Saturday, October 08, 2005

Book Review: Handknit Holidays

The first of a few knitting book reviews is below. Basically, to sum it all up, I need to put in a new shelf for all my knitting books because they're taking up way too much space in my yarn box now.

Handknit Holidays: Knitting Year Round for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice by Melanie Falick

Not a huge fan of Weekend Knitting by the same author (I still have those Argyle Slippers to finish now that I've asked enough people how to do that), I approached this book with skepticism. While there were quite a few patterns in Weekend Knitting that looked as though they'd be up my alley, I doubted that I'd actually make them. However, the patterns in Handknit Holidays have haunted my brain for weeks and continue to do so. They've even prompted me to make a last minute reservation on the Yarn Bus to actually exchange some leftover yarn from the SURPRISE project to make the stockings.

Many holiday books have things that can really only be used within season (really, what are we going to do with the handknit toilet seat cover that has a portrait of Santa on it in May?). Handknit Holidays, on the other hand, has a lot of pieces that could be used in the winter season in general. Which is phenomenal!

Also, the other amazing thing in this book is the sheer multiculturalism. Each pattern has a story along with it, and tells of the significance of a tradition in its respective holiday. For example, the Saint Lucia wreath on page 119 explains the story of Saint Lucia in Swedish tradition, and its significance to the tradition today. The pattern itself is also ingenious, I've never seen anything like it, and it can be applied to other holidays during the season as well (the author points to an advent wreath or a festive centerpiece).

This book really does seem to have something for everyone, and I've included a few of the patterns that I've got designs on below.

Bookmarked Patterns:

  • Knitted and Felted Ornaments (p.11) I have a feeling a bunch of people are going to get these as Christmas gifts! They even look like they could be a decorative touch around a house or apartment after the holidays!

  • Candy Cane Hats (p.65) I already know who's going to get this hat! I had been thinking of trying to create something very similar. There's something about spirals and how they look on a hat that I've always loved. Though, I'll probably end up getting rid of the stem at the top or at least shortening it.

  • Over the Knee Socks (p. 83) These are the socks I can't get out of my head! I love the eyelet seam in the back of them. I have even started thinking of how I can rearrange my wardrobe so I can wear these! They obviously must be knitted - and soon!

  • Nutcracker Slippers (p. 89) These actually look like slippers I could finish.

  • Flap-Top Mittens (p. 103) I know that there are a bajillion patterns for these things, but I love the stripes involved. I made a pair of mittens last year, and the biggest problem I had with them was that it's impossible to take my metrocard out of my purse when it keeps sliding out of my mitten. This seems to be a suitable alternative. * Mitten trick I learned this week: work them in a tight gauge, then brush the insides with a toothbrush to almost felt them and keep the wind out!*

  • Zigzag Poncho/Skirt (p. 112) There's a matching dog sweater for those of you who are into that sort of thing. I really like the idea of wearing this as a skirt.

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