Continuing on from last week’s post, I am now featuring books written by knitting designers and containing some fabulous patterns.
Passion for Colour: Designer Knitting With Natural Dyes by Sarah Burnett 1990
While I could have included this book in my post on Natural Dyeing Books, I decided to reserve it for this post, as it has some great patterns, one of which is a Fair Isle pattern for a child’s cardigan, which I started for my toddler daughter, but unfortunately never completed! However, I had so much fun with colour combinations during its pursuit! It is a delightful book, even though a little dated now, and was one of the first to really showcase designs against their sources of inspiration.The first section titled: Cooking With Colour describes the natural dyeing process: Equipment, mordanting, natural dyestuffs, dyeing methods and how to produce a range of colours from reds, pinks and wines to navy, greys, ochres and walnuts, yellows, greens and indigo blues of varying shades and hues.
I didn’t actually dye my wool for the cardigan, but bought some very fine four-ply Rowan yarns in a range of colours from Mostly Mohair in Richmond, Tasmania. I couldn’t decide between the brights and the pastels (a perennial problem for me, as well as probably being a major frustration for the patient, long-suffering saleswoman!), so I bought both colour ranges, including a wide variety of blues: navy, deep turquoise, royal blue, jacaranda blue, soft blue and aqua blue, as well as olive and full green; rust red and deep red; gold and bright yellow; and cream. Here is a photo of the back of the cardigan. I loved experimenting with colour combinations in practice swatches like this one in the photo below, before making a final decision on the next row of the cardigan. I probably should undo it all and reuse the wool for another project, unless a grandchild comes along first!!!In this book, there are also some very feminine patterns with blowsy full sleeves, frilled edgings and peplums, and bold patterns and brilliant colour. I particularly loved the Paisley Jacket and the Fritillary Jacket, both of which I could still easily wear and knit (though perhaps not so easily!). I also loved the pattern of the Rambling Rose Cardigan, though would probably try to combine its rose pattern with the longer style of the Paisley or Fritillary Jackets. The Sunflower Jacket is also very attractive with its bright happy colours and bold design.
The glossary at the back includes notes on needle size, knitting in the round, tension, using charts, Fair Isle technique, blocking, different grafting methods, ribbing, pleats and making those beautiful Dorset Crosswheel Buttons used in the patterns.
Sarah continues to knit and design ad her more current work can be seen at: http://www.naturaldyecompany.com.
Kristin Nicholas: Kristin Knits: 27 Inspired Designs For Playing With Colour 2007
A good book for all those knitters, who are seduced by all those lovely colourful yarns in the wool shop, but don’t necessarily feel super-confident about improvising with colour! It’s a lovely bright colourful book with some terrific projects from easy garter stitch scarves with pompoms and tasselled mitre-cornered stockinette scarves, embroidered with flowers, to bold bright Navajo-inspired afghans, a variety of colourful striped hats, socks and boot toppers, gloves and mittens, and jumpers and cardigans.She has a great sense of colour and makes your fingers start itching to begin one of her projects! Also included are notes on colour and design; experimenting with swatches; Fair Isle techniques; steeking; mitred corners; tension and gauge; duplicate stitches; decorating with embroidery; making bobbles, tassels and pompoms; stitching seams; sewing in zippers; and blocking and finishing garments. I am so tempted to stop writing and go and make her Autumn Leaves Socks instead!!! You can learn more about her on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bwghwh9_4dM and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TI9SRIVJNg.
.Kaffe Fassett (1937-):
Glorious Knitting: Over 30 Exclusive Patterns 1985
Family Album: Knitting For Children and Adults 1989
Kaffe’s Classics: 25 Glorious Knitting Designs 1993
If you love colour and pattern, you will definitely have come across Kaffe Fassett’s name in your knitting journey! He shot to fame with his first book Glorious Knitting in 1985 and proceeded to write further books on knitting like Family Album and Kaffe’s Classics, all of which I own, as well as delving into the equally colourful worlds of needlepoint, patchwork and quilting, painting and ceramics, and even mosaics.
