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Ice Baby Beanie

Not all Grey Days are Dull.......

I had less than 2 days to come up with a little gift for my pregnant friend when I realised that everything I have in my 'babywear' cupboard was either gender specific or biker knitwear. This hat was perfect, I did actually draw up the chart myself in XL but have realised, it looks very similar to a lot of other snowflake borders on kids hats but perhaps that is because in order to fit onto a little hat, geometrically this is the maximum and most simple shape of this kind that can fit. Never mind, it only took 10 mins to draw a snowflake and a couple of floats in between.

The yarn is hand dyed, Hip Knits 100% Silk in Grey and Silver donated to me by Kerrie, I only used a tiny part of each skein so plenty left for other baby stuff.

Watch out for the free pattern of this on the Hip Knits website as I donated the pattern to them in return for the use of their yarn. This could work just as well in blues or pinks if you wanted to be gender specific. It is quick and easy to do and perfect for a beginner.

Kitchener Stitch
Above is the RS of Kitchener grafting 2 stocking stitch edges,
(c) 2007 Woolly Wormhead

Now don't be scared, it can't hurt you. Ruth Paisley Textile Expert Extraordinaire has been fiddling around to perfect this method for both reverse stocking stitch, and for garter stitch. Especially as a few other web entries had given a confusing and not strictly correct instruction for these variations. Go here to see more on Ruth's simple explanation with some fab photos. Above is your ordinary stockinette/stocking stitch version.

About 2 yrs ago, I was trying to embroider some spirals onto the front of a baby cardi with a garter stitch edge, and in doing it over and over again to get it right (red yarn on cream) I accidentally snipped a couple of stitches and a big hole ran. Eek, not something that could be hidden with embroidery easily, What to do? I used Kitchener to graft the 'gap that was left, first knitting some new rows and then grafting top and bottom edges together, but it did involve some garter stitches as well (could not take pieces apart as they were not sewn but knitted on and way too difficult to disassemble). I left Ruth this post on the matter:

Yes, yes yes! That confirms what I had to do to patch a hole in a piece of readymade cardi with a garter stitch edge. I just used my 'WYS THIK ' method i.e What You See, Tells How It Knits.......and I didn't bother to look up anything on the net thank goodness as my disaster would have ended up in the bin. I just copied exactly how the yarn had been threading through to make the stitches and got there in the end. Nice to see it written down though, I like that, can I link to it?

I have subscribed now to the Vogue publications. I have been a little disappointed with some of the UK publications of late, I want to look at these mags and go ooooh I wish I had thought of that! So I am searching further afield. I already buy the odd Rebecca magazine, but do tell me about any other publications in Europe that get translated into English (or maybe not and I can learn to knit in French or German. Vive le tricot? Tricot c'est une passion pour moi? Do correct me if I am writing gibberish)

The latest Spring/Summer Vogue Knitting International has a bias towards lace, and not as complicated as you would think if broken down in sections. I've yet to find the time to read all the articles, I just flick through the pics. At a later date, I will have a look at the design briefs given for the issue as well and get my head around the connections between the language used to describe something and what they actually ended up with. The most common stumbling block with submitting designs is missing the target because language could not describe exactly what was required or was misintepreted by a designer.

This fascinates me, I always draw with my submissions. Honestly, I am no artist but I view my diagrams as a scientific drawing with labels that visualise my concept. It really does help. Also, as I keep whingeing on, I am a slow knitter due to disability and I don't have time to be
making up loads of stuff and then submitting each design. I might do 50 - 75 drawings over a period of a year and only make a few of the things. I recycle a design as well, something I drew last year might not be suitable for that time and yet a season changes, new colours become available and I can take elements from my little cartoon drawings and not waste a good concept.

As you know, I have some designs coming up in the Anticraft book being published later this year. What you don't know is that I submitted 13 separate ideas in sketch form, and out of that, only 3 made it in. Now what if I hadn't drawn, and I had made one item? It probably wouldn't have made it, not because it wasn't good enough but purely because it didn't fit into the collection of patterns chosen for that section.

