It is always lovely to be sent copies of new books – particularly when they are inspirational tomes from folk I like and admire. Here are two I’ve recently received.

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This is Windswept by Marie Wallin. You’ll all know Marie from being, until last year, Rowan’s creative director. While continuing to work with Rowan as their head designer, last year Marie went freelance, and established her own business and brand. This book is her first independent book of hand-knit designs, and it is very beautiful indeed.


Marie has an immediately recognisable style as a designer, and the whole book to me seems very her. There are 12 designs – 8 garments and 4 accessories. Some involve cables, and some colour, but all feature interesting details, classic shapes and gorgeous styling. Lovage – the yoked jumper above – is a case in point. It is knit up in 9 rich shades of Rowan Fine Tweed, and includes the intriguing detail of an optional crocheted trim along the sleeves. Lovage is worked in the round, using traditional Fairisle techniques.


. . as are the Mint wrap and Camomile tam, which also showcase Marie’s distinctive sense of colour.



My favourite design in the collection is the Sage tunic / dress.


Knit in 13 shades of Rowan Felted Tweed, I think this is an absolutely stunning piece. For me it strikes that truly enviable design-balance of being both incredibly striking, and eminently wearable. And who can argue with those corrugated-rib-topped pockets?


Dill – the jumper which appears on the book’s front cover – is another glorious design. This is worked in cushy, hazy Rowan Cocoon, and features interlaced cables and optional scallop-lace crocheted trim around the neckline.

The designs were shot over the course of a day in picturesque Whitstable (and you can read more about the place and shoot on Marie’s blog). The location, the light, the styling, and the photography are all absolutely lovely, and really add, I think, to the coherent feel of this collection.


In short, this is a truly beautiful and inspirational collection of which my only criticism is that the charts are not reproduced in colour (I find monochrome charts with symbols used in place of colour a real bear to read . . . but this may be just me.) It is particularly exciting to see Marie designing using a range of different techniques and skills, and I’m already looking forward to seeing where her freelance adventure takes her next.


Toasty (I keep wanting to say Tasty) has just been published by lovely Rachel Coopey. It is a book of ten accessory designs: 6 hats, a pair of mitts, a pair of mittens, a scarf and a cowl. All the designs are knit up in baa ram ewe‘s Titus – a yarn of which I am inordinately fond, and which Rachel has used to superb effect in her designs in this book.


mmm . . . tasty/toasty parkin-coloured Titus, and tasty/toasty undulating cables. This design is called Ripon, and I think of it – with its nifty twists and decreases as a very Coopey-like design. But I am also very excited by what Rachel is doing with colour at the moment.


Rachel brings the same poise and structure that is such a feature of her textured stitch patterns to her colourwork. These are the Aiskew hat and mittens, and, with their neat chevrons, they are my favourite designs in the book. Though the Bedale hat comes a very close second.


I don’t know if you’ve worked with one of Rachel’s designs before, but I think that she is an exceptional pattern writer: really clear and precise. I reckon its hard to go wrong with a Coopey pattern.


Rachel will be writing about the process of designing each one of the pieces in Toasty, so pop over to her blog to read more!


This is a great contemporary accessory collection, from a talented designer, who continues her thoughtful exploration of stitch in ways that are always appealing. My single criticism of this book is that the photography perhaps isn’t as clear and sharp as as it should be to properly illustrate Rachel’s super designs at their best.

It is really nice to recommend the interesting work of other women, who, like me are working independently in hand-knit design. It occurred to me today, as it does on many days, what a lively and varied and talented milieu I now find myself among. You can purchase Windswept directly from Marie here, and Toasty directly from Rachel here.

24 thoughts on “two new books

  1. Oh wow! Thank you for reviewing these books. I am so taken by ALL the designs in WINDSWEPT and now know for sure i need to clone myself to get all this knitting done! The art direction in the book is also stunning, and I dare a guess she was involved in the styling of your design in the Rowan mag last year? The Rowan colours all together work so well! and I must say my fave is also the Sage tunic. Very wearable.


  2. Both very pretty books. It’s funny…I’ve had plans to make a couple of fairisle jumpers for at least six months now. There is something in the air! Recently I was looking at some of the older Sarah Dallas vintage-inspired designs that incorporate some fairisle. That said, I’m bowled over by Marie Wallin’s overall aesthetic and have been since she joined Rowan. I’m definitely tempted to buy this book.


  3. I was very excited to read on her blog and find out of her (now) released independent book, so ordered pronto! Most designs are thumbs up, especially Sage and Dill! Also am of like mind re black and white graphs – very disappointed with that. The sizings given are quite generalized too with just a ‘to fit’ measurement instead of exact finished measurements, so then I can choose how much ease (or not) I want. The hand drawn schematics have minimal information as well unfortunately. I know this is more the traditional English-written pattern though and nothing that is insurmountable!


  4. Alas. When I read “two new books”, I thought they were yours, Kate. Hint, hint! These books are beautiful, though, and I plan to buy them both. Thanks for letting us know about them.


  5. Is there anything more beautiful and inspiring than FairIsle, knit with lovely yarn ? Thanks for sharing; and I love Rachel’s hats too!


  6. I ordered my copy of Windswept this week and my fingers are itching to start knitting a couple of the stunning FairIsles.


  7. Oh yes, those mustardy yellow colours are wonderful. Both books are a treat. Thank you for reviewing them and They are in good company with YOU!!


  8. I’d admired Dill before on Ravelry, but now that I’ve seen more of the Windswept group – especially the Sage tunic! – Wallin’s book is looking like a must-have. Still need to find a US source for Titus (I don’t feel that I could give Coopey’s designs their due without it).


  9. I’m amazed by Winswept ! The tunic is so gorgeous that I might even have the courage to knit it ! Thanks for the reviews of these two books, and for the many photos, who really help to have a peak at what’s inside.


  10. all gorgeous, thank you. aside from your designs, the lovage sweater [jumper?] may be the most beautiful knitted garment i’ve ever seen. wow. and i love the sort of curry-and-colors-of-india fair isle as well as the fair isle tunic. wow. wow. wow. thank you for being part of such a talented cohort.


  11. Thanks so much for sharing these two beautiful books. I think I will have to add them to my knitting library! Speaking of books…I can’t WAIT for your new one! I hope Bruce’s nose is doing better…poor puppy!


  12. I love the Fair Isle focus lately… things are beginning to stir… others designs, your designs… it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t been on board with your latest posts, but Kate, your place… just the scope of it is incredible ! You have arrived. That makes me happy in a way, because success ripples out and continues to influence your readers. :)


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