Fiber Crafts Reviews | December 15, 2005

By Janice Zlendich, Librarian Emerita, California State Univ. Lib., Fullerton

Allen, Pam & Ann Budd. Wrap Style: Innovative to Traditional, 24 Inspirational Shawls, Ponchos, and Capelets To Knit and Crochet. Interweave. 2005. c.160p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-931499-91-8. pap. $21.95. FIBER CRAFTS

In this collection of 24 knitwear patterns from the editors of Interweave Knits magazine, a wrap is defined as "more than a scarf but less than a coat" and includes such garments as shawls, ponchos, and capelets. These works by 18 designers, both well known (e.g., Deborah Newton) and newer (e.g., Teva Durham), feature stranded color knitting, intarsia, aran, and lace work, among other construction techniques. In keeping with the Interweave Knits philosophy that if you want it you can knit it, the designs are not graded for difficulty but are suitable for the intermediate and advanced knitter. A bonus is the mini Amber Jewelry, Tea Sets, Sleeping Bags, Wholesale Tea Sets workshop on designing your own wraps. Highly recommended.

Bush, Nancy. Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns. Interweave. 2005. c.120p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-931449-65-9. $21.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Knitwear designer Bush (Knitting on the Road) takes readers back to 19th-century England with this volume of 24 sock patterns adapted for the modern sock knitter from the British magazine Weldon’s Practical Needlework, published from 1886 to the end of the 1920s. These patterns were more chatty descriptions than step-by-step instructions, and the fine yarns and needles used in those days are difficult to find today, but Bush translates each of the patterns into modern knitting language and specifies materials readily available to today’s knitters. Recommended for large public library and textile collections.

Carron, Cathy. Hip Knit Hats. Lark, dist. by Random. 2005. c.144p. index. ISBN 1-57990-644-3. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

There are many hat-knitting books available to today’s knitter, so why consider first-time author Carron’s for purchase? For starters, this work includes some 40 designs for caps, buckets, berets, tams, and felted hats – many with variations – for myriad one-of-a-kind creations. Patterns come in multiple sizes, and the reader is encouraged to blend yarns of different weights to create unique textures and colors. Overall, the skill level tends toward easy. A word to the wise: most of these unisex hats are knitted with heavy worsted, bulky, or chunky wool yarns, which makes them ideal for colder climes. Recommended for public libraries where demand and climate warrant.

Colvin, Joan. Nature’s Studio: A Quilter’s Guide to Playing with Fabrics and Techniques. C&T Pub. 2005. c.80p. index. ISBN 1-57120-292-7. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Colvin, an artist who unites nature and fabric into breathtaking landscape-inspired quilts, invites the reader into her studio as she discusses her working process and demonstrates her techniques through an assortment of full-color photographs. Her purpose is to help aspiring art quilters find a personal style based on what they like to do with fabric. First she discusses how choices and techniques determine style. Then, using the concepts of a tree, a bird, and the human figure, she demonstrates how she moves from idea to finished design. Richly illustrated throughout, this volume is highly recommended for art textile collections and large public libraries.

Cusack, Margaret. Picture Your World in Appliqué: Creating Unique Images with Fabric. Watson-Guptill. 2005. c.128p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-8230-1641-2. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

If some of these illustrations look familiar, it may be because as a commercial artist who works in fabrics, Cusack has completed commissions for several well-known clients. (In some circles, she is known as the Norman Rockwell of machine appliqué and fabric collage.) In this enchanting book, Cusack takes readers into her studio and shows them her supplies, equipment, fabric, and storage system – even the huge Rolodex she uses to keep track of all aspects of her career. Including seven learning projects that demonstrate her approach, this is a slam-dunk choice for all but the smallest fabric crafts collections.

Eckman, Edie. The Crochet Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face, Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask. c.320p. ISBN 1-58017-598-8.
Radcliffe, Margaret. The Knitting Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Every Face, Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask. c.400p. ISBN 1-58017-599-6.
ea. vol: Storey. 2005. illus. bibliog. index. pap. $12.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Written by well-known teachers in their fields and formatted as a series of questions that might be asked by crocheters or knitters, these manuals cover materials, techniques, and resources for each craft. They include not only valuable information for the beginner but also answers to questions that even experienced crocheters or knitters may never have seen addressed in print. For example, many books cover the casting-on process in knitting, but Radcliffe answers such specific queries as "What is the best cast-on when you’re planning to add fringe to a piece?" and "Is there a more durable cast-on I can use for children’s clothes?" In the crochet manual, Eckman includes exceptionally clear explanations for how to count stitches and rows from either side of a crocheted piece. Both books have excellent resource sections that include bibliographies, glossaries, and lists of abbreviations used in pattern books; at these prices, they are ideal for public libraries.