Also a lot of publishers can afford to keep a generalised, open brief, then see what comes in and build a story around the ones they like best. Not your fault if your beautiful lace dress didn't make it into their Tomboy nautical story for that season because that was the theme that emerged from the majority of designs sent in. A lot of publishers will tell you though if they liked your work but it didn't fit in. Only a few will ignore you completely and sadly these seem to be the smaller on line magazines who are running their mag as a second job and just cannot keep up with the influx of emails. They will inform you though if they have a policy of 'if you don't hear back, it didn't make it in'.

Also magazines have submission guidleines and it pays to read them and follow them, even if your magazine pays nothing for your design. I made a bit of a hurried entry into the mag For The Love of Yarn and thought I had covered everything with regards to the pattern, only to find to my disappointment, there was not a proper link to me as a designer or a biography...ooops. Entirely my fault and they were kind enough to add my details as soon as I told them. Many wouldn't have had time, and then amendments later miss the moment as well as wipe out the mutual benefits of publishing for no fee.

I have also received 2 other magazines you will have heard of, there is Vogue Knit 1 which seems to serve a more youthful urban kind of knitter and tends to promote Lionbrand yarns which at first I thought was not inspiring but actually, they make the yarns look much more palatable than the yarn companies pattern support. I am sure I am missing some good yarns in there at reasonable prices,and they do organic cotton, but I am left totally uninspired by the online patterns on the Lionbrand site as the designs look a bit clumsy.

The other mag is a Vogue publication too, Knit Simple and is exactly what it says on the cover, simple but classic designs and lots of tips and tricks and articles and some good book reviews.

This is just my first sub, so I am looking forward to getting the next Summer issues out. See below for Knit 1 - The Green issue which I haven't got yet.

Bath Accessories for the Disabled, people with Short Arms/Limb Reduction and People who suffer from nerve pain and cannot use normal towelling flannels

Right, if any of you are at all squeamish, stop reading now! I am going to mention something I don't normally talk about, but I am hoping if I am open about this difficult subject, it might be of use to other people. what has this got to do with knitting? Well, knitting has inadvertently come up with an answer to a long standing problem.

OK here it is. Due to damage to tissue in both my arms, I am unable to extend them, supinate (turn upwards) or flatten my hand. this has caused a lot of bathing problems and embarrassment as I have been unable to reach my nether bits in order to bathe. I have experimented for a while with different equipment, once waited nearly 3 yrs for an assessment by an occupational therapist thinking thy were bound to have equipment. Yeah they did, it was a net sponge on a plastic stick, difficult to manipulate and very abrasive. Several strap flannels have also been a problem, and even a soft cotton flannel seemed too much!

So I have set out to solve this problem, and have found that provided you can loosely grip on some loops or tags, or if you have no hands put loop over an arm then I have a knitted item that helps.
It is like a longish strap knitted out of a soft material and is perfect for looping between the legs and washing certain bits without being abrasive or difficult to manoeuvre.

It isn't perfect by any means, but it does help. For anyone who has a similar problem, I am willing to knit one of these for you for free and you can test run the pattern, and give me feedback for improvements.

I will not be making the pattern available publicly yet, but will let those who are interested know if it gets published by myself or anyone else.

Longest scarf ever knitted during a marathon … ?
Sunday 22 April, The London Marathon

Knitters are invited to meet from 11am onwards outside The Grapes pub in Narrow Street, see below.

Susie Hewer (below) will be celebrating her 50th birthday in June. To celebrate this momentous occasion she is running several marathons, and knitting at the same time!

Her runs and knits are for charity in aid of Alzheimer's Research, so please give her lots of money at:

… and read her blog at:

"Please join us Outside the 'Grapes' pub on Narrow Street, Limehouse, from 11am onwards. The nearest tube is Limehouse on the DLR, or if you live near the canal, it's a lovely cycle. Or the 15 bus from town … (which will probably be diverted – Ooops!) … There are lots of pubs and a park on Narrow Street. Might be a good idea to bring a cushion to sit on … !"

Suzie Hewer

Another Great Book...........

I am about half way through this book. It has received mixed reviews, and its biggest criticism is that the story is interrupted for little asides by a narrator, and the narrator is actually a book i.e. Principia Mathematica by Isaac newton. This seems like a strange and interrupting device but once the story is underway, you really admire the heroine and want to find out about her. It follows hers story from a child when she witnessed an Aunt being burned for witchcraft after being accused by Jennet's own father, who is a Witchfinder General The Aunt was persecuted mainly because she was a Natural philosopher. The story moves on as Jennet undertakes her Aunts lifetime of work and she studies natural philosophy to come up with a challenging academic argument against demonology.

