knitting collection review: Coffee with C.C.

I’m powered by coffee and tea and wear hand-knit socks year-round, when C.C. aka javapurl asked if I’d be interested in reviewing her collection Coffee with C.C., I almost spilled my mug in my rush to reply, yes!

This collection of seven patterns, six socks and a shawl does not disappoint.

What do I love? Everything!

First C.C. steps you through measuring your feet. Yes, while the how-to is all over the internet and in many different books (see Better Socks Through Better Books for two I like), I’ve found I actually like this included. Why? While I’ve knitted many pairs of socks over the years when I’m knitting in a coffee shop or other public place, I’m often approached by curious individuals who want to know how I figured out how many … erhm … knits to make. It’s easier to flip to the section in my current document and point to pictures! C.C. goes one step further and also provides stitch counts for common foot sizes, a small and useful detail!

Espresso Macchiato SocksMoving into the patterns, I love that they are written for both toe-up (my personal preference) and cuff-down (many other knitters’ preferred sock knitting technique).

After beginning with a pair of plain French Vanilla Cappuccino socks, we move into fun territory.

C.C. plays with textures and colours to match fun to knit sock designs with some of her favourite coffee drinks.

I see the Espresso Macchiato Socks as a great way to liven up knitting self-striping yarn, both while knitting and when wearing. A simple and subtle stitch pattern creates a unique pair of socks.


My other favourite design in the collection is the Coffee Date Shawl.

If you know me, you know I would never ever go near these colours, but there is something about this design (and the general temperature of most of the coffee shops I frequent) that has me loving this shawl. So much so my notes for this design are covered with ♥s (also something that I don’t normally do in my written notes). I love the play of texture, colour, and garter stitch. I think it would be lovely in more penny-friendly colours as well.

Coffee Date Shawl by C.C. Almon

I highly recommend this collection!

Coffee with C.C.Coffee with C.C.
by C.C. Almon / JavaPurl Designs
ISBN: 978-0-9935586-0-3
Available digitally at ravelry and JavaPurl Designs.
Please check physical book availability.
Patterns are also available for individual purchase and digital download at ravelry.

The author provided a digital copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

book review: Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom

What sets an introductory book apart from the rest? Clear photos and comprehensive information that prove useful long after the basics are mastered, Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom is one of those special titles.

As expected, all the steps needed to begin successful weaving are covered in the first three chapters, from choosing your first rigid-heddle loom to learning how to identify, troubleshoot, and fix common issues after you’ve calculated the yardage, warped the loom, and started weaving. From there the full potential of the loom is gradually revealed; Mitchell covers colour theory, working with different types of fancier weave structures both slow (leno, tapestry, and weft-pile, to name a few), and fast (floats and working with double or triple heddles), and creating effects with materials that aren’t often considered weaver’s standard repertoire, including creating e-textiles with wire and LEDs. If all of this wasn’t enough for the volume, the appendix covers loom maintenance, working with the cloth, and additional information in further reading and online resources.

In general, I’m wary of books that claim to be useful for both beginners and those comfortable with skill. Mitchell has gathered together a range of material and presented it in a way that I believe works for those new to weaving and those who are comfortable and confident at the loom. Why? The organization of the content, clear photos, and interspersed reference materials (charts, worksheets, and yes formulas) make it a joy to read cover-to-cover and also easy to turn to while weaving and looking for ways to either fix issues or prevent them in the first place. For example, in the third chapter, Get Weaving, the photos that explain issues with selvedges are clear and show not just the problems, but also ways to correct them. Personally I found the LED bookmark to be my favourite project and it has sparked ideas for several e-textile projects, I need to make some time for them at my loom and find my bobbin of conductive thread.

InventiveWeavingInspiration

While the information within Inventive Weaving can be found over several other titles published over the past few years by different authors, it is nice to see a range of weaving information in one volume that could be kept by the loom for quick reference. Syne Mitchell has packed several weaving courses into this book and it deserves a place on every weaver’s bookshelf whether they are on their first warp or experienced and looking to take this oft-overlooked loom to new places.

Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom: Discover the Full Potential of the Rigid-Heddle Loom, for Beginners and Beyond Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom: Discover the Full Potential of the Rigid-Heddle Loom, for Beginners and Beyond
by Syne Mitchell
Storey; $29.95

NetGalley generously provided a copy of this title for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

book review: Weaving Made Easy

While I’ve collected and read books about weaving for over a decade, my practical weaving experience isn’t as extensive. I consider a well written book on how to weave a valuable addition to my library. When I found myself the owner of a 15″ Cricket from Schacht Spindle Co this past June, I was thankful I had convinced the publisher to send me a review e-copy of Liz Gipson‘s book, Weaving Made Easy Revised and Updated: 17 Projects Using a Rigid-Heddle Loom. It was a very valuable resource throughout my first experience in warping a rigid heddle (I’ve warped a 4-shaft table loom) and has remained so as I begin my weaving adventures on my new loom.

