Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Review: The New Stranded Colorwork by Mary Scott Huff

Book Title: The New Stranded Colorwork by Mary Scott Huff
Publisher: Interweave Press
Release Date: October 15, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59668-111-8
Craft: Knitting
Approx. Price: $24.95
Length: 143 Pages
Number of Patterns: 17
Pattern Presentation: Written and Charts
Difficulty of Patterns: Advanced Beginner - Intermediate

In this collection of folk art (as the author puts it), Mary Scott Huff relays the tips and techniques that she's stumbled upon via trial and error. As she recounts, not having a Scandinavian auntie to teach her these things, Huff embarks on a journey to discover better and easier ways to read patterns and construct colorwork pieces. Along the way, others took notice, et voila! - a book is born!

Huff creates modern favorites in the old Norwegian style. Each pattern is a lesson and a colorwork adventure!

What I liked about this book:
  • Huff uses simple silhouettes and classic lines to highlight the complexity of the colorwork - giving each piece a timeless feel.
  • The charts are color coded and easy to read
  • The book allows for the newbie to colorwork as well as the more experienced.. ranging from small, uncomplicated patterns, to intricate work.
  • There is nearly a pattern for every member of the family.
  • Huff is not afraid to suggest using unusual closures and trims as a way to embellish one's work. She encourages the reader to "splurge on yarn, closures, and trims" to create a truly handmade, not homemade looking garment.
  • Her instructions are clear and concise, giving the reader the confidence to finish a colorwork project
  • Huff includes several bits of trivia about Norwegian colorwork, which I found both useful and interesting.
  • At the very back of the book, Huff includes "Stranded Colorwork Techniques" including "Sticks and Strings," where she describes the basics of colorwork knitting and the supplies necessary, "Construction: Of Carpentry and Plumbing," "Charted Territory," where she describes intarsia, fair isle, Norwegian knitting, reading charts, centering motifs, and adding a 3rd color, "Knots and Tails," where she discusses when and where to use knots and which knots to use, "Carry On," which includes color knitting myths, alternating colors, tension, floats, and possible complications, "Hems," "Sleeves," "Steeks," including beginning and ending a steek, marking, machine stitching, and cutting, and "Finishing."
  • She includes a glossary of usable techniques and terms applicable to color knitting.
I have been so terrified to try advanced color work and I must admit the very thought of steeking scares the crumbs out of me. But after reading Huff's masterful book, I feel more encouraged to give colorwork a go. Her patterns are well written and easy to understand. Her patterns have a timeless appeal. And the well thought out techniques section in the back of the book makes these patterns more accessible to the colorwork newbie.

This book should be a staple in every knitter's library. It is full of valuable information that the knitter will want to refer back to often.

My favorite patterns from this book: Leafy Toque, Go for Baroque, The Bees' Knees, and Wedding Belle



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