Thursday, 1 March 2012

World Book Day - 1 March 2012

I love reading as you have probably gathered, last year I told you how I have never lived more than 10 minutes away from a library... lucky me!

So on World Book Day I am going to make a little change to the blog, up to now I have done the occasional book review but I am now going to make this a regular feature of the blog, hopefully once a month,I will post it on the main blog and leave it up on the renamed RosReadMe page.

Right let's get started, I am going to review two books tonight, Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac  and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules  A good 30 years separate the publication of these books but when you read the eloquent prose in both, you could not get a strand of two ply or lace weight between them.
Starting with EZ, you need to know that she was originally English married a German and went to live in the US, but even more exciting was the knitting equivalent of ambidextrous, knitting in both the English and Continental style.  I was a little nervous about reading a book that was 35 years old and had a pattern for every month of the year, I just knew it would be twee, technical and a bit nerdy, how wrong could I be?  Yes, this is a book for grown up knitters, it is witty and accessible.  There is no side to EZ, she explains why you need to knit a swatch (I knew she was looking at me when she did that) and then explains how to adapt her patterns.

She is an architectural knitter who understands the nature of wool and how to work with it.  The pictures in the book were taken by her husband and just do not do justice to her work... her collection of mittens are fabulous, but better still is her advice is to give three in case a child loses one which would sound bizarre until you read her technique for constructing a mitten which works on either hand.  

One of her funniest pieces is the description of accompanying her husband to a local snow jumping meet... I defy you not to snicker!  I think if she had been around today she would have a blog to die for and would probably rival the writer of my other book.  I really urge you to get this book from your library because yes, you really can read a pattern book for laugh.
Now over to Stephanie, otherwise known to blog reader as The Yarn Harlot which is an incredibly successful site, with readership numbers I can only dream about.  Knitting Rules is a great dipping book, you don't need to sit and plough through the whole book but can skip in and out as you see fit.  Stephanie is a real enabler... anyone who tells a new knitter, well you can knit and purl, now you can do anything - is a star in my eyes.

I love the way each chapter contains her ten reasons why... one of my real faves is her reasons for knitting socks... some of you will already be aware of a problem which affects many knitters, OSS (One Sock Syndrome) when seeing as you have made one sock, there really is no reason to push the boat our by making another.  Her take on this is "Having to do the second one is good for the soul and reinforces determination and stick-to-itiveness.  (Naturally if you do not possess these qualities to begin with, this could be a downer...)"   I also learnt a number of totally useless facts like, a person's foot size is 15% of their height, now tell me you knew that before, just think how this will ease you life when creating surprise socks!

The story of her first sweater make, had me in tears of laughter as she struggled to ignore how it developed when she mucked up sizing, guage, wool and needles... basically anything that could go wrong did but she manfully finished and wrapped the gift for her beau.  Did he dance round the room with delight up its receipt, place it in a picture frame to preserve it, dash home to his mother to show her how lucky he was to be dating this paragon of knitting virtue... no reader, he dumped her several days later.

The best thing about the book is that I learnt without realising that I was doing it, no it is not a stitch dictionary or a knitter's bible but it is a good read which leaves you better placed to knit a better project and to do it with a smile.

As they have been known to say in the Stock Exchange... "Buy, Buy, Buy!

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