Friday, March 17, 2006

A sweater and a book review

I've been looking for a stitch dictionary for a while and narrowed down my choices to either the Harmony Stitch Guides or the Barbara G. Walker Treasury of Knitting Patterns series but couldn't find reviews anywhere to help me decide which one I wanted more! I finally decided to go with Barbara G. because I had come across it often in blogland even though I had never actually seen it until my mailman brought them over on that glorious morning!

What a treat! I bought the first 3 in the series (out of 4) from Elann for $35 each and am really happy that I did. These feel like complete compendiums. There are hundred and hundreds of stitches, cables, lace patterns and charts for motifs. Unlike the Harmony guides which have separate volumes (I think) for different stitch types, each of the Treasury guides contain plainer purl and knit stitches, slip stitch designs, two- colour stitch patterns, cable patterns, lace patterns and a few motifs. The volumes offer more and more of each of these and from what I can tell are exclusive of each other. If you can only buy one, I think the second book contains a greater number of stitch patterns.

The first two guides offer written out instructions only while the third one contains charts only. Note that I've seen criticism (somewhere) about her charts in the third book because they do not use standard abbreviations. Since I have never really used charts (I prefer the line by line instructions) this is not a problem for me as I would still need to use a "legend" whether standard or non-standard abbreviations were used.

The wonderful thing about these for me is that as my knitting skills evolve and my repertoire of basic patterns grows (like the yoked baby sweater and the cutom-fit raglan sweater, for instance) I can see myself going back to these books to find new and interesting stitch patterns and motifs to spruce up these basics. See my first try above. I used the seamless yoked baby sweater pattern and inserted the Madeira lace border from the first treasury of knitting. I found that the lace pattern was really well written out and easy to follow and am really pleased with the result.

Here are some of some stitch patterns from the three books that I think are representative (they're pictures I took of the pictures in the book so the quality is a little lacking but don't worry the actual pictures in the book are better!). Note that all the stitch patterns are photographed in these books albeit in black and white only. Colour would be nice, but the stitches are easy to see in B&W so this is not really a problem either.

Perhaps the best thing about these Barbara G. Walker books is that each stitch pattern includes a little note from her about what it might be used for, the stiffness (for instance) of the resulting fabric and whether they use up a lot of yardage. As a novice when it comes to designing knits, I find these advice tidbits really useful.

So all in all, I'm really happy I bought these (they are so inspiring) and will probably get the fourth one too. I give it a definate two needles up ;0)

Have a great weekend!


  1. What a darling little pink sweater!

    Wow, those books sound great! The pic of the different stitches you show is great...just think of what you can make with those designs...and they sound like they would be very helpful too.

  2. Anonymous8:02 p.m.

    Annie, I have been eyeing these books for awhile now and even have them in my Amazon wishlist, now I will for sure put them in the basket :). Thank you for the review.

  3. Anny, the sweater is lovely and your review is so thoughtful and personal; I really appreciate it. I will have to add these to my list to buy. I have the Vogue Stitchionary which I love; the pictures are beautiful and well presented. I am so interested in these. Thanks so much!

  4. Such a beautiful little cardigan!
    I adore those stitch dictionaries - I have 2 of them and could spend a whole day looking through a swatching!

    Hope you are having a good weekend ;)

  5. The cardigan is beautiful!!!

    And I'm totally digging those stitch patterns.....

  6. I've been contemplating these books for so long but I've yet to bite the bullet and spend the money. Thanks for the glowing review!

  7. What a sweet sweater ... it made me say "awwwww" out loud before the rest of the blog even loaded!

    I have the Harmony Guides and 2 of the BW books and I do use and recommend the BW treasuries more. I'm planning on getting the other 2 at the Frolic.

  8. Love the sandcatle swatch...well, I guess it's just a castle, but it makes me think of a sand castle in that color. I'll have to check those books out. I have an ever-growing Christmas list already! My birthday isn't until Christmas Eve so I have to wait until December for everything. Boo hoo. Maybe Mother's Day...when's Earth Day? Surely I can find some reason for someone to buy me some knitting stuff!

  9. Anonymous10:22 a.m.

    Wow! What a bunch of awesome stitch patterns? How many are in each book? Oooh ... maybe I will add these to my wish list as well. A birthday present for me, perhaps ... from me! *lol* Or MOTHERS DAY! Yes, that is much closer than my birthday! *lol*

    Thanks for the review! :)

  10. Oh, pooh ... that anonymous post person is me --- I must have been accidently logged out. Ugh.

  11. such a CUTE sweater! and thanks for the review!

  12. Oh dear, another book for my wishlist that gets bigger & bigger but I seem to be always buying more books. How does that happen? Love the sweater!! And books are right up there with yarn.

  13. Anonymous10:14 a.m.

    I waas away for March break when you were trying to decide on your books. But I would have told you to buy BWs. I have the Harmonies and don't find them to be nearly as good as BWs.

  14. These are superb -- and I am so tempted!

  15. Anonymous10:16 p.m.


    That castle is really something. The top left one, and the trees. Sooo nice.

    You are such a good knitter (and prolific too) I can't wait to see the beautiful things you create as a result of your new books!

  16. You did right getting the Treasuries. The Harmony Guides are good, but the stitches are much more commonplace and, well, boring. Plus, the treasuries have alot more stitches per book.

    Adorable sweater, too.

  17. Anny,

    I'm looking for the stitch chart for the one in the bottom left corner. Is that the "gingerbread" house you e-mailed me about? Why are these pictures in color and the ones in the book are in black and white? Did you do that yourself?

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