This man is so enthusiastic , energetic and inspiring and a wonderful ambassador for colour and craft! He has designed knitwear, tapestries, quilts and fabrics, costumes and stage sets, and was the first living textile artist to have a one-man show at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in 1988, the exhibition so popular that it went on to tour nine countries: Finland, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Canada, the United States of America and Iceland.
He has written more than 40 books and has hosted a number of craft-related television and radio programs for the BBC and Channel Four, including his own show Glorious Colour. He has also featured in a a large number of videos, which can be seen on his website at: http://www.kaffefassett.com/publications/videos/.
It is also well worth reading his biography Dreaming in Colour: An Autobiography 2012. See: http://www.kaffefassett.com/2831-2/, a brief précis of which can also be found at: http://www.kaffefassett.com/about/.
But back to his books, though I must admit that I have not actually knitted any of his patterns, which are probably a bit too complex for me- in fact, I am probably more likely to stitch one of his needlepoint designs, as embroidery is more my forté!
Glorious Colour features patterns for garments based on Stripes, Steps and Zigzags, Diamonds, Stars, Squares and Patches, Circles and Flowers, while Family Album features: Squares and Plaids; Circles and Dots; Stripes and Boxes; Brushes and Combs; Stars and Mosaics; Flowers and Bows; Cables and Flags; Turks and Harlequins; and Diamonds and Patches.
Kaffe’s Classics revisits 25 of his classic originals, inspired by Japanese art, Chinese landscape paintings, Islamic tile work, Turkish kilims and Spanish architecture and originally published in Rowan Collections, rather than his own books. They are beautiful garments, though very much a product of the 1980s and 1990s.
Kaffe has designed knitwear (see: http://www.kaffefassett.com/gallery/knitwear/) for Rowan Yarns (https://knitrowan.com/en/) for more than 30 years to showcase their beautiful yarns (https://knitrowan.com/en/yarns). They produce seasonal pattern collections, as well as a large number of publications and patterns.
Jo Sharp :
Knitting Emporium 2000
Knitting Heartland: Children’s Handknitting Collection 2001.
Australian Jo Sharp also produces beautiful luxury yarns in wool, silk, cashmere and cotton in an extensive range of natural shades. See: https://www.knit.net.au/.
She has also published some wonderful patterns and pattern collections and books, two of which I own: Knitting Emporium 2000 and Knitting Heartland: Children’s Handknitting Collection 2001.
I love her sense of colour! Knitting Emporium has some lovely patterns, especially Solstice, Tashkent and Millefiori. I made my husband his one and only jumper (knitted by me! He does own more jumpers!!!) using her pattern Antipodean, though the shoulders probably should have been adjusted slightly for him. I also used her hat pattern for Balthazar as a basis for the hats below, though using a mixture of yarns I owned. Even though they are not Jo Sharp yarns and I incorporated stripes as well, I think the hat still reflects the exotic essence and colour of this pattern.
Knitting Heartland is equally inspiring with some beautifully coloured designs for children, which I will definitely try when I become a grandma!!! I did use the pattern Phoebe’s Bag when making crochet flowers for my hat and scarf ends (photos above and below).Zoë Mellor
Another well-known and successful knitwear designer, who has written a number of books, including:
Head To Toe Knits: 25 Colourful Accessories For Your Home and Children 1998
Animal Knits: 26 Fun Handknits For Children and Toddlers 2001.
Again, wonderful bright colours and a great sense of fun! I loved making her Wee Willy Winky Hat in Head to Toe Knits and could easily knit some of her other patterns, especially the Cat Hats with their striped ears, the colourful bags and cushions and the Reindeer Scarf and Hat.I adapted her pattern for the Harlequin Hat, enlarging her basic pattern and knitting stripes instead of harlequins.Animal Knits is also great fun with some very appealing patterns like the Animal Bootees, based on rabbits and bears; the cute Farmyard Cushion; the sweet Ladybird Hat and all the delightful jumpers, jackets and toys. I could easily knit all the patterns in this book!!!Louisa Harding : Knitting Little Luxuries: Beautiful Accessories To Knit 2007
Another favourite book, to which the last statement also applies. This is a delightful book, especially for gifts and smaller items. I have knitted quite a few of the patterns, including: the Embellished Mittens; Victoria Fingerless Mittens (three times!); and Cecily Beanie (below in order) !
