Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

And Hopes Wane Again

Filed under: Knitting,Rats!,Wayback Wednesday — folkcat at 3:42 pm on Thursday, October 11, 2007

Several times yesterday, when I put Lola and Sable together, Lola stepped up the level of aggression to where I was worried for Sable’s safety. This makes it seem, again, unlikely we’ll be able to let them live in the same cage together. I guess separate quarters with supervised visitation is going to be the way of the world for them.

We’re still waiting to hear about a new pair of babies, and I have to admit, I’m having my doubts about bringing more rats in with Lola and Sable needing separate cages. We’ll have to wait and see how we feel about things when we’re told the new girls are actually available.

Wayback Wednesday Comes on Thursday This Week:

For lack of anything more current to show you, here’s what I was working on as of October 27, 2005:

First entrelac bag, October 2005

That was the first entrelac bag I ever knit. Little did I know what I was starting! By this point in the knitting, I had not yet mastered the art of knitting backwards, so I was still turning the work at the end of every row. That didn’t last long – I made sure to learn how to avoid all the tedious turning back and forth pretty quickly!

Now, I’m working on my sixth entrelac bag, the desert-themed one that will be a Christmas gift for someone this year. I don’t see any end to these in my future, either – they’re just that much fun to knit!

Slow, But Steady

Filed under: Daily Life,Knitting,Rats! — folkcat at 4:53 pm on Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Here I am, finally. I’m having one of those slow start days. You’d think my brain was a car engine on a day with sub-zero temperatures, that’s how slow I’m feeling today.

I may tend towards posting a bit later in the day for a while, anyhow. I’ve had a terrible time trying to get my exercise routine into the day, and frankly, I haven’t done it for months. It just seems like I get up and running, and then have to get out the door, and by the time I think I can slow down and exercise it’s practically bedtime.

So I’m going to try giving exercise a higher slot on the priority list than blog posting, which will mean posts might happen later. Don’t worry when it happens, it will hopefully mean I actually took the time to work out first!

After yesterday’s post, where I mentioned I had ends to weave in on the desert-themed entrelac bag, Carol asked in the comments “How many?” Her comment came in while I was sitting in the living room, chatting with the weekly circle of friends who come to my place to craft together. By then, I had already woven in all the ends, and never thought to count them. When I mentioned to the girls that someone asked how many ends there had been, everyone in the room said I should take a picture of the pile to share, even if I didn’t want to take the time to count the pieces.

So here it is, Carol, just for you!

Entrelac Bag Ends

Photo taken with my camera phone, since it was sitting next to me at the moment. So it’s a little fuzzy by my standards. On the other hand, I think it may have rendered the colors a bit closer to true than my Olympus.

I did get the handles started, in the variegated blue yarn, but no photos yet. All you’d see is about 8 inches of 8-stitch i-cord, anyhow.

While pulling the photo from the phone, I also found this picture I took at the pet store on Saturday, when Gryphon and I were picking up some supplies for the Rattie Sisters.

Robo Dwarf Hamster

This little guy is a Roborovski Dwarf Hamster, aka a Robo Dwarf. I have to confess, as much as I love the Rattie Sisters, I would so love to have a Robo Dwarf or two. They’re just too cute! And to give you an idea of size, that bowl he’s sitting in is about 3, maybe 4, inches across. The adult Robos only get to around 2 inches long at maturity. Just think how small a cage could be done and still keep several…

Looking Up, Making Over

Filed under: Knitting,Rats!,Second Life — folkcat at 1:54 pm on Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sable and Lola spent at least four hours together in a single cage yesterday. Yes, Lola tried to exert her dominance a few times. But Sable stayed, held her ground, and didn’t run. Eventually, Lola and Sable even snoozed curled up together in the nest corner.

We’re not leaving them together overnight yet, but we’ll certainly be expanding the time they get together during the day.

