Saturday, May 5, 2012

Knitting Never Felt Better

Superstar textile artist and author, Nicky Epstein’s book “Knitting Never Felt Better” is the best book about felting I’ve ever read. Felting, for those of you that are new to the term, is in Nicky’s words “the process of  turning wool into matted wool. Sound dull? It’s not! It’s a magical metamorphosis.” As a bonafide felting addict, I couldn’t agree more. This craft has a flexibility that regular knitting—as much as I adore it—doesn’t. Primarily this is because with felting there is the possibility of creating your own unique material. A material that is both incredibly resilient and beautiful and that can be used for both experimentation and every day projects such as: hats, bags, slippers.

So what makes this book so much better than most?  To begin with there are more than a hundred and fifty samples complete with a before and after shot of how the sample reacts to the felting process. Plus there are many informative features such as: “Felting  FAQ’s” and Nicky’s list of top ten felting yarns. In addition to loads of information about the way different yarns felt, stitch patterns, colourwork techniques, beaded knitting as well as ideas for appliqu├ęs and templates. These features alone are worth the price of the book. It’s a marvellous reference tool. But this is only the tip of the knitting needle. Ms. Epstein also introduces the reader to a fascinating three-dimensional felting method inspired by the Japanese art of Shibori. which uses every day items like marbles, shells, wooden discs, dowels to create one-of-a-kind shawls and purses. 

I recommend this book without reservation. It's perfect for felters of all levels, who will be able to use it both as an instruction manual and as a source of inspiration. But be warned, this the kind of book you won't want to lend out so you might want to hide it at the very back of your bookcase.

-Lesley Buxton

Knitting Never Felt Better: The definitive guide to fabulous felting.
By Nicky Epstein
Sixth&Spring Books
$38.95 CAN 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Halo Vest

Halo Vest is knit vertically and worked from the right side to left side of body; special increasing and decreasing stitches have been created in order to get the curves of
the armholes just right.

The pattern is written to create your own unique fabric and color combination: a gradation effect using three colors of yarn. Of course you can knit it all in a solid color, too - just ignore the color instructions.

This is a closely fitted vest pattern, ribbed at the hem, rolled collar and designed with a youthful t- back. Knit in a size larger for a looser and cozier feel or knit to your size for a more fitted and tailored look. A contemporary style designed with four strands of steadfast Cascade 220 yarn in mind.

The Halo Vest is a great piece to layer for coolers days, and adds a bit of stylish fun to any outfit. This is a go-to piece in any wardrobe and great for back to school. Wear the vest open or use a button, chopstick, or belt to secure.

Knit with the gradation in mind makes for a great yarn buster. When using up stash yarn, sit back and watch to see what fabric you create. Have fun with it -- but for best results, stick with yarns of similar weight and do take the time to check your gauge.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Knit Noro: 30 Designs in Living Color

The first time I ever laid eyes on a skein of Noro Yarn I was in New York City back in the 00s. Today, I couldn’t tell you which yarn shop as I was at as I was booting it from shop to shop checking out each space as fast as I could in order to meet up with my husband a few short hours later. What I do remember is that this Noro yarn spoke to me. Never before had I seen such a combination of fibres, such earthy, acidy colours, such texture. Choosing was the difficult part. Which Noro yarn? Which tone variation? Which skein?! One thing was certain, which ever I chose I would covet. Then, what would I knit from it?

Years later, Knit Noro: 30 Designs in Living Color came in the mail. I wish this book existed when I first encountered this lovely yarn.

All items of knitwear from cardigans to gloves to afghans are presented in this book. My favorite is the Felted Cloche hat. A charming shape and so clever to full this special yarn. To take this yarn to another level of texture and comfort is an example of the quality of the collection of patterns in this book. Again, the yarn takes on an appeal that none can after a good shrinking.

Deliberately constructed patterns of fabric can bring out the yarn and the yarn can bring out the fabric. Each project is unique to each hank or skein used. No two of the same project can be duplicated with Noro yarn because of its unique qualities. This book brings out the yarn as a book for its namesake should.

Some other interesting pattern techniques to get the best from the yarn are: using two separate balls for contrast, knitting a fair isle cardigan with a corrugated ribbing, bias knitting for a throw, knitting entrelac resulting in a delightful scarf. There, just a few to tease.

The photography is beautiful. The styling professional. The models appear worldly, kind and exotic photographed in front of Indochine wall papers and sophisticated props nearby. The photos highlight each project and are well presented in a groups so not to overwhelm the reader.

The instructions appear to be clear, well charted and contain the basic information all knitters need to tackle a project.

This book Knit Noro: 30 Designs in Living Colour makes my heart flutter. Thank you Eisaki Noro for making these beautiful yarns for almost a half century and for sharing them with us.

-Laura Twiss

Knit Noro: 30 Designs in Living Color

Sixth & Spring Books

$29.95 CAD


Knitting Beyond the Edge

The Essential Collection of Decorative Finishes

Nobody knits like Nicky Epstein. She’s a legend, knitwear royalty to many of her fans. And deservedly so. Her work has appeared in major knitwear magazines, museums, and television. She’s written twenty books on topics that range from Barbie clothes to travel inspired fashion.