Along the way, our heroine moves to America at the time of the Salem with trials, gets abducted by a Native American tribe, settles in as squaw then is 'rescued' and becomes so absorbed in coming with a major document to send to the Queen that she risks losing her family.

I love it, in the end I|don't mind the comments of the narrator, who buts in rarely just to remind us of historical fact and contemporary views. I like it as well, that a male novelist can come up with so many feminist aspects, good on him!
Crochet Me Magazine, Hip Knits, Sew Hip and other stuff

OK, it has been up for a while, but I can't help commenting on the patterns in the on line magazine Crochet Me. The photos here are my favourite. I always love the work that Carol Ventura does, beautiful objects that are useful as well. Just look at the project above, a beaded cup that looks as good inside as it does outside. See below for the pattern that is made inside the cup.

My eye was also drawn to the crochet socks, they are cute and not as lumpy as you would imagine crochet socks to be. I also think that green apron is unusually delicate, it is more like a pretty halter top.

I will have to work on some croch
et designs later this year. I might go for a few refresher sessions with Ruth Paisley who also has a crochet design in the current magazine Yarn Forward (in which I also have a design this issue,a baby cardigan) but it looks like we will have to wait a little longer for that issue. It isn't anything to do with Kerrie having a baby or being busy by the way, it is because she has genuinely been let down by her 'suppliers'.

Despite having a manic time, Kerrie has taken the time to donate some yarns for special projects of mine as well as letting me keep some of the yarns I didn't manage to sell last year. I am very touched and I will have to think of something I can do in return. If any of you don't know Kerrie Allman, she is the editor of Magknits, Yarn Forward, an author on a book project, MD of Hip Knits Yarns and Sew Hip Fabrics, she dyes, she spins and she has just had her third child and many more things I've probably forgotten (oh yes she runs workshops and she has a shop and runs knitting groups there) Do check out her blog and her new baby as well as all the yarns she has for sale. You can find her at www.hipknits.co.uk or www.kerriesplace.co.uk.

I have always wanted to have an on line magazine myself, and then I had a thought, what is actually stopping me from putting up free patterns perhaps every quarter? I should have enough patterns of my own, with other people's contributions (perhaps something they wish to promote) to be able to at least put up a newsletter with free patterns once in a while?

However, I am not at all sure if there is anyone out there that passes through this blog. I do tend to write it for myself, its a bit like the diary I kept for 5 yrs as a child where I used to put in little sketches and entries that said things like "I had my hair cut and it looks like this I Hate it I HATE IT! There was a phase I went through as well where I used to put a little treble clef on the days I had practised my music and there was even a phase I went through where I wanted to be a Catholic (yeah yeah I was seduced by the smell of incense) when I used to make a note of my sins just in case I needed to confess!

On that note, I will stop blogging tonight for fear of giving away all my inner secrets. Hang on, no-one reads this anyway so it shouldn't matter should it?

Hello Yarn Lovers

I do often think about the fact that we use a product from something that is living and breathing, unless you are a total vegan knitter of course. It seems to me, that any kind of human activity which involves food, beauty or clothing products, has a hellish consequence either for the planet, or for its inhabitants.

In the same way as we are starting to question our food sources, our recycling habits we should also have a think about what is involved in our favourite past time. Much has been said about knitting being the new yoga, and how knitting is such a natural and healing thing to do. Well read on and find out the consequences of a hobby healing to yourself and yet as much removed from nature as it possibly could be. There is a lot of snobbery attached to having pure fibres such as 100% alpaca or pure cashmere, once again I urge you to read on.

This does prick my conscience. Even British spinners with british breeds are guilty of some of these things. I will be trying to curb my yarn habits, thinking a bit more about where they come from and how they got here and whether there is an alternative. There are projects with which I am unable to choose however so I imagine that a change over to yarns that do not harm will take a while. However, a lot of the information is not as freely available in the yarn industry as say the ingredients and farming that goes into food products and it may be easier to just become a total Vegan. Even there, there is the responsibility of having to check the air miles on products, the processing, the human element as in the workforce. How can you be a saint and continue knitting?

