Harmony Guides – 250 Colourwork Stitches

I love knitting stitch dictionaries. They are perhaps my greatest knitting weakness. I can spend (literally) hours leafing through the same pages over and over before beginning a new projects, armed with a selection of sticky-tab page-markers as I whittle down what I think will ‘work’, first marking about 20 or so for further consideration, maybe picking five of these, then going back over the book and falling in love another 20 stitches I didn’t even notice the first time around, rinse and repeat.

So, when I noticed that the Harmony Guide series had a new book in town, and it just so happened to concentrate on my new found love of colourwork stitches, I was clicking my way through the appropriate Amazon pages within a heartbeat.

I then waited, and waited. I know today is only the 7th of January, and we are experiencing some exceptional weather conditions, but I ordered the book last year, and it was supposed to arrive by the next working day. Finally though, the book arrived.

There is so much I love about this book. It is clear, well photographed and uncluttered. The designs are clearly charted. The book begs to be flicked through, then orders you to make a cup of tea and then flicked through again. The edition distributed in the U.K. has a ‘u’ in the title. Great stuff.

It isn’t perfect, though. Like the other Harmony guides I own it seems to suffer from a lack of organisation. The Harmony guides start off in a logical manner – the easiest stitches of the particular type being categorised coming first. A simple openwork pattern begins the guide to lace. A progression from garter stitch, to stockinette, reverse stockinette and k1, p1 rib gets the Knit and Purl guide off to an obvious start, and so it is with the colourwork guide. Single dots on a plain background, placed one stitch apart. Single dots on a plain background placed two stitches apart, two coloured stitches on a plain… you get the idea. This very quickly ascends a learning curve into more complex patterns – bands of motifs, various snowflake designs of Norweigan colourwork, intarsia designs, but, inexplicably, possibly the simplest colourwork technique of them all – evenly proportioned stripes, isn’t found until page 200.

There also doesn’t seem to be (or at least I can not discern) any logic to the groupings of stitch examples. Examples of snowflake designs are scattered throughout the publication, instead of being grouped together, traditional Fair Isle motifs are inter-spaced by designs that used four or more colours per row (shudder). At least the publishers sought to keep the letters of the alphabet together and in the traditional order.

Once you get used to the idea that you will have to look through the entire guide each time you are searching for something though, you start to regard this as a pleasurable pursuit rather than a chore standing between you and your latest project, and that’s what I am about to do. I have a good friend waiting to help choose some colours and motifs for his new sweater…

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