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Getting Tweedy

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Tweed Nancy J. Thomas

Tweed by Nancy J. Thomas.

Potter Craft.

Tweed is a genre of yarn that's often overlooked but much loved by people who use it regularly. This handmade looking yarn with bits of different colors worked in provides a beautiful backdrop for just about any stitch pattern, as readers of Nancy J. Thomas' <i>Tweed: More Than 20 Contemporary Designs to Knit</i> will learn.

The book traces the history of tweed from its beginnings as a textile product to its evolution into a yarn that can make both classic and modern looking projects.

Thomas offers a look at the traditional and often trademarked tweed fabrics and how we can recreate those looks in knitwear.

Tips for Tweeds

Knitting with tweedy yarn isn't that different from other yarns, but since the yarns used in the book, which all come from Tahki Stacy Charles, are all wool, the book covers care for wool and tips for avoiding felting (or causing felting to happen, if that's the look you're going for).

The book also has tips for making knit fabric look like tweed fabric, using stitch patterns in tweed, and offers some sample stitch patterns you might want to swatch to see how different tweeds react to different stitch patterns.

While some of these could have been knit in lighter colors to make the stitches a bit more visible, this section is a nice touch.

The Patterns

The book includes 21 patterns, a couple of which are for sets such as a basic hat and scarf set or a felted beret and matching bag. Projects are arranged in order of difficulty, starting with patterns that beginners could easily master and ending up with complex and large projects like a cabled throw and a giant colorwork project.

Other projects include a darling striped knitting bag and plenty of hats, scarves, pullovers, vests and cardigans.

Most of the projects incorporate some kind of interesting stitch pattern or cables, and several are striped or use multiple colors.

Some of my favorite projects include the Scottish Isles Pullover, an intermediate projects that's full of cables and has a crisp collar; the Chanel-style Tweed Jacket, whose name pretty much says it all; and the Northern Ireland Peplum Sweater, about the only project in the book that's not knit in earth tones, but instead in a cheery pink.

Easier projects including hats, scarves, bags and a couple of easy sweaters make this a book that beginners can use right away and continue to work with as their skill improves. Knitters with more experience will love the easy projects as well as the more complicated project.

Given the nature of tweed yarn, most of these projects look classic, at times even old-fashioned, but in a good way. You could try knitting them in different yarns (gasp!) to give them a more modern look if you like.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that this is a lovely book full of inspiration from the British Isles that will delight knitters around the world. The history of tweed section can be a little boring for people who aren't interested in that, but we'll forgive the author her obsession since the patterns more than make up for it.

Thomas, the creative director for Tahki Stacy Charles, shows the line's tweed yarns (as well as some others) off very well and might even get you itching to explore the wonderful world of tweed.

Publication date: April 2008.

Publisher's website

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