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Book Review


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  Weekend Knitting: 50 Unique Projects and Ideas
by Melanie Falick
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"Knitting, if you chose, can be at the heart of a fulfilling and creative way of living." Thus Melanie Falick sets the tone for this book that is both pattern collection and lifestyle guide for the knitter seeking a more creative and fulfilling existence.

Within a knitting context, she urges us to re-connect with our creativity and self-nurturing sensuality—with rich textures, scents, sounds, and tastes.

This means not only knitting patterns but also tips for stress-reducing activities such as running a bath, making a good cup of tea, and baking buttery cookies using a recipe from Falick's maternal grandmother.

Overstating the Obvious?
The book is peppered with quotes about knitting, creativity, and balanced living. Falick also attempts to address the social aspects of knitting, with instructions on how to host a knitting-themed film festival or put together a knitting-themed gift basket for friends.

Some of the lifestyle tips erred on the obvious for me—for example, how to run a relaxing bath, boil an egg, or make a good cup of tea.

But I decided to interpret them as welcome reminders for people feeling disconnected from their creative, self-nurturing side. We may know how to run a bath or boil water, but sometimes it takes a book like this to prompt us to action.

Fun New Ideas
For me, the real value of this book was in its patterns, of which there were 38 basics for you to try. (The book's cover says 50 because some of the patterns include several slightly different variations, such as Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' collection of adorable finger puppets or Kristin Nicholas's miniature egg cozy sweaters.)

Falick's eye for assembling designs hasn't changed since her days with Interweave Knits. Patterns are clearly written and include generous photos and design schematics to help you understand how all the pieces fit together.

The book benefits from Ericka McConnell's lush photography and an abundant supply of models depicting knitterly acts in attractive settings.

Easy Does It
I'd be remiss if I didn't emphasize the book's "weekend knitting" focus. With just a few exceptions, all the patterns can be completed within one weekend. This means larger gauges, bigger needles, and often minimal shaping, trim, and finishing.

Margrit Lohrer's Berkshire Pullover is a perfect example of this fast-knitting goal. Made of Lohrer's Morehouse Merino Bulky (which knits up at 2.5 stitches per inch), the sweater has absolutely no finishing trim, cuffs, or ribbing. What you see is what you get.

Another example is Linda Niemeyer's Uptown Scarf, whose basic instructions require only 28 words. I won't tell you what the words are, but I will say that garter stitch figures prominently. To its credit, Linda uses her company's Blue Sky Bulky (from Blue Sky Alpacas), which is a truly fine yarn for such a project.

Jo Sharp raises the bar with a gorgeous pair of pillows as well as a baby blanket and pigtailed doll. And Kristin Nicholas returns to her Classic Elite roots with a familiar-seeming pair of knitted seat covers using her old standby, Classic Elite Montera.

You'll also find an unusual design for argyle slippers, a willow-lace chair seat, lace-edged pillowcases, retro leggings, mittens and gloves and mitts in various gauges, knitted checkerboards and backgammon boards with matching carrying bags, flower-shaped chenille washcloths, and more designs too numerous and varied to mention here.

Although I rarely use sock patterns anymore, I'd have to say that my favorite pattern is for a very, very simple pair of striped socks from Nora Gaughan.

Partly it's because the yarn—an angora/nylon blend from Reynolds—is delicious. And partly it's because I agree with Gaughan's philosophy about knitted socks.

"For me," she explains in her introduction, "handknitted socks are almost like lingerie. No one may know you're wearing them, but they make you feel special." I couldn't have put it better.

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