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Hayley Cann (Québec, Canada)

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60 Quick Baby Blankets: Cute & Cuddly Knits in 220 Superwash® and 128 Superwash® from Cascade Yarns
60 Quick Baby Blankets: Cute & Cuddly Knits in 220 Superwash® and 128 Superwash® from Cascade Yarns
by Sixth&Spring Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.85
38 used & new from CDN$ 11.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Better than before, nice blankets, two yarn weights., June 17 2013
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This book has 60 baby blankets and I thought most of the pattern had some appeal either on the esthetic side or on the technical. On t6he

In this book almost all of the patterns require color work of some sort, stripes, entrelac, stranded, a lot of intarsia particularly. I would say most of the patterns are of intermediate skill, though a few might require trying a new technique for the first time, for instance the blanket in entrelac. Good news for beginners or knitters in a hurry, there's 5-10 patterns that are very, very simple, knit and purl simple, almost no finishing and only a little color work, mostly in the form of stripes. They still look good too.

The explanations are clear, the editing of the book is fine, the book wastes no time trying to show us how to knit with a silly technical section (technically, there is one, but it's on the inside back cover only), and instead it gives us the cutest little lamb stuffed animal pattern there ever was (pattern 61). It's really sweet. I love a bonus!

The yarn weights and chunky and and worsted, and even at least once are two worsted worked together (amounting to a bulky). I would have liked a bit more variety, after all Cascade has a sport weight now, but this is a start. Anyway, I can't complain, the book has great patterns and lots of it. It's a really good buy for anyone who plans on knitting a baby blanket more than once.

Grammy's Favorite Knits for Baby
Grammy's Favorite Knits for Baby
by Doreen L. Marquart
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.43
41 used & new from CDN$ 8.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly Everything You Might Want to Knit for Baby, June 17 2013
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This is a surprising book, the designs are very, very good. Most of them use simple techniques, and little finishing to make designs that are quite worthy. Many of the designs, like the one on the book cover, come in a very good range of sizes from up to 6 months to up to 24 months. So it is a well planned book and it would be a perfect book for someone just starting out on baby knits.

A lot of the designs I want to knit right away. There is a cupcake cap (on the cover), a chevron and lace blanket, a modular cardigan and a star topped hat, a cardigan, an ear-flap hat and socks/mittens set, a jumper, bibs, a cable blanket, another earflap hat, another jumper, a striped ensemble with cardi, socks, mittens and hat, another blanket, a vest and a shoulder button pullover. This is a very good combination of patterns, with a decent assortment of classic pieces for baby.

I wish the ensembles were given in two sizes though. As it is, both of the ensembles (that are very, very nice) are given in the same size that's for a newborn baby (up to 6 months), but that was my main disappointment with the book. I'm glad this book uses mostly DK and fingering weights that I find very suitable for babies, and the yarns shown seem of very nice quality. However, the presentation of some designs are made in colour choices that I did not like very much, but this is a personal gripe.

The editing of the book is fine, the technical section is short and rather appropriate. It has a few explanations on seaming up the knits that I thought was well done and added something unique to this technical section compared to the ones of other books.

All in all, I think this is a very good book, that I would recommend to knitters of skill strong novice to intermediate and up.

Medieval-Inspired Knits: Stunning Brocade & Swirling Vine Patterns with Embellished Borders
Medieval-Inspired Knits: Stunning Brocade & Swirling Vine Patterns with Embellished Borders
by Anna-Karin Lundberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.40
31 used & new from CDN$ 18.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Designs inspired by Medieval Church Murals in Swedish Uppland., June 17 2013
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This is a book of beautiful patterns, designed after medieval paintings in churches in Sweden. The authot has a great sense on how to use the inspiration to make beautiful garments and the quality of design is impressive.

This is a sweater book, and all of the patterns involve color work of some sort, though the gloves' colors come mostly from embroidery and the scarf has stripes rather than fair isle type of color knitting. All of the other designs are stranded color work in the scandinavian style, even the patterns are in the style you would see in Sandnes or Dale of Norway books.

There is one patterns for gloves and one pattern for a uber simple chevron scarf, and the rest of the designs are sweaters and cardigans in the nordic style. A word to the wise, almost every opening is worked with some sort of steeking in this book. If you have a personal aversion to it and can't work out how to go on from steeked instructions to "regular" construction, you're going to find the book much less interesting.

