Monday, 28 July 2014

Book Review: Fairytale Knits by Katharina Ritter

'Fairytale Knits' by Katharina Ritter was published in 2011 and is a smouldering dream-like collection of fairytale-inspired knitwear for women and children.

There are twenty designs - all of which are themed on fairytales. Each pattern is based on a character or a story. The cover design features fingerless gloves and is based on 'Sleeping Beauty'.

One of the distinctive features of this book is that the patterns do not specify the yarn to be used apart from its weight and whether it is cotton, wool, etc. Most of the patterns only have two clothing sizes (10-12 and 14-16 for example) so there is not much use getting this book if you are unusually small or above a size 16 unless you are advanced enough to alter the pattern to fit you.

However there are five children's patterns and eight hats, bags and mittens to knit so the majority of the book is not comprised of women's clothes.

The photography in this book is stunning and magical. I loved the Tom Thumb children's sweater and the Rapunzel knitted dress. The charts and blocking diagrams are very clear. There is no advice on how to knit from scratch in this book so I would recommend it as an advanced beginner collection.

'Fairytale Knits' by Katharina Ritter is published by Search Press and you can purchase it from their shop.

Thank you to Search Press who sent me this book to review at my request.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Book Review: Christmas Cross-stitch Treasures by Joan Elliott

Yes - I know it's July and the temperature is about to hit 30 degrees later this week, but if you want one of the larger cross stitch pieces from this book finished in time for Christmas you're going to have to start around now (although there are smaller patterns too!)

This is a truly delightful book full of beautiful timeless classic cross stitch designs. There are 18 patterns in total and the level of detail in each one is amazing.

At the back of the book there are three A4 pages full of advice on how to start to stitch - this includes working from charted designs, stitching with beads, french knots and finishing up. The issue of framing your work while stitching isn't covered. This isn't essential but there is a wide choice of frames, particularly at the larger end of the scale which may have been helpfully explained here since the projects are very big and may be cumbersome to hold. However these instructions are enough to get you started and don't waste space for those who are already in-the-know.

Eight of the 18 designs are large and will occupy your hands for a few months or weeks - dependent on how busy or experienced you are. 'The Snow Princess' stood out as particularly special in my view (pictured above). Usually there are a couple of patterns I don't like but I could imagine myself stitching all these designs.

The charts are very clearly printed and the numbered threads are given for Anchor and DMC - something you don't always get with a cross stitch book. This enables you to easily shop for a variety of threads if you are on a budget. Joan also has worked out how large each design will be if you stitch on 11, 14, 16, 18, 25, 28 and 32 count aida.

This book was sent to me at my request by Search Press. Please buy 'Christmas Cross-stitch Treasures' by Joan Elliott from Search Press. Thanks to Search Press for sending me this book to review and for generously linking to my blog.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

London Short Story Festival and a finished object!

I have a finished object - my first one for a few months. It's a hat knitted from Classy Dream in Colour in the Prince William colourway on 5.5 mm circular needles. It's a pattern I keep going back to as I know it fits me and the pattern has stitch counts for DK, Aran and chunky. I downloaded it a couple of years ago to knit hats for the Mungo's homeless charity. I'm not sure if it's available now.

I was very pleased with this yarn. It's so soft and I knitted the hat with an extra five centimetres of stocking stitch before the shaping for the crown to make it hang down in a slouchy style. I love it and couldn't wait to pick it up each night after work. I think I have to pick projects which are either crochet based or stocking stitch based for a while. I'm completing them faster.

Since going to the London Short Story Festival two weeks ago I have been subscribing to literary magazines and buying books like a true bibliophile. I felt like I got a lot of superb quality books in the past two months since Arvon.

The festival itself was amazing. It was a small festival with about 50-80 people around at Waterstones Piccadilly. It took over two floors with writing workshops in the basement and talks and readings over another floor. The highlight of the festival for me was definitely the Jackie Kay reading on Friday night. She was absolutely amazing and if you ever get a chance to see her please leap off your chair enthusiastically as she really was entertaining.

I wrote two pieces of flash fiction in a notebook in the basement. I showed the second one to Vanessa Gebbie who was very helpful with plenty of constructive criticism and encouragement. I came away feeling really inspired until I got to Paddington station and ended up arriving home at 11.40pm when I had planned to get home before 9pm. All the trains had been cancelled due to a signalling failure just outside Reading. Be careful if you travel between the South West and Paddington as there seem to be a lot of fails at the moment.

But what a festival and a buzz being around amazing writers for hours. I've written a poem and two flashes since the festival. I think the poem is slightly above my usual standard of poetry (i.e not completely crap) and one of the flashes is lovely and fits well with another one I wrote which came runner-up in a competition.

I will start reviewing books again next week - I had a lovely delivery from Search Press earlier this week and I can't wait to show you them!

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