Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Two books about knitting, and one about typos
Recently I read two books about knitting. I am not sure why. The first one was The art of Fair Isle knitting: history, technique, color and patterns by Ann Feitelson. In this book, Ann describes the islands where this bewildering technique originated and explains how it is done. She has written some patterns that look much too hard for a scarf-knitter like me. I enjoyed finding out more about the islanders, and I learnt a few things
a. all Fair Isle knitting is done in the round
b. the knitters have a thread in each hand. They wear a thick horse hair belt with one end of a dpn jammed into it, this leaves the right hand free to hover over the needle, while the left hand holds the other needle and nips in and out of the thread.
c. to put sleeves in the jumpers, they keep knitting the body all the way up to the shoulders. Then they CUT the armholes into the sides, and because their sheep are so shaggy the wool does not unravel, it stays felted enough. Then they pick up some stitches from the cut edge and start knitting sleeves
d. there is a legend that shipwrecked Spanish sailors taught them the patterns long ago, but Ann thinks this is just a myth
e. nowadays, the knitters mainly use knitting machines and do the decorative features around the yoke by hand, this means they can get a lot more done
One thing I especially liked about this book was the way Ann included a pattern for one of her favourite cardigans she wore in high school. I wish I was up to the task.
The second book I read was Sweater Quest: my year of knitting dangerously by Adrienne Martini.
Adrienne started knitting when her baby was born and she needed something to do with her hands. She knitted hat after hat after hat and got really good at it. She set herself a challenge to knit an Alice Starmore pattern, the Mary Tudor, which is a really complicated Fair Isle pattern. The book documents her knitting adventure. It includes information about the popularity of knitting and knitting blogs. She speaks to many and varied knitters about the philosophical question of changing a design - she is worried that by swapping colours her jumper would no longer be an Alice Starmore. Alice is known to be very protective of her work, and has even stopped the publication of conversion charts that would enable knitters to produce her designs now her original wool is out of production. Sweater Quest was an enjoyable read, it was entertaining and thought provoking. Adrienne has a humorous style akin to Maggie Alderson and I got a few chuckles, which I did not expect in a book about knitting! http://www.amazon.com/Sweater-Quest-Year-Knitting-Dangerously/dp/1416597646 Here is a cardigan like the one she knitted.http://www.flickr.com/photos/10986624@N02/2873312360/
Lastly, I read The great typo hunt by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D Herson. This book was hilarious, and I loved all of it! I am an obsessive typo spotter myself, and have been known to draw in missing commas and apostrophes on signs I find in the public domain. These two take typo hunting to extremes, by embarking on a road trip with the sole purpose of correcting typos wherever they go. Not everyone is impressed by their methods. I really got involved with the characters and I was keen to find out if they made it back home in one piece. This is a great book for English teachers, language lovers and anyone who has ever defaced a sign to make it more legible. These guys have a website if you want to check out what they are up to now.
(I would like to point out a pet peeve: writing in a library book is a cardinal sin, and if a book contains a typo it is enough just to spot it. Correcting it with an obvious correction just makes you look haughty. And pernickety.)