It is important as well to remember that it is what your ball band does not tell you that is likely to have the unethical information you need to make a decision to use something else. For example, if you read that a yarn was 100% alpaca, that it is from a fair trade co-operative or that a cotton is organic, does this mean that all the practices of the company are ethical? Not necessarily so, a pure product could be from badly managed herds with cruel pratices. An organic cotton can still be dyed with harmful
chemicals, perhaps not harmful to us wearing it but perhaps that factory could be one in a country so far away it accunulates air miles,or perhaps it is releasing its waste into a major river.

I hate reading food labels, I hope sometimes that I will not find a reason listed to restrict me from the food I want to eat but reading yarn labels and checking the processes that went into it is something I will definitely bear in mind and where I don't see something mentioned, I won't be assuming that makes it ok.

Whatever you decide to do, at least take some time to read the information below.

Inside the Wool Industry

Without human interference, sheep grow just enough wool to protect themselves from temperature extremes. The fleece provides effective insulation against both the cold and heat. Wool was once obtained by plucking it from sheep during their molting seasons. Breeding for continuous fleece growth began after the invention of shears.(1)

Shearing and Mulesing Equal Sheep Abuse
With approximately 100 million sheep, Australia produces 25 percent of the world’s wool.(2) Flocks usually consist of thousands of sheep, making it impossible to give individual attention to their needs; it is considered normal in the Australian wool industry for as many as 6 million sheep to die each season.(3) Because there is so much death and disease in the wool industry, the rational solution is to reduce the number of sheep who are used for their wool in order to maintain them decently. Instead, sheep are bred to bear more lambs in order to offset the deaths.

In Australia, the most commonly raised sheep are merinos, who are specifically bred to have wrinkled skin, which means more wool per animal. This unnatural overload of wool causes animals to die of heat exhaustion during hot months, and the wrinkles also collect urine and moisture. Attracted to the moisture, flies lay eggs in the folds of skin, and the hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive. In order to prevent this condition, called “flystrike,” Australian ranchers perform a barbaric operation—mulesing—by carving huge strips of skin and flesh off the backs of unanesthetized lambs’ legs and around their tails. This is done to cause smooth, scarred skin that won’t harbor fly eggs, yet the bloody wounds often get flystrike before they heal. Under the threat of an international boycott of Australian wool products, wool-industry officials have said that they will find an alternative to mulesing and will phase out the practice by 2010.(4) One farmer—who successfully protects his sheep from flystrike by using a combination of fly traps, chemical sprays, breed selection, and grazing management—attributed the industry’s resistance to giving up mulesing to “a bit of old-boys’-club arrogance in a once-grand industry that is now struggling a bit.”(5)

Sheep are sheared each spring, after lambing, just before some breeds would naturally shed their winter coats. Timing is considered critical: Shearing too late means wool loss. In the rush, many sheep die from exposure after premature shearing.

Shearers are usually paid by volume, not by the hour, which encourages fast work without regard for the sheep’s welfare. Experienced shearers clip more than 350 sheep in one day, and that pace is maintained for up to four weeks.(6,7)

Live Exports
When sheep age and their wool production declines, they are sold for slaughter. This results in the cruel live export of millions of sheep every year to the Middle East and North Africa. In January 2006, in conjunction with Animals Australia, PETA conducted an undercover investigation to expose the handling and slaughter conditions endured by sheep who are exported to these destinations from Australia.

Contrary to claims made by the Australian government and live-export industry that animals are treated humanely, investigators found that sheep and cows were dragged off trucks by their ears and legs and left to die in barren feedlots. They were bound and thrown into the trunks of cars, and they were slaughtered in prolonged and cruel ways that are illegal in the United States, Europe, and Australia. Live exports to Egypt have since been temporarily suspended. Please visit SaveTheSheep.com for more details about this investigation.

Other Kinds of Wool
It may be called wool, mohair, pashmina, shahtoosh, or cashmere. But no matter what it’s called, any kind of wool means suffering for animals.

