A GREAT KNITTING BOOK
October 20, 2010
A Book Review
“Wow! This is a great new knitting book!”
A new knitting book is a wonderful thing and soooooo enticing, especially the first time you hold it in your hands.
The gorgeous photographs of all of the scrumptious projects make you (or me, at least) want to toss aside my current project(s) and immediately cast on for that brand new sweater/scarf/pair of gloves. Leafing through its crisp pages, I believe that this is the book that will bring me complete creative fulfillment.
I say to myself, “What if I knit every project in this book for a change? What then? Surely, I will ascend to a whole new level of knitting prowess and my Ravelry list of completed projects will get enviably long, and at the very least, I’ll have cleverly completed hand-made holiday gifts for everyone on my list by Thanksgiving. Won’t that be something?!”
And sometimes I actually do cast on. Once in a while, the casting on even leads to a real project. But most of the time, it doesn’t.
The book gets hustled around my desk, making way for incoming mail and today’s newspaper and this morning’s coffee cup. And then finally, it’s just a hassle having this big hardcover book hanging around and it gets shelved with the best intentions along with the others - the cooking books and the sewing books and the organization books - lovely, inspiring and mostly unused.
Every so often, there is a book that transcends the momentary infatuation trap simply because it is filled with so much useful and practical information. Stuff I didn’t even know I didn’t know.
That is how I feel about Debbie Stoller’s newest publication, Stitch ’N Bitch: Superstar Knitting.
No matter what you may think about Stoller’s oh-so ironic titles, her goofy word-plays and the series’ kooky illustrations,
THE WOMAN KNOWS HER KNITTING!
In this book, she speaks to those of us who have been knitting for a while and/or who are pretty comfortable with our skills.
“Superstar Knitting?” I thought when I first saw the title. Cast on, follow the directions, find a good instruction video on YouTube when you can’t figure it out - what else is there to know?
And yet, the second time I said “Ohhhhhhhh, I get it!” out-loud, by myself, in my office, while reading the chapter on Intarsia, I knew this one would be a keeper.
Stoller is just incredibly straightforward when she needs to be and, in this book in particular, she is exactly on my wavelength when it comes to making knitting easier, cooler, prettier and above all, more polished.
Right away, she delves into color knitting and besides the section on Intarsia, she covers Steeks, Fair Isle and Double Knitting. But it was her discourse on Intarsia which gave me the most comfort and hope. Besides her tips on adding new yarn and linking colors, she confirmed that which I have suspected for some time: “...intarsia never looks very good while you are knitting it and won’t reach true beauty until after it’s been blocked and the edge stitches have been adjusted.” Phew. Exhale.
The chapter on lace knitting is absolutely terrific as it breaks down the topic with its charts and mess of increases and decreases into something that makes sense. There isn’t a knitter on the planet who hasn’t ripped out a sizable section of lace knitting. Stoller’s tips in this department might just put an end to that. Her section on slanted decreases (a major component in lace knitting), how to predict a left-leaning one from a right-leaning one and how their position affects the shape of eyelets pretty much blew my knitting mind.
There are also a few very detailed sections on creating your own patterns that I haven’t even had chance to read yet, but I will. Promise.
In short, as in all of her books, Stoller speaks English, not Knitting-ese and with her no-nonsense tone, she makes you feel as though it’s all completely within your reach.
Which, of course, it is.
Check it out for yourself the next time you come into the shop. I would love to know what you think.
Oh, and just to prove that I occasionally do complete a project out of a brand-new book, I give you.....
“The Ernie Sweater” from Son of Stitch ’N Bitch.
Please disregard the wrinkles and the floppy-ish neckline. The sweater belongs to my son. That’s why.