Hi. It's Dolores.
His Grace regrets he's unable to be with you tonight, but he's still recovering from having sucked down one too many chocolate milkshakes at his wild birthday bash. If you weren't there, you might as well just give up on going to parties, because The Definitive Party has been given and you missed it. It kicked off at four in the afternoon and the rockin' did not stop until the last bunny cookie with a weak tea chaser went down the hatch two hours later, and the wild band of Bacchae who constitute Franklin's social circle spilled out into the street. Normally to see such goings-on one must attend a gathering of philatelists.
What happened in between? Well, we should all be worried–because I'm pretty sure it's the sort of behavior that brought Rome to its knees. I swear I heard somebody say "F-ddlest-cks!"
I'm on the clock tonight, working off the cost of recovering the sofa. Not re-covering the sofa, recovering the sofa. From Lake Michigan. Something happened at the afterparty, the details of which need not concern us here. So until further notice or the equivalent of $1,000 labor, whichever comes first, I'm doing the book reviews around here.
Today we have two titles from the United Kingdom, which is a nice place to visit unless you piss off the Queen by trying to take your rightful place at one of her fancy-ass parties.
First, we have Novel Knits: British Literature in Stitches (Ann Kingstone Designs) by Ann Kingstone.
Here's what you get: fifteen patterns for garments and accessories, all inspired by the works of Jane Austen, J. R. R. Tolkien, and J. K. Rowling. (I thought maybe there were previous volumes focusing on British writers with first names beginning A through I, but no, this is the first.)
I like what Ann has done here. The pieces are inspired by, not copied from. If you're looking a particular sweater or cloak or reticule from the movie version of Sauron and Sensibility or Harry Potter and the Return of the Sequel you won't find them here.
No, instead you get original pieces–in a nice range of styles and skill levels–that begin with a character or setting and take off in an interesting direction. If you've seen the photos of me on or under various red carpets, you know I have a fondness for pattern. Kingstone's colorwork designs are sharp. I would totally wear Lissuin, although I might put in a bit more negative ease to make sure it properly highlights my curves. I am here to tell you that stranded colorwork will absolutely stretch like Lycra if you just insist a little bit.
Since nothing here takes its theme too literally, you don't need to be a fan of the authors or their works or the derivatives of their works to enjoy the patterns. Check it out, if only to marvel that somebody has made five Tolkien-inspired patterns that don't look like set dressing at the Renaissance Faire.
And there's this one, Sweet Shawlettes (Taunton Press) by Jean Moss.
I like this one, too, and not just because I told my friend Maurice-Jamal about it and he decided his new drag persona is going be a genteel but eccentric mixed-race Louisiana belle called Sweet Shawlette.
Jean has been around the block a couple of times with the whole design thing (her stuff is all over the magazines) and so when you buy her book, you're getting patterns by somebody who knows what the hell she's doing. "Sweet" is not for amateurs, honey. There's a thin line of pink mohair between "Sweet" and "Sappy" and Jean keeps it on the right side of the line.
You get twenty-five designs (there's a gallery here), not all of which are strictly speaking shawlettes, but all of which are made to go around your neck in some fashion.
What impresses me is the range, kids. Within four categories, "Country," "Folk," "Couture," and "Vintage," you got your fine lace, your stranded colorwork, your texture, your entrelac, your bulky, your fine. And they pretty much all work. It's boggling to think every one came from one chick with a pair of needles.
And color. Always with the color. You don't have to use Jean's colors, I know, but if you do, your neckish area is going to look so much peppier.
All the fash mags are talking about how the world is having a Neck Moment, so get on with it.
That's it for now, but we have a stack of review books in the apartment that's taller than Maurice-Jamal's Sunday hair, and I have another 900 bucks to work off, so I'll be back.
Order Novel Knits from Ann Kingstone.
Order Sweet Shawlettes from Amazon.com.