The Handknitter's Yarn Guide: A Visual Reference to Yarns and Fibers by Nikki Gabriel:
I've got a new knitting project in mind, but am having trouble deciding on just the right yarn for it. I want something light and lofty, easy to work with & all natural fibers if possible (all while keeping it affordable). So, when I came across this book at a local bookstore, I was thrilled. It provides a wonderful break-down of all the different yarn options out there.
After a brief description of yarn weights (super fine, fine, light, medium, bulky & super bulky), the book examines the properties of animal fibers, vegetable fibers, synthetic fibers and textured & curious/rare fibers. Each chapter is devoted to a specific fiber. So, starting with the ever-popular wool, the author provides a description of the fiber, the specs (like source and relative cost), use and care and general qualities (such as stitch definition, drape, resilience, etc.). Pros and cons on each fiber are also given, as well as other facts and pictures of swatches knit in fine, medium and bulky yarns. Then, all the above information is given again for wool blends. Each fiber has a chapter just like this, and just about every fiber I can imagine is in the book: mohair, camel, angora, rayon, boucle, etc.
There is even a burn test given for each yarn (how it burns, how it smells when it burns) - I thought this was curious information, but considering this book gives you every bit of info you'd ever need, I suppose it's really right at home. I love that the author includes a sustainability factor for each yarn, something I really appreciated & will definitely consider when buying yarn. While she touches on how heavy items are with certain yarns, I do wish that was a consistent category for all yarns - this is one area that I usually am concerned about, so I'd like to know which yarns are loftier than others. There is some information on this, but again, it's not consistent.
If you are using the recommended yarn for a project, you probably won't need this book. But if you are substituting a yarn, or would just like to get a better understanding of the different kinds of yarn, then this book is a great one to have.
November Knits: Inspired Designs for Changing Seasons by Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelley:
Maybe it's because I'm particularly fond of November since it's my birthday month, or perhaps because November is all about prime knitting. Whatever the reason, when I saw "November" in the title while perusing knitting books at the library, I grabbed it, and loved it, right away.
These projects are gorgeous. There are several things in here that I would love to knit - such as the chunky Bozeman Jacket, the feminine Burdock Cardigan, and the cozy Cobblestone Trenchcoat. I also love the sweet Savannah Cardigan and the flirty Barton Springs Skirt. Oh goodness, where will I find the time?
The projects are divided into 3 separate looks - farm hands, ivy league and southern comfort. I found something in each look that I would just love. I think the editors and designers did a wonderful job of providing looks that fall into each of these categories, but would please just about any knitter. In addition to all the sweaters I mentioned, there are also patterns for hats, scarves, socks, mittens & such. Many of the designs are classic looks, but personally, I think that when you spend so much time knitting the item, you want to be able to wear if for years and years. This is the first knitting book that I've picked up in a long time in which I found so many queue-worthy projects.
Now, as I mentioned, the challenge is just to find the time to knit them all!