Bargain Book Finds

hooked-cover-imaage1Book bargains are great news for readers, especially if you’re on a tight budget like me. And as a writer, I am happy that my books might be picked up by readers who might not want, or be able to pay full price. I have discovered some brilliant designers by shopping in  bargain book shops and my local charity shop and I can never pass the door of a second hand bookshop without peeking inside for “just a minute”. Luckily, Mr T shares by book love, so he’s happy to accompany me.

Lately, I have snagged some absolute bargains while mooching in The Works. These include the wonderful Claire Montgomerie’s book Hooked, which I picked up for the bargain price of £4 and Knitting from the North by Hilary Grant for just a fiver!

Both books are excellent and I love them both. I noticed both are also on offer at other online bookshops (including Amazon and The Book Depository), so if you still have Christmas money to spend, these are both perfect choices – you won’t be disappointed. Even at full price they are both excellent value and will earn their keep on your crafting bookshelf as you dip into them time and again.

So, what makes them such great books?

let’s start with Hooked by Claire Montgomerie. Once Editor of Inside Crochet magazine, Claire has a long list of successful knitting and crochet books. Hooked, published in May 2016 is her latest and perhaps best crochet book (that’s just my opinion). It is filled with beautifull projects aimed at beginners, but even the more experienced hooker will find themselves wanting to make almost everything. The styling and photography are fresh and modern. I love the colour palette Claire has chosen – and can’t help noticing she’s sneaked in several projects with her own favourite colours – the Chevron Clutch, Granny Square Blanket and Tiny Coin Purse are stunning.

As you would expect, the first chapter takes you through the basics, holding your hook, reading a pattern and basic techniques. Subsequent chapters are designed to extend your skills and challenge you to try new techniques. The Striped Pencil Case for example has a useful tip about avoiding “jogs” in your stripes. There is a useful glossary at the back and a well designed index so you can look up projects and techniques easily.

I have recommended this book to lots of crocheters (new and more experienced) and I know a couple found a copy under their tree, so I’m looking forward to seeing their makes. So, congratulations Claire on producing another beautiful and useful book to add to my groaning bookshelf!

Next,  Knitting from the North by Hilary Grant. I just adore this book. Filled with colour work patterns inspired by Fair Isle and Icelandic knitting techniques this isn’t a book for beginners. It’s light on technical advice, although there are a few pages at the beginning which skim over double knitting, grafting and making a pom pom. You’ll also find advice on caring for your knits and how to prevent moth damage. If you haven’t tried stranded colour work before I’d recommend a good technique book or a patient friend to guide you through some simple techniques, and you might find yourself looking up provisional cast on tutorials and working from charts if these aren’t already aprt of your knitting skill set. But, few knitters will be picking this up expecting a “how to”, it’s a snapshot into Hilary Grant’s creative process, her design inspiration and a chance to knit some truly beautiful accessories.

The real beauty of this book lies in  the short text that accompanies each pattern and of course the photography. Each pattern is accompanied by a stunning collection of images which are  almost a love letter to the Scottish landscape. The first project, Beacon Pom Pom Hat is less than half a page, but the 3 pages of photographs which accompany it had me gasping at how such a simple knit can be so beautiful. It is also a perfect project for the less confident knitter to begin with.

This collection adapts some of Hilary’s most popular machine knits and  is filled with graphic patterns, flattering shapes and simple designs that hand knitters can recreate at home. Practical hats, snoods and sweaters suitable for all skill levels will inspire you  and no doubt (like me) you’ll find yourself googling trips to  Orkney to see for yourself the stunning backgrounds showcased in the photographs. The colours chosen for each design are beautiful, although it’s rare for me to knit anything in exactly the same colours as shown in the pattern, this is one book where I would be tempted to make everything just as it is.

In short, I love this book. I have spent hours just gazing at the photographs, planning projects and colour schemes. It’s a book I will buy for friends and certainly not one I shall be lending out. It will sit with me for years, and every now and again I shall knit myself something beautiful from it’s pages.

