there’s been a lot of looking through patterns, swatching, knitting, ripping, sketching, and reading but nothing seems to stick. I really have nothing to show you since I have no sweaters on the needles, the socks aren’t finished, and the shawl is stalled. you would think that I really don’t want to knit yet it’s the opposite. I think I’m overwhelmed by everything I want to knit or rather how much I want to knit. so I read instead.


sure, a knitting book snuck in there, but mostly I started working through a pile of books I picked up last fall and slacked on. since I last posted I must’ve finished three and I finally started Son of a Witch. the other book that regained my attention is thai food by david thompson. this is the type of book that makes me weak in the knees. sure, it sucks you in with the gorgeous food photography within, but it’s the first 200 or so pages that win me over. not most cooking books will take that many pages to go over the history of the food and the culture, the different techniques used, and what the particular ingredients that make the food unique are. actually most cooking books are 200 pages or less with a ton of glossy pictures and recipes you may or may not have seen somewhere else. the 400 pages of recipes that follow are droolworthy, well written, and always opened to interpretation.

don’t worry, this isn’t becoming a food blog but I did want to give you a hint into what I’ve been looking for in a knitting book and have yet to find. if a cooking book can be considered a scholarly work, why can’t a knitting book? I’m not looking for a book high in theory, full of ‘art patterns’ that scream “I’m deeper than you!” but at the same time I’m tired of the general knitting book formula. most books, not all, start off with why the author wrote the book, then some words on a few techniques (swatching, blocking, increasing, decreasing, etc) that never go very deep, and then patterns that range from sweaters, hats, blankets, and fillers (i.e. egg cozies, chair covers, door screens, and so on). there are a few exception to this formula (thank you Knitting Nature!), but for the most part there aren’t too many surprises in the knitting publishing world.
so with all that baggage, what do I think about melissa leapman’s upcoming book, cables untangled? first off, a few things: I received this book (an uncorrected proof) for free at tnna, I even got it signed by the author, I love cables, I was sorely disappointed in inspired cable knits, both books share the same publisher, no one besides a few blog readers asked me to write on this book (this is not an advertorial), and I created a flickr set showing the projects from the book so you can judge for youself. phew!

I’m always excited when I hear about a cable book coming out and immediately start to think about cute sweaters and cardigans with well placed cables and maybe even some chunky cashmere hats to match. the best part is when cables are all the rage on the runway. you can have fun knitting and be fashionable to boot! my excitement was tempered after looking through leapman’s book. there are eight tops (including two for men and one for kids), two scarves, one hat, one poncho, one skirt, one bag and eight home accessories (mostly afghans, but also some pillows, and a rug). umm, where’s my mcqueen coat or balenciaga sweater? ok so the designs aren’t my style, but I can’t’ say they aren’t extremely well thought out to the fine detail or that leapman isn’t a master of cables (she designed many of the cables herself). I can’t help but stare at all the afghans and imagine how great the textures feel, I just, most likely, won’t knit them. I love how the cables fall into the ribbing in most of the sweaters or how the cable seems to follow the raglan line, but the shaping or styling of the rest of the sweater isn’t for me. something about them makes them feel heavy, that’s the only way I can really explain it. the book’s strength lies in the cable stitch dictionary, with over 120 cables to look through and the basics chapter that is great for any cabling beginner. BUT I’m not a beginner, I understand how to cross and twist cables. I did enjoy how she explains how to cable without a cable needle and wished she went deeper in other areas. there’s only two pages on ‘designing with cables’ that I wish was expanded on, it could have turned this pattern book into a reference book.

I’m glad the version I have is printed as a black and white book, it let’s me not fall for the colors, photographs, and art direction. rather, I feel like I’m seeing what is truly there. these are just my opinions of course, check out the pictures and then the book this fall to make up your own mind.

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  • Joelene July 14, 2006 at 6:20 pm

    who is it we can’t seem to stop thinkning about what we want to knit…. instead of just going with it….
    we’re planners i guess..

  • Stephanie July 14, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    Cables are tricky. I think it’s hard to find patterns that are the right style with the right cables. They’re either too boxy or too heavy or just not right. I think the perfect design is out there for everyone – we just have to keep looking.

  • Lauren July 14, 2006 at 6:32 pm

    That’s it. I’m going to pre-order the book now. This is what I’d hoped Ellis’s book would be, and wasn’t.

  • Jennifer July 14, 2006 at 7:17 pm

    I love cables. *sigh* I’d be interested in just the stitch directory, frankly.

