Reading List

Posted on by MK Carroll


One of the items on my to-do list for this blog is to write a few more book reviews, with a focus on books I find helpful for running a small business, especially the business of knit/crochet design. 

If I post a "recommended reading" list, what are sort books you would be the most interested in knowing about? Is it important for you to know if the book is available as an e-book? 

Yarn Tasting at the Hawaii State Library

Posted on by MK Carroll


My current plan is to have a short talk on the library collection of knit/crochet books and specific books particularly applicable for our climate, and then a quick review of the yarns. I haven't chosen and acquired all the yarns yet; Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton and Skinny Cotton, Cascade Eco Wool, Lana Knits Hemp for Knitting, and a seacell/silk blend are on the for-sure list, though.

Quick update:

"Come to the library for quick reviews of knitting and crocheting books in the library collection and a yarn-tasting! Sample bags will include mini-skeins of yarns good for tropical-weather garments as well as yarns good for use in felting and making warm garments and accessories for cold-climate friends, relatives, and charitable organizations. Feel free to bring a project to work on during the presentation, or to show off afterwards if you like. There will be a brief Q&A session if you have any questions about knitting/crocheting in Hawai'i. No how-to knit/crochet/spin lessons will be given at this event; reviews of instructional books, videos, and DVDs will be included in the presentation, though, and a handout of yarn shops and where you can take lessons will also be available."

Japanese Craft Book Review: Kyuuto! Lacy Crochet

Posted on by MK Carroll

Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts Lacy Crochet from Chronicle Books

Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts!: Lacy Crochet: Lacy Crochet (Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts)
Chronicle Books San Francisco
ISBN 978-0-8118-6058-1
$14.95 US
originally published in Japan as Kawaii Resu Ami Zakka, by SHUFU-TO-SEIKATSUSHA (popular Japanese lifestyle magazine)

I'd show you snapshots of some of the project instruction pages, but I think I'd really be pushing the fair use for review purposes - you'd be able to make the project from just one page. I'm already a fan of the way Japanese craft books are laid out and the way the instructions are shown; to have it in a language I can read is fantastic. I got my book as a holiday gift (the buyer used Amazon - I haven't seen it in local bookstores yet).

After recovering from the kawaii!-induced blindness, I've taken a closer look at the book, and while I am still so happy with it that I still do a little wiggle-dance of joy when thinking about it, there are a couple of points that I would not have let escape my attention in other publications.

1. Yarn - or rather, lace thread, which is probably why the book is called Lacy Crochet but not all the projects are lace. All of the patterns call for lace thread, which, as it happens, can be found in different thicknesses, fibers, textures, and so on. I cannot find any recommendations in the book for a specific lace thread. Cotton crochet thread, pearl cotton, tatting thread, and fine-gauge yarns are all possible substitutes; I'm thinking that Hemp For Knitting allhemp3 would be a good choice for many of the patterns. If you are looking for the specific thread used in the book projects, you are on your own.

2. Gauge: the lack thereof. Hook sizes are given, but no gauge measurements. You can reverse-engineer gauge for the projects, thanks to the clear photos and schematics. Most of the projects won't suffer from being a little larger or smaller, though.

3. Notions: where to find.  The coin purse calls for a metal purse frame measuring 3" wide, 1.6" tall (7.5 x 4 cm), with 26 holes. has similar purse frames, but nothing with those specific dimensions. also has similar purse frames, and a selection of lace thread (specializes in crochet beadwork). UPDATE: Thanks to Cleo in the comments, who posted that the yarn is Olympus Emmy Grande HERBS, which is the equivalent of US size 20 thread. I poked around and the Saucy Louise shop (run by an English speaker living in Japan) carries Olympus Emmy Grande HERBS in several colors. 3Dpatternpaper, an Etsy seller based in Hong Kong, carries 7cm coin purse frames with 24 holes and 8cm frames with 28 holes. I think it might be possible to use either frame and work out a way to sew the purse body on that won't be just like the instructions but close enough.

On the plus side, though, I have also noted that there is a section showing the symbols used with step-by-step instructions (text and illustrations) for each symbol and the techniques used in the book.

There's also a good number of projects here, and some of them can be done relatively quickly even though the gauge is fine (the coin purse, for example, and the baby shoes).

