Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Knitting Book by Vikki Haffenden and Frederica Patmore

First of all, I haven't used any of the patterns in this so I can't vouch for them.  However, this is the book I go to when I'm not sure of how to do something, and I have found it invaluable.  It follows a roughly chronological ordering from simple to complicated and from beginning to end of project.

The book opens with a section on tools and materials: yarns, what weights you use for what items, needles and other notions with handy conversion charts for US and UK sizings.  Great for anyone bewildered by the selection of terminology regarding yarns and notions you walk into in a wool shop.  Next comes a gallery of stitch patterns, pretty but perhaps a little intimidating for the beginner, though a good illustration of the range of uses knitting can be put to

Now comes the most helpful part of the book for me, the techniques.  The chapter moves gently beginning with how to make a slip knot and how to hold the yarn moving on to giving a range of cast ons and there is some, although not a lot, of indication of the uses of the different cast ons.  A much better book on cast ons and offs (bind offs in USA terminology) for particular projects is [[ASIN:1603427244 Cast On, Bind Off]] but this gives you a good grounding and shows most cast ons that patterns indicate.  The same is true of the following cast-offs.

Next the stitches, knit, purl, basic stitches combining knits and purls: garter, stocking, rib.  Then joining in yarns and darning in ends, repairing, unpicking and picking up dropped stitches, something I still do after decades of knitting.

The next section is on following commercial patterns.  There is a useful chart of abbreviations, terminology and commonly used symbols and a specimen knitting chart labelled up with explanations including how to choose and buy the right amount of yarn.  Instructions are given on choosing the size of garment, altering patterns and making and measuring a tension swatch.

Increases and decreases of all kinds come next, yarn overs, knitting / purling into front and back of a single stitch, make ones, multiple increases, knit / purl two (or more) together, and the slip stitch decreases.  A chart for paired increases / decreases is given noting the direction of the slant, abbreviations and visibility, followed by a section on shaping using increases / decreases on the edge and in the centre of a piece.

Cables and twists comes next although these are very basic, with instructions for making i-cords.  Then lace knitting, just simple eyelets, and a few pages on colourwork, both fair-isle and intarsia.  The instructions for these are not extensive because there are more extensive patterns in the section at the end of the book

Next is a section on texture, struture and colour effects, ways of using the basic stitches to create puckers, clusters, smocking, pleats, entrelac ruffles and short rows.

Then a section on circular kitting, including mobius, tubular, helix, spiral and medallion using sets of double pointed needles and circular knitting needles

And then finishing details: picking up cast on/off edges, selvedges, buttonholes and button loops, pockets, hems, blocking, seams, steeks, fastenings, zips, embellishments (including bead and sequin knitting), bobbles, popcorns, embroidery, pompoms, tassels and fringes.

The final section is patterns which are pretty but as I say I haven't tried them yet.  First come the projects, then a library of stitch patterns including knit and purl patterns, increases and decreases, cables and twists, lace, colourwork, edgings, medallions, beads and sequins

I do use other books as well as this one but this is the one I return to when I can't remember how to do something

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