Books • 8 : Nourishing Knits

by Kristi Schueler

Knitting, spinning, companionship, wholesome food and warm drinks are each a wonderful thing. Together, nothing nourishes the spirit more! There is something about gathering together and sharing great food and drinks with others who enjoy working with fiber that bridges even the widest gaps to form amazing bonds of friendship. I do this each week with my knitting group. I find sharing is also fulfilling whether those gifts are a product of my kitchen or my needles. It seemed only natural to combine my two favorite methods of giving together into one e-book.  Nourishing Knits: 24 Projects to Gift and Entertain is a 102 page e-book filled with twelve knitting patterns, each thoughtfully paired with a recipe. There are accessory and garment patterns with recipes from appetizers to desserts and everything in between. Each project, knits and food alike, are wonderful to gift or share with others.

There is no greater hand knit gift than one made from handspun yarn. Plus, spinning your own yarn frees you to utilize fibers and blends not often found in commercially spun yarns. For these reasons and because I enjoy spinning my own yarn when time allows, I strove to include enough information about the sample yarns to facilitate the use of handspun for the knitting projects in Nourishing Knits. In the pattern specifications you will find yarn composition, the put ups from which grist can be calculated, and yardage estimates. Also, the photos of the commercial yarn used along the top of the text pages are true to life (as long as you uncheck the “shrink to fit” option when printing) and can serve as a guide for both thickness and twist angle for the final yarn.

The knitting patterns cover a range of yarn weights from lace to bulky and include both singles and plied yarns so there are projects to match any spinner’s skills and preferences. The garment patterns Ciabatta, Ginger, and Hits the Spot are mostly stockinette stitch and would suit a novice spinner’s thick-thin yarn. The large number of sizes offered and detailed schematics mean you can still achieve a great final product with minimal calculations even if you do not quite get gauge. Hits the Spot is also a great candidate for using handspun as an accent paired with a comparable commercial yarn to keep the spinning manageable.

Several of the patterns call for less than 300 yards of yarn such as the Masala slippers, Cornucopia cowl, and Bordeaux scarf. They are perfect for quick spinning and knitting. You may even have handspun in your stash ready to use.

While calling for a bit over 400 yards of yarn, the Ganache shawl is a great project for the most treasured fiber in your stash. The airy, open lace design gives maximum coverage per yard of yarn.

Never fear if your yarn weight misses the target, because let’s face it we have all done that. Tapas Tote is a very forgiving pattern that accommodates a wide range of gauges. It even is a great way to use odds and ends of handspun so none of that hard work goes to waste.

Sock yarn spinners have not been left out. There are two sock patterns, Guided By Love and Challa. Or mix it up with the Buttercream fingerless gauntlets which really pop when using a silk or bamboo blend.

I enjoy having a variety of projects demanding different levels of attention at the ready. As a result, the patterns in Nourishing Knits not only cover a large spectrum of yarn weights and types but also a broad scope of knitting techniques. They employ unique finishes and clever constructions. The patterns use lace, cables, colorwork, texture, twisted stitches, miters and any combination thereof. You are sure to find a project for any interest, whether you wish to stretch your knitting repertoire or seek refuge in a less taxing project.

Like the knitting patterns in Nourishing Knits, the twelve recipes cover a spectrum of palates and occasions. Recipes include appetizers, main dishes, preserves, desserts and even a beverage. Some of the dishes are great for potlucks like the Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili and Savory Pesto Cheesecake. Others like the Rosemary Scented Grapefruit Curd, Chocolate Almond Butter, and Chai Concentrate can make great hostess gifts. There is even a recipe for your favorite canine! All twelve recipes are vegetarian, but even the most carnivorous likely will not miss the meat with all the fragrant herbs and spices used.

As a cook prone to using recipes as a guide or jumping off point rather than instructions to follow verbatim, I frequently included suggestions for giving the recipes your own special finishing touch – even adding meat if you wish. Some recipes like the Antipasti Bread Pudding are flexible enough they can help you clean out the fridge and reduce food waste. Ever mindful of the prevalence of food allergies today and what a juggling act it can be to accommodate everyone’s needs, whenever possible there are suggested modifications to address those as well.

The interactive PDF file makes use of several different navigation methods. There is a traditional table of contents as well as visual pattern and recipe indices, all of which are clickable. There is even a bookmark panel that can be used to move throughout the e-book. Clear, easy to read charts are included and where practical written stitch guides as well. The beginning of each pairing is marked by clear yet artful full-page pictures of the food and knits. Lest you worry about wasting ink, instructions are included to print the entire book without the large images, leaving those to be referenced on the computer where you can even zoom in to see the details closer. For those who prefer to print only what is being made, each pattern has its own list of special abbreviations so the less common ones are always with the pattern. A list of industry standard abbreviations is also included near the end of the book for newer knitters.

The twelve knitting patterns may be purchased individually, but the recipes are only available in the full e-book.  Both the full e-book and the individual patterns are available for purchase on Ravelry.

Regardless of your experience with spindles, wheels, needles, spoons or knives you are sure to find lots of inspiration in the Nourishing Knits e-book. All 24 projects (knit and cooked) can be shared. Do not feel you have to though. Treating yourself can be equally nourishing.

Photos © Kristi Schueler.