Part 1: Small Crafts for Interiors
Pot Holders
Tissue Box Cover/Placemat
Jar Covers
Baby Shoes 1 Ties
Baby Shoes 2 Straps
Doily 1 Round
Doily 2 Square
Multipurpose Cover

Part 2: Private Time for Favorite Handicrafts
Lace Basket
Scissors Case
Hook Case
Braid 1 Ribbon
Braid 1 Edging
Braid 3 Ringlet

Part 3: Fashionable Items for Everyday Life
Mobile Phone Case
Corsage 1 Gerbera
Corsage 2 Rose
Potpourri Sachet 1 Flowers
Potpourri Sachet 2 Leaves
Coin Purse
Decorative Strings 1 Balls
Decorative Strings 2 Tassels
Mini Bag 1 Petals
Mini Bag 2 Buttons

Pattern Lesson 1
Crocheting Rings of Circles Round Doily

Pattern Lesson 2
Crocheting a Flat Pattern from a Chained Cast-on
Square Doily

Lacy Crochet Techniques
How to Thread Over and Hold a Hook
How to Make the First Stitch
Making Chain Stitches
Cast-on Foundation
Picking Up a Stitch
Stitch Techniques and Symbols/Abbreviations
Using the Symbols/Abbreviations Chart

Book Review: Great Knits

Posted on by MK Carroll

Great Knits
Texture and Color Techniques from Threads Magazine
Taunton Press, 1995

How about a book geared towards the experienced and/or adventurous handknitter with knitting and knit design tips from knit luminaries including Lily Chin, Nicky Epstein, Deborah Newton, Nancy Bush, with photos, diagrams and tutorials on how to shape your knitting, making a garment from scrumbles, and adapting a sewing pattern for knitting, among other things? What if I told you it was published over 10 years ago? Great Knits is a collection of Threads magazine articles from the early 1990’s, aimed at the handknitting enthusiast. Currently out of print, it can still be found online and in public libararies. Some of the items shown look a bit dated (think big oversized entrelac sweater and teal angora and ribbon - on second thought, with a little revision I wouldn’t be surprised to see it as a retro look in Vogue Knitting International), but the techniques are ones knitters still look for today. This is a great addition to your knitting library if you are interested in designing your own patterns or at least customizing exisiting patterns to better fit your form and your taste.

Introduction, by Suzanne LaRosa, publisher
“You’ve got the knitting basics down and now you’re ready to expand your repertoire. Here, from the pages of Threads magazine, you’ll find the inspiration and techniques you need.

Take your favorite sweater pattern and create an entirely new look. Add subtle shading to a Fair Isle design. Create a graphic beauty one block at a time. Choose two colors you love and knit a warm, reversible sweater. Embellish a sweater with geometric designs.

Or create interest with texture. Experiment with new ways to build a fabric. Knit in a new direction. Drop stitches and weave into open spaces. You can even create a fabric from the center out.

With Great Knits, you’ll also learn basic techniques that will benefit every garment you knit. You’ll find advice on what yarns and needles work best, how to make gauge swatches, and how to shape and finish the garment. But best of all, you’ll create sweaters that you’ll wear and love for years.”

Knit One, Weave Two
Linda M. McGurn
Dropped stitches create ideal spaces to weave color into your knitting

Sweaters Piece by Piece
Natalina Carbone
Working without a gauge, you can knit in all directions to create a unique fabric

Swatches for Sweaters
Deborah Newton
Your knitted samples can tell you a lot more about your design than just the gauge

Corrugated Knitting
Molly Gordon
Pull in those floats for a sweater that’s warm and toasty

Designing Knit Fabrics
Deborah Newton
A ready-to-wear sweater sparks ideas for combining strips diagonally

Design Knitwear from Sewing Patterns
June Hemmons Hiatt
The best part is there’s no need to calculate tricky curves or slopes

Reversible Knitting
M’Lou Linsert Baber
Double knitting creates two layers of stockinette with one pass of stitches

Knitting a Basketweave Look-Alike
Gwen Fox
Here’s how to work and shape entrelac on a circular needle

A Balancing Act
Alice Korach
Knitter’s guide to pattern and proportion (includes Aran cardigan with Fibonacci panels)

Knitting Sideways
Molly Geissman
Increase your garment design options and reduce the number of seams at the same time (includes article on Knitting Fair Isle sideways by Kate Barber)

A Patterning Primer for Custom Knitting
Nancy Bush
You can easily create geometric designs to embellish any simple sweater

Subtle Color Shading for Patterned Knits
Rebekah Younger
You can paint a knit fabric, then unravel and reknit for smooth color transitions

Knit In Blocks of Color - without Bobbins
Rick Mondragon
Adding color, one block at a time, takes out the headache of intarsia knitting

Light and Lustrous Boucle
Linda Welker
The textures and colors of this three-plied yarn make even the simplest sweater special

Designing with Spring and Summer Yarns
Deborah Newton
Challenging fibers reward knitters with fabulous color and texture (includes pattern for Sleeveless Ribbon Shell)

Design with Knitted Cord
Nicky Epstein
Complex-looking textures are a snap with separately knitted cord

Darts Add Shape to Knitted Garments
Lily Chin
Worked vertically or horizontally, darts can dramatically improve fit

Shirttails for Sweaters
Sally Melville
Here’s how to add a modest knit curve to a typical flat hem

Designing Knitted Hoods
Deborah Newton
Frame your face with snuggly warmth or sophisticated style (includes pattern for Chenille Topper)

When Many Yarns Make a Coat
Anne Clarke
Careful control of tension and floats is key to combining varied types of yarns