Visited Maine this past week, a vacation destination favorite of ours. Stayed with good friends at Sebago Lake, just North of Portland, and day tripped into Freeport, home of LL Bean. Took in the sights at Casco Bay, and did some shopping. I found a little yarn shop the next block down from LL Beans, called Casco Bay Fibers. Beautiful upscale yarns in luscious color ways and fibers. My focus was books. With so many freshly scoured tubs of fleece in storage, my spinning wheel is ready to fly, I was on a hunt for some inspiration. Bought 3 books:
The Knitter's Life List by Gwen Steeg
Coastal Knits by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig
Juju's Loops by Juju Vail and Susan Cropper
These books I found to be exceptional. Coastal Coastal Knits has very wearable patterns for shawls, sweaters, hats, cowls and mitts. Not lots, I think there are about 10 patterns in all, but there is not one in the bunch I would not want to make! The authors live on opposite shores, one in California, the other, Maine. They use the surrounding environments to inspire their designs. Naturally, the colors are sea greens and blues, lovely rich browns and grays, and the designs have an organic beauty that is truly inspirational! Lots of photos of the land, seascapes and details of things like mustard colored lichen growing on gray rocks provide further inspiration for us fiber artists. One pattern that I particularly like is called the "gnarled oak cardigan". It is shown in a rich moss green, with a cabled oak leaf design at the neckline. The lines are clean, the details enchanting. The "sand and sea" shawlette has a crescent shape knit up in stockinet with a subtly variegated grayed green and brown yarn. The edge is knit in a feather and fan pattern, with an ocean blue color way, reminiscent of fluttering ocean waves. What I really like about this book is that it gives the yarn information used in the sample, and alternate yarn based on Yarn Council Standards so that you can substitute, or spin up your own yarn to the specifications listed. For example, "1000 yards of fingering weight yarn". Gauge information is also listed, naturally. You could spin up and dye your own color ways for these patterns. Highly recommend this one!
Juju's Loops is a Bohemian themed selection of the prettiest, most feminine patterns I have seen. Mostly shawls, and shawlettes, sweaters, cowls, and mitts, these items are beautifully photographed, with explicit directions. The authors have included a few additional patterns for you to download free on the computer from their website. A visit to the site is not to be missed! Lots of inspirational there, as well, and other free patterns to see, also. The book is small in size, but packed with wearable, charming patterns and gorgeous photography, all presented in a sturdy, glossy quality publication.
The Knitter's Life List is a hefty paperback book, filled with lists of things to see, do, learn, explore. It is not so much a pattern book as it is an inspirational powerhouse of information collected in one place, to aid intrepid knitters on their search for new avenues to explore. Lots of photos, illustrations, techniques and tips, huge resource section in the back for further reading, fiber personalities to meet, (or at least read up on), articles like "Freeing up your inner knitter", for those who might consider designing their own patterns, or trying free form knitting, also abound. Dyeing, embroidery, spinning, historical knitting, are only a few topics covered in this fabulous compilation. Again, highly recommend this for those with an insatiable appetite for fiber knowledge along the knitting spinning spectrum.