Thread Thoughts

The Nut Graf knits, sews and attempts other crafts

Dark winter knits a la Kim Hargreaves November 8, 2007

Filed under: Knitting,Reviews — chengat @ 1:15 am

Something about the winter season, perhaps the grayer skies and deep nights, that makes us knitters turn to darker colors. I’ve noticed Blue Moon Fiber Arts (those behind Socks that Rock) has come out with a new color grouping called the Raven Clan, 13 colorways that are heavily shaded with black. Complex. Mysterious.

And speaking of dark Gothic themes, I just received Kim Hargreaves’ new pattern book, Heartfelt: The Dark House Collection. Doesn’t the title evoke a novel written by one of the Bronte sisters? The book is typical KH: timeless pieces with a modern look. The collection includes 21 patterns, including sweaters and accessories knitted in yarn of all gauges, ranging from simple to more advanced techniques – in other words, there is something in here for everyone.

Each of the patterns is well photographed. I hate it when photographs in knitting books and magazines (that means you, Vogue Knitting) obsure important details of the knitted piece in favor of some “artistic” shot, or pose the models to hide some flaw in the garment. Not to worry with Ms. Hargreaves. For example, look at Amory:
See how each photo is beautifully shot, yet highlights the details of the design.

Of her designs, I especially like Faith, a cardigan with eyelet panelling and gathered sleeves; Calm, a light mohair sweater with eyelet detailing around the neckline; and Amory, a fitted sweater with a curved hemline and lace panelling down the front and back. Each design is elegant yet comfortable looking. For accessories, I like the cozy look of the Haven scarf, a lace design for a bulky yarn; and the feminine yet saucy look of Bonnie, a slouchy lace hat.

I bought the kit for Faith. It’s a pretty cardigan perfect for holiday parties when knit in the drapey and shiny Bamboo Soft yarn called for in the pattern. I got the kit in the color Gypsum, which is a medium gray that is less blue than pictured on the Web site, as you can see here. The cute flower pin and belt were unfortunately not included in the kit.
Each of Hargreaves’ kits comes boxed with tissue, ribbon and gift card. They would make a perfect gift for a knitter or crocheter. They also include any buttons, beads or – as in the case with the Precious cropped cardigan – even handmade silk ribbons. The buttons I received with the Faith kit look to be excellent quality and are made of glass and have faceted edges.

I also bought a kit for Trinket, a ruffled scarf not from her book but from Hargreave’s Finishing Touches accessories collection, which is only available on her Web site. The kit is in the color Violetta, a deep purple, and includes silver-lined beads in amethyst purple. The glass beads, perhaps size 8/0, look like Miyuki beads, or similar quality. You beaders out there probably know that Miyuki seed beads have the highest and most consistent quality. You can’t risk using poor quality beads on your knitting as they can be difficult to string, or worse yet, they may snag or cut your yarn.

Hargreaves’ patterns are formatted like other Rowan patterns, with clear instructions, charts and schematics. But one big negative (and this is a problem with other Rowan patterns as well) is the patterns don’t offer much details on the yarn used. Rowan probably does this intentionally to get you to buy their yarn. But even if I do buy Rowan yarn, which I often do, I would still like to at least know the composition of the yarn and yardage per skein/ball. This is a huge problem when knitters want to use an older pattern and Rowan has discontinued the yarn. Thank goodness for sites like Yarndex and Ravelry, to find info on discontinued yarn.

Other points: I did notice one piece of errata in the Heartfelt book. For Amory, the yarn is listed as Kidsilk Aura when it should be Bamboo Soft. But since this is a freshly minted copy, I’m sure this and any other errors will be corrected soon. The shipping from the U.K. to the U.S. is expensive, but she ships very quickly. I ordered the book and kits last Tuesday (Oct. 30) and got it today (Wednesday) – exactly a week.

Now I just have to finish my Road to Golden sweater and cast on for Faith!