazingly well for knitting. As I glanced through the patterns, a mixed tag cloud formed in my head: geometrical, whimsical, optical, tiled, interconnected, Greek, humorous, nature. There is bound to be something here to tickle your fancy—everything from Escher Bats and stranded zombies to the eye-popping Broken Shield. That one is sure to show up in one of my future designs!

Broken Shield

Few of the stitch patterns would be considered “easy”, although once you understand the stranded knitting technique, it’s simply a matter of following the charts. Quite a few of the designs are symmetrical enough that you won’t have to be a slave to the chart, but others are complex and are probably best suited to times where you can concentrate on the knitting.

The swatches are stitched with highly-contrasting colors to show up the patterns perfectly. With clear charts and only two patterns per page, the patterns are easy on the eyes. An index indicates stitch and row counts by stitch pattern, which is a huge help when searching for that perfect pattern to fit your project.. 

The How-To’s

Alterknit Stitch Dictionary yarn ballsWhile the focus of the book is on the swatches, you’ll find plenty of supporting material to help you manage the stranded work. You can refresh your knowledge about choosing yarn and colors, including the importance of color value. You’ll find instruction on holding the yarn, manipulating multiple colors, managing floats, and color dominance, Chart reading, the importance of swatching (YES!) and steeking are also covered in detail. I found Tips for Better Colorwork particularly helpful, although I already knew a lot of the other techniques. 

The Projects

Alterknits Stitch Dictionary cowlIf you are itching to start a project using the motifs, but don’t quite know where to start, the third section of the book sets you on the right path. In Stitch Motifs in Projects and Designs, Andrea provides an easy-to-understand explanation of how to fit motifs into hats, cowls, pullovers and other projects.

Don’t want to design your own? Complete patterns for a pair of mittens, a couple of hats, a cowl, a round-yoke pullover and a cardigan allow you to practice what you’ve learned.

Pros: Original, appealing patterns, variety of styles to suit every taste and project, easy-to-read layout and photography

Cons: Sean Rangel didn’t get author credit! I want more patterns, but I don’t have enough time to explore all these. Seriously, I don’t have any cons on this one.


Additional Resources

Creativebug Fair Isle Mitts and Mittens Edie EckmanLooking for more information on stranded knitting techniques? Check out my free Creativebug video on stranded knitting. Want to knit along with me on a stranded project to get your feet wet with the technique? Join my Creativebug class Fair Isle Mitts or Mittens, and make a mitten (or fingerless mitts) with me.


Also by Andrea Rangel

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.