I can’t tell you how happy I am with this turn of events. We were considering withdrawing our names from the waiting list for a new pair of babies, because of not being able to keep Lola and Sable together. Now, we think it might still be feasible to add them.

Still no word on when that will be. The Rattery hasn’t listed the birth of the litters yet. I know they’re pretty busy, though – this summer, one of the partners moved to a full house from an apartment, and had a (human) baby as well. That’s okay – this is one of those situations where I like to use the phrase “in the fullness of time.” As in, the right pair of Rattie babies will come to us “in the fullness of time”.

I finished knitting the body of the desert-themed entrelac bag last night. It looks much like it did yesterday, just closed up at the bottom now. The variegated blue Malabrigo for the handles just got wound into a cake. Once I weave in all the yarn ends in the bag, I’ll get started on knitting the i-cord handles.

Sorry, no pictures, of either knitting or Ratties. I tried to get one of Sable and Lola snuggling together, but the act of opening the cage door to get a clear shot made them both wake up and come over to see what was going on.

What was I doing while the Rattie Sisters got cozy? Probably Perhaps was in Second Life, giving herself a personal makeover!

As a reminder, here’s the old Probably:

The Old Probably

Still wearing newbie flipflops for shoes, still wearing big, unnatural looking hair. Still wearing basic jeans and tie-dye.

Which is all well and good – especially the tie-dye shirt, my friend Arondelle made that. But Probably decided there was more to life. And she had this backpack full of clothes that she’d picked up for free, here, there and everywhere, and had never even looked at.

So she popped into her sister Genna’s house, and started trying things on. And came up with a look that she rather liked!

The New Probably

New look demanded new hair, so she popped over to Calico Creations and picked up the same, 10 Linden Heather hairstyle that Genna bought. Makes sense – they’re twins, after all! And with the hair coming in 80 different color combinations, Probably is free to choose a look with more attitude than her boring homebody of a younger sister, Genna.

Meanwhile, Probably is standing in front of the koi pond that Genna built in her garden. Not bad, huh? Although she’s proud of her sister’s accomplishments, Probably isn’t the type to settle down and build a house the way Genna is. Though she might consider renting a cool, modern condo or beachhouse somewhere. So long as someone else is responsible for the upkeep, so she can party all night!

Monday…What More to Say?

Filed under: Announcements,Contests,Holidays,Knitting,Rats! — folkcat at 1:17 pm on Monday, October 8, 2007

It’s a gray, dreary Monday here in New Hampshire, rainy and not much to say for the outdoors right now.

As for the indoors, there’s a plumber ass-end up in our bathroom (sorry, the quarters are too close to sneak a photo), replacing the faucet mechanism for the shower/tub; cold, but freshly made (yesterday) apple crisp in the refrigerator; and me, sitting at the computer, trying to figure out what I’ve got to talk about today.

I suppose, of course, that I should tell you who the winner of last week’s Freebie Friday was. It’s Sara! Congratulations, Sara – you should already have e-mail asking for your mailing address.

I did get some knitting done on the desert-themed entrelac bag for Christmas.

WIP, Christmas 2007 #3: Desert Entrelac Bag

As you can see, we’re working on lots of the mottled green/brown yarn for the ground. It looks like a large portion of the bag in this picture, but remember, this will be felted and a lot of the mottled section you see will be the bottom of the bag, so it won’t be fully visible from the sides.

I did pick up another skein of the variegated blue Malabrigo to do the handles with, so I’ll be able to get on with that as soon as I finish the next few rounds of the bag. Which should go quickly, once I pick it up – we’re down to squares only 6 stitches across now, and each round gets smaller until we’re only 3 stitches across. Won’t be long now!

As for the Rattie Sisters, Sable seems to be going through a phase combining loneliness and discomfort. There have been signs that she’s a bit constipated, and we’re making changes to her diet to help that along (more juicy greens, some canned pumpkin, etc). Most significantly, though, she seems upset whenever we’re away from her side for too long. Her appetite was down on Sunday, too, and I made an extra effort to find something, anything, that she would eat.