 

 

Books by Friends

book coverThis week I’m sharing two books written by very good friends of mine. The first is the long awaited “Fun Hats” by Lynne Rowe, which the lovely team at Search Press sent me to review. when Lynne first described her ideas for the design and content of this book I knew she was on to a winner. The photography and styling really show off her designs to perfection. I’m pretty sure  I’ll be knitting lots of her creations for friends next year. The Owl and the Pirate Hat are particular favourites and the Birthday Cupcake is just too cute!  Of course, with Halloween coming up I can’t resist a little mention for my contribution to this book.

Witches Hat designed by Tracey Todhunter

This simple Witch Hat is just the thing for dressing up. It’s knitted from the top down, a bit unusual for a knitted hat, but it was great fun to make – and the spider – well he was just a bit of whimsy I couldn’t resist. If you head over to the Inside Crochet blog, Search Press are offering a discount price on Fun Hats with free postage.

Well done Lynne, clearly written, beautifully styled and packed with original designs – you have done a grand job – thanks for letting me be a small part of it.

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The second book is one that has proved an absolute lifesaver when faced with those difficult “How do you …” questions I’m often asked at knit classes. Complete Knitting Skills is just about the best technical knitting book for “everyday” knitters I’ve come across. What makes this book even better is the inclusion of QR codes, so the tech savvy can scan the codes with their smart phones and watch videos explaining techniques. Written by Debbie Tomkies, a name many of you will recognise from her columns in Knit Now, this book should be on every knitter’s shelf. I’ve already bought copies for several new knitters. It was great to see Debbie credit Betty Barnden in this book, her “300 Knitting Tips, Techniques and Trade Secrets” got me out of several knitterly scrapes when I took up knitting again. If you click on this link, you can read more about the book, and take a peek inside  on the Search Press website. The photo tutorials and attention to detail are almost as good as having Debbie sit next to you.

With Christmas coming around far too quickly, these two books would be welcomed by any knitter – even the best of us need a bit of technical help occasionally – and Lynne’s book is sure to bring a smile to any knitter with a sense of fun.

I’ll be back soon with news about new published patterns, some ideas for Christmas, but first I need to go write my birthday wishlist…..

Garden Update

july 2013Well, this week has flown by and I’ve hardly had time for anything but work, work and more work. It’s especially difficult when you’ve been commissioned to make heavyweight home accessories in aran and chunky yarns. Pity me in this heat!

The garden is absolutely loving the sunshine and everything is growing much better than last year. The raspberries are just appearing and there promises to be a bumper crop of autumn fruiting ones too. The sweet potatoes have completely taken over the greenhouse, and their glossy green leaves are beautiful (and I believe edible). Last week we had a lovely day with friends and I took along a chocolate roulade covered in chocolate ganache and raspberries*. You can find my favourite roulade recipe here. I’ve also been putting the finishing touches to projects for my “Materknitty” knitting class, which is proving very popular. I was also thrilled to see the beautiful styling and photography of my Kidsilk Haze wrap in the new issue of Craftseller.

We’re off to Cumbria this weekend for some much needed relaxation and hopefully walks on the fells. Whatever you’re up to , have a lovely time. I’ll be back on Monday with a special “one off” post on the subject of Granny Squares. This is part of Agrarian Artisan’s blog party.

T

* I made this a delicious gluten and lactose free treat by using dairy free chocolate and Lactofree cream.

Yarn Graffiti

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I couldn’t resist sharing this lovely piece of graffiti spotted at Castle Park, Frodsham. Really made me smile on a rainy day.

Off the Needles

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Click on the photo to find link to original pattern

Finished a while back, but only just got round to sharing. I love Shilasdair yarns and this luxury dk is so soft. Looking forward to winter evenings snuggled up in this!

Off the Needles

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Just finished this lovely jumper. 10 balls of Noro Kureyon and a lot of knitting in the round. All the details will go on my Ravelry projects page.

This Week I’m Loving …

These soft wrist warmers made with 18g  of left over Old Maiden Aunt wool / cashmere I knitted Mr T’s Christmas socks with. Spring may be on the way, but out in the garden it’s still a bit chilly and these wrist warmers are a great way to add warmth when you don’t need a full glove (and they’re easily pushed up out of the way when you need to get your hands in the soil!)I’ll pop up the pattern soon, they only take a couple of hours to make.