Contrary to what many consumers think, “shearling” is not sheared wool. A shearling is a yearling sheep who has been shorn once. A shearling garment is made from the skin and coat of a sheep or a lamb who is shorn shortly before slaughter; the skin is tanned with the wool still on it.

Cashmere is made from the coats of cashmere goats, who are kept by the millions in China and Mongolia, which dominate the market for this “luxury” material.(8) Industry experts advise that farmers should expect to kill 50 to 80 percent of young goats because their coats do not meet standards.(9)

Angora rabbits may be strapped to a board for shearing, kicking powerfully in protest as clippers or scissors inevitably bite into their flesh. Angora rabbits have very delicate foot pads, which means that they often develop excruciatingly painful foot ulcers when they are forced to spend their lives standing on the floors of wire cages. Female rabbits produce more wool than males do, so on larger farms, male rabbits who are not destined to be breeders are killed at birth.(10)

Shahtoosh is made from the coat of the endangered chiru, or Tibetan antelope. Because chirus cannot be domesticated, they must be killed before their wool can be obtained. Although it has been illegal to sell or possess shahtoosh products since 1975, thousands of chirus are killed every year for shawls that are sold on the black market for as much as $15,000 apiece. It takes up to five dead antelopes to make one shawl.(11)

The alpaca-wool industry exploded in the 1980s, when South American alpacas and llamas were marketed worldwide to entrepreneurs. The demand for alpaca wool has increased, so much so that herds numbering in the tens of thousands are now raised in the United States and Australia. Most of the world’s alpacas live in Peru, but government officials there believe that Australia could take over the industry within two decades.(12)

What You Can Do
Use alternatives to wool, including cotton, cotton flannel, polyester fleece, synthetic shearling, and other cruelty-free fibers, as people with wool allergies have been doing for years. Tencel—which is breathable, durable, and biodegradable—is one of the newest cruelty-free wool substitutes. Polartec Wind Pro, which is made primarily from recycled plastic soda bottles, is a high-density fleece with four times the wind resistance of wool, and it also wicks away moisture.(13)

Buy clothing from retailers that have pledged not to sell Australian merino wool products until mulesing and live exports have ended, such as American Eagle Outfitters, Abercrombie & Fitch, Timberland, Aéropostale, and Limited Brands.

1) Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts, “Scandinavian Sheep,” Knitters Magazine 2000.
2) Australian Bureau of Statistics, “Year Book Australia, 2006,” 25 Jan. 2006.
3) Australian Wool Innovation Production Forecasting Committee, “Australian Wool Production Forecast Report,” Australian Wool Innovation Limited, Sep. 2003.
4) Linda Sharman, “Wool Fightback,” Countryman (Western Australia), 11 Nov. 2004.
5) Richard Yallop, “Farmers Strike a Blowie for Long-Suffering Sheep,” Australian 20 Dec. 2004.
6) “Shearing Alternatives Under the Spotlight,” Country-Wide Northern 1 Nov. 2004.
7) Veterinary Education and Information Network, “Wool: The Major Sheep-Farm Product,” Sheep Health & Production (Sydney: University of Sydney, 2003).
8) “World Markets,” Cashemere Producers of America, 23 Jun. 2006.
9) “Cashmere Characteristics,” Cashmere Producers of America, 23 Jun. 2006.
10) F. Lebas et al., The Rabbit—Husbandry, Health, and Production (Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1997).
11) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “Shatoosh Dealers Plead Guilty to Smuggling and Illegal Sale of Tibetan Antelope Shawls,” news release, 7 Jul. 2000.
12) “A Shaggy Business,” The Economist 1 Dec. 2005.
13) Sal Ruibal, “Edge of Winter: Beauty, Danger; Layering Clothes Essential for Sudden Temperature Shifts,” USA Today 23 Nov. 2001.

For The Love of Yarn.........................

This hat pattern is up in the Spring issue of the magazine For The Love of Yarn.
It is a hat I made for baby Willow nearly two years ago, I can hardly believe how quickly that time has gone! Anyway, those of you who have viewed my gallery will have seen this hat before, it is ver
y simple to do but what really made it at the time was the yarn. I made it in Debbie Bliss Cotton silk Aran which felt heavy and rich and satisfying.

