15 August 2018

Book Review: Something New to Learn About Cables

Sometimes the universe seems to say, "Ok, this is the moment for X." For me this summer, the universe is all about cables.

Last weekend I bought a copy of Something New to Learn About Cables by Arnall-Culliford Knitwear. I am guessing Jen and Jim are a married couple in Frome, Somerset, the United Kingdom? After reading this book, I am already interested in their other books Something New to Learn About Lace and A Year of Techniques. And I would eagerly sign up for a class if I saw them on the schedule at a major knitting show. I will happily plop them into the knitting pantheon, right next to TECHknitter.

Why do I like this book so much?

First off, I like the small format. The book is 6¼ by 8¼ inches. While 8½ by 11 or 8 by 10 is a common size, it may or may not fit easily in a knitting bag. I like a smallish book that can be tucked into my bag. And there is a sticker inside with a download code for Ravelry, so I can have a digital copy on my iPad or print just the pages I need to pack with a project. The digital download is even broken up into individual chapters or the whole book, depending on your needs and download speed.

Secondly, this book is packed with interesting techniques and wisdom. A list:
  • cabling without a cable needle
  • cabling 1 by 1 without a cable needle
  • cabling right cross and left cross
  • counting rows using waste yarn
  • counting rows using your finger and the cable cross hole
  • fixing cables by dropping the whole group of wales
  • fixing cables by dropping half the group of wales
  • fixing traveling cables by dropping wales
  • fixing cables by embroidering over them
  • fixing cables by cutting and grafting
  • working axis cables
  • working faux axis cables
  • adjusting loose stitches at the knit-purl interface using combination knitting
  • adjusting loose stitches at the knit-purl interface using slip stitches
  • 1-into-5 increase for starting a closed-loop cable
  • 5-into-1 decrease for ending a closed-loop cable
  • choosing yarn wisely for cable projects

Some of these I had not seen before. Some of these — such as fixing a cable by dropping wales — I teach but had not seen other people talking about it. I had tried the technique of dropping half the cable once in class and it did work, but I had not seen anybody else try it or write about it. In my pattern for the fall issue of Cast On, I did show the trick of counting rows by looking for the cable cross hole. I've never seen the trick of using slip stitches to improve tension at the knit-purl interface. This book is uncovering the obscure tricks intermediate and advanced knitters use.

The book has just a few projects, all of them interesting to knit. There is a gorgeous hat, some mittens/mitts, and a hexagon-based modular blanket that can also be worked as a short or long cowl.

If you have any interest in ever knitting cables, scoop up this essential book now. I need to go track down their other two books.

14 August 2018

Classic and Refined

One of my weaknesses as a designer is that I tend to be too complicated. I get wrapped up in new techniques or projects that highlight extreme craftsmanship and forget that a lot of people just want to sit and knit and relax.

Back in April, I had just taught my "Easy Reversible Cables" class at Unwind. I was still traveling when I read the e-mail announcing a second call for proposals for the autumn issue of Cast On magazine. I was surprised that more people weren't already familiar with the reversible cables technique, especially since Lily Chin has been teaching it for more than a decade. So I proposed a rather simple scarf.

The autumn issue of Cast On went live last week. You can read it on and download it from the TKGA website, if you are a member and log in.

"Legerdemain" is a good basic scarf. As with so many of my designs, I have thought about the details.
  • Italian cast-on and a tubular bind-off gives the scarf a clean couture beginning and end.
  • Ribbles make it reversible (as scarves should be), as well as making the fabric thicker.
  • Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light, which is a sport weight 50/50 alpaca-wool blend, gives the scarf warmth, drape, and just a hint of halo.
  • The moonshadow grey colorway is unisex.
  • The pattern is easy to work and easy to remember
  • The overall design is un-fussy and classic.
If you have been waiting for an excuse to learn to do ribbles, or you want to teach someone else, this pattern provides an entrée. And the completed scarf should be a wardrobe mainstay for years to come. This would make an excellent gift for a loved one taking a job in a new, colder locale. You can work it in a neutral, as I have, for years of wear. Or you can work it in a favorite color (perhaps from a sports team?). Or what about the hot designer color of the season for the daring fashionista? Or for a subtler look that has impact without being obvious, work it in the eye color, the complementary eye-color, the complementary skin color, or the complementary hair-color of the intended wearer.

And a final note: this pattern would be very easy to adapt. You can scale it and the cables themselves up and down. I think it would make a fantastic blanket either for a new baby (worked in a parent-friendly yarn choice) or for a special couple, or for that suddenly grown-up child flying away from the nest.