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Skirting Ella

Review: Beyond Knit & Purl

Kate Atherley is a Toronto-based knitting tech-editor, teacher, designer and the knitter behind the Wise Hilda Knits blog.  She's an occasional knit-bud of mine who makes a mean fruit cake and she's recently released her first book: Beyond Knit & Purl: Take Your Knitting To The Next Level.  She sent me the nifty PDF version for review (the iPad is made for books like this) and in short,

YOU SHOULD BUY THIS BOOK.

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I'm not saying this because I know Kate.  I say it because it's a great book and I have a lot of respect for her work. Her experience as a knitting teacher really shows as she discusses what a new knitter needs to know after he or she learns how to knit and purl.  Things like how to choose a pattern; how to spot trouble in the instructions and perhaps decide to find another clearer one; how to tell if a pattern might be challenging and how to assess if your current skill level aligns with the pattern you want to knit. 

Kate spends a chapter talking about choosing the right yarn for your pattern and on knitting a gauge swatch.  Another chapter walks the reader through the fundamentals of a pattern: how to figure out the instructions for your size, how to work from a chart, what the heck the dreaded "at the same time" or "reverse shapings on the other shoulder" means.  For me, it's the first book of its kind that explains these concepts in plain language and even if you know your knitting, it's a good resource on the basics--like a Joy of Cooking for yarn and needles.

This book also tells you knitting things that you might already know, but can sometimes forget or that you overthink in the late hours when you're trying to finish that sleeve: Does work increase every 6th row mean I do the increase on row 6 or row 7?  How many times should I do it if the final stitch count isn't in the pattern?  What the heck is the difference between K2togtbl and SSK?  That stuff is all in there.

After covering these concepts, she moves on to other important fundamentals like shaping, Continental vs English knitting and how to finish and care for your handknits. By Chapter 6 there are both mini-projects to help a new knitter learn the skills covered and more challenging patterns for those ready for something larger (or for an experienced knitter looking for a pretty yet relaxing knit). 

In the remaining chapters she outlines the basics of knitting in the round, socks (the knitting I most associate with Kate), cables, lace and colourwork.  She provides both mini-projects and more involved ones for each technique (like a nifty lace bookmark and a fair isle phone cozy) and her designs are both educational and pretty.  I've already added a few things to my Ravelry queue and plan to try her sock toe on my next pair (even though I rather like Kitchener stitch).

 

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The book has plenty of photos to instruct the reader on techniques and to show off the designs.  The nicest little extra is the knitting tips from experienced knitters which are both kernels of wisdom and nice motivators for new knitters.  This is a great addition to my knitting library and the pdf is great to have when I'm on the go.

The book is available at many local yarn shops or directly from Cooperative Press (where you can get the digital too).  The instant gratification PDF is available as a Ravelry download.

 

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