My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The more I explore this book, the more I like it. The patterns are so simple. In fact, I’ve probably seen them before in other manifestations. Yet the way that Hoverson arranges them in chapters from least to more time required already stands ahead for ease of use. What’s the quickest thing I can knit up? Find it in “Less-than-2-Hour-Gifts.” Or do I prefer to spend more time in practicing a certain technique? Then 2-4, 4-6, 6-8, and More-Than-8-Hour Gifts probably has something I’m looking for. Every chapter includes extremely simple techniques, as well as a few more complicated ones. In any case, I’ve found the directions to be mercifully clear. The simple diagrams are useful as well.
To test the quality and versatility of the designs, I chose a few that I’ve not seen in other pattern books.
For the pointy elf hat (p. 17) I used Katia “North” in red, and Katia “Chantilly” in white (divided into four 12-g balls.) I made an invisible CO of red and worked the pattern as written up to the last 6 sts. Then I changed to 4-strands of the white, increased to 12 on the next row and worked around until the cavity was large enough to hold a pingpong ball. I drew those 12 sts snug, and fastened off. From there, I went back to the CO, and worked around until all the Chantilly was used up. Ho, ho, ho!
I knitted two pyramid sachets (p. 18) with Katia “Bombay” 100% Mercerized Cotton (230 m = 100 g) Color 2012. For the first, I followed the directions to use the long-tail CO; the second using a Double-Stitch CO (from Cap Sease’s Cast On, Bind Off Martingale Publ. 2012, p. 94). If you use this cast-on, finish with a normal long-tail CO—otherwise, you’ll end up with an open tube. In other words, be sure to knit the CO sts from the back of the CO, and slip the front sts, but only on the first row. (See the close-up photo.) Instead of grafting the finished sachet with the Kitchener st, I chose the 3-needle BO. Also, I included a hanging loop in the tassel. Such is the versatility of this book that it provides so many opportunities for experimental learning, in addition to the bonus of having nifty finished pieces in a jiffy!
A few sachet-stuffing tips: You don’t need only the lavender flower heads. The leaves also contain the essential oils. I’m testing various moth repellant herbs including rosemary, mint and clove. It’s wise to keep your herbal mix from escaping by wrapping the herbs in a paper tissue or an empty teabag, rather than packing them straight into your sachet.
For the soft basket (p. 21), I sliced T-shirts into strips for yarn. This was stiff work, but very effective. Starting with an Invisible CO makes later picking up the sts for the Top Band that much easier. Likewise, I didn’t BO when I finished the Back, and used a crochet hook to pick up sts from the sides.
The Spiral Seat Cushion (p. 32) is cushy comfort! I couldn’t find a bulky-weight yarn in colors that I liked so I used 2 strands of La Lana de Cigno Nero “Shop Tweed” 85% Pure New Wool / 13% Acrylic / 2% Polyamide (100 g = 100 m) in Hunter Green, and “Shop” in Brick and Gold for the other. Also, I braided two tails for tying to the chair.
Too bad I didn’t have this book when I was making my TKGA Master Handknitter Level II vest. The “kid’s vest” in the 6-to-8 Hour Chapter would have perfectly met the course requirements! Also worth noting is the “cozy, comfy pullover” in a range of sizes from child’s 2 to men’s Large.
There’s a chapter on “wrapping handknit gifts: a final flourish.” This comes as a gift to me because that’s usually the last thing I think about (if I manage to think of it at all!) These are some very clever ideas, including a Gift Tag Template.
The photography by Anna Williams really sells the book! The photos are cropped to highlight the projects themselves, highly contrasted for best color and stitch definition, and expertly lighted to detail the marvelous textures. They are the best invitation to attempt any of the designs.
I’m reviewing an ebook, so I can’t speak about the binding. It’s worth mentioning that the text is Avenir type. Well chosen for the way it stands out—especially important for a knitter who’s peering at the directions from more than half-meter away. On the down side, the measurements are given primarily in inches, only rarely in metric.
Joelle Hoverson is the author of the STC Craft books. Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and Last-Minute Patchwork & Quilted Gifts. She is the founder of and creative force behind Purl Soho in Manhattan, the website purlsoho.com, and the blog The Purl Bee prulbee.com. She is a former senior style editor for Martha Steward Omnimedia and holds a master of fine arts degree from Yale University.
Anna Williams is a freelance photographer based in New York City. Her clients include Martha Stewart Living, O, the Oprah Magazine, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Williams Sonoma, and Target. She is also the photographer of STC Craft’s Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and Last-Minute Patchwork & Quilted Gifts.
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