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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Book review: Stitch London

(Note the amazing cupcake!)

Confession time. I only knit one thing a year. For 2011 I’ve been working on a red robot for a friends baby that was born in August…suffice to say I have not yet visited it, as I don’t want to go empty handed : ( Feeling guilty is not a strong enough word. So to drown my bad knitter sins I popping along to the launch of this most momentous book that celebrates a city so dear to my heart…Londinium.
Written by a fellow associate of the rainbow hair society and a founding member of Stitch London, the mammoth knitting network (it has a tremendous 10,000 members!) Lauren O’Farrell, it's a book that shows you how to knit things inspired by the Big Smoke, like the residents:
One does love to walk one's corgis

Good day ma’am.


And its most spectacular of landmarks…(even the underrated ones like Tower Bridge.)

If you have never ventured to this fine capital city, you will certainly want to after feasting your eyes on this somewhat addictive read. (I’m referring to the bits inbetween the pattern instructions.)

To prevent one buying this book to add to their ‘craft porn’ collection (another near guilty confession)…the manual comes with FREE yarn and needles so you can get clicking straight away and make your own feathered pigeon.


Though cute as they are, I’m more interested in owning this sewer rat, it’s just soooooooo pesky : )
Lovely Lauren with an adoring fan!

So, that’s all the fluff, but is this book any good and should you buy it?
Well here is what I like about it:

You don’t have to be good at knitting
There’s a passage where Lauren encourages ‘messing’ with her patterns. To grab, shake, twist and change them as you want. One of the reasons I hardly knit is because patterns scare me. I prefer knitting random pieces and stitching them together. For years I thought a pro like Lauren would sneer at me for this but it turns out she’s on my side. I can’t explain (yes I know I’m a writer but allow me this once) how happy this makes me feel : )

It teaches you things…
like London lingo and even me, a born and bread Londoner has learnt a thing or to from this cultural manual like that ‘not really cricket’ translates as ‘not a very nice thing to do’ though thankfully I knew what a battenburg cake is. 
User friendly ratings
Complex projects are referred to as ‘Black Cab Drivers’ because they are the brains of the city and the more simple ones are called ‘Tourists’ since they are newbies.

The photos
These are taken in situ around town which is a nice touch, especially after hearing about the weather traumas they had to put up with during shoots.

Easy reading
The whole book is written in a really pleasant, engaging way, it’s nice to read and craft books aren’t normally bought for reading so in this sense Lauren has moved the genre on and hopefully it will pave the way for more ‘interesting’ future titles. 

And here’s what I don’t like about it:
NOTHING : )


This title is terrific. Do you like knitting? Are you wondering about it? Thinking about it? Want to own something knitted and scared of scouring the ever-growing collection of knitting books at your local bookshop? Well this is a good place to start And if you do use your kit to make your owned winged Cooey then upload the evidence to www.knitthepigeon.com for the world to see.

Just keep it away from Plarchie, Lauren’s squid who is partial to eating humans and most probably considers a pigeon as some kind of vou-le-vant.


Oh and if you are in a bookshop tracking the aforementioned title down, then I urge you to swing by the children’s picture book section too. Whilst in Foyles for the launch I spied this most inspiring of titles with really wonderful illustrations. Perhaps I should just give up on the robot and turn up at my friend’s place with my head no longer hanging in shame with this instead?
Stitch London: 20 kooky ways to knit the city and more by Lauren O’Farrell is out now published by David & Charles, priced £14.99. A percentage of which is donated to Leukaemia & Lymphoma research.


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