Book Review: Sequence Knitting

How does one review a book that profoundly changes how one thinks? It’s a challenge to find a balance of the right words, ones that go beyond “read this title” or sound like a love letter. Sequence Knitting is remarkable in its simplicity and focus on laying out all that is possible with knits and purls. Each time I reread it I’m in awe of the dedication and brilliance found within its pages.

What makes Sequence Knitting unique? I believe it is Campochiaro’s dedication to a systematic exploration of what is possible with the most fundamental stitches of knitting and her proving how slight variations on the theme can produce a whole new masterwork. It is an approach that doesn’t require or expect the reader to adore maths, but it’s there for those who want to dive in further and geek out.

Within the 387 pages comprising of six chapters and a delightful appendix are clear charts, crisp photos, and useful explanations. The reader follows a logical sequence of skill building throughout the text. After learning the fundamentals and their basic variations, covered in the first two chapters, the reader can skip to their sections of interest. Chapter 3 introduces the serpentine method, and the many possibilities of this stitch pattern sequence are explored. Knitters who prefer to work in the round will enjoy chapter 4 the most. In chapter 5, shaping is examined. Here, Campochiaro shows the influence that adding or removing stitches can have on the sequences explored so far. The last chapter looks into the effect that fiber, drape, color, and their contrasts can have on the fabric. This chapter lays the groundwork for her next extraordinary title Making Marls which will be explored soon.

Sequence Knitting is a book that makes this reader want to curl up to reread again and spend days swatching new ideas and combinations.

book cover for Sequence Knitting. White with text in dark brown capital across top. Includes author name above and sub title below. Remaining 2/3 shows example sequence knits in an off white shade.

Sequence Knitting: Simple Methods for Creating Complex Reversible Fabrics
by Cecelia Campochiaro
March 2015 | Chroma Opaci | 387 Pages | Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0986338106

Find a copy:


Perhaps you are reading this and frustrated because you are one who prefers a hook over two sticks for working with your string. In a future post, I will share how I use this book as inspiration for crochet as well.

a few thoughts on Tom Bihn bags

It’s well established that I love my Tom Bihn (TB) bags, though I was not an early adopter. As a child of the Northeast, I tended to turn to bags from a certain retailer in Maine. The initial splash of their first knitting bag caught my attention, and in 2010 I took a cautious first step with a bag that was best geared for my life at the time – one with a NYC commute and life in an office as an IT Manager.

That introductory bag, a Co-Pilot, introduced me to the thoughtful design and construction that are hallmarks of Tom Bihn bags. That led to my buying a Swift, then a Little Swift, followed by a Side Kick. My TB bag family also includes an Aeronaut 30 and a Truck which were provided in exchange for writing for their website.

With the announcement of the pre-order return of the knitting bags, I thought it would be a good idea to update my 2016 post about these products and how they’ve held up over the past decade. While the pandemic has shifted how I do (and use) everything, I still turn to them first.

Here are some thoughts about four of the products in the February 2022 preorder. The links in the list below jump to their spot in this post.

Swift

The Swift was my first knitting specific bag. These days it enjoys spending most of its time at home, much like I do. Right now, it’s holding my Garden as Safe Space scrap blanket. It’s a bag that I’m using in a very different manner than I did when it first joined me years ago, but my needs have changed too.

What makes me love it now as much as I did when I bought it in 2011 is how versatile it is. A decade ago, it held all the stuff that made office work bearable. Today it helps keep a curious cat from adding her own embellishments to my knits in progress or stealing tools.

Swift with in progress blanket sitting on a grey couch
Swift at home on my couch

It commuted to and from NYC, pins have intentionally pierced the fabric, and it’s still looking polished. This next picture shows the bag at Rhinebeck, in 2011.

Swift and PSG at Rhinebeck in 2011
Rhinebeck, 2011. Swift with pins.

Little Swift

The Little Swift (LS) is my everyday bag when I actually leave my house. It’s big enough to hold some notebooks, a sock project, my PPE, and a shopping tote or two. I love that its size provides constraint so I don’t try to bring everything with me.

Little Swift filled with notebooks and a YSS
LS on my studio couch

I love that it’s Penny sized. I’m 5’2 (on a good day) and it fits me really well. I took this photo in 2014 to show both sizes.

collage of same person holding both swift and little swift.
comparison of 5’2″ person with LS (in black) and Swift (green)

It’s small enough it can sit on the floor of the car next to me (when I’m the passenger), or back when I flew places under the seat in front of me.

Aeronaut 30 & LS under the seat in front of me
Little Swift with Aeronaut 30 under an airline seat

Note on Fabric

All of my bags are ballistic nylon (black when possible) for the exterior. I made this choice because I didn’t want to worry if foster kittens played with them. Because they do.

