No-Bull Book Review: Magpies, Homebodies & Nomads, by Cirilia Rose

I’ve had my eye on Cirilia Rose for a while — not in a creepy, stalkerish kind of way, but because from the first time I was introduced to her, I was struck by her charisma, talent and style. I always think of Cirilia as a kid, probably because I’m old enough to be her mother  cool  younger aunt, but that’s silly of me, because she’s done so much in this industry already, working for WEBS, Berroco, Skacel and now New Zealand’s Woolyarns. When I heard that Cirilia was working with another of my girlcrushes, Melanie Falick, on a new book, I was very excited. Last month, Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads: A Modern Knitter’s Guide to Discovering and Exploring Style was published (STC; hardcover; MSRP $27.50, available for $20.40 through the link) so let’s take a good look.

magpies cover

One thing you can always count on with a book from STC Craft is that it will be beautiful: beautifully photographed, interesting styling, gorgeous yarns, lovely paper and design. And sure enough, you notice all those things about Magpies is. Lovely hardback cover, endpapers with a tulle-like design, photographs by Jared Flood. You’ll also notice that there’s a fair amount of text in addition to the patterns; Cirilia writes short essays that are sprinkled within each chapter, reflecting on topics such as diversity among the tastes of knitters; acquiring and then combining yarns; color; styling; introversion and knitting; and ideas for inspiration. Then there are the patterns:  26 patterns, mostly for women (there are one or two home dec-style patterns), including cardigans, tops, accessories and bags. Both patterns and essays are divided roughly into three categories, each reflecting a type of knitter or an aspect of a knitter’s personality (since I think most people don’t fall exclusively into a single category).

The “Magpies” section reflects our tendency as knitters to collect one or two balls of yarn here and there. The Norah hat uses only two skeins of yarn and showcases a vintage sequin patch:


The Breve Cowl uses an unlikely mix of yarns — Rowan Denim, which shrinks and fades a bit with each wash, along with Noro Silk Garden. But it works:


The Garance camisole features a silk fingering weight yarn and halter shape, giving the daring knitter something to wear in warm weather.


And the Isla cardigan, while taking more than one or two skeins, does just cry out for a special yarn like the Zealana merino/possum blend the sample is shown in.


“Homebodies” features knits that are designed to appeal to the nester in all of us. Whether you are looking for a layer to keep you warm when lounging around the house, like the Loro vest,

Loro Vest

a pair of slippers inspired by Icelandic folk slippers:

Heima Slippers

Heima Slippers

a textured pillow to toss on the couch;

Bogarnes Pillow

Bogarnes Pillow

or a cowl that you can pop on anytime,

lana cowl

this chapter’s got you covered.

Last section is “Nomads,” tapping into the way knitters tend to wander around, whether traveling for business, vacationing or attending yarn festivals. The Coterie cardigan features military-inspired design elements:


the Jordaan cape is perfect to throw over a casual outfit for window-shopping,


the Rainier Cowl uses both a superwash merino blend and a creamy nylon novelty yarn for a shearling look;

lined cowl

and the Studio Cardigan features clever saddle-shoulder construction and a bright heart motif made from dyed locks:

studio sweater

Patterns are sized either one size for items like cowls (although some of the accessory patterns, like the Norah hat are sized) or in a generous range. For example, the sweaters run from around 33-36 to 51-55 inches in circumference, with schematics, lots of photos and charts where necessary.

Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads is a lovely book, filled with styles that somehow manage to be both eclectic yet classic. There’s a nice variety of items and yarn weights used; techniques vary, but I would say most of the projects are well within the province of an enthusiastic beginner. Cirilia’s insights on fashion and design are fun to read, and the beautiful styling and photography are a treat. I’m looking forward to seeing whatever comes next from this talented young designer!

Photographs copyright 2014 by Jared Flood; used for review purposes.

One Thought

  1. Beth says:

    Looks like a truly lovely collection of patterns. Once again, thanks for a helpful review and for bringing a worthwhile book to our attention.

Your Thoughts...