There are 4 jackets/cardigans, 4 vests, 9 sweaters. The sweaters are mostly unisex in shape, and two are modeled by men. The cardigans and vest are mostly for women, but could probably be adapted without too much fuss. There are also two sweater patterns for children. It's hard to complain when a book has so many beauttiful designs, and the original inspiration is what is is, but a little more variety would have been appreciated.

Not only are the designs themselves beautiful, but the photography is beautiful. It shows the designs to full advantage and shows the source paintings in the best possible light. The book holds double the appeal to those knitters interested in archaeology and medieval art. The editing is well done with color charts and clear diagrams. However the technical section at the end is completely superfluous. It contains a few explanations on techniques that are not necessarily run of the mill like steeking, making buttonholes loops, and making the embroidered motifs, but not in enough details to be truly useful, and it includes way too much trivial information. At the end of the day, this is not a book for beginners.

Alice Starmore's Charts for Color Knitting: New and Expanded Edition
Alice Starmore's Charts for Color Knitting: New and Expanded Edition
by Alice Starmore
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.97
35 used & new from CDN$ 14.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Most Impressive Color Knitting Stitch Library, not to miss, June 17 2013
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I own many books for color knitting, including Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting, but this Dover edition takes the cake. The price of the book is very good for the many, many (too many to count) patterns published in it.

Not only that there is a real attention to giving an assortment of different types of patterns, allover patterns, border patterns, single motifs, vertical motifs, you name it, it's in.

The book is organised in these practical sections: Introduction, Designing Patterned Sweaters, Traditional Knitting Patterns (subdivided into: Norway; Sweden; Finland; Latvia, Estonia and Lituania; Russia, South America), Adapted Patterns (subdivided into: Celtic, Greece, Caucasus, Middle East, Far East), The Continuing Story (which is mostly constituted of motifs inspired from nature or landscapes and is subdivided into the following sections: Birds and Flowers, Sea and Shoreline, The Inner Landscape), A Word on Colour, Alice Starmore (R) yarns (advertisement for Alice Starmore' yarn business) and About the Author.

The design your own sweater is best kept to those knitters who have a little experience in veering off pattern instructions. The author explains how to design from actual measurements and though this is invaluable, it may seem daunting for beginners.

The stitch patterns are only black and white, and don't use symbols to suggest the color changes either. This is perhaps the main drawback of the book, though there are photographs of knitted pieces (some models with a sweater, some are close-up pieces of the knit fabric) which are in colour and very beautiful. The stitch counts and row counts are not given, and you're left to distinguish the pattern repeat and symmetry add-on stitches by yourself. There are explanations in the designing section on how to do this though. Still for such a generous amount of patterns in such a reasonably priced book, I wouldn't complain about the editing.

A very good book for knitters of skill level intermediate and higher interested in customized color-work.

The Autumn Bride
The Autumn Bride
by Anne Gracie
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
37 used & new from CDN$ 1.69

4.0 out of 5 stars A solid romance, with wit and heart., June 8 2013
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Abby Chantry put her job on the line to save her sister, and now has nowhere to go. Desperate, she attempts to steal what is necessary to care for her ill sister, only to discover a house emtpied of its riches, and an elderly lady neglected by her servants. Lady Davenham might be ill and starved, but manages to touch Abby who starts to worry about the appaling state in which the lady is kept. Between the two of them, they hatch a scheme to have the sisters stay with Lady Davenham under the guise of her nieces. The ruse succeeds until Max, Lady Davenham's nephew, comes home to his aunt and knows the girls are not who they say they are.

I really enjoyed this book. It had a slow build up, as the author really takes the time to establish the girls and especially Abby's character and motivations. Max is also fleshed out before the two meet, so we feel as though his reactions make sense when they happen, and the attraction is cemented by the way the two eventually connect on an emotional level. I love that the novel takes its time with a slow plot, that unravels just at the right time, and with clues that are subtle yet make perfect sense.

There is a lot of humor in this book and the secondary characters, (the sisters, Lady Davenham, Freddy, Flynn) all made me want to see them make an appearance in other books of a series. From reading this book, it sounds as though it might be planned, but it is not done with a heavy hand so as to promote the next book.

A perfect delight of a book.

Fire Emblem: Awakening - Nintendo 3DS
Fire Emblem: Awakening - Nintendo 3DS
Price: CDN$ 39.95
13 used & new from CDN$ 34.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for FE fans, can be eased into by anyone, May 24 2013
Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
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Its not surprising that I love this game, as a Fire Emblem fan, I'm always tickled pink when a title comes to North America. But I think this title has a little of everything for everyone, as long as they're willing to try a strategy RPG (SRPG). But for those who are not convinced, here is some information on the game.

