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Little Rowan Explorers and Haze by Kim Hargreaves (arriving soon)

Book Review July 2018

Little Rowan Explorers by Martin Storey

and

Haze by Kim Hargreaves (new title in store now)

 

RRP £12.99 Colourway Price £11.69


 

      I don't know about you but dressing children can be a real problem, particularly when they reach the age when they can walk and talk (approximately) to when they can be properly reasoned with about their more outlandish fashion choices. After that you're on your own.  So, what do you need for the three to eight year age range? Again the particular appeal of this little collection for me is the unisex designs (not a fan of pink and frills here), the way it shows more nervous knitters how the same pattern can be adapted from the very basic to the quite challenging in terms of knitting techniques, and the practical choice of strong but beautiful yarns.

      But some of you, particularly the penny-conscious working to a tight budget may wonder why hand knit clothes for kids at all when your local superstore has them at a fraction of the price. Ultimately, as with most other things, you pay more for quality, but then that quality looks better, lasts longer, can be adjusted to fit your very individual child's shape and tastes, and ultimately if properly looked after can be passed down to a sibling or on to a younger relative when finally grown out of. The yarns recommended for these garments are top quality and should stand up well to the rigorous pre-mobile phone games of the children in this 3-8 year age group. However, they are knitted to fairly standard double knit and 4-ply tensions so you can substitute if you wish (check our tension tables for how to replace one yarn with another and buy the right amount).  

      Below are a selection of the designs in the book, in groups of two showing varying versions of the same basic pattern. The patterns are suitable for a variety of seasons depending on yarn, and those knitted in the Rowan Soft Yak DK will even do cold winter days outside if layered up and topped with hats gloves and scarves. Not every design has an alternate but all of them present the opportunity to individualise them to you and your child;s taste.

                      

Kaptain Stripe (L) is made in Summerlite 4-ply yarn shown here in shades  High Tide and Pure White.

 

Kaptain Stripe with Motif (R) is knitted in Summerlite 4-ply shades in Washed Linen and Aubergine.

 

 

 

 

 

The Outlaw neckerchief striped version (L) is made in Summerlite DK shades Lagoon, Rouge, Summer, Steel, Mushroom and Indigo.

The plain version (R) is shown in the same yarn shade Khaki.

 

            

Outlaw Plain (L) is a classic cardigan suitable for both sexes shown here in  Summerlite DK shade Cantaloupe.

 

Its jazzy striped partner (R) is worked in multi stripes of the same yarn in the same bright shades as the Outlaw neckerchief.

 So, all in all full marks to Martin Storey. This collection contains a good range of basic patterns for most occasions which can be easily personalised if you need to and avoid the 'branding' of the high street where the latest craze is king. All the garments are generously sized, but do check against the measurements of something that is a good fit for your child before deciding which size to knit and whether to go down or up one. This book will take you from novice knitter to intarsia with bells and whistles and many of the patterns and motifs are interchangeable, so you could knit Outlaw with the all-over stars from Sundance with just a little thought and a few adjustments (just an example - you should be bold and try other combinations you fancy).

Given the variety of styles shapes and other options this is definitely a book worth having in your library for use over the years or to give to a young mum who perhaps wants to make things for her own children once they are no longer wet both ends. Pictures of all the designs can be seen by clicking on the cover shot at the top of the page and you can order the book if you want it at 10% less than RRP.

 

Haze by Kim Hargreaves

Haze by Kim Hargreaves. RRP £19.25 Our Price £17.35

click on book cover to see full design range and ordering details

      A new Kim Hargreaves title is always welcome. Over the years she has established a reputation for designing very wearable modern classics imbued with styling which gives a real couture feel to each item, in fact Kim garments always remind me of the subtle refinement of eighties designers like Marian Foale. The pieces are pretty well all gorgeous but their understated glamour means that you wear them and not vice versa.

      This summer collection takes you from beaches at sun-up, through tourist days, to walk home barefoot from the bar nights in yarns which vary from a whisper to wind-cheater. The shades are soft and understated from the palest of the pale through pinks and blues to moody night navies and blacks, and because Kim carefully designs for a whole range of knitting talents there are stunning projects for the novice as well as challenges for the craft knitter. This collection includes cross season sweaters, skimpy but elegant little tops, and modestly covered up but still stylish daytime wear which will make you feel confident whatever country you are in. We have many customers who collect all of Kim Hargreaves titles just because of their sense of timeless modernity without letting fashion trends date them after the 'season' ends.