Ellis, Catharine. Woven Shibori. Interweave. 2005. c.126p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-931499-67-5. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Handweaver and teacher Ellis studied traditional Shibori, a Japanese resist-dyeing technique, and went on to adapt this art to the process of handweaving. Woven Shibori involves weaving gathering stitches directly into cloth as either supplementary weft or warp and then following traditional Shibori dyeing methods. Once the dyeing process is complete, the supplementary threads are removed to reveal the patterns. Woven Shibori can be accomplished with the simplest and most complex of looms. Ellis addresses in some depth designing the woven structure, weaving, and preparing and dyeing the fabric. An excellent choice for large public and academic collections.

Epstein, Nicky. Knitting over the Edge: Unique Ribs, Cords, Appliqués, Colors, Nouveau: The Second Essential Collection of Decorative Broders. Sixth & Spring, dist. by Sterling. 2005. c.191p. illus. ISBN 1-931543-75-5. $29.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Knitting on the Edge, Epstein’s first collection of more than 300 decorative borders for knitting, is now joined by Knitting over the Edge, a collection of new border treatments that can be used for edges, used as decorative elements, or incorporated into the overall design of a garment. Each design comes with instructions and an illustrative full-color swatch. Patterns include unusual rib designs as well as cords, appliqués, and a large section of stranded and intarsia edge treatments. Five illustrative projects (e.g., a beautiful beaded floral wrap with intarsia borders) complement the book. An excellent choice for large public libraries.

Eskesen, Elaine. Dyeing To Knit: How To Use – And Create Your Own – Beautiful Hand-Dyed Yarns. Down East. 2005. c.128p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-89272-667-9. $25.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Many knitters, fascinated with the gorgeous hand-painted and space- and rainbow-dyed yarns available today and yet awed by their prices, consider dyeing their own yarns. Knitwear designer and yarn shop/dye studio owner Eskensen shows just how. She covers such topics as textural dyeing, overdyeing, and experimental yarn dyeing and even illustrates the amazing variety of knitted pieces that can be achieved with hand-dyed yarns. Whether they dye their own yarn or purchase it hand-dyed, knitters will appreciate the colorful projects that make up the second half of the book. Recommended for all public libraries.

Fahl, Ann.

Coloring with Thread: A No-Drawing Approach to Free-Motion Embroidery. C&T Pub. 2005. c.96p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-57120-296-X. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Fahl, an award-winning quilter, teaches free-motion embroidery that can be accomplished with any sewing machine with a zig-zag stitch and the ability to lower the feed dogs. Machine embroiderers will appreciate the ready-reference features of this manual, which include tables comparing the different types of hoops, stabilizers, and bobbin threads; close-up photos of the fusing process; and trouble-shooting tips for thread-related problems. The meat of the book covers the process of free-motion embroidery, whose mastery is meant to give the reader confidence in tackling larger pieces. Recommended for public library quilting collections.

Fassett, Kaffe & Liza Prior Lucy. Kaffe Fassett’s Museum Quilts: Designs Inspired by the Victoria & AlbertMuseum. Taunton, dist. by Random. 2005. c.160p. illus. index. ISBN 1-56158-754-0. $34.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Prolific artist and lecturer Fassett (Passionate Patchwork) chose what he considered the finest quilts from the Victoria & Albert Museum and lovingly reworked them with contemporary fabrics and colors. This beautiful book features 23 of those designs. Even the nonquilter will be fascinated by the color photographs, which display the original quilts opposite Fassett’s designs. The instructions section includes step-by-step directions for each quilt as well as templates, most full size. The book will be of great interest to experienced quilters and students of textile history. Highly recommended for decorative arts collections and large public libraries.

Freeman, Wendy. Knit & Stitch for Beginners. Barron’s Educational. 2005. c.160p. illus. index. ISBN 0-7641-5864-3. $16.99. FIBER CRAFTS

There are so many "learn to knit" books on the market that some interesting ones often get lost in the shuffle. It would be a shame if that were to happen with this user-friendly manual, which teaches basic knitting and stitchery. This book is all about making scarves, tote bags, hats, and other accessories and personalizing them with tassels, pom-poms, corkscrews, spool knitting, and appliqués. The large, bright, and colorful illustrations will make it appeal to visual learners. Recommended especially for young adult collections in public libraries.

Garland, Claire. Knitted Babes: Five Dolls & Their Wardrobes To Knit and Stitch. Interweave. 2005. c.128p. illus. index. ISBN 1-59668-000-8. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

These dolls, designed by British needlework designer Garland, (Embroidered Treasures), require only minimal knitting and hand-sewing skills and can be personalized with varied clothing, facial expressions, and hair-dos. Garland covers making the basic Babe doll body, face, and hair, then moves on to creating each of the five dolls and their wardrobes. With their flowing locks, spindly arms and legs, and retro-hip personalities, these dolls will probably appeal more to teens and adults than to children. Beginning and experienced knitters alike will enjoy personalizing their Babes, making this a top buy for public libraries.

