Book Review: 400 Knitting Stitches, editors at Potter Craft
This is a book I have been using for a few years to help me come up with ideas for stitch patterns. It is really good for knitting scarves or coasters, because you can just choose the stitch pattern or patterns that you like, combining them however you like, and then you will be able to design your scarf. The book is organized according to different categories, such as Knit Purl stitches, Crossed stitches and Cables, Slipped stitches, Lacy stitches, Double stitches, Twisted stitches, Cast-off stitches, and Fancy stitches. One of the things I like about this book is it has the instructions both written out and in a chart. I don’t read charts quite as well as written instructions, but it doesn’t matter because there is a handy guide to all the symbols in the back of the book. There is also a basic guide to knitting in the front, but if you are new to knitting you might want to get something more in-depth. There are actually a lot of challenging stitches in here, but there are many that are fairly easy as well. The pictures are very clear and the examples are knitted with cream color yarn that looks sport weight. The only thing is I often use chunky yarn, so it would be interesting to see how these patterns would look in different yarn weights, but then maybe the book would be too long. The only real drawback to the book is that it doesn’t really have a lay flat binding. Also the cable section is really long, at almost a hundred pages. But maybe if you are really into doing cables, this would be a good thing. One interesting thing about this book is that it was originally published in France.
Knits of Tomorrow: Toys and Accessories For Your Future Needs
by Sue Culligan
Knits of Tomorrow is an unusual collection of patterns to knit with a science fiction theme. Since I like to knit and I have always been interested in science fiction, I decided to check this book out from the library. The knit designs are a bit advanced for me, for the most part, but I enjoyed looking through the book anyway. Some of the more interesting projects are a desk tidy that looks like a rocket ship, a flying saucer paperweight, a music player cover that is designed to look like a cassette tape, a laptop cover with a Sputnik space satellite image, and many others. Many of the patterns use intarsia or fair isle knitting, or involve three-dimensional shapes. There are also some easier items as well. Even if you don’t think you have the skill level to knit these items, you may want to give it a look just because the pictures are so interesting.
Intro to Knitting: English Style vs. Continental Style
There are two main styles of knitting: English or American style, and Continental style.
English style involves using your dominant hand to work both the stitch and wrap the yarn around the needle. After the stitch is worked, the needle is then momentarily transferred to the other hand (two needles are held in the other hand) while you use your dominant hand to wrap the yarn. Continental (European) style involves using the dominant hand to work the stitch, and the non-dominant hand to wrap the yarn, without switching hands. Some people think of Continental knitting as more appropriate for left-handers because it uses the left hand more. But consider- it is only truly left-handed knitting if the left hand is used to work the stitch and the right hand is used to work the yarn. The hand that works the stitch is the hand that is used the most, therefore, in order for Continental knitting to be considered left-handed knitting, the left hand would need to work the stitch. It is true that many left-handers find Continental knitting to be more to their liking, or more natural feeling. Also, many people feel that it is faster to knit Continental style, because you do not have to switch back and forth. All in all, this is a personal decision, and you should decide for yourself which way to knit. Get a hold of a book or two, or look online for information on how to knit both ways. There are also videos you can buy. Then try both styles out, and see which one works best for you.
Learn to Knit (Greer, SC: Coats and Clark, 2000). Includes both left and right-handed knitting, but only shows English style.
I Can’t Believe I’m Knitting! (Little Rock, AR: Leisure Arts,1997). Includes both English and Continental style, but only right-handed. There is also a more recent version of this title.
A Brief History of Knitting
Knitting is an ancient art that people still enjoy today. It is both artistic and relaxing, and helps relieve stress. Knitting develops concentration, manual dexterity, and arithmetic skills. It is good for stress relief, and your projects can be as simple or involved as you want. Everyone can enjoy knitting, regardless of age or gender. Knitting first started over a thousand years ago around the Arabian peninsula. Some of the earliest knitted remnants were found in Egypt. Many different cultures have used knitting in various ways, employing a wide variety of techniques. In medieval Europe, knitting guilds were comprised of men. In order to become a member of a guild, a person had to serve as an apprentice for three years. Since many people could not read or write well, many knitting patterns were not written down. Instead they were taught from one person to the other by explaining and demonstrating. Nowadays knitting books and patterns are extremely commonplace, employing many different techniques, both traditional and modern.
Reference: Shirley McNulty, Barbara Brabec, Knitting for Fun and Profit, (Rocklin,CA: Prima Publishing, 1999), pgs. vi-vii.