March 30, 2007

Purls Forever

Purls Forever by Jonelle Raffino is a touching reflection on the heritage of knitting through 6 generations of knitters.

Jonelle Raffino, co-owner of South West Trading Company target, has gathered together a collection of patterns based on garments and items knitted and crocheted by herself and 5 other generations of women in her family in the her book, Purls Forever: The Story and Legacy of 6 Generations of Women and Their Handcrafted Garments.

The patterns have been updated to reflect contemporary styles while staying true to the original garments that inspired them. They also use modern yarns made for and distributed by South West Trading Company. Also, each pattern includes a picture of the original item as well as the updated version.

Each pattern is accompanied by heart touching stories about the orignial garment, who made the garment, and who recieved the knitted or crotchet item. I felt moved by several of the stories about grandmother, mother, and daughters, so much so that I became teary-eyed.

You can't say that much about a knitting book unless you are crying in frustration over problems knitting a pattern!

Patterns that I particularly like were:
  • A Dress For Josephine/Bamboo Eyelet Set on page 13 - an elegant looking knitted skirt and top set with a picot stitch pattern.
  • Jonette's Sailor Sweater on page 39 - an adorable child's sweater with a sailor collar
  • The Cardigan Sweater/Nona's Cardigan Sweater on page 57 - the updated version has a zipper
  • 911/The Hug Scarf on page 75 - a scarf Jonelle knitted waiting for her husband to come home for Washington, DC after that fatefull day. This story really brought tears to my eyes

Purls Forever by Jonelle Raffino really shows that knitting and crocheting are timeless!

March 18, 2007

Vickie Howell Yarn: Craft

Vickie Howell Yarn Craft
Vickie Howell now has a yarn collection from South West Trading Company. In this article, I'll review Craft, a 35% Milk Fiber and 65% Organic Cotton yarn.

South West Trading Company recently released the Vickie Howell Collection, a set of three types of yarn. These are Craft, made of 35% Milk Fiber and 65% Organic Cotton; Rock, made of 40% Soysilk, 30% fine wool, and 30% hemp; and Love, made of 70% Bamboo and 30% Silk.

The 35% Milk Fiber in the Vickie Howell Yarn Craft helps give the organic cotton softness and a wonderful drape. I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn as it was more comfortable then knitting with 100% cotton. It has more give and flexibility thus making it easier to knit.

The feel of the knitted fabric is cool and soft on the skin. I think it would be the perfect yarn for a summer tank top or short sleeve top because the weight of the fabric is relatively light.

There is good stitch definition with the Vickie Howell Craft Yarn. It would probably be great for cables or other textured stitch patterns. And, of course as you can see in the swatch picture, it looks great in stockinette too!

I really like the wonderful bright grass green color of yarn for this swatch. It is number 777 - Kelly. There are lots of other great colors too. I particularly like 765 - Meowers, 764 - Suss, and 767 - Todd.

Contains: 35% Milk Fiber, 65% Organic Cotton
Gauge: 5.5 sts and 7 rows = 1"
Recommended Needles: US 6 (4.0mm)
Length/Weight: 125m/50g ball
Washing Instructions: Hand wash, dry flat

See all yarns reviewed by Knitting News Cast.

March 15, 2007

No Sheep For You

No Sheep For You by Amy R. Singer is a guide to knit happy with cotton, silk, linen, hemp, bamboo and other delights.

In her book, No Sheep For You, Amy R. Singer, editor of, explores using nonwool fibers in knitting. These fibers include cotton, silk, linen, hemp, bamboo, silk, corn, soy, and synthetics such as nylon, acrylic, polyester, and spandex.

The first chapter discusses cellulose fibers like hemp and linen, protien fibers like silk, manufactured fibers from natural materials such as rayon,bamboo, and corn, and synthetic fibers. For each group of fibers, Amy discusses their characteristics and how they behave when knitted.

The second chapter discusses how to choose a nonwool fiber substitute for knitting patterns. There are several look up type charts including "Nonwool Fiber Families and Their Quirks", "Comparison of Properties of Knitting Yarns", and "How to Knit Things Designed for Wool Without Any Wool At All".