When she came out of the cage, she spent lots of time sitting on my knee with my hand cradling her, and covered by the corner of a blanket. Or on the back of my chair, curled up against the back of my head. She seemed to be desperately craving comfort and contact.

I spent Sunday taking her with me everywhere. When I worked at the desk computer, I brought her cage to a small table at my side. I went to the kitchen to make the apple crisp, and carried the cage in to the counter, so she could see I was there for her. The only time I didn’t take her with me was when I went to the bathroom.

By the end of the day, she had eaten some food, and seemed a little more chipper. Today, she’s got a better appetite, though she’s still craving company.

I did an experiment Sunday. I let Lola out of her cage, and allowed her to go into Sable’s. Sable was huddled in a nest bag on the top floor. Lola explored everywhere, then crawled in the bag with Sable and pounced on her – classic dominance play. But Lola quickly tired of that, and went back to poking around all the corners of the cage. She alternated between the two activities, cage and Sable, for a while, then seemed to settle in just as if they were always together. Sable even came out of her funk enough to come out of the nest bag, and interact with Lola some.

It’s looking good that we may, possibly, be able to put them together again one day. I’ll be allowing more visitations like this, and we’ll keep them separate at night for now. My fingers are crossed that this works out – it will be so much less work if the girls don’t have to be kept separately!

Oct. 5th Freebie Friday – Entries Now Closed!

Filed under: Announcements,Contests — folkcat at 12:00 pm on Monday, October 8, 2007

It’s noon Eastern time on Monday, October 8th – entries for last week’s Freebie Friday contest are now closed! I’ll announce the winner later today.

The Return of Freebie Friday – Inspired Fair Isle Knits?

Filed under: Announcements,Books,Contests — folkcat at 3:43 pm on Friday, October 5, 2007

Welcome back to Freebie Friday!

Freebie Friday this week is open only to mailing addresses in the United States and Canada. My apologies to readers overseas – you’ll get a chance again soon!

inspired fair isle book jacket_edited.jpgThis week’s prize is the new book Inspired Fair Isle Knits by Fiona Ellis. I reviewed this book on Tuesday, both here and at the Shopping Jen blog. If you’ve been reading here, you may recall my review wasn’t entirely favorable.

The key points in my review were:

  1. The editorial work was sloppy – there were typos, grammatical errors, inconsistent style, and bad photos.
  2. I didn’t like the designs, mostly, and for those that I did, I’d remove the Fair Isle detailing.
  3. The writing was excellent, providing good and complete instructions. This book was better written than most I’ve reviewed thus far.

Point #1 is unfortunate, but mainly a cosmetic issue, and is being addressed by the publisher. You can read their response here.

Point #2 is largely my own personal taste. I didn’t like the designs – someone else might. Maybe you?

Point #3 is worth noting. The instructions in this book are very well written, and information is given for nearly any technique you might need while working a project. Fiona Ellis is a good writer, and it shows here.

Although I gave a generally unfavorable review, it was based largely on my opinion of the designs (influenced slightly by the bad editing work). There might, though – just might – be some among you who like some of the designs I showed. And editorial errors aside, you won’t be disappointed in the writing.

How can you win this book for your very one? The rules, as always, are simple:

  • Only mailing addresses in the United States and Canada are eligible for entry to this drawing.
  • Enter by commenting to the contest post before Noon, Eastern Time, on Monday, October 8th. Only one entry per person for commenting.
  • Earn a second entry by posting about the contest on your own blog, and linking to this post. E-mail me at fiber AT folkcatart DOT com to tell me you’ve done so. Don’t forget to post soon enough that your own readers have a chance to join in the fun!
  • Have you won a prize at Crafting Jen before? No worries, you can enter again!
  • The winner will be chosen by a random drawing from all entries received before the deadline.
  • I’ll announce the winner on the blog on Monday, and will also e-mail them for their mailing address.

