Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Magical Knitting Book Review

Yesterday I went to the library to return some DVDs (Horatio Hornblower, fun adventure on the high seas) and borrow a few books. One of those books was A Treasury of Magical Knitting by Cat Bordhi. You might know her from Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles. I flipped through the Magical Knitting book at the LYS last year but nothing in it grabbed my attention. Which is fine, my lack of NEED IT NOW interest makes it an ideal book to borrow from the library and explore at leisure. That way I won't feel like I wasted money on it -- and with a pricetag of $27.00 I reserve the right to be picky.

So I was flipping through the library's copy of Magical Knitting and a photo taken at the top of a waterfall jumped out at me.

Hey, that's right down the street, I can walk there! How did they find that location? It made sense after I was reminded Cat Bordhi lives in Friday Harbor, on San Juan island (a short boat ride away). And I know for certain that's MY waterfall (OK, I don't own it) because a photo on the previous page shows the model standing on the stone bridge next to it.

The San Juan islands are my personal vision of heaven. I happened to be in Friday Harbor last October, here are some photos of the marina:

The sign says "Port of Friday Harbor Marina"

OK, so what do I think of A Treasury of Magical Knitting?

Here is where I ignore the inexplicable fictional story about the discovery of the moebius strip and circular needles. Moving right along...

I'm sure I'll eventually make at least one moebius scarf, I like trying new knitting techniques and the cast on is different/bizarre. It involves a provisional-like cast on with a 47"-60" circular curled up in a coil like a snake -- that makes zero sense, you have to see the pictures in the book.

At first I was thinking oh great, I need to buy a 47" circular just to try this out (because the only 47" circs I own are size 0 and size 000) but Bordhi mentions that the Denise interchangeables are a good fit for her moebius technique. I have a 40" Denise cord (which makes a 48" circ) so hey, I won't have to buy new needles or cords.

The written instructions and photos are very clear, it's obvious that Bordhi taught this technique in numerous workshops before writing the book. All the details have been patiently explained and pitfalls averted because she knows exactly when someone would raise a hand in class and ask, "But what happens if...?" There's even an entire FAQ chapter, which is both clever and helpful.

So what can we make with a moebius? Well, there's scarves, shawls, capes, hats, and felted socks. You'll find felted bags, baskets, bowls, and cat beds in the follow-up book, A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting. The first book has three pages of preview photos for the second book but that's all I know about it, I haven't seen the second book yet. Aside: This is kinda misleading, some people quickly flipping through the first book in a store will see the photos of bags, baskets, bowls, and cat beds and assume the patterns are in the book they're buying. Wrong. I don't believe it was Bordhi's intention to trick people of course, but it's going to annoy some knitters. And we all know how easy it is to annoy knitters. Ha ha ha.

The scarves show off the moebius best because they actually look like moebius strips. The shawls tend to look like they might have been twisted on accident when they were put on (though some do look quite nice), the other objects basically have a twisted cuff or handle so they look like the cuff on the hat is flipped up wrong or yay there's a twist in the handle (eh, you might be more excited than me about that). If you click on the cover photo for Bordhi's second moebius book on you'll see some of the felted items. I doubt I'll ever make one of those things but I see a moebius scarf in my future. I especially like the idea of making a moebius scarf with applied i-cord edging in a contrasting color.

1 comment:

grumperina said...

I saw a preview of the Second Treasury of Magical Knitting, and it looked really interesting. I like the felted baskets which sort of looked like a head of cabbage to me :).

Thank you for your tip about Meg Swansen's video. Would you believe that neither the Boston proper libraries, nor the Boston suburb libraries have it? Pretty disappointing. I think I'm on my own here. I have to decide what I think is easier - learning to throw with the right, or learning to carry two strands in the left. I have a feeling that the latter will be quicker and easier for me to learn.