Monday, January 25, 2010

Ten Books

Books Read, Books I Think About

I've been meaning to talk a little bit here about some books that I've read recently, books that I refer to often, and books that inspire a bunch. Some are pretty specific to what I've been working on of late (book design and structure). I'll try and get a more craft-specific one on here soon. In the meantime - I hope you find this little corner of my life helpful, and I hope that - should this inspire you to pick up any of these titles - you find them as awesome as I do.

- Elements of Typographic Style. By forcing the designer to think about the design of the letterforms, the text and the type can work together to convey appropriate meaning. This book presents a clear, concise history of the evolution of many common typefaces, and why they work. It's 100% awesome, and I reach for it frequently.

- The Stuff of Thought. I picked this book up a few months ago on my way out to Minneapolis. It's chock full linguistic insanity - how we process and use words to communicate.

- State By State. This is a great collection of essays in the tradition of WPA Travel guides. Each state is represented and discussed by a different author. Visiting a state, growing up in a state, driving through a state - every place is given it's own anecdote and tale.

- An Illustrated Life. A collection of pages from sketchbooks of artists and illustrators and designers. This book is stunning and inspiring. For someone who has tried to keep a sketchbook many times and failed, every time I look through this I want to try again.

- Speck. If you've seen my house, or my Flickr stream, you'll know that I like stuff. It's everywhere! This book provides a little bit of light on the everyday and makes the reader re-evaluate it's place and our view of it.

- Art of the Japanese Postcard. I saw this show when it was at the MFA a few years ago. The postcards are beautiful little stories, and stories unto themselves. The history behind many of them is wonderful, and the printing is meticulously done.

- Big Book of Pulps. I love a good pulp story, and I swoop up any pulps I see at yard sale and Goodwill. They're totally silly, yet completely captivating. This collection - while a bit gigantic and unwieldy - keeps me from having an allergy attack to the musty smells of those older books while I read them :)

- Bookdesign. Not for everyone, but it's what I do! This is a TREMENDOUSLY helpful reference. And it's really well put together and organized (of course).

- American Book Design & William Morris. William Morris really had his design finger in every pie, didn't he? Using the same meticulous, all-encompassing enthusiasm that he applied to all other aspects of his design work, Morris' take on book design is incredible to think about and behold in this day of parcelled out production, where each individual is responsible for ONE aspect of the final product.

- Envisioning Information. Oh, Edward Tufte, you are an evil genius. How you convey information is just as important as what you are trying to say. And he says it all perfectly.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mittens, Arches, A Sweater - Good Start to the New Year.

My foray into Mitten Madness continued into the New Year:

Northman Action Shots!

I completed the test-knitting on these, David's Northman Mittens. They were a delight to knit, and his pattern is very well-written and clear. I knit these in Rowan Felted Tweed, with a lining of Berroco Alpaca - extra squishy, warm, goodness. I used US 3 needles to get 7 stitches to the inch, and they fit wonderfully. But that wasn't the end of mitten madness......

Handspun Fiddleheads with Cashmere Linings

I finally completed these Handspun Fiddleheads. I started these a little over a year ago, and knit one exterior mitten. The yarn is handspun corriedale/alpaca that I picked up at Rhinebeck a few years ago, and the lining yarn is cashmere that is left over from Simone's Wedding Shawl. Luckily, my gauge remained the same in the year since I knit the first mitten. It feels great to have this pair done, and not looming about waiting for me to knit it's mate.

I also knit up these socks:

Grim Socks

This is the Pyroclastic pattern from knitty. The pattern uses arch-shaping along the sole, which is GREAT. The sock cradles the foot and fits wonderfully - I want to knit all socks this way from now on. The yarn used here is my own handspun, in the HY CLub "Grim" colorway. It's a 3-ply yarn of Bamboo, Superwash Merino, and Nylon, so it has a nice shine to it. The pattern had a few weird, unclear bits, and the finished socks tend to bias. But other than that - Arch Shaping! It's really the best.

I also finally got around to knitting up Sef's sweater, or at least getting started on it:
Morning Swatching

This is some Bartlett yarn he picked up at Rhinebeck in 2008. I'm making a tight-knit sweater that can function as a bit of a winter jacket. I've made it to the armpits on the body of the sweater. This project is FLYING.