Book Review & Giveaway: Great Little Gifts to Knit

One of the greatest pleasures of being a knitter is the ability to create gifts for the ones we love. Whether it's a hat or a shawl or even a small bootie, using our hands to create things always adds that extra special touch.

Jean Moss of Sweet Shawlettes does it again with her newest pattern book, Great Little Gifts to Knit. She has designed 30 wonderful patterns that are sure to please everyone on your gift list.

As we get into October I am reminded that there are only 85 days left to knit Christmas gifts and even less for those Hanukkah gifts! It's the perfect time to whip a book like this out and cast on.

The book is split into 4 sections: Baby, Hers, His and Home. OF course with a little guy now in my life I was really interested in the Baby section. My favorite of the patterns is the Whoopla bean bags! James loves to play with all things soft and what's better than these?

Whoopla

It's the perfect project for trying out intarsia for the first time as the small squares are truly forgiving!

In the Hers section, you know I love me some leg warmers! And with two balls of Rowan Big Wool these are your Dec. 24th, 11:30pm, almost forgot to make my sis something (or sis in law for me) kind of project!

Jive Legwarmers
In the His section I was all about the gutiar strap! I love that it doubles as a belt just incase you want to switch it up. It's a great piece for your favorite rocker. Which reminds me, I told my husband that we SO have to get James some guitar lessons once his fingers are up for it. Seven months, too soon? 

Hendrix_guitar_strap (1)
Lastly, in the Home section I was all about the placemats! I often think about how nice it would be to have some knitted placemats and how truly easy they are to make! I'm glad she included them here. It really is the perfect thing for stash busting and everyone could use them.

Flavor_placemat_napkin_ring

All the patterns are clearly written and easy to follow and with an appendix handy for those 'what does that SSK' mean again moments.

I am so happy to have been the final stop on the EPIC Jean Moss Great Gifts to Knit blog tour! I hope you all enjoyed visiting each blog and if you haven't here they are:

Mon 2  Sep      Wendy Knits  Wendy Johnson
Wed 4 Sep       WEBS  Kathy Elkins
Fri 6 Sep          Getting Stitched on the Farm Kristin Nicholas
Mon 9 Sep       Stolen Stitches Carol Feller
Tues 10 Sep     Knittedbliss  Julie crawford
Wed 11 Sep     Black Bunny Fibers  Carol Sulcoski
Thur 12 sep      Rhythm of the Needles  Joanne Conklin
Frid 13 Sep      Tiny Owls Knits  Stephanie Dosen
Mon 16 Sep     Just Call me Ruby  Susan Crawford
Tues 17 Sep     Zeneedle Margene Smith
Wed 18 Sep      Redshirt Knitting Erika Barcott
Thur 19 Sep     A Friend to Knit With Leslie Friend
Fri 20 Sep        Craft Sanity Jennifer Ackerman Haywood
Mon 23 Sep      Connieleneknits  Connie Lene
Tues 24 Sep     Knitsofacto  Annie Cholewa
Wed 25 Sep      Ulla Bella  Anita Tormoen
Thur 26 Sep     A Really Good Yarn  Julie Schilthuis
Fri 27 Sep        Urban Yarns  Alexa Ludeman
Sat 28 Sep        Linda Marveng  Linda Marveng
Mon 30 Sep     Yarnings  Jen
Tues 1 Oct       Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel (WOOT! haha)

And of course what's a Grand Finale without a giveaway! Leave me a comment about what you're looking forward to knitting as a gift this holiday season and I'll pick a winner on Thursday Oct. 3rd!

Remember you can grab a copy of Great Little Gifts to Knit for you or your favorite knitter on Amazon!

Get crakin'!

xo

m

Sweet Shawlettes: Book Review, Q&A, and Giveaway!

I am so pleased to be the next stop on the blog tour for Jean Moss's new book Sweet Shawlettes!

SweetShawlettes_cover

Jean Moss is a British knit designer that has worked with fashion houses of the likes of Ralph Lauren! Her newest book Sweet Shawlettes is filled with designs that are sure to please every knitter's neck and shoulders.

Here are a few of my favorites!

