12/22/2015

Joyous Knitting 2

This week I am going to blog about knitting books that made me smile this year. The posts are coming in the order in which I found the books. Each is a mini-review with a list of what made me smile as I read the book.

0002948148_small22. Knitting Stories: Personal Essays and Seven Coast Salish-Inspired Knitting Patterns by Sylvia Olsen.

What’s it about?

This book is about Syliva Olsen’s personal journey in knitting. (Her previous knitting book,Working with WoolA Coast Salish Legacy and the Cowichan Sweater is the story of the only completely original North American knitting tradition.)

In Knitting Stories, the stories Sylvia shares are taken from her life in Canada, where she spent many years living with her husband on the Tsartlip Indian Reserve near Victoria, British Columbia. From learning to knit as a newly-married teenager, to becoming a professional knitting designer and author, she shares the personal details of her journey. I read each story in a separate sitting to make the book last longer. The words and the images they conjure give you something to savor. This is the kind of writing that will stay with you all day, even when you put the book down and go about your business of washing dishes, running errands, or cleaning out your email inbox.

The essays are accompanied by patterns that are more than just something pretty to make. Each design is a modern take on a traditional design. All are made out of neutral colors because the traditional Cowichan sweaters were all made out of the natural colors of handspun wool from local sheep. This neutral color palette adds even more sophistication to Syliva’s already sophisticated and refined design sensibility. The seven projects include a sweater, a vest, a skirt, a poncho, a cowl, two hats, and fingerless gloves. As a collection of knitting designs, you can’t find anything more spot-on than this group of patterns.

I took a class with Sylvia and learned the amazing style of colorwork that creates stretchy knitting with perfectly even tension and the floats woven in after each stitch. Unfortunately, there’s not a detailed explanation of the technique in the book. The projects can be made with regular stranded knitting (aka Fair-Isle) technique but to me learning new techniques is half the fun of making something. Even so, this is a wonderful book for anyone who wants to be touched by the deeper meaning of knitting in our lives, and by anyone who likes crisp, sophisticated, classic designs.

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What makes me smile?

  • Essays that are well written, educational, and fun to read.
  • Project introductions that are lovely stories in their own right.
  • Natural colors and natural fibers.
  • Gorgeous photography with Sylvia and her family modeling the projects.
  • Traditional knitting techniques and designs, updated with a modern flair.
  • Did I say lots of great stories and essays to read? and GOOD writing!

The rest of my 2015 “Joyous Knitting” reading list!

  • Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook: A knitting books hat shows you how to turn everyday inspirations into gorgeous stranded colourwork by Felicity Ford.
  • Sequence Knitting: Simple Methods for Creating Complex Patterns by Cecelia Compochiaro
  • Knit the Sky: Cultivate Your Creativity with a Playful Way of Knitting by Lea Redmond, illustrated by Lauren Nassef
  • In the Footsteps of Sheep: Tales of a Journey through Scotland, Walking, Spinning, and Knitting Socks by Debbie Zawinski
  • Penguin: A Knit Collection by Amy Maltz
Knitting, Writing

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