Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Blah blah, blather blather.

I'm going to review the two lace books that made my head explode yesterday, but I'll do it at the end and try not to rattle on for hours. I'm afraid my book reviews go on way too long. So, other news first.

You'll notice (I hope) that I added a bunch more blog links to the sidebar. I got through the S's last night and will hopefully finish out the alphabet soon. (Then I get to go through and double-check. Joy.) If you're into that kind of thing, there's plenty there to click on. I left out links to anyone whose blog has not been updated since 2006, but otherwise, if you're missing from the list and want to be put up there, drop me a line.

The Baby does indeed seem to be working on the Art of the Tantrum. Unfortunately for her it never seems to work out the way she wants it to; she either gets ignored or chucked into her crib. I'm working hard to remain calm and be the sensible adult (since when did I wind up the sensible adult? What in hell kind of universe is this when I wind up in charge of another human being??!!?? Ahem). It's still not on a major scale, though; just whining. It's more annoying than anything and we're trying to nip it in the bud before it gets full blown.

Felted bags always look like they're the size of suitcases before they're shrunk. Just an observation.

Oh, and I've now got four projects on the needles (steeked jacket, ugly sock, stash blankie, and Knitty Project) and I need to FINISH SOMETHING. Anything.

All rightie, reviews.

"Victorian Lace Today" by Jane Sowerby.

I see why people are ga-ga over the book. Just the right amount of history, a boatload of patterns, and a good bit of how-to information in the back. It's a nice book, and if you wanna knit scarves and wraps and shawls, this book would keep you busy for a while. Pattern tally: Eleven scarves (fancy edgings with easy middles - great starter projects), six triangular shawls, FIFTEEN rectangular wraps of varying sizes - some quite large, one circular shawl, one hexagonal shawl with the option of making it a half-hex, one half-round shawl, a round capelet, and two 'fichus', both with really interesting construction. I'm thinking I need to make the 'knitted veil' on page 68 for my state fair entry this year.

The difficulty levels listed in the book don't make much sense to me - some things are listed intermediate that should be either easy or experienced. And after a while, all those rectangles start looking the same.

The best part of the book, in my opinion, is the stuff in the back. Unlike most XRX books, they keep the how-to section mercifully short and don't insult anyone with how to knit lessons but stick (mostly) to specialized increases, decreases, cast-ons and the like that are unique to lace knitting. Then there is the buried treasure. "Understanding Lace and Charts", and "Knitted on Border" both of which spell out all the information you need to construct one of these projects instead of assuming you know it. And THEN there is the design section. "Understanding lace design", "How to make your own wide border", "Planning a shawl". The book is worth the money for this stuff alone.

With "Knitting Lace" by Lewis out of print, this is the most coherent discussion on how lace works and how to make it work for you that is available on the market. If you're interested in lace knitting, at the least, check the book out of the library and read the stuff in the back. It's really, really good.

In fact, I wish they'd dumped the ten page "Colophon" in the back, where XRX shows a bunch of fancy photography and gloats about how much they love the book, and use that space to discuss more in the way of how lace works and what to do with it. But at any rate, it's definitely worth what I thougth was a rather high price tag.

I'll try to keep this next review short, but here it is:

"Heirloom Knitting" by Sharon Miller.

As she put it in the intro, "This is the book I wanted when I first started knitting Shetland lace." And that's what it is. Entirely devoted to Shetland lace, it covers materials, history, construction methods, and blocking. There are approximately 190 pages of traditional Shetland lace motifs, like a Barbara Walker Treasury. They vary from an inch square to several feet wide. The rest of the book is devoted to how to plan and execute shawls, with a good bit of beginner stuff on reading charts and fixing mistakes and unraveling, and a few pithy patterns in the back.

Even with the explanation chapters, I'm not sure this is a beginner book, if only because it's totally overwhelming. (I've been knitting lace for twenty years and my brain melted about halfway through.) Also, it's extremely specific - Shetland traditional lace only - and kinda pricey. If you're a beginner, this book may be too much. But if you've knit a little lace and are really on fire for information and detail, this is the book for you.

My brain is melting again.


Catie said...

interesting on the victorian lace today, I've been eyeing it for awhile. I really like how you review books. If you have time (HA! eh) if you could compile a list of recommended books that would be great. I have the distinct feeling that you give good info and I will miss something in a review of your blog.

Could you add me to the side bar of blogs please?

Amy Lane said...

ah...the XRX book is on it's way from amazon... (sort of timed by their incompetence to match a time in the future when I'll probably have money.) Anyway, now I'm REALLY looking forward to it...there's a lace fichu thing in Wrap Style that I'm looking forward to making:-)

amy said...

Thanks for adding me to your links!

How old is Baby? My younger child is very dramatic, just like his Mama. I can't really say much, since I've been known to throw hissy fits, too. But sometimes, depending on the issue, it helps just to gather them up into a great big hug. Big emotions, little people. It's hard to be a little person sometimes.

And then, there's always laughing. The full body stomping and throwing oneself about tantrum gets me every time...

Julie said...

The Baby is one and a half.

And absolutely I laugh. She's got this unholy screech that sets me off every time. And she'll go "AH!" and fling herself out full length on the floor like a Victorian lady having a swoon.

Ah, the melodrama.

But she's not getting her way, nuh uh, no how.

Bells said...

he he. baby melodrama. I love it.

Did you see april is giving away a copy of VLT on her blog as part of her MSF contest? I so hope I win. I've been wanting to buy it for a while and am poor.

Bells said...

so the next question is, have you picked your first project out of one of these books yet?

Robin said...

Thanks for adding me!! Raising children is like trying to nail Jello to a tree!!!

KnitTech said...

Boneless Baby!! I haven't had to the pleasure of that in YEARS!

NeedleTart said...

The Husband had a nice coupon to Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago and since he couldn't find a book he wanted (cough) he let me use the coupon on the XRX book. The first folio wasn't attached properly and it fell out. The people at B&N were really nice and swapped it for a good copy (mostly because I refused to let go of my copy until they promised I could leave the store with a good one.)

Anonymous said...

Heirloom Knitting was already on my wish list. Thanks for the review I'm moving it to the top.

Rae said...

If I may be so bold as to offer baby advice -- I nipped the whining in the bud (for the most part), by 1) ignoring the whining, and 2) immediately responding to DD when she approached me civilly. And 3) making her stop whining and ask me in a normal voice for whatever she wanted. To which I immediately responded (not always giving her what she wanted, but at least not ignoring her).

for the most part, this works. DD is 2, BTW, so yours might be a little young for this. But I swear, you have to ignore the bad AND respond right away to the good. Reinforcement of good behavior.

Thanks for the reviews, BTW.

debsnm said...

Opera Fichu - that's the one that went sailing across the room. It's now behaving nicely, thank you very much! I'm going to do the hexagon shawl next - once I've hit myself in the head enough times.
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