yarn isn’t the only thing that arrives on my doorstep when i’m not home—i received a couple of nice books during my absence as well. this one by JC briar—charts made simple—is especially appreciated, because it fills a gap on the reference shelf that’s been too long standing.
JC is a talented tech editor, teacher, and designer who describes herself as a technique junkie and whose classes are offered at virtually every large-scale knitting event (i’ll be seeing her soon at sock camp and the loopy ewe spring fling, in fact).
i really love the simplicity of this book—its black and white interior layout highlights one simple concept about chart reading on each page or spread with minimal text, thus allowing each statement to have importance and space. it’s just the format a learner needs to become a skilled chart reader, one step at a time.
while my friend clara parkes has explained very well why a book about chart reading is necessary, i’d like to tell you more about the book itself and why THIS book is the one you want.
JC begins at the beginning with basic chart reading concepts, explained simply and precisely, then builds on those concepts step by step as she proceeds through the book’s contents.
there are tips and tricks for tweaking charts to make them easier to look at
and guidance for reading/marking charts in a manner that is aligned with your actual knitted fabric.
many times when i teach lace classes, we get into a discussion of chart reading and why it’s a good skill to acquire. we are able to do some skillbuilding in class, but not in the depth this book allows.
i like the detailed way she matches the chart to the knitted fabric in this example of a broken chart, which is typical of examples throughout the book.
like i said—step by step—it’s brilliant!
later, she guides the reader in sorting out more complex types of charts and symbols, such as those with traveling stitches or changing stitch counts
next up is a view into charts for oddball stitches and unique symbols
and finally—my personal favorite—charts that move from side to side or those for which the round marker moves at some point.
**newsflash**—if the sight of that page spread made you gasp, you need this book (you won’t be sorry you bought it).
if you think you can never learn to read charts—think again; with a book like this, you can. the way it’s set up, you can start with the basics and put them to use, then go back to absorb new bits as you need them.
experienced knitters will want this one too, for learning more about the complex charts related to advanced knitting projects. this would also be an awesome book for any teacher to read as well; even if you’ve seen everything at least once, finding a way to explain it to others can be challenging and a guidebook can help you formulate that material for classes.
best of all, it appears that this book is just the beginning of what i hope will be JCs “knitting on paper” series—we can only hope there are more of these clear, concise guides to help unravel the mysteries of knitting.
now here’s the very funnest part—JC has offered to send a copy of charts made simple to one lucky winner. leave a comment at the end of this post between now and 9pm EST on saturday, 2/26. we’ll pull a name randomly from that pool and announce the winner on sunday or monday morning.
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now let’s take a look at another, completely different, but beautiful book i brought home from my trip to TNNA
vintage modern knits, by courtney kelley and kate gagnon osborn, who are the driving force behind kelbourne woolens, distributors of the fibre company yarns (that’s a skein of fibre company savannah, photographed with the book).
i’ve known kate and courtney for a couple of years now, since they first flagged me down at TNNA to say hello—i’ve always like them so much and their aesthetic really appeals to me. this book of vintage-flavored modern designs assembles garments and accessories that feature a variety of classic knitting knitting techniques.
although everything in the book is photographed on a model, i can picture each and every one of these pieces on kate or courtney too—you can tell these pieces were created to be comfortable and wearable for actual working knitters.
what i mean by that is that the garments included are wearable for everyday, both around the house or out in the world—anywhere—AND they put all of our favorite knitterly skills to work in the making. so that when you’re done, you’ve got a garment you enjoyed creating and one you are proud to wear.
from sweaters to accessories, the design choices and styling are wonderful—familiar enough to call comfortable, but smart enough to be part of a working wardrobe.
that is not to say that the collection is lacking in whimsy or nostalgia—not at ALL. there are these adorable thigh-high socks
and then there is this—i really, really want this.
or i might want to knit it for david.
i wonder if he’d wear it?
the best part?? i got my book signed—thanks you two!
meanwhile, back at the ranch, i’m wading through the last stages of catching up with paperwork—completing my tax organizer, ugh.
i told myself that i had to get this done before i was allowed to look at any pattern work or new knitting. so i’m plowing through it. thanks to everyone for your patience while i get things back in order here—it takes a while after a big trip.
the good news is that i do have a little time for actual knitting at night and i’ve managed to complete a couple of projects.
the mink/cashmere scarf, infinity version, is done, blocked, and sewn together.
and i love it. the pattern is waiting patiently for me to get back to it—sorry. i know you want it, i do. there is just so much time in the day, though, you know?
it’s funny, the days have virtually disappeared this week and i know what the culprit is—email, haha. i’ve spent too much time attending to that and not other things. i’m going to have to set limits so i can get my other work done.
oh, and i have more knitting . . . a nearly-completed inky dinky sweater and hat. i have to explain that i haven’t mentioned the yarn used in this project because it’s an older, long-discontinued superwash yarn. it’s very nice and i love the color, but there’s no point mentioning the name, since it’s not available anywhere.
the sweater just needs the underarms seamed and a nice steaming. i have to pick out buttons; not sure if i have something on hand that will work, but probably—a plain shell button should work nicely and i have a ton of those.
i’ve been taking my gray zig-zag lace scarf everywhere with me and knitting a few rows whenever i can. and guess what? it’s growing.
i love this classy charcoal gray blend of yak/mink/merino/soy from great northern yarns; it’s knitting up so lovely in this stitch pattern. this would be a nice lightweight scarf for a man, but i’m keeping it for myself—i think it will travel very well and take that sort of abuse in stride (craig’s yarns are great that way; they just don’t pill).
i like the contrast between the two stitch patterns in certain light; that shaded effect this is most clearly visible in a smooth, multi-ply yarn such as we have here.
i have the matching shawlette on the needles too, but it’s waiting patiently for me to devise a hem chart. i’m so behind, yikes!
with that in mind, i’m going to return to my tax work so i can finish up and move on to patterns. tomorrow we have a new release that i think you’ll like—something you’ve been waiting for, yay.