coiled: April 2009

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ethnic Knitting Exploration

I'm pleased to be a part of the blog book tour for Ethnic Knitting Exploration, the new book by author Donna Druchunas published by Nomad Press. The tour is going on all month. You can find the schedule here.

The book covers three areas of sweater knitting, raglan style sweaters from Lithuania, round yoke sweaters from Iceland and Saddle Shoulder sweaters from Ireland. Donna has created three methods for showing knitters how to make the garment of their dreams.

Option one is the visual plan which offers a schematic with indicators to all the key measurements, after you knit your swatch and decide on what size you want to make you fill in the information. This option works best for me because it is so easy to understand.

Option 2 uses planning worksheets, for those who like to plan everything in advance. Sometimes I plan everything in advance, but I do it in a more visual way. This option organizes, in a worksheet format, all the calculations needed and also explains how to do it.

Option 3 is the step-by-step project sheet; this method explains each step in the sweater making process. I like this option too because it's soothing and relaxing to have each step explained.
Overall, I found all the information given very straightforward and encouraging.

General knitting basics are covered, like how to do short row shaping and why, the different types of seaming, increasing and decreasing, how to center motifs, and knitting with two circulars. Donna includes some very useful charts: standard sizes for children, women and men, ease information, needle sizes, yarn guidelines, yarn quantities, and a few fractions to decimals to help with calculations. This is the kind of reference material needed when designing sweaters, so it’s great to have it all included in the book.

While reading the book I was inspired to start knitting a yoke sweater using yarn in my stash. It's a project that I've wanted to make for a while and Donna's book gave me the impetus to start. Instead of making a gauge swatch, I cast on stitches for a sleeve and set to knitting. I knew I wanted wide sleeves without shaping, so it seemed logical to just go ahead. There was no pre-planning with this sweater. But, that’s okay! It’s all about knitting, letting my instincts lead me while learning something new. All of this is in keeping with the spirit of Ethnic Knitting Exploration.

Around the same time I started knitting my sleeve, I received a few beautiful hand woven shirts from Guatemala. The color schemes, textures and patch together patterns are really inspiring. I don’t know if anything of those shirts will come through in my final sweater but they are a part of the creative process.

yoke sweater sketch, originally uploaded by kat coyle.

The last chapter in the book is all about cardigans. Good news for me, since I live in cardigans. This will be my first steek, and after reading about how to do it, Donna makes it sound simple. I like her style!
Check out Donna's website Sheep to Shawl, and other books here.