The exciting thing is that I still have a massive box of assorted shades so if anyone wants to make a bag or a cushion cover or a spring hat, this yarn is ideal. I am open to offers per ball and and also open to offers of a yarn swap. Email me erssiemajor@yahoo.o.uk or leave a comment (with a link back to you) if you would like a ball of this cotton silk yarn.

And here is a little PS to Noblin Knits. C'mon there is loads of room for you in our very knitterly world, and if there wasn't, I would nudge up and give you a seat anyway!. Can't wait to talk to you about all the knitterly gossip and see some of the yarns you might have collected on your travels and hopefully by the time you get home, I will be able to tell you about my own project which is ongoing although I am managing to get involved in some small bits and pieces in between.

Just make sure you don't give yourself RSI when you get home swatching all your goodies. there...do you feel better now little Noblin? Also, look at my hats, so simple Beginners stuff, I am never going to go all Eunny-ish on you. Her stuff makes me feel like I knit my stuff with my feet, she is good isn't she? She might find she gets bogged down with being the ed of Interweave and not do the fiddly stuff any more. Or, like me, she will have to farm out to knitters. My knitters are wonderful, I am so lucky to have found Heather and Melina and they will be invaluable to me over the next few months or so. I am itching to knit and at last have a juicy project to get my teeth into. Looks like my blog is going to go all mysterious though and show other people's knitting again.

My heart sank when I got all excited thinking you would be home in April and then read that you've got more NZ followed by a month in the States and somewhere else. You're never coming home are you? If not, tell me where you are and I will fly over and visit!
The Erssie Knits Gallery

I have been planning a new website which will incorporate everything I need for ever such a long time now. My biggest problem is that everything moves so fast, my needs keep changing. Anyway, as erssieknits.com is so badly out of date with regards to my work, I have now opened a Flickr
account until I can put up the new photo gallery. If you haven't seen my work before have a look. Not a lot of big items there but a lot of small projects I have been working on in the past year.

I've sorted it into published, unpublished and adaptations of other designers work and I will make it clear now, when I adapt or use an existing pattern I do so for personal projects as any no
rmal hobby knitter. I only use designs for which I am totally responsible for commercial use and I design these items from scratch, I don't believe in dreaming up a pattern and using other patterns in order to pinch shapings from it although I hear that many people do. I also stay clear of anything that conceptually would tread on the toes of my colleague designers.

Anyway, you will find my new sets of photos here:


Enjoy and Happy Easter

Oh yes...I have just found this photo of a cushion cover I designed for The Art of Knitting magazine. I had forgotten about it until something else triggered my memory. There was also a green ve
rsion but a wrap around design with round buttons. The buttons and the right angled button flap reflect the squareness of the whole. The yarns are the Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk held together with some Sublime Mohair in a similar shade. I was lucky enough to get to use these yarns last year before Sirdar released them and was pleasantly surprised at their quality. What a shame I couldn't keep the cushion cdover though, I could do with one. Actually I am having one made but it will be very different from this one.

An old classic updated

Some of you that know me will probably remember that last yea
r during the winter, I handed out some of my clothes and some of my personal knits to the homeless people I met along the way to my knitting club. One of these people, I gave my very favourite plain ribbed hats in red and turqoise but knew that they were so quick to knit I would be able to do them again.

Well, here I am 18mths later only just getting round to re-knitting and improving this absoloute classic of a plain ribbed hat. I find in general that ribbed hats, although you would expect them to be easy and all the same, vary greatly in their shape and the poorer of these can have very clumsy decreases. So with this I have made sure that the purl areas decrease to nothing and the rib areas narrow to a point at the crown.

And the yarn? That is some yarn hand dyed by Woolly Wormhead. It is Wensleydale and is somewhere between a DK and a light worsted/Aran. I knitted it on 5mm needles to give it more of a lacy and holey look. Can you see as well the way the colours worked into a spiral on the crown? Am I clever? No, it is pure accident, so no emails asking me how to plan spirals like this in a hand dyed space yarn.

I also find that the Wensleydale wools and other British breeds other than merino are very thirsty fibres and suffering from dry skin myself, it can feel like two bits of sandpapers rubbing together despite the surfaces remaining shiny. I lovingly rubbed hair conditioner into this hat and left it in a warm soak. Then rinsed it in cold water, just like I would my own hair. You can see the fuzziness this has caused on one of the photos, that is not me with bad camera focus, it actually looks like that!
Some More Book Reviews For You.......................

