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  • magpies, homebodies, and nomads

    I'm very excited to have a sneak peek on the blog today of Cirilia Rose's upcoming book, Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads: A Modern Knitters Guide to Discovering and Exploring Style (out this November on STC Craft / Melanie Falick Books; available for preorder here). My review copy arrived a week or two ago and I've been looking forward to it for so long that I immediately dropped everything to curl up on my couch with it. 

    Now, in the interest of full disclosure, Cirilia's a personal friend of mine, and I was actually one of the models for the book. Still, my glimpse at what the final product might be like was minimal at best. The patterns in the book are grouped into three sections, named in the title: Magpies (for those small amounts of precious yarns we inevitably collect), Homebodies (for time spent close to home), and Nomads (venturing into the world to meet friends and gather inspiration). I was a Magpie, along with our friend Kathleen (that's her on the cover up there), but each section was shot with different models on different days. This meant that the rest of the pieces, as well as the content of the book itself, were as much a mystery to me as for you until I got a copy in my hands.

    The photoshoot itself was quite fun, helped by the fact that we were shooting with Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. Jared's photos are absolutely beautiful, as always, and I think he did a wonderful job of bringing Cirilia's vision to life (along with the outstanding hair, makeup, and style team). The layout and visual feel of the book is really gorgeous, as well; it's fresh, bright, and inspiring. 

    There's a lot of variety in the patterns: garments, accessories, and a few items for the home, as well (eleven garments, thirteen accessories, and two home items, by my count). My favorite parts, though, might be Cirilia's writing. At the end of each section are a few short essays on everything from where to look for inspiration to color choice, substituting yarns and thrifting. This is truly a knitter's style guide. Cirilia's writing is friendly and informative at the same time - you can tell how much she loves what she does, but you can also tell that she knows what she's talking about. I think the writing that accompanies each section is all helpful stuff for figuring out how to choose the right things to knit, and knit things that we (or our recipients) will love. I especially liked this bit, from the introduction ("Finding Your Inner Bricoleur"):

    "The past decade has seen a proliferation of knitwear designers, myself included, and we're all working from essentially the same sourcebooks, with the same basic resources: the knit stitch, the purl stitch, and a whole lot of yarn. So how does one innovate in an increasingly crowded landscape? The answer is, of course, through bricolage. The comination of elements from seemingly disparate cultural sources creates energy that didn't exist before, and when each of us cultivates our own unique concotion of referents, it guarantees more idiosyncratic knits."

    One of my favorite things about this excerpt is that if you deconstruct it further, the knit stitch and the purl stitch are essentially the exact same stitch, and whether it's a knit or a purl really just depends on your point of view or the way in which you're working it. One of my favorite things about being friends with Cirilia is that if you gave each of us the very same, identical garment on which to base an ensemble, the resulting outfits each of us would create would probably look very, very different from each other. I love to see her creative impulses because I think they're often coming from a different place than mine, and that idiosyncracy is exactly what she's talking about.

    I thought I'd share a few of my favorites patterns from the book, which all happen to be garments (one from Magpies, two from Nomads).

    This is the Isla Cardigan, a sweet little number worked up in Zealana Rimu DK, and of course, it's the cover star! It's a simple cardigan but the details are what I love the most: the high-wasited rib, the slightly puffled sleeve caps, and the subtle ruching at the front yoke. I'd love to knit this in a neutral, or possibly a soft blue. (Side note: we shot Magpies outdoors in Seattle's Discovery Park. If you've never been on a Pacific Northwest beach in mid-spring, it can be chilly. Kathleen makes it look serene!)

    Next up is the Gezell Coat, a cozy, oversized cardigan with pockets. This one's another simple piece with great details: the pockets, obviously, but also the bobbles at the hem and sleeve cuffs and the exposed back seam. I personally like the three-quarter sleeves, but the sleeve length would probably be easy to modify if they're not your thing (same goes for the bobbles). The thing I like most about this sweater is its lazy elegance; in a dark color like the sample shown above, it's slouchy and cozy but still manages to make Katie, the model, look totally put together.

    The last favorite I have to share today is the Reyka Pullover. A true lopapeysa, it's knit with Plötulopi, the unspun version of Lopi, the Icelandic wool, which comes in wheels. I love the traditional aspects of it, like the wool and the circular yoke, but I also love the hood (not really visible in this photo), the short-sleeve length, and the textured colorwork. Because the colorwork is purled instead of knit, it also manages to call to mind some of the Bohus knitting, even in only two colors. I think it's a sweet little piece with a lot of opportunity for modification - longer sleeves, extra colors, and think of all the possible color combinations! Brights, neutrals, darks, lights, they'd all yield such different results.

    If you'd like your own copy of Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads, you can pre-order it right here on Amazon, here on the Book Depository, or you can ask your local yarn store to order it (it's out November 4th, 2014). Special thanks to STC Craft / Melanie Falick Books for the chance to review it! 

    And a quick reminder that this upcoming weekend is the Nordic Knitting Conference here in Ballard, and both Cirilia and I will be teaching! I hope we see some of you there!