If you've spent any time with me in winter, there is a very good chance you've seen me bundled in my favourite arrow scarf from Hilary Grant. (Said scarf also occasionally spends it's evenings serving as a tiny wee cat bed for a certain spoiled brat of a cat). I've been following Hilary's work for years now, and am so happy that she has adapted some of her machine-knitting patterns for hand knits!
I had been dying to get my paws on Knitting From the North, and I was kindly contacted by Roost Books to provide a review. Since receiving a copy, I find myself just flipping through the pages in spare moments admiring the photography, dreaming up colour schemes, and imagining myself on holidays in the Scottish Highlands.
Now, whenever commercial or machine-knit patterns get translated for hand-knitters, I feel like some hesitation is well justified before diving in. I mean, does everyone remember the Fred Perry disaster from a few years back? Thankfully, this book avoids most of the potential traps and provides patterns for a range of skill levels, from a ribbed toque to basic colourwork and some double knitting - all techniques this cold-climate dweller appreciates.
The aesthetics of this book are just so perfect and ticks all my boxes: good Shetland wool, timeless designs, and stunning landscapes. The pattern photos capture the designs but also create a strong sense of place. It's been years since I've been in the north of Scotland but so many of the landscapes feel so familiar (especially the picture of sheep above)! Hilary has such a strong brand and she managed to put together a book that perfectly captures her vibe.
There are definitely a couple things that I wish were different though: First, because I am wholly cheap I always like looking at actual yardage requirements rather than number of balls. Especially when working on multiple smaller projects, it would be nice to have slightly more accurate requirements to work off of. Second, and I think this comes from translating from machine to hand, I wish the circle scarf patterns were written to be knit in the round and steeked rather than flat. It would be easy enough to adapt (and I think I will), but it seems much less fussy than wrong-side colourwork.
The patterns that have landed in my immediate mental queue are the Wave Scarf and Arrow Hat. The colours used in the book are classic and right up my alley, but I've come up with a couple tweaks that would make the winter accessories of my dreams:
Like I mentioned above, I would definitely do this in the round and then steeked flat. I don't know if that makes me lazy or clever, but I choose to think it's the latter. I really can't wait to get some christmas knits off my needles so I can cast on at least one of these patterns on my holiday break.
If you can get a hold of this book, I would recommend it not only for the patterns but as a source of inspiration. I'll admit, my knitting mojo has been slightly absent for the last few weeks, but I still flip through this book almost every day. I can't wait to see more and more interpretations of these patterns as they get knit up! Also, make sure to follow Hilary on Instagram - her stories of life on Orkney will make you want to up and move!
Standard disclosure that I received a review copy of Knitting from the North however all opinions are my own. Thanks so much to Roost for the opportunity to take a look inside this book!
From Knitting from the North by Hilary Grant, © 2016 by Hilary Grant. Photographs by Caro Weiss, © 2016 by Caro Weiss. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. www.roostbooks.com