Very soft and feminine, her designs often use cashmere wool and more of her patterns can be found on her website at: https://www.yarntelier.com. Below is a photo of my daughter in her Alice Beret and Victoria Fingerless Mittens, both from the book.
Cat Bordhi: A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting 2005/ 2007
I love trying knitting patterns, which look like they are difficult and couldn’t possibly work, and yet if you trust the process, do work out and end up being really quite easy, once you get the hang of them! Cat Bordhi’s Infinity Moebius Cowls are a case in point! It’s all in the cast-on technique, but once that is mastered, it is just a matter of circular kitting to the end. Fortunately, there are some excellent YouTube clips to support this book at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVnTda7F2V4.
Having made this cowl three times, my most successful was with a soft mohair wool with a fair amount of give, so it stretches easily as I twist it twice around my neck and it feels so comfortable and soft! The cowl can also be worn with one twist round the neck and one over the head if it is particularly cold!The basic technique can also be used to make needle cosies; magical baskets; sling bags, including a Jester Tentacle Bag and Hat, Moebius Bowls and Cluster Bowls, and Feline Bliss Beds and Kitty Nests, all patterns given in the book!
Curly scarves are also a pattern, which looks like it couldn’t possibly work, but does and is really very simple. See: https://knitting-crochet.wonderhowto.com/how-to/knit-spiral-ruffle-scarf-0133365/.
My next challenge is this teapot cosy, knitted by my friend Heather. I love the colour combination of hot pink and orange, but I have chosen more natural greens. It involved learning and mastering a new casting-on method for me, working out how tight to pull the carried thread to achieve the correct density of folds and then making absolutely sure that the thread was always carried to the back side of the work! I’m currently on my fourth attempt!!! While I cannot find the original source of my pattern, it can also be found at: https://www.the-knitting-wool-store.com/grannies-tea-cosy-pattern.html.
Finally, some knitted toy books…!!!
Kath Dalmeny’s World of Knitted Toys 1998 features animals from all over the world: the Jungle; the Australian Outback; Down on the Farm; The Deep Blue Sea; Forest Friends; On Safari; and the Snowy Regions. Patterns can be knitted in two sizes- ‘clutch’ for a child’s hand and ‘cuddle’, big enough to be hugged.
Patterns can also be adapted to produce other animals. For example, the polar bear pattern can be adapted to create a panda, while a sea lion can be made using the walrus pattern. There are even patterns for humans, complete with an entire wardrobe and accessories. I made a pig for my daughter and would like to try some of her other patterns. The koalas and kangaroos and joeys are so cute and I would love to make the turtle and penguins!!!
Amigurumi Knits: Patterns for 20 Cute Mini Knits by Hansi Singh 2009 is another very inspiring book. The term was originally coined from the Japanese words ‘ami’, meaning ‘knitted or crocheted’ and ‘nuigurumi’ meaning ‘stuffed doll’, and while big in the crochet world, it was adopted more slowly by the knitting community, with very few patterns on knitted amigurumi. This book goes a long way in addressing this shortfall with lots of fun small creations like vegetables and fruit; hermit crabs , octopus,sea stars, jellyfish and black-devil anglerfish; snails, praying mantis, ants and spiders; and weird and wonderful cryptids-krakens, jackalopes and the famous Loch Ness monster, Nessie! They are certainly very cute and appealing, even though some of them look fairly challenging!!!Hopefully, some of these books might have inspired you to start knitting for the season or maybe you are a crochet fiend, in which case my next post will feature my favourite crochet books! In the meantime, Happy Knitting!!!