Fiber book review: Pints & Purls

posted in: Books, Knitting | 8

It's not that I don't drink booze. However, given the budgetary choice between, say, fiber and a beer . . . or a glass of good wine and a good book . . . I'll just say it's no contest. Yet having been in a number of musical groups, married to a musician, and the like, I've spent a lot of time in bars and I'm actually in one now, although it's daylight and we're using it as an extension of the coffeehouse next door.

I do knit a lot in low-light and interrupted situations.

So when Pints & Purls: Portable Projects for the Social Knitter, by Karida Collins and Libby Bruce, appeared in front of me, I took a close look. Even though I don't fit the demographic profile of the book's intended readership, it has a lot of appeal.

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The authors have included lots of tips for knitters who haul their knitting around and work in spurts under less-than-ideal conditions. Those who drive carpools or travel on crowded public transportation take note. They share the contents of their traveling knitting kits, offer guidance for getting spills out of works-in-progress, and tell how to fix mistakes. There are also a bunch of felted projects: felting obscures a multitude of sins.

My count may be off—it's shadowy in here and the music on my headphones, drowning out the conversations at the next tables, is loud (New Orleans funk at the moment)—but here's the inventory of projects I just took:

  • Scarf/shawl/cowl: 6 (one a scarf with mittens attached)
  • Sweaters: 6
  • Socks: 3
  • Hats/caps: 4
  • Bags: 2
  • Belly warmer: 1
  • Coasters and cozies and wine charms: 7
  • Dishrags: 1 set of 3
  • Leg and arm warmers: 2
  • Lap blanket: 1

Project difficulty ratings come in the form of "designated driver, don't mix these with whiskey" (my customary role and knitting preference), "1 drink, don't get distracted," "2 drinks, you'll have to focus at least part of the time," "3 drinks, you may have to concentrate a bit," and "4 drinks, minimal level of concentration and skill."

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I was most taken by Libby Bruce's Fizzy Sweater . . .

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and two of the scarves, Danielle Romanetti's Linden Wrap, a nice mix of entrelac and a leaf-lace pattern:

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and Karida Collins' Ruff Neck Warmer:

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I also might knit several of the other sweaters, the bags, the socks, and one of the caps.

The sweater in the photo below caught my eye on the first skim-through, and still has a lot of appeal . . . 

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Unfortunately,somebody—editor? production lead?—might have had one too many at proofing time and I can't find the pattern in the book. (The leg warmers are described.) Maybe it'll be a bonus on a website? Or maybe I'll figure out my own pattern for a similar cardigan one of these days. I do like the concept.

The book's only major drawback, in my opinion, is the wood-grain background on all text-dominant pages, including the detailed instructions, which makes for challenging reading in the semi-dark.

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8 Responses

  1. Fibre or beer.

    Hmmm.

    Qivuit or pale swill? Fibre. Rough, matted smelly yak or St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout? Beer….

    I can’t knit and consume at the same time: even a dishcloth is beyond me past the second jug of beer, as I discovered once at a grad school seminar course. 🙂

  2. ROFL. Ah, yes, the commission-from-hell.

    Nice older gentleman, who sold off his llamas, turning their last shearings into 30 lbs. of laceweight two-ply with all the softness of steel wool.

    “I want scarves for our five grandchildren — oldest 8, youngest 3 — that will be soft and easy to clean.”

    Ran them through my I-cord machine and knitted up identical 6″-wide, 36″-long garter-stitch scarves. He loved them, but I’m surprised that no one from Children’s Services ever came to arrest me…. 😉

  3. The procurer of the yak insisted on no blending. Yak can, of course, be exquisite. My guess is that the people who sold him this stuff didn’t figure anyone from the US would actually make anything with it (and, obviously, he had no idea how to evaluate quality) and so, very sensibly, made some money on the stuff they didn’t want to use. He was happy, they were happy.

  4. Another fascinating book review, thanks. Beer or yarn–no contest! Beer or books–same. Yarn or books–that one’s difficult. I’m still coming down on the side of books more often. Could be I’ve just not had the time to even knit any small projects lately. But I did darn another pair of socks on the road trip between Salida and Nucla. (For those who don’t know Colorado, one’s about midway south-central, while the other is almost off the west edge of the state–so rural most folks never get there, or get away once they do get there!) It was a good trip for highway haiku too, as you know!

  5. Yes, yarn (or fiber) and books are very tough to choose between. Depends entirely on my mood at the time.

  6. Just when I thought it might be safe to peek at the blog again, here comes another wonderful book to peruse! You’ve already stretched my imagination with others, now comes one right down the middle of my perennial dilemma! I’ve finally convinced Himself to leave the “on the go” knitting bag in the truck.

    Haven’t quite gotten the knitting out of the dojo bag yet,…..

  7. Kris, you’re right. I think you’d have fun with a lot of what’s in this one.

  8. I just got this book as well, and love it! I’m doing Ruff Neck for my mom’s group to show them an easy holiday gift. Good Luck! I’ll be looking back at your site!

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