Category Archive: reviews

Pure Wool by Sue Blacker of Blacker Yarns

Hi Everyone!

With Christmas coming up fast, I thought I’d mention a very interesting book I’ve been reading recently.  It’s called, Pure Wool: A Knitter’s Guide to Using Single-breed Yarns by Sue Blacker, the owner of Blacker Yarns and tells you everything you wanted to know about the exciting, new single-breed yarns.

Single-breed yarns

Single-breed yarns have become extremely popular during the last few years and manufacturers range from cottage industry spinners to international wholesalers. Sue has produced a number of exciting, new single-breed yarns which vary in texture and softness and other special qualities which knitters may be looking for.

This book keeps all keen knitters completely up-to-date with the many varieties of single-breed wool from Shetland, Jacob and Blue-faced Leicester to Black Welsh and more.  In particular, this book gives detailed advice on choosing the best single-breed yarn for your knitting projects.

Natural and eco-friendly

Blacker Yarns is a champion of natural fibres and very eco-friendly.  They are against the use of synthetic fibres, which use an incredibly unnecessary amount of our planet’s precious energy resources to make.

And I agree with them completely, why are we using environmentally damaging synthetics, when U.K. farmers produce high-performance, natural yarns which do not damage the ecology?

From sheep to shop

‘Pure Wool’ is an absolute mine of interesting information about the many different single-breed yarns and the breeds of sheep they come from.  Each section deals with a different kind of fleece, with information about the individual characteristics of the yarn and plenty of attractive illustrations showing the sheep, the fleece, the yarn and a knitted-up sample of the yarn.

And there’s also a super, free knitting pattern suited to the yarn’s particular features at the end of each section!

Useful and enjoyable

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Pure Wool’. Discovering how different yarns drape, their individual strength and degree of softness has definitely been very useful and made my knitting even more enjoyable.

For knitting fans, the book is a real treasure explaining single-breed yarns and how important home-knitting will be in the planet’s eco-friendly future! And with 20 new knitting patterns, this book is perfect for anyone who knits!

You can obtain a personally signed copy directly from Sue’s website – which is also a very interesting place to go for a browse around the Yarn Shop – or buy from Amazon.co.uk.

Bye for now,
Kyoko

The Herdy Wool

The Herdy Wool is a brand-new British yarn. It’s chunky, it’s bouncy and I enjoyed knitting with it. They sell other super cute sheep related products on their site as well so do please check out their site. I am currently drooling over their sheep garlic container. I also want to knit with the bright blue yarn.

I think this yarn is ideal for cable knitting so I made 3 identical swatches of the same cable patterns.

The Herdy Wool …read more

The Original Japanese Knitting Book Which Made Me Fall In Love with Knitting

What made you fall in love with knitting? I was only about 10 or 11 when I first encountered this book. I was already knitting various stuff but this book really made me fall in love with the craft as a child:

Honobono Country Sweaters

This is a very old copy which I found in 2nd hand bookshop in Japan. When I found it, I was ecstatic!

Japanese knitting book: Honobono Country Sweaters

Basically it’s a story book for children. I guess the point is for a mother to read to a child and then may be (just may be… because the projects are quite difficult!) knit the sweaters and other things in the book for the kid. A very nice idea.

Japanese knitting book: Honobono Country Sweaters

This was my VERY BEST favourite sweater and I wanted to make one but was a bit too difficult for me at the time. I think I can definitely make it, easy peezy (lol)!

Japanese knitting book: Honobono country sweaters

Can you see why I fell in love with knitting? It’s soooooo cute!!!!!

Japanese knitting book: Honobono Country Sweaters

So this is the first sweater I made ever in my life. This simple brown sweater. Oh didn’t I just love knitting it??? What a great memory!

Fyberspates’ “The Scrumptious Collection” Launch Party & Book Review

Have you knitted with Fyberspates’ Scrumptious yarn yet? You won’t regret it! ;) Last Saturday, Mary and I attended Fyberspates’ Scrumptious Collection Launch party.

The Scrumptious Collection Vol.1

The Scrumptious Collection Vol.1

The party was held at Dancing Hen’s Studio. When we arrived, there were already many people there. There were people from The Knitter magazine and many accomplished knitters who I so wanted to meet for a long time! It was truly an amazing day for me.

