A few months ago, Jean Moss contacted me to ask if I’d like to be part of the *international* blog tour for her upcoming book release. Well, sure! I’m honoured!
In the best Saturday Giveaway tradition, I have one copy of ‘Sweet Shawlettes’ to give away – full details are at the end of this post.
Jean’s opening comment in the introduction to this elegant book of accessories is, “I’ve always been a doer. I need to make things with my hands,” – a comment that resonates so strongly with me, and I know with a lot of other people who read this blog. I’m convinced that the world is enriched by making, not just in a material way, but by awakening people to the joys of creativity, by keeping traditional skills alive, by reminding us (in this age of rapidly accessibly and easily disposable consumer goods) that really great things often take time, energy and thought to achieve, and are worth holding on to.
Despite the title of the book (‘Sweet Shawlettes’), it contains far, far more than just shawlettes. All the projects are neckwear – sure – but they range from full-size shawls to cowls; capelets to innovative scarves; natty little neckwarmers to knitted necklaces. Some of the projects are small, and could be whipped up in an evening or two. Others are larger, and would provide a nice challenge over a longer time period. As Jean herself points out, the neck is a very sensual part of the body, so neckwear is a perfect opportunity to grab a special skein or two – hand dyed, hand spun, or a precious souvenir, perhaps – to fashion yourself a little bit of luxury that can be kept – quite literally – close to your heart.
In addition, a lot of the projects in this book would be a great way to learn a new skill. In this treasure-trove of a book you can find patterns featuring lace, intarsia, entrelac, Fair Isle, cables, short row shaping and knitting in the round!
The book is divided into four sections: Country, Couture, Folk and Vintage. I admit that I expected to find my favourite pieces in the ‘Country’ and ‘Folk’ sections – couture and high fashion don’t have much place in the life of a dyer living in the country, who shares her life with two hairy, enthusiastic dogs! And ‘vintage’ too often conjures up kitschy, 50s inspired pieces in today’s lexicon: great for those that can wear them, but not my thing. However, I was delighted to find favourites in all four sections! My very-most favourite is ‘Arabesque’ – pictured above – which is indeed from the Folk section. What can I say: it caught me the very first time I opened the book, and has yet to be surpassed. But I also love the clean simplicity and graphic appeal of Penumbra, from the Couture section. Penumbra looks like a simple black-and-white stripe – but there’s a secret. Look along, rather than directly at, the fabric, and you get dynamic zig-zags, thanks to the magic of shadow-knitting!
Moving away from the stark black-and-white, I think that Madame Alfred, who joins us from the Country section, has to have the next mention! The first pattern in the book, this is also one of the larger projects, and combines lace techniques and intarsia – and a frill! – in rich, saturated, full-colour design that I would love to have on hand for cooler moments in the summer. (My summer fantasies often include drinking tea in an immaculate garden. The reality tends to include mud, weeds and dogs, not necessarily in that order. But I can still have a bit of handknit elegance around, right?)
I found this to be a very well-designed and structured book, with impeccable attention to detail. The photography is beautiful, and there is lots of additional information in the appendices, which include a pictorial index of projects (yes! One of my favourite features in a book or magazine!), a list of the yarns used, their fibre content and CYCA size rating (plus a handy copy of the CYCA information itself, right there in the book). Other sections introduce techniques used in the book, discuss trimmings and buttons, and there is a lovely section on colour choice, hidden away next to the ‘Vamp’ pattern (a sweet and versatile boa-style scarf from the ‘Vintage section – you didn’t think I was going to leave a section out, did you?)
So, you’d like to enter the giveaway?
Hurray!! Come and join the fun!
All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post before noon (UK time) next Saturday (the 17th). Let me know what your favourite project in the book is (you can see them all here, on Jean’s site) – or, if you can’t pick, what your favourite section is! I’ll select the winner by random draw, and post the results on Saturday evening.
Follow the rest of the tour!
Be a groupie! There is lots more of the tour still to go; here’s the schedule!