Handpaint Country

Handpaint Country: A Knitters Journey with… – Cheryl Potter, Narration; Alexis Xenakis, Photography – XRX Publishing – 2002

Currently out of Print – Available new and used from Amazon.ca

A knitter’s coffee-table book.  Stunning photography and interestng stories of the artists and designers that create the gorgeous hand-dyed yarns that we love!

Cheryl Potter and Alexis Xenakis travel around the North American Continent, visiting every yarn artist in their path.  Broken up into seven geographical areas and featuring two to four dyers per area, they have covered a lot of territory.  Some of the names are familliar,  like Koigu, Chery Oberle, Great Adirondack and Mountain Colors, others are less so, The Drop Spindle and Oak Grove Yarns.  But all are connected by a fierce love of colour and how their fibres showcase that love!  There is an interview with each dyer and one or two patterns featuring the yarns that they have dyed.

Entrelac in Hand-dyed yarn - Fleece Artist Woolie Silk 3-ply

This book is  more than inspirational.  It shows how hand-dyed yarns can be used to best effect and gives instructions for the techniques that the designers have used.  Featuring some unique shaping and some not so common knitting techniques, such as entrelac, mitreing, drops stitches, mosaic knitting, as well as many of the more common techniques, such as stranding (fair-isle), chevron stitches and corrugated ribbing.  Some of the patterns will date themselves, but the creative ideas will remain fresh and timeless.

Several Mosaic patterns combined to create "Damask Clouche" - Handyed Yarn - Handmaiden Cashmere 4-ply

As for the patterns, many of the designers included are recognizable, Lily Chin, Sally Melville and Bev Galeskas.  Many of the designers are the dyers themselves.  Their perspective on the yarns is more personal and the designs reflect that perspective.  Maie and Taiu Landra of Koigu and Cheryl Oberle of Cheryl Oberle Designs are both dyers and designers, each with a different approach of how best to showcase their yarns.

The last two chapters of the book include tips from designers, their biographies and my favorite section – a very clear explanation – with pictures – of what each type of dyeing looks like when it is being created!  It takes a lot of the mystery out of the process of dyeing itself.  A glossary of dyeing terms, pictures of each yarn and illustrated techniques complete the contents.

This book is simple beautiful.  It combines wonderful photography, incredible colours and interesting people to create a book that is more than a sum of its parts.  The patterns are interesting, some wild, some classic and the techniques can be challenging, but the overall approach of the book is to make hand-dyed yarns more accessable and less of a knitting challenge.  I think that it succeeds.

Happy Knitting


One Response to Handpaint Country

  1. Pingback: Ten Books | Le Tissier Designs

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