Monday, November 9, 2009

Color by Kristin – book review

IMG_4805 This beautiful book was a birthday gift from Kristina.  The cover art immediately pulled me in, and there’s more of this gorgeous swatch board on the endpapers.  (Can you tell I have a thing for endpapers?  I guess I’ve always liked them, but when a reader made a big deal out of them at a children’s storytime at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, I was hooked.  I always talk about endpapers when I read with children now.  They are so worthy of being talked about!)IMG_4806

One thing that this book really has going for it is that it’s more than a pattern book.  In the introduction, “A Life in Color,” Kristin talks about her background in art, craft, and fashion and describes the path that let to her current life, Getting Stitched on the Farm.  Then she launches into a color primer, complete with a color wheel made of fun pom poms.  All her color lessons are illustrated with full color swatches that jump off the page.  A chapter about Fair Isle includes a brief historical overview as well as technical instruction about how to hold/twist/carry yarn, work in the round, read charts, and steek.  She includes a practice project at the end of this section. Finally, she offers a chapter about how to design Fair Isle stitch patterns.  I read these first 33 pages with great interest and felt empowered to chart a new, nearly patternless course upon completing them!

But wait, don’t chuck all your patterns yet, because Kristin has 22 of them in the book.  As expected, these gloves, hats, blankets, sweaters, and scarves are a riot of color – no project calls for less than 4 colors.  The gorgeous photographs pulled me in right away.  I found myself focusing in turn on color combinations, edge treatments, and embroidery embellishments, thinking toward mixing and matching some of the things I saw pictured.  I guess I got where Kristin was going with the book, because following the pattern section is a great reference called “Designer Sourcebook” which encourages you to customize patterns by substituting edges and chart patterns.  She even includes basic information about seaming (so you don’t have to pull another reference book off your shelf) and embroidery stitches (which you may not have in your knitting library).

Everything in the book is knit from Kristin’s own yarn line, Julia.  Julia is a blend of 50% wool, 25% alpaca, and 25% mohair, and it comes in a rich palette of 33 solid colors.  This is a special yarn, and Kristin knits with nothing else.  I used it for a hat once and can vouch that it has incredible drape and luster, and rich, saturated color.  I wish I had the yarn budget to make this my basic worsted yarn for all projects!  My LYS, The Mannings, started carrying Julia a year or so ago, so I have the luxury of seeing it before buying.  Reading this book reminds me that I would like to knit with Julia again.  Hmmm, what will my next Julia project be?

If your LYS doesn’t stock Julia, you can turn to WEBS (America’s Yarn Store!).  They just began carrying it.  Hear an interview with Kristin on a recent episode of the WEBS podcast, Ready Set Knit.  If I had gotten this post out in a more timely manner, I would have directed you to a contest to win a copy of this book and some enough Julia to knit a project, but I didn’t.  Alas.  Maybe you can just cross your fingers and hope that I win!

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