linens, a square, and an argyle lace

I’m in the home stretch of school work. I finished my Master’s Project last Spring so I’m just finishing up some elective coursework now. I really hope to finish this paper by Friday so I can go to Maryland without those stresses and then can ramp back up and give my clients the attention they deserve.

I didn’t read as much as I thought I would this past week. Beautiful weather in the NYC area this weekend kept me outside as much as possible (vitamin D!! vitamin D!!) and I was up at 5am this morning to travel to another town to talk to a bunch of 15 year olds about careers. I /think/ my part went well, it took a bit for me to figure out how to work my “path” into something that was somewhat coherent and interesting. Tenth grade is a hard year to work with. The last time I did something like this, it was to some college undergrads.

I just know that I am looking into a new warm weather suit.. I absolutely melted on my walk home today.

Without more blabber here are four books I’ve had the chance to write up this week. I received The Kitchen Linens Book as part of a Library Thing Early Reviewer program and find that once I’m handed a book with the directive to review it I sit tongue tied and unable to write anything. At this point my review is anything but Early.

I’m also a bit nervous mixing the two social book networks in the same post as I’ve not reviewed the ToS of each closely. While both do some things in a similar way, I personally see them as filling different niches and I like having both. GoodReads is for all books that I read whether I own them or not. Librarything is for some of the many books we own. So until one or both of my accounts gets disabled …

multicolor crochet motifs ranging from primarily blue-greens at top to pinks-purples, then greens, then yellow and oranges. Over this collage/spread of motifs is an orange shape with text: "beyond the square crochet motifs"

Beyond-the-Square Crochet Motifs
by Edie Eckman
Spiral bound hardcover, 192 pages
© 2008, Storey Publishing
1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book reviewhalf star for book review

It took me quite a while to discover there was such a thing as a crochet pattern book. I learned granny squares as I suspect most have — by watching someone else doing it. The closet we got to a pattern was colour blocking graph paper to decide how to lay out the finished blanket. At least that was my experience. Since discovering that motif pattern books exist I’ve been on a quest to find and review as many as I can.

I find that this book of 144 motifs does not disappoint me. I can’t guarantee I’ve sat and hooked through many of them. I confess I quickly loose patience with crochet patterns — no matter what they are — and go into it my way. That’s what some twenty years of habit will do. I can say that each motif is portrayed in three marvellous ways. It begins with a photograph. The motifs are quite clear and the stitch definition is well defined. Colour changes are used to show potential variations and also to highlight differences in the stitches. At the label of each motif, each colour choice is clearly defined describing which rounds have that colour. Second there are written instructions for each round. These are “modern” instructions similar to what you might find in a crochet magazine. Lastly there are beautiful, what I’ll call Japanese inspired, as that’s where I first encountered them, charts.

Where I’m disappointed is in the tutorial on how to join motifs which just covers about two and a half pages. I would have liked to see more of it, but that’s my personal desire.

I learned there are many more motifs than the traditional one I learned (I think mine was closest to #109, though not really) and that with variations on yarn and colour there is no reason for it to look like the dated granny square we grew up with.

I highly recommend this book to anyone intrigued by the crochet motif.

A white fabric with a personified embroidered tea cup. in red at the top a banner reads "The Kitchen Linens Book: Using, Sharing, and Cherishing the Fabrics of Our Daily Lives" the authors name is in white text on a blue banner at the bottom of the image.

The Kitchen Linens Book: Using, Sharing, and Cherishing the Fabrics of Our Daily Lives
by EllynAnne Geisel
Library Thing
Hardcover, 152 pages
© 2009 Andrews McMeel Publishing
1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book reviewno star for book review

I’ve struggled to figure out how to review this book since it appeared in my mailbox. While I’m not a formally trained artist or a textile historian, I found I was familiar with much of this book. I was also surprised to find this wasn’t the type of book I thought it was — for some reason, perhaps because I’ve been reading and trying to review lots of pattern books lately — I thought this was a book of various knit, crochet, sew, and embroidery patterns to make various kitchen linens. That it is not. What is it then? The Kitchen Linen’s Book is a collection of beautiful researched stories of personal kitchen linens. The photographs are crisp and varied and beg for memories to be unleashed. Interspersed throughout are boxes of information be it various forms of fibre or an descriptions of different embroider techniques. There are some recipes and patterns (and I put out there it’s trivial to use the photos as a guide and recreate on your own) and they are nice — some oatmeal-pecan cookies have me craving a full cookie jar. This is much more than a history of cloths or a personal memoir. I feel it’s the afternoon conversation I wish to have with my mother over tea. It’s a way to reconnect and to reinvent. It’s a great book to read and I’m happy I’ve had a chance to look through it and will work to revise this review as I spend more time with the book. Each time I read or flip through something new catches my eye and I see a different connection.

a woman with a light pink Side slip cloche. it covers her hair and ears showing her eyes. a hint of the rest of the model's clothing a pale ruffle sleeved dress. The title "boutique Knits" is overlaid on the hat

Boutique Knits: 20+ Must-Have Accessories
by Laura Irwin
Paperback, 144 pages
© 2008, Interweave Press
1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book reviewno star for book review

I’m not a trendy person. My mom’s been making fun of me for the past twenty years that I want to dress like I’m forty (though she’s recently changed that to sixty). I crave “traditional classic clothing”. So what in earth am I doing looking through this book of boutique knits?

I’ll blame Ravelry. Why? I get to see how others have interpreted the patterns and made them their own. That and for reasons unknown I fell for the Argyle Lace Hat (especially this interpretation). Ok, I confess, it’s the buttons. I see techniques and parings I might explore further (faux shibori and mixing felted and unfelted items) but I do not see myself making many of these items for myself. For others? Oh definitely. I have friends who would look adorable in and really appreciate several of the items.

This post was tidied on 15 August 2023 to clean up broken images and some formatting. No fundamental content changes were made even if I really wanted to update the content.

some commentary on 2023-08-15: Later in 2009 we moved to the next town on the rail line where I talked to those tenth graders. For the next few years I continued to speak at that school’s career event each spring. Thankfully I didn’t need to wake up so early and could even walk! I’ve not yet knit the Argyle Lace Hat, nor any other design from Boutique Knits. Looking at the designs now I see a few designs that might be good gifts and use up some stash yarns. I was honestly surprised to find my review of Edie’s book in this post. I can’t remember when I first met her in person. She’s amazing. I hire her to tech edit my patterns, she has hired me for some web technical advice.

Reader interactions

3 Replies to “linens, a square, and an argyle lace”

  1. Glad you liked Beyond the Square. Thanks for the nice review!


  2. Two things – your review of Beyond the Square got me to go request it from BPL (since we now have a variety of crochet hook sizes thanks to the kids’ interest)

    you wrote: My mom’s been making fun of me for the past twenty years that I want to dress like I’m forty (though she’s recently changed that to sixty).

    Hey, these days, even some 60 year olds want to look trendy . . . um, never mind, let’s not go there other than to say that I *so* do not like today’s fashions.

  3. I’ve been enjoying Beyond the Square a lot, too! Thanks for the reviews.

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