15 November 2010

Knit one, purloin several

I'm definitely at the simple end of the knitting spectrum. Over the last couple of years I've managed to make two bags, a ballet wrap (which took *ages* due to the increasing/decreasing stitches nonsense), a hat and a baby blanket. I can cast on, cast off, knit and purl - and that's about it. Anything more complicated than knitting two stitches together has me scratching my head and reaching for the manual.

So I was really pleased to be sent one of the latest books by Quadrille: Simple Knitting, by Erika Knight. Finally, I thought, I might have something to help me decipher those evil knitting patterns, and give me some nice ideas for projects that are not blanket-shaped. (My last project was a cot blanket for my baby niece, who arrived three weeks early...cue some late night knitting sessions).

The book is beautifully photographed, and has some excellent (large and clear) line drawings which illustrate the techniques required. My favourite bit is definitely the stitch library, which shows you in detail what the different stitches look like when worked up into a test square. As I never really know what moss stitch or whatever should look like when I'm making it, that's going to be very useful. I also love the glossary of knitting pattern terms and abbreviations - there's no way I'll ever remember what k2tog tbl means when I come across it. I thoroughly recommend the first half of the book - it's ideal for people like me who know a little bit, but really could do with some help.

Where the book falls down for me, though, is in the projects section. There's just not much there I'd like to make - frankly, life's too short to knit a dishcloth, even if it is in moss stitch. My other gripe is that quite a lot of the projects tend towards the expensive, even if you do ignore the yarn suggestions - one of the cushion covers, for example, uses 6 balls of wool. Even if you do find them in the charity shop at £3 a time or on ebay, it's still not particularly cheap. I dread to think how much 28 balls of Rowan Classic Baby Alpaca for the stripe throw would cost.

However, I do like the rag bag (made with strips of fabric) - it's at least (a) cheap and (b) not in ecru or beige, the dominant colours of the book. And it's one of the simpler patterns - there's 10 that are relatively easy or for beginners - the rest rapidly get more complicated, involving socks, cabling and fair isle (but not all at once!). I might get that far by 2020...

The verdict? Well, I like it, but with reservations. I suspect there are better books out there to inspire people who have never knitted before - but for those like me who have a vague idea what they're doing but need a bit of help along the way (and who love ecru cushion covers), this would be quite a good place to start.

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