  • kitty kitty July 14, 2006 at 8:48 pm

    Oh Oh, that is one of my favorite cookbooks. I just love the story tidbits and amazed that the author wasn’t Thai. If you like Indian food, check out Mangoes & Curry Leaves another great food porn cookbook. Though I am a huge fan of all Alford and Duguid books.
    Thanks so much for posting the preview of the book. I actually had it on my wish list on amazon to take a look when it finally came out. After seeing the photos I am really not sure, the patterns I don’t think are for me, but the dictionary might be worth picking up. I do kind of like the tank top but only because I think I am obsessed by the neckline on the Balenciaga sweater so many bloggers are posting about.
    Though if I could have a fantasy cable sweater pattern book I would dream of one written by Delphine Wilson.

  • hege July 14, 2006 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks for doing the photos. I love them! I will definitely have to get this book when it comes out… The cables she does are so intricate, and, like you said, the way they follow the raglan shaping is so neat. 🙂 I really like the sweater styles… 🙂

  • Gracie July 14, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    Hmmmmm….. maybe I need to see it in color but none of the designs said “knit me!”

  • gleek July 14, 2006 at 9:24 pm

    i find it’s hard to concentrate on one project during the summer. i get really excited about a lot of different things and want to do everything! i hear where you’re coming from.
    btw, this one pic really jumped out at me. great detail with the cables along the raglan.

  • carrie m July 14, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    thanks for the thoughtful review. it certainly feels peculiar to look at the projects in black and white. i definitely like that the sweaters don’t seem so severely boxy and bulky and oversized — that’s my main complaint about cable sweaters. i love when the cable does some subtle shaping.
    not sure about the cabled skirt, tho.

  • diana July 14, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    Thanks for all the book recs and reviews. I’m not big on cable knitting, but after seeing what’s coming up for the fall season, maybe I better adjust my attitude.

  • Chris July 14, 2006 at 10:16 pm

    I know how that overwhelmed with the too much, too many choices, how do I decide knitting feeling feels. 🙂

  • Jocelyn July 14, 2006 at 11:27 pm

    Thanks for the review and especially for the pictures. They definitely whet my appetite. I’m keeping the book in my cart on Amazon! BTW, she has a part 2 coming out next October. Not sure if it will cover more of the design stuff.

  • Casey July 15, 2006 at 12:27 am

    Thanks for reviewing the book and posting pictures! I love cables and was disappointed in Inspired Cable Knits too. Cables untangled seems like it could be good, but the patterns aren’t my style either. The cable stitch dictionary might make thebook worth buying, though. When will someone come out with a great cable reference book??

  • Saun July 15, 2006 at 2:39 am

    The sweaters definitely aren’t my style but the cables look good. I’m not one for buying books so I need a close up review before I buy it. Maybe the 120 cables will make it worth buying.

  • Bryony July 15, 2006 at 3:45 am

    Thanks for posting pics. Most of the garment shaping is just as you say it is – boxy, too heavy so that it is unflattering to anyone with an ounce of flesh on them, frumpy. The cables seem to take over the sweaters rather than create or enhance them 🙁 Those blankets are beautiful though.

  • colleen July 15, 2006 at 6:16 am

    Hmmm, I’m kinda “eh” on it too.

  • thuy July 15, 2006 at 2:46 pm

    thanks for the review and pics. i love cables and even though i wouldn’t make everything in the book, i think there’s enough in there for my to get it. plus the cable stitches! and i just ordered the thai book on amazon cause i’ve been meaning to cook more. thanks for the tips!

  • Alyson July 15, 2006 at 7:17 pm

    Mmm….thai food…..
    Why don’t designers add shaping?? Take a cue from the bazillions of hourglass sweater knit-along-ers out there….we want shape!!
    I think you finally pinpointed my knitting problem – I’m not accomplishing anything because I want to accomplish too much!

  • Steph July 17, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    I’m not very impressed. But I just had an idea, and after some marinating I’ll email you about it.

  • Dorothy B July 17, 2006 at 10:56 pm

    Looks pretty, but you’re right. When I took a closer look at the pictures all I could think was heavy, scratchy and they would all make me look flatter and wider. Exactly the fashion statement I really want to make.
    There were two great cable designs that I liked; pictures #7 and #10. Although I’d make the afgan a scarf and leave the bobbles off and the two colour pillow would become a purse instead.

  • JulieFrick September 16, 2006 at 5:02 pm

    Hey there! Came over after Cara said you two nearly started a knee-high-along. I woulda joined, really, but I know it’s all probably for the best. I’m not sure how to wear them myself, except the same way I wear everyday socks, except they’d keep me warmer, in the legs and in the heart. I love Gregory Maguire. I spent a little time with him when I was doing my master’s in Vermont and he’s so funny and warm and super. Enjoy SOAW!