This book begins with explanations of the common terminology found in weaving from parts of the loom to what the weird (to most knitters) fractions are on yarn cones. In addition, Liz explains how to calculate how much yarn will be needed for a particular project. In the back of the book you can find this information again in condensed form with project planning cards, a warping checklist, sett chart, and project planning sheets.

It is in warping where I found Liz’s book to be the most valuable. Her instructions and the accompanying photos are clear and straightforward. The tips answered the questions that ran through my head as I worked methodically through direct warping and beginning to weave. The tips helped make sure I didn’t do something silly, such as succumb to the desire to pet and comb my warp! Sadly the photos I took of this first warping are all blurry or don’t help tell the story of what is happening. I’d hoped to do a side by side of book photo & my photo as that’s how I checked what I was doing. Here are a few examples from the book (used with permission) to explain what I relied upon to warp successfully and quickly.

If you aren’t interested in direct warping, don’t despair! Indirect is also covered with the same full attention to detail. Liz recently posted an even more in-depth tutorial about how to maintain the cross on her blog.

With the guidance found in Weaving Made Easy and also inspiration found in Hands on Rigid Heddle Weaving, The Weaver’s Companion, and The Weaver’s Idea Book, three books I purchased years ago, I’ve made progress on being (mostly) consistent in my beating and working through some basic including a few lace techniques.


Unfortunately other work has interfered and I’ve not yet completed two things I’d wanted to do before I finished and posted this review.

I’ve not finished my first warp! My foster kitten Maddie helped me the other day and pointed out all the errors I was making as I tried to quickly work through the last couple of inches. So I listened to her advice and slowed down to pay attention to my technique.

I’ve also not had a chance to build a stand. Yes, I can quickly purchase one and assemble it, but well, I want to build one. The wood has sat in the garage waiting for me to clear my schedule. Thankfully wood can be patient.

Here are a few projects I hope to make:

Designs shown include: Fully Loaded Scarf, Piping Hot Pillows, Bamboo Obi, No Two Alike Napkins, Leno Runner, and Brookes Bouquet Shawl. I think the No Two Alike Napkins will be the next warped project. I’ll need to pick up some 8/2 unmercerized cotton first but it would be nice to have special and new napkins for Rosh Hashanah.

Several friends have moved house in the past few months so I’m looking forward to Liz’s next book on a handwoven home for ideas and inspiration.

I’ve read many weaving books over the years. This is one I believe belongs on your shelf whether you’ve been weaving for less than 10 minutes or more than 10 years and every bit in-between. There are valuable tips throughout the volume. Many thanks to Interweave/F+W for providing a review e-copy of this title (and extreme patience as I took 3 months to post this). All opinions are mine.

weaving-made-easy-coverWeaving Made Easy Revised and Updated: 17 Projects Using a Rigid-Heddle Loom
by Liz Gipson
Interweave/F+W; $24.99

book review: Warm Days, Cool Knits: Lighter Designs for Every Season

Summertime … when the knitting is challenged. I live in a place with seasonal variability and am found in wool just about every day.

However, when the humidity climbs (as it did this week), I want to knit and wear projects that are more reflective of the season. But what are those projects? Should I just substitute a cotton-linen blend and knit up my favourite sweater? What could I knit for those early morning moments when it’s quiet and cool?

Corrina Ferguson‘s new book, Warm Days, Cool Knits: Lighter Designs for Every Season answers my questions and more. It is a great resource because it includes 20 patterns in a wide range of projects, fibers, and weights. I was honestly surprised to learn not everything was a lace weight cotton or linen!

The designs are grouped with a seasonal focus. Each project is portrayed with multiple clear photos that showcase details. The patterns all surprised me and I could see myself knitting and wearing just about everything. In this review post I decided to focus on four designs that caught my eye, yes, 3 are shawls but I find them the most versatile item in my wardrobe especially when the temperature is high and AC is on full arctic blast.

warmday-coolknits-LochlanI’ll begin with Lochlan Cardigan.

I’m not sure why this design grabbed my attention so completely, but it has. I can’t stop thinking about how I want to wear it. How I could wear it. With everything. Lochlan is knit in a DK blend of merino, silk, and cashmere with an interesting textured stitch pattern. It is cozy, tailored, warm, and light-weight. What more could one ask for with a transitional layering piece? It even comes with a hood!