Griffiths, Melody. So Simple Crochet: A Fabulous Collection of 24 Fashionable and Fun Designs. Creative Homeowner. 2005. c.128p. illus. index. ISBN 1-58011-276-5. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Though the designs here will appeal to crocheters at any level, the most striking are the advanced-level designs, e.g., for a long vest made with a shimmering metallic yarn and worked in one big lace circle starting at the center back and for the Leaf Lace Poncho, constructed of four-leaf motifs. There are scarves, jackets, hats, and even a glamorous tank top (for evening wear) spangled with 600 sparkling sequins. Patterns include step-by-step instructions and detailed photos of each garment. An excellent choice for large public libraries.

Howell, Vickie. New Knits on the Block: A Guide to Knitting What Kids Really Want. Sterling. 2005. c.120p. illus. index. ISBN 1-4027-2065-3. pap. $14.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Howell, the host of the DIY Network’s Knitty Gritty series, has gathered together kid-pleasing projects from 12 knitwear designers as well as many of her own designs, "taste tested" by her two young sons. Anyone who knows how to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off should be able to complete these projects, which include such fun items as a wizard’s hat embellished with needle felting, a superhero cape, and Egyptian queen, Viking, and Mermaid costumes. Warmly recommended for public libraries.

Krentz, Jan. Diamond Quilts & Beyond: From the Basics to Dazzling Designs. C&T Pub. 2005. c.128p. illus. index. ISBN 1-57120-240-4. pap. $28.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Quiltmaker, teacher, and designer Krentz’s (Lone Star Quilts and Beyond) concept of the diamond quilt is based on 45-degree diamond or parallelogram shapes pieced together throughout to create a quilt evocative of an Impressionist painting. Making liberal use of full-color photos, she discusses sources of inspiration, fabric selection, and recommended design and construction techniques. A photographic gallery of finished quilts demonstrates the variety of designs that can be based on the simple diamond configuration, which is often embellished with machine appliqué and quilting. Recommended for large public libraries.

Melville, Sally. The Knitting Experience. Bk. 3: Color: The Power and the Glory. XRX. 2005. c.246p. illus. index. ISBN 1-93306-402-1. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Teacher and knitwear designer Melville (Sally Melville Styles) here outlines the effects of color on knitting, illustrating her points with photos of knitted garments and explaining how to relate inspiration from a variety of sources to the color wheel. Major sections of the book deal with such topics as using variegated yarns to best advantage and working with stripes. The more than 40 patterns for women, men, and children offer the beginning knitter the opportunity to transition to more ambitious projects. Featuring marvelous photography, crisp layout, and a user-friendly format, this book should find a welcome place in all knitting collections.

Reber, Jill. Quilting Among Friends. Landauer. 2005. c.136p. illus. ISBN 1-890621-86-2. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Designer Reber here touches on the human dimension of quilting, exploring how quilters get together to share their love of the art through fabric exchanges, block exchanges, block showers, row and round-robin quilts, milestone quilts, charity quilting projects, and quilter’s retreats. This book covers every type of sharing activity or project a quilt guild or informal group of quilters might undertake and offers practical tips and useful ideas, e.g., patterns for quilts that can be completed during a weekend get-together. Fifteen quilt projects and 55 sample blocks make this book an excellent choice for public libraries.

Schreier, Iris. Modular Knits: New Techniques for Today’s Knitters. Lark, dist. by Random. 2005. c.128p. illus. ISBN 1-57990-649-4. $17.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Modular knitting normally involves creating individual motifs such as squares, triangles, and diamonds and then either joining them to create the finished piece or binding off one motif, cutting the yarn, joining a new yarn, picking up stitches on that piece, and starting another motif from there. Designer Schreier has come up with a variation using short-row techniques to create modules all in one piece. Each is illustrated with practice swatches and is followed by 24 projects that include scarves, shawls, hats, a poncho, and even a sweater, which – had it been done the traditional way – would have required 300 separate squares! For all knitting collections.

Shaughnessy, Katherine. The New Crewel: Exquisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery. Lark, dist. by Random. 2005. c.112p. illus. index. ISBN 1-57990-680-X. pap. $14.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Artist Shaughnessy believes that crewelwork, a style of embroidery that uses worsted yarn, has lost its popularity in recent years because it hasn’t been updated to suit modern color and design tastes. The new crewel, as envisioned by Shaughnessy, emphasizes color and simple lines and has a cleaner, crisper look. Her book includes instructions for 16 basic crewelwork stitches, 30 practice designs, and a dozen projects that should get beginners well on their way to mastering the craft. Recommended for large public library collections.

Vogue Knitting Ponchos. Sixth & Spring, dist. by Sterling. (Knitting on the Go). 2005. c.88p. illus. ISBN 1-931543-79-8. $12.95. FIBER CRAFTS

If library patrons are breaking down your doors in search of patterns for those ponchos made fashionable by Martha Stewart’s exit from the Big House, consider this latest addition to Vogue’s "Knitting on the Go" series. Affordably priced, the compilation contains step-by-step instructions for 21 ponchos that include a beautiful intarsia Leaf and Lace design by Sasha Kagan and a light and airy cable-and-mesh poncho knit with trendy bamboo yarn. By and large, these patterns are designed for intermediate to experienced knitters and include mostly garments for women. Consider for public libraries where demand warrants.

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