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Unexpected Knitting, by Debbie New: An Unexpected Treasure

Updated on October 1, 2014
Debbie New
Debbie New

Is There Such a Thing as a Knitting Scientist Artist? Read On to Find Out!

Unexpected Knitting by Debbie New proves that science, fine art and knitting go together beautifully.

Knitted brain hats, licorice socks, knitted Wedgewood teacups , a lace boat ... these are only a few of Debbie New's projects. Her book shows photos of these and many more, and includes patterns for many projects and ideas for many more.

The book is beautifully produced by Schoolhouse Press, in a large format that will look good as a "coffee table" book. But this is a practical book, too. It fits perfectly with my idea of the perfect book to give a knitter: stunning photographs of incredible knitting that knitters will want to study even if they don't knit any of the projects.

For more details, read on!

This is part of a series of knitting book reviews, of my favorite knitting books. For more, follow the Previous and Next links below.

All photos in this article, except for the photo of Debbie New to the left, are from a set of note cards featuring Debbie New's work. You can order these from: Philosopher's Wool The photo of Debbie New is from the same web site.

Unexpected Knitting, Debbie New

Knitted teacups, perhaps Debbie New's best-known work. Patterns are in Unexpected Knitting.
Knitted teacups, perhaps Debbie New's best-known work. Patterns are in Unexpected Knitting.

What's Unexpected About Unexpected Knitting?

Many years ago, I heard about a knitter who made a set of knitted teacups. Later, I read about a sock knitting contest. One of the winners was an incredible pair of swirly knit socks, but that same person submitted socks of green "licorice" strings, with black for the toe and heel.In a book about lace knitting, I read about a knitted lace boat. Debbie New is responsible for all of these, and this book is about her work.

Ms New is a scientist by training, and a lover of math. She is also an artist, using knitting as her medium. Unexpected Knitting shows some of her impossible to reproduce art work, as well as garments anyone can knit, if they are willing to explore the unusual, and yes, the unexpected.

Methods and Patterns

Ms New explores a number of different knitting techniques in Unexpected Knitting. A few of these are:

Log Cabin knitting, where one knits joined strips like a log cabin quilt block;

Scribble Lace, where the contrast between extremely fine yarn and super bulky creates ethereal, fragile lace;

Cellular automaton knitting, where a mathematical rule determines the patterning;

Labyrinth knitting, where an extremely long strip of garter stitch is knitted, with internal mitered corners, which folds into a sweater. This is something I have to try ... imaging knitting an entire sweater with 12 ridges of garter stitch! Ms New actually had custom extra-long circular needles made for this, though she found that a series of regular long needles worked just as well.

What's Your Opinion?

Would you knit anything from this book?

Work by Debbie New

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cellular Automaton, Pattern in Unexpected KnittingGranny Squares, photos only in Unexpected Knitting (no pattern)Knitted Lace Coracle (boat), photos only in Unexpected Knitting (no pattern)Triple Exposure, photos only in Unexpected Knitting (no pattern)
Cellular Automaton, Pattern in Unexpected Knitting
Cellular Automaton, Pattern in Unexpected Knitting
Granny Squares, photos only in Unexpected Knitting (no pattern)
Granny Squares, photos only in Unexpected Knitting (no pattern)
Knitted Lace Coracle (boat), photos only in Unexpected Knitting (no pattern)
Knitted Lace Coracle (boat), photos only in Unexpected Knitting (no pattern)
Triple Exposure, photos only in Unexpected Knitting (no pattern)
Triple Exposure, photos only in Unexpected Knitting (no pattern)

My Opinion of Unexpected Knitting

Unexpected Knitting is a big, beautifully-produced "coffee table" style book. Even if you never knit anything in it, it is what I call eye candy, and a book to impress your knitting friends. I brought this book to a knitting seminar at an education conference, and nobody looked at the other books, they all wanted to see this one.

But it's not just a book to look at. Many of the patterns, though unusual, are not difficult to knit, and Ms New provides standard instructions for those patterns. I wouldn't expect a beginner to find much to knit in this book, unless she was highly motivated, but most patterns are well within the ability of the intermediate knitter.

I bought my copy of Unexpected Knitting as a holiday present for myself, and I'm very glad I did. If you buy it, I'm sure you'll like it, too.

Rate Unexpected Knitting

On a scale of 1-7, what did you REALLY think?

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Other Books with Debbie New's Work

Debbie New's patterns have appeared in other knitting books and magazines as well.

Socks, Socks, Socks

This book has several of Debbie's patterns for socks, including the cover photo, Licorice Socks, and The Emperor's New Socks

Premium Collection 60 Inch Circular StitchBerry® Brand Bamboo Knitting Needles (15 Sizes) - 3 Year Warranty
Premium Collection 60 Inch Circular StitchBerry® Brand Bamboo Knitting Needles (15 Sizes) - 3 Year Warranty

Wow! These 5 foot long needles are the longest ones I've ever seen. I don't think I would eer have a use for them - but you might, and now you know where to find them!

 

Long Circular Knitting Needles

Some of the projects in Unexpected Knitting use very long circular needles that Ms New had custom made. I can't give you links to those, but here are some 60" long circular needles, and a kit you can use to make to make long needles.

Other Math & Science Inspired Knitting Books

Debbie New's work is heavily influenced by math and science. Here are some other knitting books that also have math and science inspirations.

Wooly Thoughts

This book is written by two English maths teachers who explore the geometrical properties of knitting, and come up with some great designs.

The knitting is very simple, as are the garment shapes, but the geometry ... oooh!

Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop

In addition to using math in her sweater designs, Elizabeth Zimmermann knits Moebius scarves, Pi shawls, and other math-y patterns.

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    • Kevin Wilson 2 profile image

      Kevin Wilson 2 6 years ago

      Fascinating! Now I have to look for this book on Inter Library Loan...

    working

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