There it is, then – are you the one this book is meant for? Drop a comment, post a link, and get a chance to find out!

Good luck, and have a great weekend!

Rattie TeleVision

Filed under: Rats!,Video Clips — folkcat at 1:26 pm on Thursday, October 4, 2007

I’ve been specifically asked for a Rattie update! Seems some of you get a Rattie Jones if we don’t talk about Lola and Sable for too long.

We’re still finding that we need to keep Lola and Sable separated. That means that Rattie Time out of the cage takes longer, since they can’t be out together without supervision.

I think there may be hope that they can live together again one day. Sable is seeming more chipper these days, like she’s getting out of the funk of losing Star. She’s actually started giving Lola her own back when Lola tries to jump her. This change is in the early stages, so I’m trying not to pin any hopes on a specific result, but I think there’s promise.

Meanwhile, since I really don’t have any knitting to show today after all, here are some clips from RTV – Rattie TeleVision.

Sable Gets Her Ear Skritched

She does like her a good ear skritching, Sable does. I love how she leans her head over, then stretches the paw out to get a good grip so she can hold her position.

Lola Has a Bunny Belly

I’ve never mentioned this before, but soon after we adopted Lola, I noticed her belly and wondered if we should have named her “Bunny.” Can you see the long-eared white rabbit?

Freebie Friday tomorrow – don’t forget to check back!

Inspired Fair Isle Knits – The Publisher Responds

Filed under: Books,Reviews — folkcat at 4:58 pm on Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s review of Inspired Fair Isle Knits, I’ve had some communication with the Marketing Manager for Potter Craft, the publisher of the book:

Thanks for your review. We always strive to have our books void of mistakes, but when some get through the cracks we correct them in future printings. If you have any specific correction suggestions or if you want to point me to the page numbers, we will correct it in future printings and post the correction on PotterCraft.com

I responded promptly with a detailed list of the issues I had found while reviewing the book, and soon after I had this response:

Thank you very much for pointing out these errors! We will fix them in the next printing. Also, your readers may want to know that all our corrections live here:

http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/pottercraft/errata/index.html

and they are welcome to e-mail us with any mistakes they see in our books, or if they suspect there’s a problem with a pattern. Our authors are always quick to supply us with a correction which we post here.

Isn’t it nice when the world works as it should? I was very pleased to hear all this, because you know, the book wasn’t bad, really. As I mentioned in my review, the writing was quite good, the information was very inclusive of all the knitter would need to know. My only quibbles were with the designs themselves, which is a matter of personal taste, and the editorial errors I caught, which made the book look unprofessional.

The message here is, don’t be afraid to tell someone if you think their efforts fall short of the mark they intended! Publishers aren’t trying to put out bad books – they genuinely want to be proud of their product. Speak up, politely, and let them know!

Related Links:

Running at Full Speed

Filed under: Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Daily Life — folkcat at 2:59 pm on Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Whew! What a busy day I’ve had already. And I haven’t even gotten to any of my normal activities yet.

First up was a doctor’s appointment. That always disrupts the morning, just because I have to be somewhere other than home, doing something other than my usual routine. The good news, though, is that everything’s looking, well, good – glucose, cholesterol, bp, etc. Sure, the doctor wants me to be exercising more, but I know that’s important, and I’m working to fit it in where I can.

TiVo LogoAfter that, we made a dash over to our local Big Lots! store. Last night on the Unofficial TiVo Blog, I’d spotted a heads up about a great deal – Big Lots! has a limited supply of Series 2, Dual-Tuner TiVos for $69.99. And to make the offer even better, the purchase is eligible for a $150 rebate from TiVo if you buy before October 27.

ETA: There may be some issue about the eligibility of this purchase for the rebate. Please see my post about it at Shopping Jen for more information.

