Archive for the ‘Books’ Category


Thanks everyone for your lovely comments about the Cornsilk Pullover. I’m happy to report that it’s been worn a couple of times since, and given the weather doesn’t know what it wants to do (yes yes, I know, I live in Melbourne), I’ll probably be able to wear it a few times more this year.

The week I finished my jumper was a pretty exciting week, knitting-wise, for the Pransell household. In addition to the jumper, a copy of A Stitch In Time Volume 2 landed on my doorstep. This wasn’t an accidental landing; I’d preordered it some time ago and had been eagerly awaiting its arrival.

It’s a really impressive-looking tome, with its hard fabric cover, dust cover and pages of matte, heavy paper. Volume 2 looks how I imagined Volume 1 would be if thicker paper were used for the pages.

Like the first volume, the patterns are split into chapters based on the decade the pattern was from. Also like the first volume, there are quite a few things I would knit. Some of my picks include this top (which I have yarn set aside for):


and this ruffled top, with some modifications:

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I personally wouldn’t make it with the bows. They are a nice feature of the top but just not my style. Instead, I’d make it monochromatic; the body in a dark grey or charcoal and the ruffled stripes in a lighter grey.

I only have two slight niggles about the book. The first one relates to the photography. The photography in general is really nice, but there are a couple of instances where the models’ poses or other bits of clothing get in the way of seeing all of the garment. As much as I think it could make for a nice coffee table book, it is ultimately a book of knitting patterns so the photos need to show how the garment will look when it’s finished. The other niggle, which is even more slight, is that the book itself looks a lot different to Volume 1. As they’re part of a set, it would be nice to have a version of Volume 1 that has the same physical specifications as the second volume.

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Another nice feature of this book is the techniques section at the start. It goes beyond the basics that you usually see in knitting books which I thought was a nice change.

It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but it’s been two and a half years since I wrote a wee review of the first volume, and I’ve not knit anything out of it. There are still a lot of things I’d like to make from that volume, I just have been terrible at getting round to it. In theory it won’t take me that long to get around to knitting something from Volume 2, because I’ve already got yarn lined up for a project.

If you have volume one of A Stitch In Time, I recommend getting Volume 2. If you like vintage knitting patterns, either to look at or to knit, I also recommend getting Volume 2. It’s a beautiful book with an impressive collection of vintage patterns. A real treasure.

It’s beginning to look a lot like

Alison recently mentioned a couple of cook books on her blog that piqued my interest. The one that piqued my interest the most was Life is Sweet by Hope and Greenwood.

The book’s byline is “A collection of splendid old-fashioned confectionary”. Having quite a sweet tooth, I was already sold, but beyond that, I like being able to make/cook/bake things that people take for granted. It’s too easy to go to the supermarket and buy a loaf of bread, lollies, jam or even beer without thinking if or how it can be made at home. I also find it a little frightening how many ingredients are listed in things such as simple butter biscuits bought from the supermarket. Having said that, I understand that people have time and space constraints and some people just aren’t interested in baking/cooking/brewing/making in general.

Anyway, enough ranting. There are a heap of fantastic fudge, marshmallow, toffee and chocolate recipes in this book. A sample of them can be found here. I knew this book was going to be useful as soon as I saw their coconut ice recipe; coconut, condensed milk, icing sugar and food colouring. That’s how I remember making coconut ice as a kid, and seeing more complicated recipes always leaves me bemused.


Today I tried chilli and lime chocolate shards. It’s now setting in the fridge, but small (ok slightly larger than small) samples of the melted chocolate mixture bodes well for the finished product.

I hope to use a few more of the recipes for Christmas gifts. Although Christmas is stereotypically a time of food overindulgence, I like giving home made food as gifts. As long as you know the recipient’s tastes and allergies, it’s hard to go wrong with food.

As a postscript to the last post, it seems I forgot a few pertinent details in my rush to post. The yarn I used is different to Cleckheaton Countrywide. It’s a yarn from New Zealand I picked up from an op shop a few years ago and is obscure enough to not have a listing on Ravelry (I figure if it’s not in Ravelry’s yarn database, it’s obscure). The blanket measures 115cm square, so not huge, but big enough to touch the floor when used as a lap blanket while sitting in my favourite chair.

Book Review: A Stitch In Time

One of the many wonderful things about Ravelry is that you can see what other people think about patterns in books you’re thinking about buying. Nonetheless, I still think there is a place for knitting book reviews.


A little while ago I picked up this book: A Stitch In Time – Vintage Knitting and Crochet Patterns 1920-1949: vol.1 by Jane Waller and Susan Crawford. The knitting patterns I like the most are from the 40s to the 70s, but after seeing some of the patterns on Ravelry, I thought it a good idea to obtain a copy, pronto. I wasn’t disappointed.

While the patterns are the major drawcard of this book, the little details are just lovely. The major title, A Stitch In Time, is embossed in gold. A little thank you card was placed inside the front cover, the pattern names are exactly the same as the original pattern, and the original patterns are included alongside its modernised counterpart. One thing I did find surprising was the paper used – it’s quite thin, thinner than other knitting books I own. That’s not necessarily a criticism; given that the book’s over 300 pages long, heavier paper would have made it quite the tome. I will have to be super duper careful to not damage the pages though.