3 kittens playing on a black little swift
3 foster kittens playing with a Little Swift, 2014
little black foster kitten in a black little swift
a foster kitten enjoying the Little Swift, 2014

Yarn Stuff Sacks

These unassuming small bags (YSS) are my favourite for my projects. There’s no zipper to catch on yarn, no velcro, and I can attach them via key straps to a bag’s o-rings.

I use the smallest size one the most. It lives in the Little Swift along with my current sock in progress.

YSS with sock in progress

The medium one in wasabi with a clear bottom tends to hold a design project. The bright color helps me find it. I think I have another medium one, also in grey … but it tends to take projects and disappear. I can’t explain it, but I seem only to keep track of these two. No matter how often I organize my studio! I wish the projects came back completed, but while these are amazing bags, they don’t perform magic.

Note on Fabric

The Halcyon constantly surprises me by it’s strength. The small YSS, with many safety pins and 1.75mm knitting needles poking through it as I shove it into the LS. It doesn’t look as if it’s abused. I tried to find evidence of needle or pin holes for this post. I couldn’t find any. Yes, I keep a tapestry needle shoved in the taped seam and secured with a pin.

a hand holding a grey small YSS showing no holes there is a tapestry needle and pin near the hand on the inside of the bag.

I honestly go back an forth if I like the clear bottom or not. It’s nice to verify “what’s inside” as I toss it back on my pile of WIPS, but not critical.

example of clear bottom of YSS

Knitting Tool Pouches

Honestly, I hadn’t been using these, preferring the large binder pouches I’ve used for years. However, I reorganized my needles the other day. Since how I work has shifted, I know that these will return to regular use.

Swift, tool pouches, and notebooks
Swift with a size 2 tool pouch holding some crochet hooks and a pen

They keep my interchangeable tips and crochet hooks tidy and I can keep a selection organized while I swatch.

Final Thoughts

I’m very impressed by these bags. They commuted, they’ve met numerous foster kittens and resident cats, and put up with me.

I should note that key straps and the o-rings have changed my life. The key straps snap onto the o-rings of my various bags. I have several short ones and chain them together if I want a longer one using a hard plastic stitch marker (or a washer)..

key straps
example of keystraps, 2016

Thanks to the o-rings, I no longer lose my keys. They get latched onto the o-ring with a small s-hook.

How I secure my car keys
keys with small s-hook

I repeat I haven’t misplaced my keys in years. While I’m driving the key is in the ignition, at every other time, it’s attached to the bag.

Swift & Little Swift side by side with YSS in front of each.
TB bags: LS with small YSS, Swift with medium YSS

While the cost of these bags is an investment, I feel it’s a smart one. They last. These bags are thoughtfully designed, carefully constructed, and my favorites.


You can find additional Tom Bihn bag review posts at my personal blog, Penguin Girl.

Note: This is a 2022 update of a post initially published in 2016.
All photos of foster kittens were taken prior to 2020.
If a date is not specified in the caption, the photo was taken on 2022-02-25

Book Review – This Long Thread: Women of Color on Craft, Community, and Connection

This Long Thread by Jen Hewett is stunning collection of interviews, essays, and survey responses by a variety of makers that discusses their experiences as crafters of color. I’m delighted that this title provides a beautiful space to many voices, there were over 269 interview contributors, 19 interviews, and many commissioned essays. The result? A book that ties together the diverse threads of participants and crafts to create a common fabric of creativity.

Organized into nine sections it covers all parts of the crafting experience. Starting with why we do it, how we learn, and leading into craft as business and the political. It continues by sharing experiences of crafting history, creating one’s place within craft, representation, community, and teaching. I’ll admit that I thought I would find the variety of response formats a challenge – I’m more used to reading a group of essays – however I found that variety made this an even more approachable collection to read cover to cover. Each individual voice carries through the survey responses, the essays, and the interviews adding their own thread to the work. Hewett has worked to create a feeling of the reader conversing with each contributor.

I enjoyed reading it especially now during this continued time of limited social interactions due to the pandemic. It was nice to connect with like-minded individuals; I know that despite outward differences our childhoods and early forays into creating things were similar. It’s delightful to meet in the pages creators, many of whom I was not familiar with before opening this book. My experiences as a white woman who now resides in a middle-class suburban house mean it’s impossible for me to experience most of the challenges these crafters face every day. I found by reading this book it reiterated how much we have in common. May I learn from this and remember it. I highly recommend searching out this title and more importantly reading it.


Book cover for "This Long Thread". An orange background showing subtle texture with 3 diverse hands (none are white) touching threads of reds, browns, and other earth tones.

This Long Thread: Women of Color on Craft, Community, and Connection

By Jen Hewett

November 2021 | Roost Books | 376 pages

ISBN: 9781611808247

Find a copy:

  • Bookshop.org
  • Public libraries: Worldcat.
    I read a copy of this book in print form thanks to my local library as well as an e-book through Overdrive.