Even if this purchase doesn’t qualify for the rebate, it’s still a good deal – the same unit goes for $99.99 at the TiVo website, and you have to pay the first month of subscription service at the same time to boot. I don’t regret picking this up at Big Lots!

You heard that right – spend $69.99 on the TiVo at Big Lots!, get back $150 from TiVo in a mail-in rebate (PDF). You effectively get the TiVo for free, and then get an extra $80 in your pocket to boot. In our case, because we qualify for a multi-service discount on this unit, that’s like getting almost a year’s worth of TiVo service for free.

The deal at Big Lots! is only available while supplies last. You can go to their main website to see if there’s a store in your area.

If you happen to pick up a TiVo, and care to give me credit for the referral when you activate it, please list me as folkcat@tds.net . Thanks!

So here it is, nearly 3 p.m. already. I’ve done a lot today – seen the doctor, set up a whole new TiVo unit in the house – but I’m only just getting to even thinking about blogging, let alone giving the Rattie Sisters any attention.

Crafting Progress Mostly In The Kitchen

Slow. My Real Life (RL) friend who got me into Second Life was the only one who showed up for the weekly Craft Circle in my home, and we spent the night crafting, sure. But we did it in Second Life. She showed me how to make a nice poster from a graphic she’s given me, a Japanese painting of a mountain to hang on the wall of my house.

I did knit a little bit, but not enough to justify showing. I also did some cooking – Gryphon and I have discovered how easy it is to roast a whole, small chicken in the crockpot. So we watch for a good sale, cook it up, then take the meat and make yummy things like Chicken Taco Casserole. Easy to make, delicious, and keeps well. You can also make it ahead and freeze before baking for later use.

I made chocolate chip cookies over the weekend. Used a recipe from the Internet – I wasn’t too happy with it, but it was okay. The chocolate was leftover milk chocolate melting wafers that I had in the refrigerator – I just chopped them up and threw them in the batter. Ultimately, the milk chocolate was too mellow a flavor to go with the dough I made, but you know what? The cookies were still tasty, just not the best I’ve ever made. Just being homemade counts for a lot.

I’m getting the itch to make homemade applesauce, too. We have many orchards within a few miles of here, there’s no excuse for me not picking up the best, freshest apples and making a batch. That’s easy to do on the stove, too, but I have often used the crockpot just to keep from having to stand there stirring. Just peel and cut up your apples (removing the cores, of course), toss them in the pot with 1/2 cup of liquid – water, cider, orange juice, or what have you – and cook on low. Stir occasionally. You’ll have an idea when the apples have softened and cooked down enough to be done. You can either just mash them up well with the back of the spoon or a potato masher, or if you don’t like your sauce chunky, use a stick blender or food processor. Freeze anything you won’t use right away.

I like to season my applesauce a little with Chinese five-spice. Don’t add it too early in the process – you want the flavor of the spice fairly fresh. Wait until the sauce is nearly done, then stir in a teaspoon at a time until it tastes right to you.

I need to go get some salad now. Yeah, we finally ate after the doctor’s appointment, but I’ve been so on the go that I need the next bit of something.

There will be more crafting later this week, I promise. And there just might be something good for Freebie Friday!

Inspired Fair Isle Knits

Filed under: Books,Knitting,Reviews — folkcat at 12:59 pm on Tuesday, October 2, 2007

inspired fair isle book jacket_edited.jpgInspired Fair Isle Knits by Fiona Ellis

Published by: Potter Craft (Random House)

Acquired by: Free copy from Publisher

List Price: $35.00

Available: Oct. 2, 2007

Edited to add: Please see link at end of article for the publisher’s response to this review!

Knitwear designer Fiona Ellis has established a style that borrows from traditional knitting techniques, takes inspiration from nature, then turns both on their ears for a modern interpretation of classic designs. Her new book, Inspired Fair Isle Knits, is no exception.

