Tag Archives: Purls of Wisdom

Purls of Wisdom, by Jenny Lord

5 stars 5/5

If you have ever fancied trying your hand at knitting, Jenny Lord’s Purls of Wisdom is the book you should buy.

Purls of Wisdom

Penguin Books, 2010, paperback, 208 pages - review copy.

I have been able to do simple stitches ever since my Nan showed me how when I was about seven years old, but I usually only pick up a pair of needles once a year when the nights are getting darker and I decide to make something for a loved one – usually a scarf! This year I have decided that I will learn to knit properly. One day I’d love to think that I could be making all sorts of beautiful items including clothing for myself in whatever colours and textures that I like. It sounds a little selfish, but I tend to agree with fitknitchick that you do a better job of something when you do it for yourself.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I want to say that I got hold of Purls of Wisdom: The Book of Knitting because I met Jenny at an event. We somehow ended chatting about knitting and she said that she would sent me a copy of her book. To be honest, I simply thought ‘well that’s nice – a knitting book’ and thought little of it until it turned up in the post. When it arrived I realised that I had spotted it in the library and thought it looked rather nice (bonus!) and decided that when I’d finished the blanket I was knitting for a friend  would try something from the book. Here’s what I thought…

First Impressions

  • Pretty cover, great title (I do like a good pun) and simple patterns that I might actually use / wear
  • Introduction – brilliant! Conversational (completely agree that knitting is an excellent excuse to sit and watch crummy TV programmes) and also informative.
  • Nice colour pictures and looks like the author and her friends are modelling them – I like!
Case Study: Knitted Wristwarmers

I’ve decided that in order to learn to knit properly I’ll do a series of small projects which will teach me a new technique each time. Having become more confident with creating pattern and texture I decided that the next step would be to knit ‘in the round’ and after some lovely encouraging comments chose to knit wristwarmers.

Jenny’s instructions were really easy to follow. For each pattern she has a useful little box which explains which techniques you need to know and what tools you need.

She references where in the book you can learn each technique. I found the black white (and pink!) graphics really simple to follow – clearer than photographs in fact.

Admittedly, I didn’t follow the instructions to the letter. She recommends specific yarn (and tells you where you can get it from) but I was too impatient to order over the internet and picked up some lovely Debbie Bliss yarn from John Lewis haberdashery. I also decided to add a rib border (get me improvising already!) to add a neat edge.

The outcome was pretty successful I thought!

Knitted Wristwarmers

Knitted Wristwarmers

Admittedly I did get a little grumpy and unravelled my first attempt after being distracted by the film I was watching and it all going a bit wrong. This is why it’s good to do small projects! After the first hitch, it took no time to finish my cosy, if unseasonal wristwarmers. Probably a couple of days.

Anything I would change?

At a push, I would say it might be nice to have a ring-bound version that can be laid flat when reading instructions – as I can with my copy of Knitting (Instant Expert). Incidentally this is also a nice book but I find that the patterns jump up in complexity too quickly, and are not as youthful / fresh as those in Purls of Wisdom.

Purls of Wisdom is a book that I know I will refer to time and time again. I love the informal writing style because it feels just as if a friend is teaching you and passing on all her little tips. It’s obvious that Jenny loves the craft, it’s history and the freedom that comes from creating your own customised items. It seems to be the book with everything I need to become an advanced knitter, capable of making some fabulous clothes!

Thanks Jenny for the book and inspiration, and thanks Alan for taking photographs of the results.

In a tangle – help me choose my next knitting project!

I recently finished knitting a baby blanket for my friend who is about to have her first little-un. It’s in a gender-neutral colour, and in a nice soft wool / acrylic mix which should wash ok!

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Now I have graduated from squares and oblongs to squares with interesting patterns, I am looking for my next challenge…

I have seen a couple of patterns I fancy trying from my copy of Purls of Wisdom, by Jenny Lord. There are two options I am torn between. Can you help me choose?

1- Arm-warmers: Cute and fashionable but not too timely for the spring weather coming up. I’d like to try these because I want to graduate to knitting luxury socks (they seem such a useful and relatively small project!), so the thinking is that these would be my first try at knitting ‘in the round’.

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2 – Honeycomb Cushion Cover: A more ambitious square-with-pattern project. Also practical, very pretty and less seasonally-weird.

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Jenny very kindly sent me a copy of Purls after we bonded over a mutual love of knitting at a recent event. So far I’m really impressed with the simple step by step instructions, fun patterns and candid tone of the book. I’ll report back and do a proper review once I have (hopefully) completed one of these projects.

Which pattern do you think I should go for?