Sunday, April 09, 2006

Where I talk about yarn, and convince you to buy books.

Ah, chaps, it seems today I've slept. And when I woke up, it was not Saturday anymore. So, no bother.

I'm working on a hat for Grandma Emma (Brandon's Grandma). When she was visiting a few months ago, she saw these vintage magazines that I've got lying around, and she really liked the old 70's style newsboy hats. She told me she's always wanted one of those, but could never find one that was just what she wanted. Well...I bought an old crochet magazine the other day, and inside was a pattern for the exact newsboy hat that she wanted. It has front post cables coming down from the top. The only problem is that I made the wrong size. I measured some of my hats to see which size to make, and the measurements lead me to go with size large, and I assumed that small was a kid size. Well, I just finished that size large, and it is huge. It is not like a newsboy cap, its like a Rastafarian tam. I'm thinking that because the hat is supposed to sit more on top of the head than around it, that the measurements don't correspond to my other hats. So, I'm going to make her one in size small. I guess the upside to this is that I love tams, and so I'll keep the size large. I made it out of two strands of yarn held together, one of them was a light beige colored acrylic, and the other was more of a medium taupe in a really slubby silk. When worked together, they make a really cool tweedy effect. The size large only took about 2 days to finish, so the small should be pretty darn fast.

The family and I went to a new yarn store today, and I was VERY pleasantly surprised. I was looking through our local little newspaper the other day, and I came across a little ad for this shop, Ewe-nique Knits, in Royal Oak, Michigan. The ad was for a clearance sale that they were putting on, and they advertised 50% off the sale yarns, and 20% off everything else, plus, if you brought in the ad, they give you an extra 15% off clearance prices! I was very excited, so we were there when the store opened this morning. The store was beautiful, and they have a very nice selection. The clearance section was HUGE! They had two big tables in the middle of the store, and bins were heaping. There were some very nice things, and I bought a bunch of neat stuff, even though I'm not supposed to buy yarn right now. (oops) Brandon even liked this store, and he is normally a little bored when I shop for yarn. He offered to buy me a 25.00 skein of hand painted sock yarn... I said no, because I am too cheap. I also signed up for their mailing list, so I can make it to more sales!

Ok, so now I'm going to review my favorite crochet book of all time. It is the only craft book that I have ever paid full price for right off the bookstore shelf. Of course, I felt really stupid about that when I saw it on Amazon the next day for half price, but oh well, its still worth it.

- Lion Brand Yarn, Vintage Styles for Today, edited by Nancy J. Thomas and Charlotte J. Quiggle

This book has both knitting and crochet patterns in it, but I don't mind, because most of the knitting patterns could be figured out in crochet pretty easily if you tried. They show you vintage photos of ladies looking fabulous, and then they remake the item for modern times and in Lion Brand yarns, of course. Some of these designs, they really should have stayed closer to the original look, instead of "updating" them so much. For instance, you don't need to use fun fur on everything. You just don't.

Anyway, the really good projects:
Easy knit sweater jacket (sort of kimono-y looking), knitted sweater coat (looks awesome), a neat looking cutaway coat in crochet, cool knitted vest, boxy crochet vest, poet shrug in crochet (my favorite), really neat looking knitted wrap in a basketweave kind of pattern (very suffragette), a crochet lacy shawl, a warmer crochet shawl, a cute knitted sailor sweater for little girls, a non-embarrassing knitted dog sweater, a bunch of unusual hats with matching scarves or muffs (really different from what you normally see), two cute baby hats and a crocheted baby kimono, wristlets and gauntlets in knit and crochet styles, mittens and gloves in knit, a great looking knitted stripy sock, a couple of nice throw blankets and a crochet hot water bottle cover.

not quite as cool: a couple of bland sweaters that would probably look much better if they were just done in different colors, a couple of average looking shrugs and stoles.

All of the patterns are nice looking, and I would say that if you like vintage style at all, and you could only buy one book, this one would be a good investment. You get a little bit of everything, and the patterns really lend themselves to variation. You could completely change the way something looked with just different color or yarn texture. I love books that show you one way to do things, but then leave you options to experiment. Another thing that I like about this book is that they show you what yarn they recommend, and tell you the fiber content and the weight of the yarn, so that it would be easy to substitute if you wanted to. A lot of books just say what yarn they used, and that's it. You don't know if it is worsted or superbulky. Lion brand has a whole range of yarn types, so it actually benefits them to do this. Plus, Lion Brand is pretty affordable most of the time, so you know that the projects won't cost you hundreds of dollars to make. I am sick of sweater patterns where the yarn would cost you 300 dollars to buy. At that point, you can go get a couple of nice cashmere sweaters from a store, you know? I simply cannot abide by 100 dollar scarves.

While I'm on a commentary roll, here, I will tell you about my favorite knitting book. You might say, "but, lady, you don't knit!". And I would say, "I KNOW, BUT THIS BOOK IS AWESOME!". I read a review of this book before, and I didn't believe that it could be as good as they said, but then I happened to see it at my craft store, and I flipped through it. It is better.

-Handknit Holidays, by Melanie Falick

This is not an average holiday craft book. There is nothing cheesy in it at all. I was so surprised. This book has stuff from the novice knitter to a very accomplished pro. It even has things that you can make without actually being able to knit! There are a lot of things in here that I could make in crochet without a pattern of any kind. There are decorations, gifts, gift-wrappiness, anything you could think of. The designs are all very modern, in a really homey kind of way, which I really like. The color schemes that they use are really nice, but they are also very customizable, if they are not up your alley. Most of the stuff is not religious specific, but there are a couple of stockings, and there is a neat looking cabled menorah pillow. The decorations are mostly things like garlands or ornaments, and you can use those any way you want. There are table cloths and runners that are not religion specific. There are nice keep-warn accessories, and also pretty things to wear to a party. They make a really good effort to provide a whole range of gifty ideas. More labor intensive gifts- maybe for a close family member or best friend, there are sweaters and beautiful wraps and toys. There are also really quick projects, like inventive or kitschy hats and scarves, socks, ornaments, little bags, accessories, or quick and easy shawls.
I am planning on creating a ton of these ideas in crochet. The book is very nicely photographed, and most things have more than one picture. The pictures actually show the whole item. There are also nice diagrams for finishing and patterns.

This book costed 28dollars at my craft store. I waited until I got a 40% off coupon, so it was decently priced. However, there are more nice projects in here than you would normally find in 5 holiday books combined, so even at full price, it is a pretty good value.

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