Following her 2006 title, Inspired Cable Knits, Ellis has now turned her attention to the traditional techniques and motifs of Fair Isle knitting. Named for a small island in the Shetlands, north of Scotland, where it originated, Fair Isle knitting is a multi-colored technique, usually using two colors in a single row of knitting. The color not in use for the current stitch is carried at the back of the work until it is needed further down the row.

Traditionally, in such a cold place on the North Sea, Fair Isle knitting is used to make warm sweaters to brave the cold ocean winds and winter weather. As Ellis explains in her introduction, she has re-interpreted Fair Isle knitting for a modern design sense by playing with traditional elements of Fair Isle design, including placement of the patterning, use of color, symmetry, and types of garments.

In Inspired Cable Knits, Ellis used the themes of change, nature, energy, and time to gather her designs. This time, the themes are the four natural elements – water, air, fire, and earth. In each section, pieces are shown for nearly every season of the year, from turtleneck sweaters to halter tops, with a few styles for children thrown in.

But does the book measure up to its promise? I’m not sure. I found it to be well written, but there were many problems that give me pause about recommending it. Let me tell you what I found, and see what you think.

First things first…

Sizing

Sizes of the finished garments are givein as XS – 3X (though not all go that small or large); finished chest measurements for women range from 32″ (XS) to 54″ (2X). I find the measurements confusing, though, without an indication of the real body chest measurement they’re intended to fit.

The XS measurements for women, for instance, range from 32 to 35 inches. S ranges from 32 – 39 inches. Those garments with an upper size of 2X measure from 46 to 54 inches. And the 3 items for women that have an upper size of 3X have measurements from 49 1/2 to 53 inches.

I found this confusing. No explanation of the ease of any garment is given, so it’s difficult to know what size you should knit. Is a 3X that’s 53 inches really meant to be smaller than a 2X that measures 54 inches? Your guess is as good as mine.

In the front sections of the book, choosing a size is addressed. The suggestion given is to measure a garment that fits you well, then compare it, not to the chest measurements and sizes listed, but to the schematic shown alongside the instructions. That will work for most, but without a discussion of the ease designed into the garments, you might have trouble getting a fit similar to that shown in the book.

The Effort is There

There is a strong effort to help the knitter, whatever their level of experience, succeed. The front of the book includes sections covering, at least in brief, such topics as stranding the colors as you knit, working in the round, and even setting in zippers – a topic that I’ve faulted other books for not including.

Each pattern includes, after the Materials list and Gauge, a special note calling out any special techniques required, with a pointer to the page that section can be found on. For example, the Classic Cardigan with Felted Pockets (p. 108), reads, “REFER TO TECHNIQUES ON PAGE 18 FOR: Felting, Short Rows, Single Crochet, 3-Needle Bind-Off.

Information like that means that even a beginner – so long as they actually read through the instructions – will have a better chance of completing a project well. Sure, some of the how-to explanations are very short, but at least the knitter has something to start from, which is more than many books include.

The instructions are carefully written, too. Anytime that the nature of the piece you’re knitting changes – for instance, when you need to begin shaping a section – it’s called out as a new paragraph, with a title in an alternate text color. Pay attention, and you’re less likely to whip out ten rows of stockinette past that point.

Yarns

No two projects in this book use yarns from the same company – no, wait. There are some yarns used by at least two projects, but of the 20 items shown, there are at least 16 different brands and labels of yarn called for. If you want to make substitutions, information about yardage and weight is given at the pattern, and also in a 2-page spread at the back dedicated to the yarn specifications. There is also a full guide to vendors from which the yarns used can be purchased.

Editorial Flaws

There were a number of places that showed flaws in the editorial process. The author’s “A Last Word” at the end of the book has several errors, both missing words as well as words out of place.

Finished chest measurements are given for all garments, which is a good thing. But there’s an inconsistency – on some patterns, fractional measurements are given as decimals. On others, they’re shown as actual fractions. Very unprofessional.