I was very excited when I saw a huge box from Amazon and had only just remembered that amidst my chaotic week last week I had ordered a set of new books. Here are the books I bought and I'll explain why.

Punk Knits Sharon Ross

This is somewhat similar to an idea I had about 8 or so years ago, shame I didn't get there first! however, I found myself mildly disappointed in some of the projects and very happy with some others. I realised that the ones I admire most, are the simplest but the most tailored in their design. I am not against holes, ladders and the like but I have more admiration if these can occur at the right places and actually add to the shaping of a garment. Yes I know this seems to be against the philosophies of Punk, but being from the Punk generation myself, I remember most clearly that women like myself who would have been plain in any other walk of life could use the make up and clothes to our advantage, highlighting the good things about ourselves(in me it used to be my cheekbones and eyes) and hiding away the things that weren't so great (my lack of boobs). Therefore, despite its holeyness and grunginess, punk should sort of flatter, be dramatic and make a statement all rolled into one, but I didn't feel these knits were strong enough for that.

Fitted Knits
Stefanie Japel

Flick through the pages and you would imagine that these tailored sweaters and garments would all be in 4ply and 2ply and would have endless instructions on tailoring
. You would be wrong, Stefanie can make even the bulkiest of yarns on 8mm look as delicate as a fine lace weight yarn and her methods of waist shaping involve a clever use of stitch type. I realised that being a big girl myself these days, that I won't be tempted to drape myself in bagginess to hide it, I will most definitely be attracted to the waist shaping and bell sleeves and I am a big fan of deep ribbing and other simple features that make a garment look irresistible. Yes, I could have been ever so proud if I had written this book. I wouldn't be squirming inside for the want of putting someone else's name on it! As I flicked through this book I found myself slowly turning a shade of green with envy. Stefanie is working on another title at the moment, can't wait to see what goes into that one.

Whip Your Knitting Into Shape - Domiknitrix Jennifer Stafford
And talking of envy, this is a most beautiful book. I loved this, a true mistress of her craft with regard to techniques, shaping and charts and I can see the pages packed with variety proving that she is no one trick pony. The knits are quite tailored, but the technique is so simple and beautiful, you don't get the feeling that the author just cashed in on the new wave of alternative knitting books for the sake of it. In these pages you can see a lifetime's achievements and know she has driven this project herself. I am quite excited though that the book I worked on earlier this year (compilation of patterns by The Anticraft) which is coming out this Autumn is handled by the same publishers as this one.

Naughty Knits Nikol Lohr
Cheeky, funny, naughty but not as totally original as you would think. A little too much lingerie of the same sort of shapes and some projects taking up too much space that are nothing more than an adapted scarf. I wonder how many of these ideas were the author's or how many were pushed upon her by her

Now for myself.....I feel like writing a
really alternative book about knitting that will shock and offend even if it didn't

Tams Mary Rowe

Lastly this is a book recommended to me by Woolly Wormhead's Ruth Paisley. Ruth was right to recommend this book and how relieved I was to see that the way I had worked out designing a Tam pattern on a wedge is indeed the correct way to be doing it. One look at this book and I knew it was going to be a gem, I just want to plunge into it straight away! It is isn't often I see something in a book I hadn't thought of myself, but in this case, it confirms that I am not wasting my time on lengthy techniques when a short cut exists.

There is no short cut, designing a Fair Isle pattern that works as individual shapes but again as part of the whole as a kaleidescope is absolute genius, shows how mathematically intricate our ancestors must have been. Shows the perfect relationship between mathematics and aesthetics. The circular intricately patterned Tam fits in with all those creation theories about Fibonacci sequences and fractals and how a higher being has hidden these messages for us in flowers and other objects of natural beauty. Knitting is seen as a handicraft, as something that our ancestors did out of necessity but as a separate skill from intellect or book learning. I believe this is not so, those of us that knit totally understand the wholeness we feel when we achieve something close to perfection and crafts have long been relied upon by historians as a way to find out how a society was linked to their spiritual life, whether this is shown in the henges or the paintings and carvings or the brightly patterned clothes they wore.