The postie has just brought me my copy of Stranded Knits by Ann Kingstone. And it has ruined by intention of working this afternoon… This is not a book you can glance at and leave!
The book invites you in. The type is larger than in many books, and there are plenty of breaks in the text.
In the first few pages, Ann explains her background and method of working and introduces some of the techniques she uses.
The subtitle of the book is Smart Skills for Colourwork Knitting, and the first section of the book gives the techniques you will need in clear diagrams and numbered steps. One thing I particularly like is the contents of each page written down the page edge, so you can find the technique (or, later, pattern) easily without having to remember the page number.
Ann gives suggestions for how to hold the yarns for both ‘English’ and ‘Continental’ knitters (whatever they are – I have never worked that one out!!), and she uses the works active and passive for the needles, not right and left, so making it easy for left handed knitters to follow her instructions.
The main section of the book is the patterns. There are 16 of them, ranging from a headband and mug cozy to complex, all-over sweaters. She uses a variety of Rowan yarns, often using different types in the same design. The patterns are well photographed, and you can see the details of the designs (one of my bugbears with some pattern photography!). The emphasis is on garments, with things for men, women and children. Some have colourwork accents and some have colourwork bodies and plain sleeves. All have a modern feel.
Non-European knitters may find the pattern layouts take a bit of getting used to, as Ann uses the (very sensible) European system of having the actual numbers for the different sizes in boxes with code letters only in the text. For example, the pattern may say ‘Cast on AA stitches’, and the box at the foot of the page has a line with the numbers for the different sizes. Personally I love this method, as it is so easy to read, but it may be new to some. It does, however, make it possible to put in a large number of sizes without the text becoming too longwinded. If you haven’t come across it before it is nothing to be frightened of!
In this age of the Global Village, the question of using inches, centimetres or both is a thorny one. Ann has chosen to use inches – something I agree with. Every knitter has a tape measure with ins and cm on, or a calculator. Personally I find the convention of putting both in the actual pattern a pain to read, so I like Ann’s pattern writing!
The one place she has used both conventions is in the schematics. These have plenty of measurements on, allowing the more experienced knitter to alter the exact fit to their own requirements.
All in all this a book unbound by any one tradition, taking bits from many, and using them to produce modern patterns which will not date. The book is available from Rowan stockists, and all the patterns are on Ravelry (which can only be seen by Ravelry members).