Gameplay: First you can choose the difficulty setting, normal, hard, lunatic. While FE is famous for perma death, in this game you may opt out of it by picking casual mode, instead of classic. Battle are turned based and happen on a grid, with your units pitted against the enemies, in standard FE fare, but in this game, there is an infinite possiblity for grinding between chapters (ie main game battles). In this installement, you may not rescue your units, but you can be pairing up for statistical bonuses, you can place your units on contiguous positions on the grids for the chance of an assist, either in the form of an extra attack or in helping a unit dodge the incoming attack. These may also happen with higher probability during a pairing, especially with high support rank. The Streetpass lets you also pit your best team against friends or strangers.

Story: The story is alright, it's not a great departure from the classic plots of RPG, but it is adequate to pull the player through the different stages of the game. It is the characters that lend the story the appeal it has.

Cast of characters: This is one of the strong points of the series, interactions, better than usual because support conversations are not a fixed number by character. This game does not disappoint, as the assortument of oddball characters is there, but you have a good main in the person of earnest Chrom, and it is interesting to join the group as the character you design. The cast is fun, and the number of interactions is higher than ever, especially considering you will want to have your units woo one another. Most of the support conversations are interesting at least, and it is great that they're not as difficult to pursue as in previous installments. Which lets you enjoy them all the more, because they're not limited as in Sacred Stones and a few others, if memory serves.

Graphics and visuals: Not only do the fighting character models appear in 3D during battles as in RD and PoR, but the story scenes use 3D models, rendered in the 3DS 3D, and it is rather well done. The game is still very beautiful to watch without 3D, and because that mode is clearer, it is easier to play in places where the light might not otherwise allow you to see the darker 3D display. The sprites for the overhead view of the maps are small, and the zoom only has three modes, so for me they're only easily distinguishable from one another on the biggest zoom, but that view is useless during your turn. So that's a point they could improve on. Also the critical hits are no longer animated, they are replaced with a static close-up image of the character who then proceeds to hit the opposing unit. The art is different than previous FE installments, it's still anime style, but a little more modern, with considerable details.

Chapters and Maps: With the more than 15 paralogues and the DLC xenologues, and the main quest 25 or so chapters the game is probably the longest FE campaign to come to be localised to North America. The game lets you pit your forces There are already a good dozen of DLC Xenologues ranging from easy to very difficult

Classes, promotions, and Class change: Units come with a type of job, it is called their class. But as soon as that unit reaches level 10 it can be promoted to a higher class, or it can change its class to learn another skill set. The skills are back too, and they are gained once a unit reaches level 10 of a base class or level 5 and 15 of a promoted class. This system, though rather simple, is a lot of fun especially when your offspring units gain skills inherited from their parents' skillset, which you can influence by marrying this or that unit together, and assigning which skills get passed on to the offspring.

All in all, this is an excellent FE title, as it tweaks the formula, takes advantage of the 3DS capabilities in the esthetic department but also in terms of connectivity, by adding the possiblity for quite a bit of extra content (for an additional fee, but each map comes at 2,50$ or 3$ at time of writing, and they're all completely optional,). Mostly, I think this game introduces modifications that are meant to appeal to a wider fan base, and some that change the mechanic to challenge the old fans, which is not unwelcome.

An excellent game.

Knitted Lace: A Collection of Favorite Designs from Interweave
Knitted Lace: A Collection of Favorite Designs from Interweave
by Anne Merrow
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.29
52 used & new from CDN$ 5.33

3.0 out of 5 stars Lace knitting the Interweave Press way., May 16 2013
First of all, this ia a book of reprints from patterns that appeared in Interweave Knits (IK) from 2001 to present. If you subscribe to this magazine, chances are you have most of these patterns. I was had again, buying the book without seeing the tiny secondary title that makes clear there is no original content in this book. One of the patterns (Forest Path Stole) has been reprinted in a similar best-off of IK before, even as it is again reprinted here. They may be goodies, but they're oldies too.

There are three "lessons" taken from previous articles from IK: A primer to lace knitting, a guide on how to cast-on and cast-off, and how to shape lace garments, ie how to work in decreases and increases on the sides of lace stitch patterns.

The section are nice with illustrations, but they are oddly matched. I don't think this book is great for beginners, so the primer is hit and miss. On the other hand, most of the knitters who enjoy lace knitting have probably figured out how to avoid partial pattern repetitions on the side of the knit to maintain stitch count.