The patterns in the book range from cardigans to a tank top shell to a hat to a shawl to sweaters to a scarf to a knitted bag. Each of the patterns are knit with a nonwool yarn with step-by-step instructions, charts, and color photographs.

I especially like "The Bag" by designer Wendy Wonnacott on page 93. It is knit with hemp yarn using a slip-stitch pattern that gives the bag alot of texture. I also like "Tomato" by designer Wendy Bernard on page 137. This short sleeve top has a dramatic neckline and is knit with a worsted-weight cotton yarn.

If like Amy, you are allergic to wool or just prefer using wool in your knitting or if you want to try something new in your knitting, No Sheep For You, is a great place to get educated about using nonwool yarn. Amy goes into great detail about the fibers and how to use them in knitting. There are also some great patterns that use these yarns.

March 14, 2007

Knitting Stitches

Knitting Stitches by Mary Webb is a comprehensive resource of over 300 contemporary and traditional stitch patterns.

Once you get past the basic knitting stitches, stockinette stitch and garter stitch, there is a whole world of useful and decorative knitting stitches to explore. In her book, Knitting Stitches, Mary Webb goes beyond the basic stitches to explore a variety of knitting stitches.

The beginning of the book, in the first four chapters, covers the basics of getting started with knitting. In these chapters, there is information on the materials and tools needed for knitting as well instructions for holding the yarn, holding the needles, how to knit a stitch, how to purl a stitch, casting on, and binding off. Clear color photographs accompany the instructions making it easy to learn how to knit, read patterns, and decipher charts.

The remaining five chapters in the book contain a resource of knitting stitches. They are: Knit and Purl stitches, Rib Stitches, Cable Stitches, Lace and Bobble Stitches and Twist Stitches. The stitches in each chapter are further divided into popular, easy, medium, and difficult.

What I like best about Knitting Stitches is the large, clear photographs that accompany each stitch pattern. They show exactly how the stitch should look. What I also like is the step-by-step instructions and charts for each stitch pattern. These things combined make it easy to knit the patterns.

If you are looking for a portable knitting stitches reference, Knitting Stitches by Mary Webb might be the right choice.

March 12, 2007

Getting Started In Knitting Podcasting

Here is a fun video clip of Rhonda Bell of the Knitting News Cast telling about how she got started in podcasting.

This video was taken at Hill Country Weavers in Austin Texas at a Knit and Nosh event held during SXSW by Cyndilou.

Knit Earflap Hat Patterns

Knit Earflap Hats keep not only your head warm but your ears too. There are many great free knit earflap hat patterns available on the Internet. Here are a few to get you started.

Basic Earflap Hat PatternIf you are looking for a basic pattern to get you started, Julie has a great Basic Earflap Hat Pattern. It calls for about 100 grams of heavy worsted weight yarn. It knits up quick and is a great place to start for designing your own earflap hat pattern.

Knitty Gritty has a Camo Earflap Hat pattern designed by The Souza family. It uses 1 skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in a great orange "camo" looking colorway. It is finished off with nice looking braided ties and a pom-pom.

Or if you need knit earflap hat patterns for both children and adults you may want to check out Gail Bable's Ribbed Ear Flap Hat pattern. These fun hats are knit in K3P1 stitch pattern.

Get more free hat knitting patterns including knit earflap hat patterns from the Free Knitting Patterns Online directory.

March 07, 2007

Knitting Magazine: Spring 2007 Knitty.Com

The Spring 2007 issue of is now available. Here is a preview of all the great free knitting patterns.

bmp - charted sock pattern
carolyn - stripped knitted cardigan
tahoe - v-neck cardigan
ribena - short sleeve top with ribbing and arm warmers
torque - asymmetry cable sweater
isabella - tank top with picot edging
ester - cable shrug
morestripes - skeeked ribbed vest
monica - girl's tank top
briar rose - girl's sweater
hey mickey - girl's pleated skirt
vestee - toddler's sweater
palette - lace scarf
dashing - men's fingerless mitt pattern
paperbag - knit bag
bauble - knit bracelet
queen of cups - lace socks
quill lace - lace anklets
clessidra - cable socks

There are also some great articles including one on dyeing yarn with food coloring, one on spinning hemp, and one loom knitting.