Book Review: The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches

We know that I have a thing for stitch dictionaries. I’m especially fascinated by crochet pattern libraries because I didn’t know they existed for the first decade or so I crocheted. The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches is the book I wish I had when I first started to figure out how to do more than crochet granny squares.

It is a beautiful and clear guide to crochet stitches and useful for both beginner and experienced crocheters alike.

Everyone will appreciate that each stitch includes both written instructions and a chart. The photographs are clear and highlight not only a complete swatch of the stitch, but many of the steps are shown to help you successfully work it.

The book covers a range of stitches, and they are grouped by type of stitch; this allows you to quickly turn to the section you might want. There are basics which include not only the standard stitches but also fans and shells, clusters, puffs, and popcorns. If that weren’t enough there are examples of spikes, raised stitches, waves, chevrons, and textured stitches. I can keep going, there are 200 stitches in all. There are also mesh and filet as well as other lace and open work stitches, you can also explore Tunisian stitches, colour work, and finish off with eleven different edgings! Finally, there is an illustrated tutorial section that shows tips for changing colors, fastening off and weaving in ends, and more.

The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches is a useful one for any crocheters bookshelf.

Book cover: The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches. The background is a tan woven type perhaps paper background. There is a teal ball of yarn in the upper right. 6 swatches are spread on the left showing different stitches.

The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches

By Tracey Todhunter

January 2019 | Interweave | 192 pages | ISBN 9781632506573

Notes: The book is published in the UK by Search Press Ltd as 200 More Crochet Stitches. This review was initially published in a slightly different form at NetGalley on 08 April 2019.

Book Review: Reversible Two-Color Knitting

I’ve long been fascinated by fabrics (and garments) that are reversible. My interest is in large part practical—I’m adept at hiding coffee stains with accessories—but it’s also because I prefer multi-functional items.

When we knit, we often encounter instructions that indicate the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ side. This word choice can have unintended consequences, not only may the reverse be intriguing, but it can also cause a new knitter to think something is improper or incomplete with the fabric. I experienced this myself. Many years ago, after gifting a lace project that taxed my skill, the recipient fell in love with what I considered was the wrong side. It took many years (and observation of ready-made fashions) to understand that the preferred side didn’t matter. That’s when my interest in reversible knit stitches was formed.

There are several stitch dictionaries and websites that can help you to determine the characteristics of a specific stitch. This list of Reversible Pattern Stitches in Barbara G. Walker’s Treasuries is a useful resource for those who own the first two volumes.

The dictionary reviewed below is one I’ve borrowed from the library many times over the years. I was able to add it to my personal collection after finding it at a used book sale recently. I think it’s a book that’s worth adding to your bookshelves if reversible knit stitches are something that you find interesting.

Two-Color Reversible Knitting Stitches

By Jane F Neighbors

Scribners, 1974.

Find a copy: worldcat


As this is a knitting book from the 1970s, it requires some patience to work through. Neighbors has compiled a clear and well written collection of reversible stitches. While some of the garments look dated by today’s standards, the stitches all still work!

The book begins with an introduction to the basic techniques. Then there are three chapters covering different types of reversible knit stitches: simple, chain, and geometric. After the stitches, several projects showcase reversible fabrics in different designs—some accessories, a sweater, vest, and some home decor. The book closes with additional tips on yarn selection, dealing with edges, seams, shaping, working in the round, as well as designing your own geometric patterns.

Example Entry

Example stitch from Reversible Two-Color Knitting, page 13. "Textured Stitch".
Entry for Textured Check, an opposite reversible knit stitch

For every stitch, there are clear black and white swatch photos accompanying the written instructions, also showing the reverse if it isn’t a complete reversible. Many entries include tips and hints for success, including indicating if use of DPN is necessary. In every case, the reversible features of the fabric are described: true, opposite, alternate, upside-down, mirror, and “unclassified” (almost a true reversible). The details also include the number of stitches for the stitch and suggested cast-on color. Some of the terminology may differ from current standards, but it’s consistent and I believe straightforward to rewrite if desired.

Additional Thoughts

As my interest is on the stitches not the patterns, I don’t have much to write about the included projects. The samples look dated to my eyes, but I know that with modern color choices and some small tweaks to shaping, they might look lovely today.

If you are truly curious about reversible stitches this vintage stitch dictionary is worth checking out.

3 book reviews: Adventure Cables, Knit Hats, Mix and Match Sweaters

When my creativity feels sluggish, I turn to books for inspiration. I was lucky to find three new books that have helped me to work through this slump. The first two are available for pre-order, I received eARCs of these titles from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The third book I was delighted to find on the shelf of my local library, which recently reopened for browsing.

Please click on the titles names if you want to jump directly to a specific review.

books stacked, the covers are colorful and the top (or bottom) edge is all that's visible.
Read More about 3 book reviews: Adventure Cables, Knit Hats, Mix and Match Sweaters