Would you like some reading matter to encourage you and get those creative juices flowing? Here are my recommendations: first, Yarn Bombing by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain. These authors canvassed online contributions from established guerilla knitters/crocheters and the resulting book includes patterns from the simple to the elegant, tips for tagging, getting your crew together, interviews with innovative girl groups from various countries, the story of the original tree sweater, and even practicalities such as blocking!
Looking back on my (relatively short) time as an urban yarn artist… I realise how much this book has influenced me, and how many of the projects and tips I have tried out: the chevron and bobble patterns (p. 72-74), the little stripey swatches (p. 70-71), bollard cosies (p. 58), tree cosies (p. 39), stretchy lattices (p. 82-83), and scallop edging (p. 185). Ambitions as yet unrealised include doing a whole lamp-post from top to bottom – and I think my favourite is the stripey boat ring by Masquerade (p. 63)! It’s striking to note the differences between the more street graffiti style of the Micro-Fibre Militia and the aesthetical approach of the Ladies Fancywork Society. Every time I read this I get a new boost and want to get out there… This book would suit everyone from those with elementary skills right up to those wanting to peruse the glossary for new stitches; but it’s a cultural and documentary account as well as a manual. This is a book to make you smile! The authors’ website is at http://yarnbombing.com/ , with some fabulous tree covers, if you would like to whet your appetite.
This is the book I use to get ideas to try out if I want to do something a little bit more fancy: 200 Crochet Blocks, by the admirable Jan Eaton. I’ve more used it for blanket squares (natch) but sometimes something goes wrong and I want to tag with it 🙂 *erm* I mean sometimes I want to do a particularly high-end tag fixture! This is a beautiful book that is a pleasure to work from; it uses familiar stitches to go that little bit further in genuinely new and creative combinations.
There are very fancy flower designs and just different combinations of doubles and trebles that make it worth banging out another rectangular tag. I like to make a shortlist of attractive patterns from this book, photo them onto my phone, and then pick one out when I feel like a new approach. I’ve learnt some minor technical things too: whilst 3ch makes a starting treble, beginning a row of doubles with 1ch and then ignoring it on the next row (rather than starting with 2ch and using it as a double) makes for a nicer edge and is less faffy to crochet into. The patterns are always as clear as could be, and she uses the British terminology (doubles/trebles not singles/doubles), which is brilliant.
In contrast, this one, Blankets and Throws to Knit (100 Knitted Squares) by Debbie Abrahams) looks like the knitting equivalent, but I’m finding it disappointing. It’s heavily biased towards the Intarsia (multi-coloured with lots of little balls of wool) which isn’t my scene as it’s faffy; I mean, does anyone really want to create a square with vertical stripes (p. 67)? Turn the square sideways people! and she’s heavy on the beads and sequins. There are some textured squares I want to try, but maybe I’m just a bit off the knitting in comparison lately as it’s not as sturdy as crochet all things being equal and my last knitted square got curly-up edges and (trauma) it took several weeks for my bamboo needles splinter to grow out of my pushing finger (humph).
Psychotherapy aside… I don’t like the way she presents the stitches in terms of colour letters: for example, K2C, P6C, K1C, P2B, K1B, P1B, K1a, P6A, K1A…. yikes, it makes my eyes boggle. I can see she’s going for max concision, but there must be a way that is nicer to read – with brackets perhaps (old-school Woman’s Weekly style). And call me old-fashioned (you may) but I think it’s shirking your duty to just draw a diagram and then write ‘follow the diagram’; I want to know how many stitches of what to do or I have to write it out myself There is a sequel: More Blankets and Throws (100 Stylish New Squares to Knit), which can be found in Newcastle Central Library… at least, you’ll have to wait for me to take it back first!
Let me know if there are any fab books you know of that are relevant!