Jeni, the person behind Fyberspates.

Jeni, the person behind Fyberspates.

It was lovely to meet Jeni. She is so nice and is the kind of person who is really fun to chat with. And of course she is passionate about her yarn.

Challow - designed by Jen Hewlett

Challow - designed by Jen Hewlett

This pair of gloes are so well-thought design. I tried it on at the party and it felt so nice.

Hinksey - designed by Lily France

There are 20 patterns in the book; 4 patterns each for lace, 4ply, dk, aran and chunky weight. Usually if I find a couple of patterns that I like in a book, that is considered as a good book (a bit like a music album). I was so impressed to find many designs that I would definitely knit in this pattern. I guarantee you would love the book.

Arncott - designed by Jen Arnall-Culliford

Arncott - designed by Jen Arnall-Culliford

The designs are feminine, yet not too girly. I could see they were all carefully chosen and designed for knit-ability, wear-ability and practicality.

Alvescot - designed by Jen Hewlett

Alvescot - designed by Jen Hewlett

I love the fact that the book is created by people who are all passionate about knitting. The patterns are all well written and Technical Editing was carried out by Jen Arnall Culliford (JenACKnitwear) who also designed some of the garment and is a pro.

I tried some of the garments and fell in love with them.

Hethe - designed by Judy Furlong

Hethe - designed by Judy Furlong

Tirrold - designed by Jen Arnall-Culliford

Tirrold - designed by Jen Arnall-Culliford

So inspirational and thank you for such a wonderful day!! Happy knit week! ;)

Addi Click Lace Interchangeable Needles – Review

Knitting lace shawl is one of the most satisfying activities. It’s time consuming, but light and portable – that is why lace knitting is ideal for long-haul travel. I didn’t always like knitting lace. In fact I didn’t like it at all at first because the ordinary needles were too blunt to catch a fine thread of yarn; I couldn’t get a nice rhythm when I knitted lace. When I first encountered Addi lace circular needles, my mind was blown away. Now you can get a whole set of Addi Click Lace Needle Kit. So today I am going to review this amazing sets of needles.

Addi Click Lace Interchangeable needles: A must have item for the winter.

Addi Click Lace Interchangeable needles: A must have item for the winter.

I have already reviewed the standard Addi Click needles Feb 2010 so I won’t repeat what I have already said about the basic mechanism of Addi interchangeable needles. In this review, I will concentrate more on the additional features and “lace-knittability” (LOL) compared to the standard one.

Case

There are two new features that differ from the standard Add Click. The first difference is that the case has a nice textured faux leather instead of the smooth mat finish. The second is that there is a zipper pocket at the back of the case where you can put the spare cords and other knitting notions.

Inside of the case

Inside of the case

Needles

There are 8 pairs of needles from 3.5 – 8 mm thickness while there are 10 pairs for the standard one (i.e. you have 10 mm needle in the standard set but I guess you wouldn’t be needing such thick needles for lace…).

Instead of 1 pair short of the needles, you have 5 cords (as supposed to 3) of length 40, 50, 60, 80 and 100 cm. They are very flexible to use. The connectors are identical so I can use the red cord with the standard needles and vice versa. Having a very short cord such as 40 and 50 cm, my lace project would be nice and compact to carry in my bag. Which is also very good :D

Even though it's plastic, it is very bendy and soft. I love the contrasting red colour.

Even though it's plastic, it is very bendy and soft. I love the contrasting red colour.

Usability

The needles are much shorter than that of the standard needles. I am not sure of the significance of it but I don’t feel an disconfort in using shorter needles. In fact, I prefer it shorter because I can tuck the whole thing much more compact into my bag to carry around.

The needles are also sharper. This is what I LOVE about the lace needles. It picks up the finest thread of yarn with no problems. What is great about the Addi lace needles are that it is not too sharp that it would split the yarn.