Everything about this design has me wanting to give up sleep and make it already. I know when I finally do cast-on and knit one for myself, I will be adding pockets to make it an even more perfect cardigan!

Ok, next are the three shawls that I love. Wiley, Mayella, and Junius.

I find shawls to be versatile, they aren’t as picky about gauge as a sweater and are often nice projects for those skeins of special yarn you just had to adopt. They can range from incredibly light and delicate to warm and comforting. They’re priceless to pull out when the AC is blasting or you just spilled coffee on your shirt. Again. They make great gifts and you don’t have to worry about finding the correct size!

Wiley and Mayella interest me because they are both two-skein projects — perfect for those special yarns I’ve purchased over the years. They allow for considerable customization choosing subtle similar shades or bold contrast to change the look! These designs require only one colour in use at a time, making them easier for when your brain wishes it was on vacation. Junius is a beautiful shawl. The photos do not do it justice. I saw the sample at TNNA (I forgot to take photos!) and everything about it — light, airy, snuggly, and the shaping means you can focus on being, not constantly fixing to make it stay on. Plus knitted in a sportweight it’ll go fast even with it’s larger size.

Many thanks to the publisher for a review copy!

warmdays-coolknitsWarm Days, Cool Knits: Lighter Designs for Every Season
By Corrina Ferguson
Interweave/F+W; $24.99
Learn more: http://bit.ly/1F9XDku
Ravelry pattern overview page

review: Knitting Bag of Tricks Workshop with Patty Lyons

knitting-bag-of-tricksWhen I approach a problem in my work as a technology consultant for small businesses, my first question is why so I can figure out the how and find the best and most appropriate solution for the problem at hand. I believe this is a sound approach to many problems in life, the universe, and knitting. It is the same approach, my friend knit designer and teacher Patty Lyons uses in her Knitting Bag of Tricks Knitting Workshop. In this course she covers over 30 knitting tips and tricks and the whys behind them. This workshop is available both as a digital download and as a DVD.

Patty is an experienced and exceptional teacher; this class is a great introduction to teaching style. The amount of things I learned in the couple of minutes surprised me. Many of the tricks were ones I already use, but I confess I never stopped to analyze why I used them. Patty clearly explains and demonstrates how things go wonky in our knitting, why they’re weird, and most importantly how to fix them. She also takes the time to show how techniques differ if you are a picker or thrower, if the technique requires it. Some of the tips are ones I wish I knew when I was first learning to knit. As a combination knitter with my own peculiar style of purling, it took me a long time to figure out decreasing without getting twisted every which way. If Patty’s class had been around back when I was learning it would have prevented much frustration and confusion.

What delights me the most about this class is how there is something for just about anyone to learn. Yes, you will get more out of this class if you already are comfortable with the knitting basics of how to cast-on and off, knit, purl, increase, and decrease, however whether you’ve been knitting for 5 years or 50 I would be surprised if you didn’t learn something even if it’s why you do what you do!

Patty’s tip for a better bind-off is so good I can’t resist sharing it with you. If picture-based tutorials aren’t quite your thing, you’ll see this technique clearly explained in the class.

Why not just search youtube and the library for all these tips? I won’t stop you. What’s nice about this class is you now have all these great ways to improve your knitting in one convenient place. You don’t need to spend time searching and tracking down where you last saw the trick to avoid the gap at the start of a mid-row cast-off. In addition, by being a professionally filmed and edited video, the little details make all the difference. The camera work is clear and focused on the swatches. The audio is clear and without extraneous background noise. The chosen yarn (and colour) is perfect for tutorials as the stitches show clearly what is being explained.

Want to see more? Here’s a video preview of the class.

If you don’t want to purchase the entire course right now, you can purchase the two parts separately. Part one covers all the things to start your knitting from casting on (with butterflies!), better ways to transition out of ribbing, and how to make your increases and decreases look tidier. Want matching YO’s between both your knits and purls? Patty has a very clear tip for that. Part two covers casting-off both in the middle of a row, either for a neckline, or a button hole, and at the end of a piece.

I recommend this class for all knitters looking to tidy up their knitting and have the best tools at their side to complete the techniques they use every day.

Note: The publisher sent me a review copy of this course. All thoughts are my own.

Tech Tip: It took me a long time to review this class until I remembered how to playback the video at 1.5 speed. If you are viewing it with quicktime, hold down option key while pressing the fast forward button and you’ll see it increment up 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 etc. I listen to all audiobooks and podcasts at faster than normal speeds, I’m a New Yorker, we talk fast and I like to listen to everything at the speed I’m used to hearing it. Note: this should also work if you wanted to slow it down.