Knitting Book Reviews

Warm Knits, Cool Gifts
by Sally Melville & Caddy Melville Ledbetter

My first reaction was happiness because I didn’t even know Sally Melville and Caddy Melville-Ledbetter had a new book coming out. Then, after flipping through the book, I was still even more excited.

Unlike their first book (the wonderful, but badly-titled Mother-Daughter Knits) this book provides patterns for the whole family, starting with the wee ones. (Babies in overalls? Too cute.) There are sweaters for men, women, and children. I adore the red skating coat, and I loved the “Cardigan that Caddy Really Wanted.” It’s named from a cute anecdote of younger-Caddy asking for a simple, ribbed sweater and getting the “Sweater That Sally Made Instead.” (Yes, those are two of the patterns, and I am charmed by the fact that those are the actual names.)

There are patterns for the usual accessories–scarves, hats, wrist-warmers–as well as an eyeglass case, some lace bookmarks, and a couple afghans. There are some home-for-the-holiday patterns, like a gorgeous log-cabin themed tree skirt, stockings, and ornaments for a Christmas tree. In this day and age it’s almost unusual that this section actually focuses on Christmas rather than a more generic “winter holiday” theme, though the little 3D evergreen trees obviously would work for any holiday. I don’t know if that affects your book-buying decisions, but I wouldn’t let that keep me away from this book, even if it wasn’t a holiday I celebrate.

This book, since it’s geared toward the entire family, has a nice balance of patterns for everyone. Most of them have extra touches that show a fine attention to detail–a button at the edge of a scarf, a row of colored purl stitches on a wrist-warmer. Things like a knitted watch band that made me mentally start thinking about which watches I could take apart so I could make one for myself. Personally, I liked the first book a little more, but that’s mostly because I knit almost solely for women (namely me), so while I thought the children’s sweaters and the men’s pullovers interesting, I wasn’t drawn to them like you might be.

Sally Melville in particular is known for thinking her way through a pattern, and that care shows here, even in the patterns that I’m not likely to knit myself any time soon. The book itself is a large-sized paperback, with good production values. The paper feels good. The Table of Contents and Index are well-stocked with detail. The photos are attractive and generally clear in detail.

All in all, I’d say that Warm Knits, Cool Gifts is a book worth looking into–perfect for a time of year when you want to get warm and cozy with your knitting.

Reviewed by Deb Boyken

Deb has been knitting since 1987 and has accumulated quite a collection of knitting books over the years. Her website, Knitting Scholar, can be found at

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