Length comparison

Length comparison

Tip Comparison

Tip Comparison

Good knitting needles allow you to knit much more effectively with a nice rhythm (you can imagine a very good knitters knit fast with constant clicks. I find this so soothing). Lace projects are one of the most time consuming knitting project. They are also quite difficult to mend if you knit a wrong stitch down the row. I feel that Addi lace needles totally improve your knitting efficiency. I can definitely feel the difference.

So what now?…

A new version of Fallen Leaf Shawl is on its way! :D

A new version of Fallen Leaf Shawl is on its way! :D

Knit more laces! ;)

Simple Knitting by Erika Knight – Review

Hello! Hope you all had a great week. Today I would like to review a newly published book by Erika Knight called Simple Knitting.

Simple Knitting by Erika Knight

Simple Knitting by Erika Knight

Erika is my life-time knitting idol. What is so incredible about all her books are that the knitters for all levels want to knit her designs – and that is amazing. She currently holds Novice Knit workshops around the UK (more info can be found from here). There is one in London at iKnit in September. It’s a great chance to meet Erika in person!

Going back to the book, I have divided my review into 1) the look, 2) the contents and 3) the design.

1. THE LOOK

Erika’s book always look amazing but this one is particularly stylish. Photos and illustrations are all well done and easy to understand. This book gives you a wonderful sense of a simple knitting life-style in downtown Tokyo.

knitted round cushion

This is a simple yet very effective knitting technique involving short-row knitting. I just love it.

2. THE CONTENTS

The contents are cleverly laid out. Every chapter is solid with great info and tips. What I love about this book is that it is written with simple terms with clear explanation so that I don’t have to get my magnifying glass to read it.

In the first half of the book, there is a wonderful section on choosing the yarns and colours, making tension swatch and understanding patterns which are all essential for knitters. This is followed by a chapter on stitch dictionary where you can find some very stylish uneven coloured stripe patterns. The second half is packed with great knitting patterns (more in the next section).

The book will not only allow you to knit some simple and elegant items but also equips you with vital (and more) knowledge about knitting.

making tension swatch

For knitters, this is a must read section - Making a tension swatch. Erika says in the book that "taking 15 min to work a tension square before you start can save a lot of heartache later on..."

3. THE DESIGN

As a knitting pattern creator, I can more or less figure out which patterns are clever, too difficult, too easy, fun, boring, tedious, etc. by looking at them. When I see a great design I get a sort of striking feeling, a bit like the first spoonful of the nicest vanilla ice cream. This is what I got when I read through her Simple Knitting.

moss stitch tote

Don't you just love this tote? Imagine knitting this with a lovely solid tweed yarn. It would be so nice!

The knitting projects start from enticing simple patterns. Erika then gradually introduces additional techniques for more advanced designs.

four needle socks

To me, this is so Japanese. I love the "surprising" combination of colours. In the book there are two sock patterns for 2 and 4 needles. Perfect.

Even if a new technique is used for a project, she keeps everything else simple. This means that for those who just mastered the basic technique can tackle more difficult patterns without any problems.

knitted tea cozy

I love this one. Perfect project for using up your scrap yarns, yet still look so pretty (combination of intarsia and duplicate stitches made later).

Definitely a book to add to your knitting bookshelf. I think I am going cast on for the round cushion… :D

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

The Knit Kit Review

Gosh it has been such a busy Friday! Usually I try to blog on Tuesdays and Fridays but today is a Saturday post… Oh well, it’s life. :D
knitkit
Today, I would like to review the Knit Kit. It’s been featured in Martha Stewart Show and I just had to try it out myself. Some of you may already know that I am a knitter on the go. I knit literally everywhere (bus, tube, park, cafe, library, canteen, you name it!). This means that having a really good compact knitting tool is of paramount importance.

I am a knitter anywhere I go. This is a sneak preview of the new free pattern. It is nearly ready :D

I am a knitter anywhere I go. This is a sneak preview of the new free pattern. It is nearly ready :D

The Knit Kit I am reviewing today is the 2010 version. It has two new features which are the double-sided crochet hook and a darning needle. They are so essential for me because I often use crochet cast on for knitting. I also like to tidy ends before I go home so that I only need to block the piece which is the best part I think!

It's so cute and compact. On the front, there are a tape measure, row counter, crochet hook and thread cutter.