And then there’s this photo:

Inspired Fair Isle Knits - Blurry Photo

The blur that you see is not from my poor camera skills. That is actually in the photo that was selected for publication in this finished, hardcover book. Fortunately, it’s not the primary image for this particular sweater. But why was it included? Were they that desperate for a photo that showed the hood up?

Errors like these are jarring to me, lifting me out of the enjoyment of the book, and making it difficult for me to think anything but, “goodness, this was poorly put together.”

Worth it?

So, the book is flawed. Editorial errors distract the reader’s eye, and detract from the overall quality. Still, Ellis clearly made an effort to be very inclusive of the information that the knitter would need to complete her designs.

Let’s see some pictures of a few of them, and you can decide for yourself if it’s worth pursuing this book – in spite of the flaws.

The Designs

(As usual, please click on any photo to get a larger image.)

Inspired Fair Isle Knits - Waves
Waves

I think this sweater is way too large for the model. But I like the unusual take on a classic rope cable – obviously the continuing influence of Ellis’ previous book. I’m not so sure that the Fair Isle yoke looks like it goes with the cabled sleeves and body, however.

Inspired Fair Isle Knits - Drifting
Drifting

A cute sweater for a child, this raglan has buttons up both front raglan seams. Of course, my regular readers may recognize that the colors are influencing my opinion here – these are among my favorites.

Inspired Fair Isle Knits - Whisper
Whisper

This is listed as a turtleneck, and normally I have a strong aversion to anything close around my neck. But clearly, this collar isn’t close fitting. I think that I could actually wear this, if I could size it up for my body. I like the cute detailing of lace at the collar and cuff.

The only thing is – and this isn’t good for a book on Fair Isle knitting – I think this design would work better without the sections of Fair Isle patterning. They distract the eye from the lacy details.

Inspired Fair Isle Knits - Sunkissed
Sunkissed

One of the younger styles in the book. If I had the body for it, I’d wear this, though maybe not in these colors. This is knit in Young Touch Cotton DK yarn by Estelle Designs, so I’ll bet it’s comfortable to wear.

Inspired Fair Isle Knits - Kindle
Kindle

This scarf is knit in the round in a sportweight alpaca yarn. At 9″ across, it’s wider than I’d care for myself. What caught my eye, though, was the fringe detailing. Each end of the scarf includes a row of eyelets, through which a single, long I-cord is threaded. The cord is stitched in place to keep the fringe loops from sliding. I might not want to knit the scarf, but I thought the fringe was clever.

The Huh?

Inspired Fair Isle Knits - Sway
Sway

This Huh? is for the pose. The model looks like she just peed her pants, and is trying to keep the puddle from getting bigger. I think they’re trying to show off the flirty pleated cuffs, but in the process, her posture and arm position almost completely hide the sweater.

Inspired Fair Isle Knits - Peat
Peat

The Huh? in this case is for the choice of yarn in the body of the men’s sweater. What is the woman at the front thinking? “Hey, I didn’t do the laundry, he did. And I told him to check the pockets for kleenex first! But does he ever listen?”

Bottom Line

I really wanted to like this book. There was clearly a serious effort to include everything the knitter would need to know to be able to complete the projects, something many books fall short on. But few of the designs caught my eye favorably. Of those that did, it was usually something other than the Fair Isle details that I liked about them – not good when Fair Isle is supposedly the point of the book.

Much of the photography distracts from and hides details of the garments. The editorial errors distract from the quality of the copy.

The copy itself is actually fairly good. What we’re left with is a well written book of knitting information and instructions, but with designs that don’t, well, inspire me. Add the poor copyediting and the inconsistent quality of the photography, and I find myself disappointed.

Maybe Fiona Ellis’ designs aren’t to my taste. But I like the quality of her writing, and I think her books could be better. I hope she keeps trying – I’d like to see where she goes.

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