The editing of the patterns is exactly like in IK, I'm not sure the forewords to each pattern are new. Still there is a fairly good amount of patterns and even though there is no theme aside from lace knitting, they are as a whole relatively good designs. There are: 3 Shawls, 4 Scarves, 5 Stoles, 3 Socks, 2 Hats, 1 Wrap, 2 Skirt, 6 Tops (1 tank, 1 hoodie, 1 tunic, etc..). This is a bit too eclectic for my tastes, but it might prove a tempting sampler for other knitters.

On the technical front, most of the patterns are not crazy involved, with most of the patterns with relatively simple lace stitches. Two of the patterns (Forest Path Stole and Luminarie Skirt combine a lace stitch with the entrelac technique for a bigger challenge). Also, the book focuses on more traditional shapes for the shawls and stoles, there are no shawlettes or the crescent shawls that are now very popular. Most of the patterns are knitted with finer gauge yarns, with a few notable exceptions consisting of a handful of patterns written for sportweight, worsted, aran and chunky.

This is a book that disappointed me, but the patterns are nice, well edited, it would be perfect for someone who wants to try lace knitting but wonders which project to pick first.

Tricot dentelle
Tricot dentelle
by Viviane Deroover
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.04
8 used & new from CDN$ 23.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Enfin un livre de tricot d'art moderne en Français!, March 20 2013
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This review is from: Tricot dentelle (Paperback)
Les fans de "lace knitting" francophones se sont longtemps demandé si un jour il y aurait des ouvrages en Français. Et il semblerait que c'est enfin le cas. Dans le livre de Deroover, il y a châles et écharpes faits de laines fines, (grosseur fingering en descendant) et bien sûr ce sont les points ajourés qui sont à l'honneur.

Je ne m'attendais pas nécessairement à un chef d'oeuvre vu le manque de compétition francophone dans ce domaine, (soulignons-le les anglophones et les allemandes ont une grande longueur d'avance), mais les patrons sont assez nombreux et surtout ils sont beaux. La plupart des ouvrages sont faits en fil très fin, genre "laceweight" et kidmohair.

C'est un bon livre et très intéressant pour le prix.

The Truth-Teller's Tale
The Truth-Teller's Tale
by Sharon Shinn
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.49
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A sweet coming of age novel, perfect for light reading, March 20 2013
I must confess that Shinn is a guilty pleasure, because even though the books I've read from her often have what seems to me relatively limited plots, I enjoy the amount of reflection and humanism she inflects in the text.

This one, ostensibly geared towards young adults, is the story of Eleda, whose main talent in life is telling the truth. Eleda also has a twin sister, Adele who is a study in symetry of herself, as she is similar but the mirror image of Eleda. Adele's main talent is keeping secrets for others. Eleda expects others to be as forthcoming as she is, and sometimes struggles to understand her twin's own talent, keeping secrets. But when the twins turn 17, their best friend is fated to marry far away, and it will require both their talents and their hearts to reach a happy conclusion.

It is hard not to spoil the book, but this is a somewhat moderm fairytale, in which the girls are rewarded for their persistence and their good natures, with an emphasis on Eleda's perspective. The relationship between the girls is intriguing and well portrayed by the characters. And it is all in all a really sweet novel.

The Scottish Witch: The Chattan Curse
The Scottish Witch: The Chattan Curse
by Cathy Maxwell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.02
63 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A hard to let go romance,, March 20 2013
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The men of the English Chattan family are cursed to fall in love and die as a result. Harry Chattan knows he can never fall in love because it would mean his death, but he is willing to search Scotland to find a way to lift the curse so his brother who recently fell in love can be saved. Portia Maclean on the other hand, knows very well that at age 27 and without a dowry, she is very much on the shelf. That would not be so bad, but she is struggling to keep a roof over her family's head. To save her mother and sister from destitution, she is willing to disguise as a witch and and pretend lift the curse from the Chattan family. She doesn't expect to be attracted to Harry Chattan, and she certainly doesn't expect for him to be attracted to her, but as their feelings grow so do the stakes, for a Chattan man who loves will certainly meet his end.

First off, this is the middle part of a series, I jumped in not knowing and it didn't matter, it did not deter from my enjoyment of the book. I was surprised that the author eschewed to play certain romance tropes and it kept the plot fresh, certainly I expected a cheesier ending, but I was surprised to find a certain depth of realistic sentiment. I thought it was heartfelt enough, and the interaction between the two protagonists was really good. I also liked the characters who felt sufficently fleshed out to provide a good set of circumstances for the hero and heroine to react to.

I liked this a lot and will check out the earlier entry in the series and will look forward to the next entry.

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