It seems we've been getting tons of exciting new books this fall, one right after another. I confess, I've added about four new knitting books to my collection at home in the past month alone. Two of those have already been carefully reviewed here on the blog, but the other two have not yet had their moment in the sun. Given my proclivity towards stranded colorwork, it may come as no surprise that these two new titles focus on that technique in particular.
Alice Starmore's Charts for Color Knitting is exactly what it sounds like: a book of charts. Not a book of sweater or hat patterns with charts, just a book of charts. Starmore begins with a chapter on designing simply shaped, drop-shoulder colorwork sweaters, and ends with "A Word on Colour," but in between, she leaves the knitter alone with pages upon pages of charts. The charts are organized by place of origin, so that in flipping through the book, one can glimpse the color-knitting culture of Norway, then Sweden, then Russia, then South America, and onward. In addition, Starmore also offers charts she's adapted from ancient manuscripts, architecture, carpets, jewelry, and stonework, and encourages knitters to do the same. Colorwork charts are easily invented, after all--graph paper and a little color knitting experience is all that's needed.
Mary Jane Mucklestone's new 200 Fair Isle Motifs is similar to Starmore's Charts, but focused on the particular Scottish colorwork tradition for which it is named. The book begins with clear tutorials on all kinds of techniques used in Fair Isle knitting, from swatching to steeking to correcting mistakes. For those overwhelmed by the endless possible color combinations (all of us?), there is a little tutorial on color theory. Then come the 200 motifs. Mucklestone has organized these motifs by the number of rows and stitches in each pattern repeat, making it easy to find a pattern that divides evenly into the number of stitches you're working with on any given project--hat, socks, sweater, etc. Each chart is shown not only in the traditional black-dots-on-a-white-grid style, but also in a color photograph, a color variation, and an all-over version, giving the knitter a jump start on adapting these patterns for many uses.
These two books have me itching to cast on for something new. I am utterly overwhelmed by the number of half-formed knitting ideas rushing around in my mind, which is, by the way, a most pleasant experience. I am so excited by these two books, which complement one another beautifully. Until I figure out exactly what my next colorwork project will be, I'm enjoying simply poring over Starmore's black and white charts and Mucklestone's brightly colored motifs, inundated with ideas.