November 20, 2009

Knitting *tips & tricks Lily Chin's new book is billed as "shortcuts and techniques every knitter should know" and is a nice reference for the basics of knitting. It's also full of "what a good idea" tricks that I'm glad to learn. Bits and pieces of what's found in her book are found in almost all knitting books, magazines and on line, but this book is a good collection of the technical stuff of knitting and a collection of other things that are of use to both new and accomplished knitters. The book (which is a hardcover but smallish so it could fit in your bigger knitting bag) is divided into 5 chapters: 1. Needles and Yarn 2. The Basics 3. Getting Started 4. As you work, and 5. FInishing The section on yarn and needles is very detailed and covers the diverse systems for weights and measures commonly used in most English speaking countries. While interesting, I did feel like this could really bog down a new knitter who might wonder why (and even if) she or he needs to know this to make a first scarf. However if you want to know if the nifty 8 ply yarn your brother brought back from New Zealand is worsted weight or dk (in American terms) this would be a great place to look (it's dk btw). The Basics covers the how to knit part, including both American and Continental styles, different ways to hold needles and should make a new knitter feel comfortable with learning (even if they feel completely uncoordinated). There are also lots of good 3 colour illustrations with big details so you can discern a garter stitch from a reverse stockinette. Ms Chin wisely puts swatching right at the front of the Getting Started chapter, and while I'm probably showing off my own laziness, I found this section contained a lot of very technical information including tips on weighting and hanging swatches, measuring and determining yarn amounts from the swatch. But the overall message of SWATCH was also very clear. And yes, I know it's very important. The tip to use clothes pins to hold a long cast on on circular needles from twisting was one of those great ideas that never occurred to me and gives a sense of the kinds of small but really effective tricks that can make a knitting session go smoothly instead of end in frustration. These continue in the remaining chapters where colourwork and stripes are tackled, increases and decreases, adding a new yarn, blocking and weaving in ends. The tone is light and fun and Ms Chin puts the reader at ease. It's a nice book that would be a great addition to a learn to knit kit gift for that friend who's hinting they want to learn to knit this winter.

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