Review: AlterKnit Stitch Dictionary

A copy of this book was provided for review by Interweave. All opinions are my own.

If you love stranded colorwork, then I suggest you hop right over to Interweave's website and BUY THIS BOOK

I love colorwork, but particularly when it comes to designing it myself, I sometimes I feel like it's all been done--I can never seem to come up with an original-looking stitch pattern. But as soon as I started flipping through this book, I realized that I was just utterly wrong--because Andrea Rangel has shared 200 fresh modern colorwork stitch patterns in this amazing dictionary!

(Do you guys follow Andrea on Instagram? You should. She's always sharing photos of her dreamy rustic knits--usually her own gorgeous designs--and of herself wearing layers upon layers of handknits, looking just adorable. She's exactly what I thought I was going to look like when I started knitting, only it turns out when I try to layer my knits I look like Poppin' Fresh.)

The stitch patterns Andrea has included in her book run the gamut: trippy line designs, geometric patterns, barnyard animals, leaves and flowers . . . it's all here! Every time I turned the page I found a pattern I loved and immediately wanted to add to something. The line work and geometric patterns would be stunning on all kinds of adult garments and accessories, and if you knit for kids, there are lots of adorable animal patterns that are a refreshing change from traditional birds and ladybugs. 

Every stitch pattern is accompanied by a color photo of a generous swatch, as well as a chart with stitch counts and repeats clearly labeled. While I frankly can't imagine trying to work stranded knitting from written instructions, I know some knitters are seriously chart averse, and you'll want to be aware that these stitch patterns are charted only.

But it's not just stitch patterns! Andrea has also included 17 pages worth of instructions on stranded knitting--color choice, floats, steeks, swatching, color dominance, even tips for better colorwork. While not an exhaustive how-to, she's included a lot of essential information that will serve as a handy refresher for experienced knitters and a good primer for newer knitters ready to tackle the challenge.

And while this is not a pattern book, she's also included a few patterns that incorporate some of the stitch patterns--where you could take the opportunity to experiment and pick your own! And she's even provided some guidance on things to consider (like math!) when switching out the motifs. 

I especially love that this is a sturdy hardback--my stitch dictionaries are in frequent use, not to mention I have 2 mischievous boys that get into everything. Books in this house need to be made to last! (While I like my reference books lined up neatly on a shelf, there IS an ebook, if you're into that sort of thing.)

Whether you like to customize your personal knits with different colorwork patterns or are a designer always on the lookout for inspiration, I think you'll want this on your bookshelf. You can grab of the AlterKnit Stitch Dictionary by Andrea Rangel from Interweave for $26.99.

All photos courtesy of Interweave

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New Tutorial: Icelandic Bind-off

If you grabbed a copy of Calentito last week, you might be ready to bind off your first slipper already--but watch this tutorial first! The Icelandic Bind-off pairs perfectly with garter stitch and adds just a hint of extra flexibility that you'll need to make sure your slippers stretch over your heel. Plus, it's SUPER easy!

Want a little cheat sheet to help you remember these steps? Sign up for the MediaPeruana Designs mailing list--subscribers will find a handy cheat sheet in Thursday's newsletter!

DIY: Speckle Dyeing with Kool-Aid, Take 2

Remember when I tried speckle dyeing with Kool-Aid last month and it was, well, not exactly a success? In fact, when I eventually tried to wind the yarn, it basically fell apart--not exactly what I was going for.

Well, I decided to try again--with a new technique

My first step was to over-dye a skein of Knit Picks Hawthorne kettle dye in Compass, a bright yellow. I dyed it in fruit punch Kool-Aid, hoping for orange, but it really came out a bright, slightly orange red. 

Then, with the yarn still wet, I used a fork dipped in water and dry Kool-Aid powder (Black Cherry and Blue Raspberry) to speckle it. Then I steamed it in the microwave to set it. 

Here's the result:

The speckles are very subtle blips of purple and dark red--that's to be expected on a dark-colored yarn. Had the yarn turned out more orange than red (or had I had different shades of Kool-Aid on hand!), I think they would've been more visible. 

This is a technique I would try again, much more successful (and less burnt!) than my previous attempt--definitely bookmarking this one!

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