coiled: Ethnic Knitting Exploration

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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.


Jane Hamsher said...

You're next in the tour! I'll stay tuned. Coincidentally, I'm knitting a yoked sweater now too, fancy that!

I can't wait for the Kat Coyle, illustrated book to come out.

Gudrun Johnston said...

Sounds like very useful book! I love your sleeve.....can't wait to see more.....and yes I agree an illustrated knitting book by you would be awesome!

kat coyle said...

Hi Jane. I would love to see your yoke sweater. Thank you for saying you would like to see an illustrated Kat Coyle book. I think I would like that too :)

Gudrun: the book is great. lots of info written simply.

mames said...

the illustration is beautiful, i think jane is totally right.

steeking is fun, there is something great about cutting into knitting and watching it transform.

gay said...

love your sketch and the sleeve looks wonderful! i don't think i could find the patience but it looks like your sweater will be lovely.

Michele said...

i like the idea of construction options in the book - nice review. and a *great* sleeve!

i already see in the influence of the shirts in your color choices - like the magenta and teal seed stitch at the beginning.

i love all your motifs but particularly the first one in the pale yellow - such an interesting design.

mel said...

I need to check out this book, it sounds great. Thank you for sharing the info about it - AND - your inspiration and process on your lovely sweater to be!! That painting and sleeve, Wow. So inspiring!

vanessa said...

That book sounds very interesting.............. I fancy designing myself a stripy jumper or cardigan, a long one.
The sleeve you're knitting is beautiful! The colours and pattern are a work of art, and in your painting it looks as though the design is going to be fabulous.
Vanessa xxx (do you mind if i knit)

raining sheep said...

Wow. The book sounds amazing. I love ethnic knitting. The patterns are so amazing. The colors in the woven shirt is pretty amazing. I can't get over the colors in Guatemalan textiles. There is a store here that sells them. So lovely. Love your sketch by the way. I think the yoke sweater in the illustration does definitely capture the feel of the woven shirt.

Twisted Knitter said...

I'm with Jane -- an illustrated Kat Coyle book would be so awesome!

I love all of Donna Druchunas's books - there is so much history and information in them, yet still accessible and inspiring.

Lynn H. said...

I've been away from reading blogs for several weeks, but I'm so glad I checked in on yours today. Your creativity is so inspiring. And your infinity loop is fantastic beyond words.

Poethead said...

WoW!!! The book sounds great! Your knitting is beautiful, as always. I love your sketch. Do you ever sell you paintings? Love them.

gay said...

thanks so much and happy mothers day to you as well. enjoy the day and your mom and your charming little boy!