One of my favorite things about being a knitter is the community that we automatically belong to. I was in the airport recently and I saw a woman knitting at the same gate where I was waiting. I sat down next to her and we spent a nice half-hour talking about what we were knitting, favorite yarns and stores, and what our next projects were going to be. I love that instant kinship knitters feel for other knitters.
I have our new book All New Homespun Handknit in front of me, and I'm really appreciating the blend of community and tradition this book embodies. The original Homespun Handknit, edited by Interweave Press founder Linda Ligon, was in print for twenty years, and the editor of All New Homespun Handknit, Amy Clarke Moore, discovered it when she was in college. Amy is now the editor of Spin Off magazine and she was thrilled to put this new collection together.
That's the community part of this book. There are twenty-three designers represented in this book, all of whom are accomplished spinners, too, and twenty-five designs that span the knitting spectrum from hats to bags to shawls. These designers really understand how yarn works and they've put their precious handspun into the most fabulous patterns.
For the experienced knitter, Faina Letoutchaia presents the Old Garden Scarf, a stunning scarf that expertly combines a lace pattern with shaping to create a piece that actually fits around the shoulders without bunching up at the neck. I love it when brilliance meets beauty and they fall in love.
I also love the Spider Hat by Nancy Roberts (photo at right). Nancy designed this hat based on traditional Peruvian weaving patterns depicting spiders. This pattern uses the Fair Isle technique with a twist: you only use two colors of yarn at any one time, but one of the yarns is a variegated yarn, so the color changes are really impressive without being difficult to achieve. The top of the hat is a fabulous web--another beauty + brilliance match-up!
One thing to note is that you don't have to be a spinner to use this book to its fullest potential. Yarn weights are given for each project, which makes it easy for non-spinners to use yarn from their stashes or from their favorite yarn shops. One of my favorite features is a photo that shows each yarn used in the book, which is a great tool to use if you need to substitute yarns. (Added bonus: most projects use small amounts of yarn, so this is a good source of designs for those super-special-single-skeins of handspun yarn.)
There's also a nice list of fiber sources for handspun yarn. If you've never used handspun yarn before, please try it! You'll see what all the fuss is about when you knit up something with handspun--that extra something is the love and care that the spinner put into the yarn as it was being spun and dyed and packaged just for you.
This book has that same feeling: Amy put it together just for you, so ask for All New Homespun Handknit at your LYS or order it from the Interweave Store and start some new traditions with your knitting community!
(Interweave would like to express our gratitude to Lion Brand Yarns for graciously granting us permission to use the term "Homespun" in this book. "Homespun" is a registered trademark of Lion Brand Yarns.)