Saturday, 12 November 2011

How to Knit book review

Book Depository Link
Ravelry Link

Impressions: This books starts with fiber and works it's way up from there.  Though I would wonder how anyone would really recognise different yarns from the pictures.  While tweed, or worsted is a visible style, yarns do come in different weights for different uses.  All pure merino isn't superfine for example, but I'm kinda nitpicking with that one.  They then move onto equipment.

Now there may be some people who argue the point, but to start knitting you need a hank of yarn, a suitable set of needles, and scissors.  Everything after that is garnish.

It goes into the basics, a few methods of casting on. Then it goes into some details about different techniques.

Sadly the first pattern you encounter is a baby blanket, with a lacey pattern.  Now it is a pretty straightforward pattern, but as a beginners pattern book starting with an intermediate pattern isn't good and it's not until you pass a few patterns that you find an easy pattern.  I think that patterns should be ordered in books like this in order of difficulty, and I'm not sure that there are really enough basic patterns that would make someone feel accomplished.  The patterns are pretty simple but I'd get this book for the how-to, which is clear and well-explained.  The patterns have a techniques list, possibly using a few postits would help a beginner here.

Types of patterns: babies, children, adult and accessories.

Number of Patterns: 20

Split of patterns: Blanket (1); booties (1)

Size Range: adult jumper to fit 38-46" (97cm-117cm)

Colour/Black & White:

Schematics: no, and no charts, there's a terse two pages on following charts with an emphasis on colourwork and no obvious mention

Target Audience: Beginners or people needing a refresher.

How to knit guide: most of the book

Experimental/Classical/Modern: pretty classical patterns

Comments on patterns:
The book starts with a section on Baby patterns.
First up is a baby blanket that's rated as intermediate, though there really isn't that much complications here, knit in colour strips, all you would have to do at the end is darn in the ends. The other advantage to this pattern is while gauge is useful to know what size it will be at the end it won't be the worst thing that happened.  Downside for a beginner is that it's the same thing for several strips. The original yarn is a aran to bulky weight (all seasons cotton knit with 5mm needles)

Next up are baby slippers or booties, another rated as intermediate, but this would be a good way to try out the techniques.  Original yarn is DK (Rowan Kid Classic with 4mm needles)

Snuggle Cardigan is next a one-piece cardigan, with some srtipes along the edges.  There are suggestions for other colourways, another intermediate pattern, knit in a dk yarn (rown wool cotton with 4mm needles)

Baby's hat and mittens: a basic pattern, knit flat hat with a barely visible striping pattern on the rib of the first photograph, the pink and cream is more visible with the striping. The hat is seamed as are the gloves, however the gloves are made in two pieces each and then seamed.  There are easier and better patterns made in the round.  Knit in 4 ply yarn (Rowan 4-ply with 3.25mm needles)

Cute for kids

Rugged Hoodie - an interemediate striped cotton cover-up.  Rugged doesn't come in white. I'd use the white as one of the stripes and use one of the darker yarns for the body, knit in DK (Rowan Handknit Cotton with 4mm needles)

Heart Sweater - a jumper in three shades with a heart intarsia and stripy sleeves.  Rated as intermediate, knit in DK (Rowan Handknit Cotton with 4mm needles) a very chunky jumper, the photographs don't convince me it's a good make

Winter scarf and mittens are a great introduction to colourwork and mitten making.  Rated as challenging. DK weight (Rowan Wool Cotton with 4mm needles)

Tassel Hat - rated as easy, knit a rectangle, sew it up, put tassels on the ends... not complicated. Knit in Sportweight (Jaeger Matchmaker Merino DK with 3.75mm needles)

Gorgeous for Grown-ups

Starting with a single cable pullover in a chunky wool yarn (Rowan Scottish Tweed Chunky on 8mm needles) with a contrast yarn colour on the cuffs. Rated as Intermediate.

They don't bother to put the Slouchy Sweater on anyone, which always rings a certain amount of alarm bells with me.  I like books to have the patterns on people so I have an idea what they look like.  It's knit in DK (Rowan Scottish Tweed DK with 4mm needles).  It's a drop shoulder jumper, with a slightly high neck. Rated as intermediate)

Toasty Warm Gloves should be done in one colour as well as two colours, rated as challenging.  Gloves are a bit challenging but they're not bad, they also mention fingerless gloves but don't bother to show a photograph, and they're single coloured. Knit in Dk (Rowan Cashsoft DK with 3.75mm needles)

The Headturning Hat and Scarf are seamed hat and plain scarf (no mention of scarf curling and the photographs don't bother lining up the garter ridges.  For a beginner this would be a little fiddly, but not bad.  Knit in Bulky (Roawn Little Big Wool with 9mm needles)

Super socks are a bundle of fail for me for a beginner book.  Knit with DK weigh (Rowan Calmer and 3.75mm needles), cotton yarn is pretty unforgiving, with or without acrylic. The fact that there's a not saying that the heel turning is slightly different from the text is not enough really, this is lazy.  Adding in the embroidery is a nice addition to the pretty plain socks but this is a starter book. Rated as Challenging.

Last chapter of knitted patterns are accessories.

Now the author started off badly here by talking about how "All women love bags", she presents a "fab felted bag" knit in DK (Rowan Scottish Tweed DK with 4mm needles) looking at the pictures I had a certain suspicion, judging by the seams.  I was right.  The Pieces are felted first and then pieced together.  Sewing felted stuff can be difficult and the seams won't be as strong as those felted in place.  Other books have techniques for ensuring that a felted bag doesn't felt closed.

Chequered Cushion is an intermediate piece, probably for the lace edging.  If you're doing this check out techniques for not bringing colour up a row  (techknitter's useful tutorial on this) for a more professional finish.  The Edging is knit in bulky weight yarn (Rowan Cotton Rope with 6mm needles)

Big Blanket is a pieced piece with various inners.  While an intermediate piece you might want to make some tweaks here.  The sewing is good practice, you could knit each strip and then sew those strips together, this would give you a straighter edge on two sides.  It's knit in chunky wool (Rowan Big Wool with 12mm needles)

Tote bag is an easy project, something to make in cheaper yarn than the Jaeger Matchmaker Merino Dk to be honest and if you want to use it to actually tote things around with (rather than use as a knitting bag) I'd suggest it should be felted, if knit in wool, with slightly longer straps.  Yes it's knit in DK with 3.75mm needles.

The book finishes with a stitch gallery, the pieces are well photographed, again no charts but written out.

Buy/Borrow: If you're looking to start it's a good book, could do better.  It's not a bad book but the patterns let it down, the text and teaching is better, however many of today's patterns do use charts so I would suggest a beginner book that handles that.  It does, though, say something about a book that it only has four patterns knit from it on Ravelry.

Where found: Dublin City Public Libraries has copies.

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