It's so cute and compact. On the front, there are a tape measure, row counter, crochet hook and thread cutter.

There are two things I really like about the Knit Kit apart from the fact that it is study and well made:

1) It’s oval and palm size – When you are knitting on the go, you need everything fit snug on your palm. It’s easy to hold, easy to find where things is.

2) It’s compact and cool – You don’t need a pouch full of knitting gadget that you don’t remember what’s in it (which is exactly what I used to do….).

Your knitting essential is packed at the back.

Your knitting essential is packed at the back.

I think you can take the kit inside the plane. I am pretty sure you are fine with the international flight but I cannot guarantee.

There are nice compact scissors, darning needles, large and small stitch markers and stitch stoppers.

There are nice compact scissors, darning needles, large and small stitch markers and stitch stoppers.

I know having this kit will make my forever-messy bag contents a little tidier. I also don’t have to keep taking part of my crochet hook set and loose them.

Since the weather is so nice in London at the moment, I must go out now and knit in the park. Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Review – Addi Click

Hello! I just want to tell you today that I am in love. I am in love with my new Addi Click needles I recently acquired. I am so  impressed with them and I just have to blog about it SOLID today.

This is the most valuable possession I have in my entire knitting career.

This is the most valuable possession I have in my entire knitting career.

Up to now, I only knit with one or two types of needles (one of which are Addi Turbo needles) based on the following criteria:

✿   ✿   ✿   ✿   ✿   ✿   ✿   ✿

Sturdiness

I do a lot of magic loop. This means that the cord must be flexible and the joint to the needle must be secure.

Design that allows me to knit as fast as possible

Any spare time I have I knit, often with a deadline. Sturdy, pointy, smooth circular needles are prerequisite features to my needles.

Easy to carry

I knit everywhere – home, bus, tube, park, cafe, you name it. This means I have to be able to carry them easily.

✿   ✿   ✿   ✿   ✿   ✿   ✿   ✿

When I opened Addi Click, I could tick every single boxes ticked, and even more. I love them and I want everyone to know about how amazing they are!

1) JOINING

When you see any interchangeable knitting needles, the first thing you check is “are the joints smooth?”. This is important to take into account for interchangeable needles because the one with smooth joint allows you to move stitches along the needles easily. If it doesn’t, you are forever struggling to knit.

The ingenious feature of Addi Click is that you can change the needles quickly and securely without the need of any extra tools (like screws and keys). Once the needles are in, basically it is just like any other Addi Turbo needles.

I think the name “click” comes from the fact that you just have to insert the needle onto the joint and click to lock the hinge:

joining 1

Step 1: Hold the cord so that the joint is facing upright.

Step 2: Bring the actual needle and "cap" over the joint.

Step 2: Bring the actual needle and "cap" over the joint.

Step 3: Gently push in the needle and you will feel the needle is inserted into the key. To lock, just turn the needle clock wise.

Step 3: Gently push in the needle and you will feel the needle is inserted into the key. To lock, just turn the needle clock wise.

2) BEAUTY

Mary says Addi Click is the Rolls Royce of the knitting needles (I love it!). It is just beautiful. I feel savvy just owning it. The needles come in black faux leather secure casing with 3 magnetic snap buttons (2 on either sides and 1 in the centre). The contents are as follow:

10 pairs of needles from 3.5mm to 10mm.

It has a little pocket where you put three cords (40, 60 and 80 cm lengths).

Behind it, there are elastic inserts where you put the needles neatly.

There is also a connector which you can rest the sts.

Aren't they so beautiful?

Aren't they so beautiful?

3) FUNCTION

Good circular needles is like healthy eating. Knitting is a continuous and repetitive exercise which means even a small superiority in function makes a huge difference.

When my colleague saw me struggling making a sample for Jack’s Back for Kaffe Fassette’s Kaffe Knits Again book (5 mm needles with Aran yarn with heavy fair isle), she suggested that I change my needles to Addi Turbo. This made a dramatic improvement.

Addi needles are metallic so your yarns won’t fight back against the needles (if you see what I mean?). They are less prone to damage – they are literally free from cat’s knitting needle tip bites (LOL!!) They are also light, so it gives less stress to your wrist. The cords are bendy which means you can easily work the magic loop technique for your glove and sock projects.