With 21 designs you'll have to go to the website to see them all, but we are showing a selection below grouped as simple, intermediate and challenging knits to give you a taste, and will point out any particular styling features.

The book has just arrived, you'll find it in our New In section and of course the Kim Hargreaves section. Our price is 10% below RRP as for all our titles (20% below for yarn). So while it may seem a little pricey compared to some design books think of it as investment dressing on the page because you will still be dipping into it many years down the road. And Kim has added some fabulous crochet garments as well to prove that this underrated and easy to acquire skill has many other manifestations beyond boho chic and granny squares.

 

            SIMPLE

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lila (above left) is nearly all straight lines and stocking stitch, a big roomy jacket with just a bit of ribbing in the framing to give you a break from knit one row, purl the next. What gives it that extra special something is the yarn choice, a strand each of Kidsilk Haze and Softyak DK both luxurious to the touch and very easy on the eye.  Wistful (above right) offers the novice knitter the slightly greater challenge of raglan rather than dropped shoulder-line shaping, thus creating a beautiful fit, but is again predominantly simple stocking stitch and the tiny crochet edgings can easily be replaced with a moss stitch or picot knitted framing if preferred. In Summerlite 4-ply used double throughout it is a go anywhere, dress up or down cotton summer top for any time of day or night.

   INTERMEDIATE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glimpse (above left) is a slightly more challenging knit for someone really confident with the basics and ready for something more. This elegant summer cardigan/jacket features garter stitch framing, a tunic style hem and bracelet length sleeves. A subtle peplum with a horizontal eyelet stripe gives way to a mesh style openwork stitch for the body and sleeves, pretty and summery without too much exposure and letting you focus on the shaped armholes and sleeveheads which create a lovely fit at the shoulder. Shown in Summerlite DK shade Silvery Blue. On the right Siran is a sohisticated little top with ribbing to emphasise your waist, a classic chevron stripe to the bust line and a vertical openwork stripe for the yoke and short sleeves. Very chic and South of France, and shown in Summerlite DK shades Black and Pink Powder, a one colour version is easily knitted as well. My favourite thing about this little summer top is how sharp it would look with a smart office skirt, but equally would suit skinny capri pants and high heels for dancing the night away at an upmarket club.

   CHALLENGING 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You'll need your wits and your cable needles about you for these two classic pieces, Amara is a summer sweater with openwork lattice to let it breathe and cables to keep out the chill, perfect for early mornings, cool evenings and oh yes, British summers. Exhale is a body conscious cardigan with cables which follow your curves, bracelet length sleeves and a real touch of chic which makes it perfect for dressing up jeans or a long skirt whilst in the evenings it does perfect classy double duty as the perfect little jacket to pop over that outrageous little cocktain frock! Amara is knitted in cool Rowan Creative Linen in shade Stormy, whereas the sculpted cables of Exhale are in the soft sheen of Rowan Cotton Glace in Black.

    CROCHET     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August (above) is a really jaunty and really simply made crochet top with knitted framing. The striping is subtle and in shades which mean it can be combined with classic navy or white, while the khaki tones would marry well with linen shades. The cutaway armholes set off a tan while the straps are wide enough to wear a proper bra if you are not a fashionable stick insect shape. In shades of Summerlite DK and Handknit DK it is very cool, in every sense of the word. July (above right) is a gorgeous and revealing crochet skirt with bold lacy openwork stitches and eye catching eyelet lacing from waist to hip bone level on both sides. It would even be simple to make into a full length skirt. High drama and sophistication meet here, in black Hk-outandknit DK, and if you don't fancy flashing quite so much leg try opaque black tights or a waist slip!

So there we have it. If you like elegant and sophisticated and chic for both work and leisure time this book is a worthwhile investment whatever your level of expertise, and I love the fact that simple, intermediate and challenging knits are equally well represented in the generous 21 designs. Enjoy. And once you have look at the other Kim Hargreaves titles on the website, they are knock-out bubt in the best possible taste!