I’m a big fan, particularly of her edgings series. “Knitting on the Edge ” is one of my favourite knitting books. The perfect resource for knitters like myself who like to create unique pieces. I’ve used these techniques to make tea cosies, scarves, and dolls. I also adored “Knitted Embellishments,” it taught me a great deal about the art of sculptural knitting especially knitted flowers. I loved it so much that when I finally returned it to the library I had to pay a hefty fine. Ms. Epstein understands the needs of the creative knitter. This, I believe is because she’s one of those rare creators who’s both highly skilled technically in addition to being very imaginative.

Unfortunately I was disappointed by “Knitting Beyond the Edge”. I found the designs and edgings dated. They reminded me of the eighties when the sweaters often made people look like walking Christmas ornaments. In addition I felt I’d seen these patterns in slightly altered variations in her other books. Not that the book isn’t without merit. The book is well laid-out with large photographs of the projects and the patterns are easy to understand and precise. I was intrigued by the Faux Fair Isle Jacket and thought I could adapt it to my suit my needs. Plus I thought a few of the cuff designs such as the: Susie Q Cuff, the Happy Honeycomb Cuff and Peplum Ruffle Cuff could be used to invent lovely fingerless gloves.

So is this new book really beyond the edge? Definitely not. Probably more like “Sitting Close to the Edge.” But it’s still a very practical resource for those knitters interested in adapting and designing their own clothes. Indeed I’ll be spending the afternoon making a pair of the Poet Cuffs for a poet who recently published her second book.

- by Lesley Buxton

Knitting Beyond the Edge: Cuffs And Collars, Necklines, Hems, Closures by Nicky Epstein

Sixth & Spring Books

$19.95 US

$38.95 CAD

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Video Book Reviews

Lesley & Laura's 1st Video Book Review from Twiss&Weber on Vimeo.

Our first ever video book reviews!

Published by Sixth & Springs Books:

  • Vogue Knitting: Mittens & Gloves hardcover $31.95

  • Nicky Epstein's softcover Knitting On the Edge $25.95
Our apologies for the backwards type. We'll try to get that right next time. Please follow our new reviews via Vimeo.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Crochet Inspiration

Crochet Inspiration, by Sasha Kagan

A lovely book to have for those even slightly interested or for those with years of experience in crochet. British knitwear designer Sasha Kagan supplies plenty of large samples of the crochet work in many weights and colours of yarn along with charted maps of each sample and inspiring projects further along the book. The yarns she chose to work with take great photos and are clearly of quality. I find it exciting and refreshing to have so many different types of yarn and weights featured in one book. A task not easy to do well, but Kagan does execute the book well --an example of her years of experience in design and publishing. Kagan’s work is professional and classy. Recently re-released in paperback, I highly recommend Crochet Inspiration.

Crochet Inspiration
Sasha Kagan
Sixth & Spring Books
US $19.95
CAD $25.95

Monday, August 16, 2010

Discovering Art Cloth

A review by Eloise Collison

Art cloth cover There is a eureka moment that occurs when you dye your first piece of fabric. Out of the dye bath comes a piece of cloth, transformed from white to a vibrant colour. Suddenly, as the light falls on your work, the possibilities are spread before you. Wanting to embellish and add to the colour is the next logical step.

To hone your skills as you practice your craft, you might want to take a course, learn from a fellow artist, and practice your techniques.

In Jane Dunnewold’s book Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Fabric, you can do all three. This book is an encyclopedic summary of Dunnewold’s knowledge, gleaned from her seminars, and her years of work in the art form. She generously shares her techniques and tips, allowing you to interpret them in your own idiom.

Dunnewold describes her approach to making art cloth as a process of layering; of embellishing and adding to a piece of fabric to create a harmonious new composition.

She describes dyeing, overdyeing and the use of discharge methods and resists. Step-by-step descriptions of these and many other processes are included, as well as trouble-shooting information. All of this is vital if you are starting out with a new technique.

While some of the materials used are specialized (thiox and thermofax screens), most are accessible to the beginner, such as acrylic paints, white glue, flour paste and soy wax.

Dunnewold covers the use of safety equipment, proper ventilation, and separation of toxic materials. More could be said about safe disposal practices, including the importance of familiarizing yourself with the hazards of the products you’re using and contacting your supplier or local municipality about safe disposal.

The recipes and resources included in Art Cloth are indispensable references that you will dip into again and again. Dunnewold suggests dyers keep detailed notes and samples of their work, and make colour wheel swatches as a personal reference tool.

In her introduction Dunnewold talks about discovering yourself through making. She offers her knowledge to the reader as an invitation to personal and creative growth. Her book is a valuable addition to a crafter’s library; one that you will read first for inspiration, and then refer to again and again as you make your journey of discovery in creating art cloth.

Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Fabric
by Jane Dunnewold
published by Interweave Press
paperback, 26.95