Addi needles allows smooth knitting. This is a very sneak preview of my Spring collection!!

Addi needles allows smooth knitting. This is a very sneak preview of my Spring collection!!

4) PRICE

I have heard many saying that Addi Click is very expensive. OK they are not the cheapest sets of needles but it seriously worth it.

Considering the RRP of Addi Turbo needles, having all the combination of the needles and cord length would usually cost you nearly £200!! So investing in Addi Click which costs around £80 is definitely worth it.

Ok, you can’t take them on a plane. But you would only usually take one or two projects when you fly (plus lots of movies to distract) and would most likely to have a spare wooden needles. So to me, this is not a deciding factor.

Definitely worth it.

Definitely worth it.

Addi Click is suitable for all knitters. For beginners who loves knitting but don’t have many needles, this is a good investment. For advanced knitters who have too many needles and having to change them or look for them all the time, this is a perfect solution.

Haiku Knits by Tanya Alpert

haiku knits coverBut today, I would like to feel fresh and let you know about this wonderful Japanese-inspired book called Haiku Knits by Tanya Alpert. She is an owner of Knitting by the Beach (great things there BTW!) and has two wonderful blogs, The Knitting Sommerlier and Tanya Alpert. The book is forwarded by Erica Knights (you know it’s good, right?).

As a Japanese person who knits, I felt it was my duty to review this book. As soon as I received this book, opened and looked through, I was impressed about the following three points: 1) structure of the book, 2) designs and 3) fibres used.

haiku knits 5

Mmmm.... I am totally indulging on this cozy design...

STRUCTURE

In this book, there is no jargon, no gibberish, no too much wording. It is not pretentious. It is honest, clear and helpful. It’s excellent. I like a book like this.

The contents are SO CLEARLY laid out. The general structure of the content is: a) main design image b) introduction and material information with clear diagrams, c) patterns.

This means that when you see a project that you want to knit, you can quickly “assess” knittability (whether it is a quick-knit or the one you need to spend time). There is absolutely no risk that you get lost in this book.

At the end of the book, there are about 16 pages of information about essential knitting techniques and information with pictures. Again, it is clear and I find it so user-friendly.

haiku knits 1

DESIGNS

Every design is gorgeous and cleverly constructed yet simple. Many don’t have the usual structure of the garment so you know that the garment will hang on you very artistically ♥

Often in a standard craft books there are probably 1 or 2 projects that you would like to make (hence you would buy the book). In Haiku Knits, you would more likely to find at least 5 designs that you would knit – that, I can guarantee.

By looking through the images, I think these garments are the kind of knitwear that you emphasize when you wear it to tell people “look! I made this, doesn’t it look great?”.

haiku knits 8

FIBRE

Tanya is not afraid of using VARIOUS FIBRES. The kind of yarn used varies from standard merino to Habu linen paper. It is a great book for you to try out different kinds of yarns if you haven’t yet done so.

If you have read my previous yarn review you know this, but characteristics and the beauty of the yarn does not simply limit to it’s softness. Tanya’s designs really draws out the goodness of individual yarn.

This is the book that would leads to a bigger world of knitting.

haiku knits 3

Smart 3D design. I would definitely wear this in summer.

There are so many more images I would like to show you, but there isn’t enough space!

Natural Nursery Knits by Erika Knight

Today, I am going to review Natural Nursery Knits by Erica Knight.

Natural Nursery Knits by Erica Knight

Natural Nursery Knits by Erica Knight

I have always loved her amazing style in knitting. It’s simple but have some fun “twist” to it.

Simple stocknette stitch makes this amazing bunny ring.

Simple stocknette stitch makes this amazing bunny ring.

The book contains 20 amazing knitting patterns for children ranging from teddy bear like this one…

Teddy

Don't you just love this teddy bear?

to lovely garments that matches with any clothes…

Matches any decor

Check out the detail on the left.

to these simple but super cute booties!

Bootie

Bootiees

Everyone must have at least a couple of Erica Knight’s knitting books. It’s inspirational and totally collectible.