Friday, April 10, 2009

Book Review - Knitting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti

First - a disclaimer. I do not have the "updated" version of this book. But after briefly looking through one my guess is the only thing that is updated is the typesetting/font and they probably took out references to her other book "The Universal Yarn Finder" which would be obsolete by now and her videos.

This is not a book to learn to knit from. There are many other "how-to" knit books/leaflets/online tutorial/videos that do a better job of actually teaching you the mechanics of knitting. Use those sources.

Having said that, I did like this book despite reading a poor review of it years ago. I wish I had this book when I first started knitting, back in the stone ages when there was no internet, yarn stores had 3 types of yarns in a very limited color palette and the big book stores had, at best, 5 titles on the subject. Thank goodness we have come a long way since then!

What I like about this book is that it helps the knitter THINK about their knitting, from looking at the way the model is posed (can you see the whole sweater?) to questioning the written instruction. She gives a new knitter the tools to really take control of his/her knitting. She explains what happens with different cast-on's and bind-offs, decreases and increases, short-rows, duplicate stitches, color work, fixing mistakes and finishing. She has directions for a few stitch patterns and a couple of practice patterns. I like her attitude that it's your knitting and you can do whatever you want and these are the tools that will help you achieve it.

There were some things I didn't like about this book. I thought the chapter on knitting needles was a little excessive but when this was first written there wasn't as many choices as we have today. She doesn't like set-in sleeves and calls them unflattering (even more so than drop shoulder!) which I disagree with. I make set-in sleeves all the time and find them flattering. Drop shoulder sleeves just look sloppy and they have their place (in children's sweaters would be a good example) but not in my wardrobe. She does have a bias toward circular needles and knitting from the top down but is up front about it. I also found it a little OCD the way she wanted to put notes or "idiot" tags all over her knitting and to measure all the time. A pad of paper and pencil have served me just as well for keeping track of inc/dec, rows, etc. But to each their own.

Overall, I think this is a good book for a new knitter to have to understand the "whys" of knitting and not just the "how-to" so that the knitter can be in the driver seat.

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