The patterns themselves are good mix, broken into several sections – The Tubular Look (1920-1932), The Feminine Look (1933-1935), The Fitted, Tailored Look (1935-37), Smart Suits and Puffed Sleeves (1937-40) and The Square Look (1940-1949). The designs from the earlier chapters generally do not suit my body shape or are not to my taste, but there are many patterns in the later chapters that I’d like to knit for myself.


I haven’t tried to knit anything out of this book so I can’t comment on that aspect. I do have yarn stashed away that I think would look lovely as a Bluebird Sweater (pic above). What I like the most is the concept – bridging the gap between vintage and modern yarns and patterns. I think working with vintage patterns, while lovely garments, is more of a hassle than modern patterns. With the exception of mainstays like Patons Bluebell, you have to find a suitable substitute yarn, sizing is generally limited, and vintage patterns seem to assume a lot more knowledge than most modern patterns.

I’m really looking forward to volume 2.

(Part of the) Mystery Solved!

A little while ago, I posted about a book with some missing pages. A lovely offer came my way as a result of that post, and now I know what those missing pages contained.

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I had an inkling that it was the instructions for feather stitch lace rib, shower stitch, leaf stitch and pyramid stitch, and I was right. It’s always nice to have a collection of different stitches up your sleeve, you never know when they might come in handy.

Thank you so much Susan for solving that mystery for me!

My favourite English book

The vast majority of books foisted upon us for high school English were, in my opinion, pretty average, but the class just had to deal with whatever the teacher decided to give us to study. However, in year 12, there were a number of English streams to choose from, so students could choose which set of books they wanted to study along with two (in my opinion average) compulsory texts. I chose the stream that included studying Frontline and The Outsider by Albert Camus. As I’d never perviously heard of The Outsider, my choice was based on my fondness for Frontline, and because it meant I could watch TV. The Outsider was the last book I ever studied at high school. However, it has ended up being one of my favourite books even after a number of re-reads and dissection of language and storyline that comes with studying it.


Within my group of friends at the time, it seemed to be quite a divisive book. The only person I know that liked it, outside of my friends who studied it as well, is my partner.

As The Outsider was originally written in French, I often wonder if there’s nuances in the French language that get lost in the translation to English. I guess, more than anything, I wonder if my understanding of the text is as complete as it can be.

Mystery, with added mystery

A little while ago, I was lamenting the absence of a couple of pages from a vintage knitting book. Ali kindly pointed me in the direction of the National Library of Australia, which had a listing for the book. Alas, when I had a look for those missing pages, I found it wasn’t the same book! It was by the same authors, but with even more lovely patterns and without a section on how to modify garments. Armed with the knowledge that there was another knitting book by Margaret Murray and Jane Koster out there, I trawled eBay and won an auction for it… so I thought.


It arrived today, and is every bit as charming as the book I picked up last month. The cover looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t remember exactly if it was the same as the one I saw at NLA. Then I opened the book and looked inside the front cover.


The NLA copy has a fabulous repeated graphic featuring the words ‘knit one, purl one’, whereas my copy has just as sweet drawings of garments, yarn and knitting needles. I flicked through the pages, and found lovely illustrations, and hilarious patterns. Never mind, I thought, it might just be a different print run.


However, it contained none of the patterns I remember from the NLA copy! So now I have two pattern books that I love, but am still looking for two missing pages, and a copy of ‘Knitting illustrated : easy-to-follow instructions for knitting practical garments to suit all members of the family’. I’m not really sure what made me think that ‘Complete home knitting illustrated’ was the same as ‘Knitting illustrated…’, but I don’t mind at all. I’m starting to build a nice collection (two Murray/Koster books makes a collection, right?), and I know there’s at least one more book out there for me to hunt for.


In other news, it’s almost agricultural show time round here, and I know a few people who have entered some lovely projects. I’m really looking forward to seeing them on display, and hopefully with some ribbons beside them!

A superficial book review

Inspired by a discussion of book covers, here is a recent find from an antique centre. I had decided that it would be mine as soon as I saw the cover.

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Practical Knitting Illustrated – The key to hundreds of garments you can make yourself (by Margaret Murray and Jane Koster) doesn’t have a date on it, but I’d say it was from the 1940’s. The corners of the front and back covers are bent, but besides that, it’s in pretty good condition.

There’s all sorts of knit and crochet patterns in here, clothes for men, women, teens, children and babies, and homewares. I don’t have a scanner so this photo isn’t so great, but this pattern was one of my favourites:


It also has a handy dandy section on changing patterns – how to resize, add in lace panels, all sorts.

There’s only one thing about this book that makes me sad:


I don’t understand why you would want to tear pages out of any book, let alone a lovely book like this. Perhaps the person who did this was desperate to get their hands on feather stitch lace rib, shower stitch, leaf stitch and pyramid stitch, the instructions for which were on the ripped out pages.

At this stage I’ve only had time to just flick through, but I’m impressed by what I’ve seen and read so far. I’m very pleased to have it occupying my shelves!