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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Review: Woodsmoke and Little Luxuries from Knit Picks

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Knit Picks has been putting out so many amazing collections lately, sometimes it’s hard to keep up—I think I could probably knit solely from their collections for the next few years and never be bored.

I have two great collections to review for you today—and ok, yes, I have a pattern in one of them so you might think I’m a little biased, but the truth is, I’m always honored (and a bit surprised) to actually be published alongside so many other amazingly talented designers.

First up, Woodsmoke. I didn’t even look at the patterns in this collection before I bought it because CABLES! Cables are my jam. I don’t always love how slow they can be to work, but I adore the end result.

Woodsmoke is a hefty collection of 16 cabled garments and accessories in DK or heavier yarn. All of the patterns are written in KP’s usual clear style with full schematics and neat, legible charts. But a word of caution—you MUST be able to read charts for this one. The charts for nearly every piece are extensive and matching written directions would’ve probably made the book 3 times as long—I know charts are an automatic “no” for some knitters, but you’ll really miss out if you dismiss this one out of hand for that reason!

The sweaters in here are just—no words. I want to knit all of them and then live in them, forever. If I have to highlight just one, it would be the Honeycomb Sweater, with a stylized drop shoulder, but they are all stunning. Each sweater pattern includes at least 6 sizes, and one even includes additional instructions for creating a men’s sweater!

If you’re not ready to jump into a cabled sweater just yet, the accessories give you a chance to practice those cables on a smaller scale, or without the additional complications of shaping and sizing.  

Kidalton Hat is a great unisex piece and it includes FIVE sizes—I can’t remember the last time I saw a hat with that many size options. This could be your go-to Christmas gift in 2017.

Absent Friends Shawl—I’ve long said we need more cables in shawls, and this worsted-weight beauty looks warm, cozy and a lot more practical to drape around your shoulders than a blanket.

Speaking of blankets—yes, I have 3 on the needles already, but the Hex Cable Afghan is THE kind of blanket you want at the foot of your bed throughout the winter (and it looks pretty straightforward to resize it for, say, a baby).

Woodsmoke is available for $19.99 for the print edition and $14.99 for the ebook—with 16 patterns, either option is an amazing deal. If you are a cable lover, and you’re comfortable reading charts (or willing to learn), you do not want to miss this one.

The next collection I have to review is Little Luxuries. This one is on the opposite end of the spectrum—in contrast to Woodsmoke’s tweedy, cozy cabin feel, Little Luxuries includes 23 patterns for delicate accessories knit in soft, silky luxury yarns.

Little Luxuries includes 7 cowls, 6 shawls/shawlettes, 5 hats, 3 mitts/mittens, 1 scarf and 1 clutch, and features yarns ranging from lace to worsted weight.

The pieces in this collection run the gamut—cables, lace, textured stitches, basic garter and stockinette, it’s all here. Each project uses 100g of yarn or less, which is great when you’re splurging on luxury yarn. And bonus for the chart-averse: because these are smaller scale patterns, many of the projects that include charts also include written directions!

Of course, I have to highlight a few favorites.

The Rain Chain Shawlette is a sweet little piece to wear around the neck, with just a hint of lace. This will keep you warmer than your usual fingering weight shawl.

The Alpine Shawl looks lacy without being overcomplicated, and it’s in my favorite shawl shape: half-circle.

The Honeycomb Hat has an intriguing texture—you’ll have fun seeing how it comes together.

What I love most about this collection is that there’s really a project in here for every season--mittens for winter, a cozy cowl for spring chill, a lacy shawl for summer’s over-air conditioned offices or a snug hat for fall. If you’re an accessories knitter, this is a great investment for year-round knitting.

You can grab Little Luxuries in print for $19.99 or snag the ebook edition for $14.99. All of the patterns are also available for individual purchase on the Knit Picks website. 

All photos courtesy of Knit Picks; post contains affiliate links.

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