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Book Reviews

I love my public library.  We have one of the best in this country and I use it well.  I even pay my fines cheerfully because I like where the money goes.  They purchase quite a few knitting books and I claim some tiny credit for that.  So does my friend Rachel.  I discovered that she, too, checks out lots of knitting books just so the circulation numbers will remain high.  We are cunning.

This week I got Judy Sumner’s Knitted Socks East and West, as well as Lynne Barr’s Reversible Knitting.

Judy Sumner has been designing socks for ages and ages.  Her work has been in the magazines for years and I have always liked it.  So I approached her book ready to praise it and eager to learn some of these new Japanese stitches everyone is so crazy about.  However, my reaction was really negative.  I was so surprised by this that–English teacher that I was–I decided to dig a bit deeper.  And I learned something I think is important:  a publisher can ruin a designer’s product.

The socks were turning me off because they looked so clunky (surely that’s a word).  Even the lace socks looked inelegant.  Judy designs better than that.  Examining the photos I realized that the socks didn’t fit the model well.  They were too big in every case.  Part of the effect in sock design comes from the negative ease and the stretching of the sock on the foot and leg to show the design.  These socks don’t do that.  I ask you–how hard would it have been to find bigger feet?

Then I noticed the settings of the photos.  They didn’t reflect any kind of idea or mood.  In some cases they didn’t really show the sock well.  They weren’t awful; they just weren’t good.  I know I take crummy photos for the blog, but I’m giving them to you free.

I’ve heard no buzz about Judy’s book and that is sad.  We are publishing so many books in the knitting world now–and not all of them are quality books–that a good one can get lost, I guess.  It’s just a shame these lovely designs weren’t better packaged so more people would see them.

Reversible Knitting isn’t lost in the publishing barrage.  I wasn’t really interested in this one until I read about it on Knit and Tonic, Wendy Barnard’s blog.

Half of the book ios swatches and techniques–my favorite stuff.  There are also 20 patterns fro9m top designers, but it’s the stitch patterns that grabbed me.

No. 10 is called Deconstructed Stockinette and I’m in love.  This swatch told me that entrelac fans would love it, and that I would like it better knit tighter.

This is Debblie Bliss Rialto, a fairly new yarn, knit on a size 6.  Next time I’m going DK with a 4)  Can’t you see this as the bottom of a pullover or on both ends of a rectangular shawl?

This multi-wrapped stitch is called Surf.  It is also knit too loose for my taste and I should have gotten a smaller needle after knitting the first swatch, but I’m lazy.  I’m not a big fan of these double wrapped stitches, like the seafoam pattern, because I catch them on things.  Knit tighter I might do a scarf with this just because I find it clever.

Well, after knitting these two swatches, I did the only sensible thing.  I ordered the book!  There is so much to learn from it.  She even has a section where she uses knitting to mimic some popular crochet stitches.  That must have been hard–and fun–to figure out.

As for the patterns, the cover jacket is so clever and the Tie-It-On socks are a must.

I’ll return my copy to the library this week.  If you live in Mecklenburg County, I highly recommend you put this title on reserve.  Also–check out other knitting books.  The more we circulate them, the more they will buy.


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