by Cecelia Campochiaro (Chroma Opaci Books, £44) At first glance, Cecelia Campochiaro’s book may appear to be an enormous stitch dictionary. Look more closely, however, and you’ll realise that this book represents a completely new way of exploring the endless possibilities of knitted fabric.
In essence, what Cecelia presents here in her 387-page book is a set of algorithms or rules to generate knitting patterns. But don’t be alarmed – these algorithms are “radically simple ways to create amazing fabric,” as Cecelia says.
She has simplified her knitting to a series of one-row sequences; the patterns that emerge are often beautiful, reversible and complex, yet simple and easy to remember.
Take the sequence (K3, P3), for example, and experiment with adapting the sequence by using multiples of stitches: 6, 6+1, 6+2, 6+3, 6+4, and 6+5. The appearance of the knitted fabric changes in surprising and beautiful ways.
The sequences in the book are divided into four categories: 1-row patterns – where every row is the same, and the same sequence is worked across the row. Serpentine – the sequence is worked independent of the number of stitches in the row. So at the beginning of a new row you don’t restart the sequence, but continue where you left off on the previous row. Spiral – similar to Serpentine, but worked in the round. Shaped 1-row – similar to 1-row, but incorporating increases or decreases at the beginning or end of the row.
Cecelia presents a huge number of sequences in her book, accompanied by 190 swatches and charts, which knitters can use in their own projects. They are all textures or motifs based on different repetitions of knit and purl stitches, and both the front and reverse of each swatch is shown, to show how beautiful the ‘wrong side’ of the fabric can be.
She also provides more than 40 patterns for simple and elegant accessories that showcase the concepts in the book. Each swatch is made in a plain grey yarn, to encourage knitters to make their own colour choices. Many of the scarf patterns, though, are shown in one or more variegated yarns for stunning results.
Given the book’s clear, methodical, scientific approach, it’s no surprise to learn that Cecelia lives and works in California’s high-tech Silicon Valley. Yet this hefty tome is beautifully designed and incredibly inspiring, and feels like a breath of fresh air in our understanding of knitted fabric.
“One surprise for me was the rarity of these concepts in the knitting literature,” Cecelia says. “Now that I have been immersed in Sequence Knitting for several years, it seems almost primal in its simplicity, so it was hard for me to believe that others had not already written about it… In spite of not being able to find references I still feel that Elizabeth Zimmermann is right: these methods are unvention rather than invention, because they are so inherently simple.” Sequence Knitting is available in the UK through Loop, priced £44. Visit www.loopknittingshop.com or call 020 7288 1160. It is distributed in the US by Unicorn Books and is sold at stockists including Schoolhouse Press and Jimmy Beans Wool, priced $60. For more information, visit www.sequenceknitting.com