Thursday, January 26, 2012

Back on the Chain Gang

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.

Book Looks with Dolores

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.

Novel Knits

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.)

Fleur ToteI 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 Lissuinknow 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.

Sweet Shawlettes

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.

Brontë FichuYou 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.

CeilidhAnd 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


Stacey said...

The world needs more wimples. Why is there only one in Ann's book?

Diana said...

Delores, you wooly tease! The Novel Knits book is listed on Amazon as OOP!

Pam Sykes (aka Pretty Knitty) said...

Wow. What kind of cookies were they?

Gamba Girl said...

So great to have you back, Dolores! Don't be such a stranger in future! Though you can be as strange as you want...

FiberQat said...

You just haven't met the more interesting philatelists.

SallyM said...

Delores, so sorry about the couch. You have done some very nice work here, thanks for sharing!

Anonymous, too said...

Delores, I think you're starting to go senile. Yes, you have to work off/earn the cost of recovering the sofa, but what about your bar tabs all over town/the metropolitan area/the state/the Midwest/the world??!?

Then there are the things I'm sure Franklin has yet to hear of. . .;-)!

Therefore, don't expect The Blog to be all that sympathetic until you can demonstrate the correct technique to swipe tomatoes across the scanner at Whole Paycheck Food without bruising them.

Freyalyn said...

Do you know, I'm not surprised that Dolores can't spell Tolkien.

kazrbutler said...

Ann has had the book reprinted. It is available from her direct from

knitress said...

Why am I not at all surprised that Dolores laked the couch?

Benita said...

Sauron and Sensibility - Now that would be an interesting read. Sure beats the whole zombie take on these books.

Side note - I just finished rereading Emma and am well into Pride and Prejudice. I had forgotten how much I love Jane Austen.

And Happy Birthday!!!

Wool Free and Lovin' Knit said...

Best book reviewer ever -- look forward to seeing more of your stuff!

Seanna Lea said...

I'll have to check out Novel Knits. I like LOTR and would love to see something that isn't Sauron's big wooly navel cozy.

roxie said...

Ah, Delores, how I have missed thee! Your delicate wordsmithing has shaped a veritable grillwork of vision. I look forward to further reviews. And I am inspired to create something from Harry Potter and the Return of the Sequel. Maybe an edible tea cozy knit of licorice whips.

anne marie in philly said...

I have missed your comments, you sassy sheep.

and a VERY happy belated birthday to dear franklin; smooches!

KWB said...

Here's another title from the UK. I saw the title and,oddly enough, though of you.

KWB said...

Oops, here's it is with the title, I hope.

KWB said...

Darn, let's forget trying to link.

The Panopticon
by Jenni Fagan

An uncompromising narrative which tells the moving and often surprisingly funny story of young orphan Anais Hendricks.

Katie K said...

I thought that sweater looked familiar, and with a little searching on ravelry, I see that Lissuin is related to Eunny Lang's Autumn Rose Pullover.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Franklin. Thanks for letting Dolores speak once again.

Franklin said...

Perhaps it's the size of the image that's misleading, but Lissuin's no more a copy of Eunny's work than any of the scores of other sweaters that mimic the traditional Fair Isle division of wide and narrow alternating bands. The motifs in both bands are entirely different.

Katie K said...

I didn't say it was a copy, I said that it is related. The scoop neck (I know they're not quite identical, but the effect is the same) combined with the placement and proportional width of the bands is strikingly similar. Obviously the motifs are different. But the relationship is obvious. I agree that there are differences, but I was just making an observation in case anyone else was wondering why it looked familiar.

TuesdayFortnite said...

just a quick happy (belated) birthday :-)

all my future parties have the pressure taken off now you've had the be-all-and-end-all event!

in serous need of a yarn cave said...

Dolores, I've read Franklin's book, but its your life story I want to hear, dear. Any Ewe that can navigate through Chicago has real moxie and a story I'd part money with to read. I have so many unanswered when you were a baby lambie did you fall asleep counting your brothers and sisters? Did a teenage ram lead you down the garden path? Come on, girl....give!

Hester from Atlanta said...

I just purchased a Nook, an e-reader. I searched on the Barnes & Noble Website for Nook Books using the search word knitting. They literally have 100s of vintage knitting patterns, most for free and some for only .99 cents. WOW!
Hester from Atlanta

Entre Nous said...

Catching up reading posts and I thinnk I have to have this book of patterns :}

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