PolperroHR
FizzHR
MantillaHR

I am especially excited to try the Penumbra Cowl. It uses the simple Japanese shadow knitting technique – one that I have yet to try!

PenumbraHR
The patterns are well written and I like that she offers a bit of the traditional and non traditional style patterns. The pieces are divided into 4 sections Country, Couture, Folk and Vintage.

Jean was amazing enough to take time to answer some questions!

When did you learn how to knit?
Originally I learned to knit before I went to school because I wanted to be like my beloved grandmother who spent hours teaching me.  A fallow period ensued but my interest was rekindled in my teens when I started to make my own clothes.  It was the swinging sixties and I loved what I was seeing on the street and in magazines, but had no way of achieving anything similar other than to pick up my needles again.  From then on I was hooked. It never occurred to me that I'd ever be able to make a living out of it, especially as I had no formal training in design, but after getting requests for sweaters I'd made for the kids, I decided that it might be a way of making some extra cash from home.  No-one was more surprised than I was to find that very quickly I was presenting my designs to luminaries such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein and they were placing orders! It was a meteoric learning curve!

What made you decide to make the book Sweet Shawlettes?
The book came to me out of the blue when Erica Sanders-Foege, then a senior editor at The Taunton Press, rang to ask if I would consider doing it. The working title was Sweet Shawlettes, but Erica  assured me I could change it if I didn't like it.  However, for me the title had a certain broad brush appeal – whimsical, feminine,  could even be ironic – or it might have been that I'm just addicted to alliteration, but knowing how difficult it is to come up with decent book titles, I quickly applied the if it's not broken, don't fix it principle.  

I agreed to submit a synopsis and by the time I'd finished it I was completely hooked on the idea.  Previously most of my books have concentrated mainly on sweaters, and this gave me the opportunity to explore a totally different form.  Shawls, capes, cowls, furbelows or anything that can be worn around the neck was the brief and I was thrilled to explore as many ways of interpreting it as I could.  It took me on an interesting journey exploring the construction, techniques, yarns and the history of neck wraps and I'll always be grateful to Taunton for offering me this opportunity. 
Can you describe your design process? 
In  all my design work I travel an identical road. Every design has its own cooking time – some simmer slowly like a casserole for months, while others are immediately on a fast boil and just tumble out. At the start of a book,  I usually try to give myself two weeks of displacement activities, like gardening, playing guitar or cooking, which seem to be good for propagating new ideas.  I do a rough drawing, then choose yarns and colours I'd like to use, then I swatch, swatch, swatch until I get a combination of yarn and stitch which seems to reflect the look of the design.  I always sketch the design on a person (I'm no great artist, but I find even if I draw a  stick woman it's invaluable for focusing on the proportions) and from there I'll try out different versions of it on a mannequin using any fabric I have around.  This gives me a very good idea of whether or not the design will work. When I have the version I like, I complete a specification sheet, then make the chart and schematic and finally crunch the numbers.  

 Thank you so much Jean for creating such a wonderful book! Buy your own copy here!

Lucky for you all, I'm giving one copy of Sweet Shawlettes away to one of my fabulous readers! Leave me a comment by Wednesday 1/25 (midnight EST!)

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For more stops on the Sweet Shawlettes blog tour visit these fabulous blogs!

Mon 2 Jan  more yarn will do the trick Jean Moss 
Tues 3 Jan wendy knits Wendy Johnson
Wed 4 Jan  knitgrrl Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan  yarnagogo Rachael Herron
Fri 6 Jan  the knitter Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan   rhythm of the needles Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan knit purl gurl Karrie Steinmetz
Mon 9 Jan  craftsanity Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan   planet purl Beth Moriarty
Wed 11 Jan  sunset cat Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan a really good yarn Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan  knit 1 chicago Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan    go knit in your hat Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan  redshirt knitting Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan  in the loop Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan webs Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan   zeneedle Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan knitspot Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan  urban yarns Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan   a friend to knit with Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan tentenknits Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan fancy tiger crafts Amber Corcoran
Wed 25 Jan chic knits Bonne Marie Burns
Thurs 26 Jan the panopticon Franklin Habit