Needlework books can beat the winter blahs

Posted Feb. 21, 2011, at 6:07 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 21, 2011, at 6:46 p.m.

Here we are in the doldrums of winter. One of the things that brightens my little corner of the world while I wait for the green whisper of spring is needlework books. They dazzle my eye with colorful illustrations and feed my head with ideas for what I might want to knit or crochet in the coming months. Here a few more from the stack on my desk:

“More Crocheted Socks” by Janet Rehfeldt with Mary Jane Wood, Martingale and Co., $19.99. As we learned in 2003 when Rehfeldt published her first book, there’s more than one way to make a pair of socks. In her new book, she offers 16 new designs, including socks decorated with tiny buttons, socks embellished with beads and socks with lacy cuffs. The book also has patterns for hiking socks and divided socks to wear with flip-flops. An unusual design is for a pair of socks without toes or heels to wear with sandals or at the yoga studio or gym.

The book includes sock anatomy and crocheting basics. Yarn choices for the socks range from merino to alpaca to blends of wool, cotton and bamboo.

“Crochet Inspiration” by Sasha Kagan, Sixth & Spring Books, $19.95, is now out in paperback. This elegant and handy book is a reference guide for experienced crocheters and beginners just learning the art. Want to know how to make bobbles, do the Astrakahn stitch or crochet a carnation? This book will tell you. Readers also will find in the book the ins and outs of filet crochet, how to make lacy motifs and granny squares and other square and round motifs. One section of the book contains designs for flower motifs useful as embellishments for the hat, sweater and bag patterns included in the book, which is lush with photo illustrations.

Spending time with this book will take your crochet knowledge up a notch.

“Knitting on the Edge” by Nicky Epstein, Sixth & Spring Books, $19.95, also is now in paperback. This knitting manual, which appeared in hardcover in 2004, walks knitters through decorative edgings — ribs, ruffles, lace, fringe, flowers, points and picot — with which to liven up sweaters and other knit garments. It’s the kind of book you can knit your way through as you try some of the patterns and to get a feel for how you might incorporate them into your knitting.

This book is a perennial, worthy of a place in any knitter’s library.

“Vogue Knitting: Stitchionary 5,” $29.95, Sixth & Spring Books, is all about lace. As the title implies, this is a “dictionary” of lace knitting stitches that covers easy mesh, edgings, chevrons, allover, panels, combinations and motifs patterns. It’s all about how you place the yarn-overs and which stitches to slip when. Instructions are given in both chart and written forms.

Some of the prettiest patterns are in the Allover section of the book. Each pattern as an appealing name, such as hanging vines, field of daisies, fox and badgers, dandelion fluff and bare branches. But all of the patterns in the book are lovely and interesting, making this a tome that will be a favorite of knitters for a long time to come.

Check with your local bookstore or library to learn more about these books.

Snippets

Bring $5 and a bag of unwanted fiber items to the fiber swap at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor, 120 Park St. Items acceptable for trade are yarn, roving and fabric 1 yard or more in length. Make sure the items are clean and of good quality. For more information, contact Jill Packard at 512-4796 or jillpackard@gmail.com.

The Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor will be open 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Feb. 23, for crafts and activities. Enjoy hands-on activities and take home handmade crafts unique to Maine and inspired by the materials and traditions of the Wabanaki people. A variety of crafts will be available to those of all ages. Museum galleries also will be open where attendees may enjoy touchable exhibits, gallery hunts, books, games and activities for families. Museum winter hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, open only that specific Wednesday for the crafts event. In case of snow, the event will be moved to Friday, Feb. 25. Admission is free and open to all. For more information, call 288-3519 or visit abbemuseum.org.

Fiber Friends Fourth Saturdays are back. Join the fun 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Page Farm and Home Museum on the University of Maine campus in Orono. Participants are invited to bring fiber projects of all kinds, including spinning, knitting, lacemaking, needle felting, crochet, rug hooking, needlepoint, etc. If you have fleece, fiber, yarn, fiber-related equipment or tools to sell or swap, bring them along. Also feel free to bring excess stash fiber for the “grab and swap basket.”

For more information, call the museum at 581-4100.

The Maine Sheep Breeders Association will sponsor a sheep shearing school at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 19, at Northstar Farm in Windham. For more information, visit mainesheepbreeders.org.

Helen Neff will present a program on quilts used during the era of the Underground Railroad in the 1800s at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 6, in the Great Hall, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Augusta.
Quilts were used to direct the runaway slaves on their journey to freedom. The story will be accompanied by Caro Kaiser on piano. The program will be of interest to quilters and those with an interest in American history.
Admission is free. The building is handicapped accessible. For more information, call 622-2424.

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