I’m also loving the redesign over on Regula’s Blog, I’ve mentioned her before and if you’re not already a regular reader get yourself over there. I will be making butter following her fab instructions very soon. The last time I made butter I was seven – and it came about by accident – taking milk to school in a tupperware cup on a hot day is not to be recommended.

I’ve also been loving the birds, who after we felled a couple of trees (sick and diseased) have now stopped sulking and are visiting the newly sited bird feeders. Unfortunately the Sparrowhawk is back too. But so are the Goldfinches, so that’s good news.

What ever you’re up to this week, have fun and stay creative.

Tracey x

Pattern: Kidsilk Stripe Cowl

Fig 1: Kidsilk Stripe Cowl, short version

I’ve fallen back in love with Kidsilk Haze.  I’ve had an off / on relationship with this  blend of silk and  mohair for years. I go through phases, I love it’s softness, But my sensitive skin occasionally complains it’s too fuzzy. So,I had to try this new addition to the Rowan range.  The yarn is exceptionally soft, fluffy and warm. I spent hours swatching and trying out the yarn with different sizes of hook and needles. eventually I came up with this simple design which I think does the color changes justice – and is much quicker to knit up than the free scarf pattern on the ball band. I think it strikes just the right note between fun and sophistication. From start to finish it took me 2 afternoons, suitable for a beginner you could easily make it in a weekend. In fact, it’s the ideal project for a new knitter or the perfect telly project! I wore it all day to work on Thursday, with no sensitivity to the fibres and so I’m back in love with Kidsilk Haze. Fortunately I have plenty in my stash and so a pair of long, fingerless gloves are on the needles as I write!

Fig 2: Kidsilk Stripe Cowl, long version

 

This Week I’m Loving …

It’s been a while since I shared some of my favourite finds, so here goes with a quick round up of what I’ve found this week.

Starting with crochet: Take a look at this gorgeous granny Square jacket, I think the pattern is in Spanish, but fairly easy to see how it’s constructed. I’m tempted to track down the pattern, or have  a go with some of my stash yarns.

Tuesday nights in this house mean “Great British Bake Off night” last week I loved Jo’s macaroon recipes, which you can find here. More fab recipes on her blog too.

Up at the allotment, we’ve picked the last of the tomatoes and the peas, but the kale and leeks are doing well, promising lots of fresh veg through the winter.

Most of all this week, I’ve loved meeting so many Baking and Making readers at the Old Maiden Aunt Trunk show hosted by Fibre and Clay in Knutsford. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone home to some serious yarn fondling, I’d love to know what you make with your purchases!

Enjoy your week.

Tx

Love Wool

I was really excited last year to see one of my favourite yarn stores supporting Campaign for Wool and this year Fibre and Clay will be making my Wool Week extra special with a visit from Lilith, better known as Old Maiden Aunt, who will be bringing her gorgeous yarns for a Trunk Show at the shop in Knutsford. Riana, who owns the shop wrote on the Fibre and Clay Ravelry group:

She will be here on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th September. Please join us any time from 5pm onwards on the Thursday to 3pm on the Friday afternoon. No need to book, just arrive!

I can’t wait to see the yarns and no doubt will come home a bit poorer, but it’s so rare I get the opportunity to buy Old Maiden Aunt except online so I’ll be making the most of it. Luckily, I’m working at the shop on the 8th, so I’ll get a sneaky peak while Lilith sets up!

Many UK  yarn manufacturers are supporting  the campaign during British Wool Week, which runs from the 5th to the 11th September 2011. Including Rowan who have made some of their British Sheep Breed patterns available via their website ( can pick up your free Rowan patterns for Love Wool here). I’m particularly fond of the cushion.

Full details of how you can take part are available on the Love Wool website and you can watch the Campaign for Wool video for more information on why Prince Charles launched the initiative or read the The Campaign for Wool 2011 press release .

I’ll be doing my bit by adding another couple of squares to my “Dales Blanket” which is made entirely from Rowan’s new Fine Tweed. Whatever your favourite yarns are, make time this week to explore what British Wool has to offer, you never know, you might be pleasantly surprised by what’s on offer.

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