Strip & Knit with Style
by Mark Hordyszynski
The first thing I have to tell you is that I’m a traditionalist at heart. I appreciate innovative techniques, they’re not always something that suits my personal taste.
And, yes, this book is one of those innovative non-traditional kinds of books … but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. In fact, I thought the technique section was fascinating, just because it was something I’d never really thought of doing.
I’m getting ahead of myself. This book, despite its title, is not about knitting in the nude. No, no. (Even the Amazon description says, “No, not that kind of stripping. Strips of fabric! Get your mind out of the gutter….”) The book is all about knitting–not with yarn–but with strips of fabric.
The author writes in the preface: “I wanted something unique, different, and interesting, yet not completely out of the norm. Simple, straight-cut strips of fabric were tied together to make fabric-yarn that was knit into a scarf and two pillows. And that was the beginning of a craze. I embarked on a most incredible year of exploration and learning.”
The beginning, how-to section of the book explains the process–selecting your fabrics, and the difference between types of fibers, as well as woven vs. knitted fabrics. There is a discussion on things you can do TO the fabric to make it more interesting (paint, bleach, dye–stuff like that). And then there is the explanation of how you go from sheets of fabric to yarn–or, at least, long, thin, continuous strips that act like yarn.
I thought this whole section was fascinating. I tend to think of fabric as fabric, and yarn as yarn, not as interchangeable entities. Yarn can be turned into fabric, true, but … the other way around? Mind-boggling. Yet, here it is. The descriptions are clear and the explanations seem thorough–along with cautionary notes about taking care when using things like bleach and x-acto knives.
The next chapter delves into knitting instructions–how to knit, how to purl, how to cable. Now, this book seems geared toward fiber artists more than knitters, so I think that thorough instructions here would be important. Not every quilter knows how to knit, after all. I read through the instructions and again, they seem clear, but I’m not sure how crystalline they would be to someone who’s never held a knitting needle. I have seen worse instructions–the “Learn to Knit” pamphlet Mom bought me at K-Mart when I was about 10, for example–but these aren’t the best knitting instructions I’ve ever seen.
The photos of the knitting process are sharp and close-up, but there aren’t any helpful arrows pointing out things like the direction you move the needle. Since this is a book about knitting with fabric strips, too, all the illustrations are of knitted strips, which I think makes identifying, say, the garter stitch from the back of the stockinette stitch a little tricky for someone unused to knitting. Again–the instructions made sense to me, but my guess is that a complete novice to knitting would be advised to have a thorough knitting instruction book nearby for any questions that came up.
Okay, so then … the projects. Clever. Creative. But, um, while I thought the idea of a fabric-knitted pillow pretty intriguing, and the Holiday Table Scarf that looks like a standard, fringed scarf was cute … I can’t say that any of the projects appealed to me personally. I’m the kind of person who likes solid colors and all the loose ends neatly tucked away, and this technique, by definition, is all about being creative and crazy and just letting the spirit flow … People who are not me might LOVE every one of these projects, but they’re not my taste.
That said, the assembly instructions throughout are easy to understand and well put together, and there are additional pictures for clarity where necessary. As “how-tos” go, this seems pretty thorough, and I can’t really think of anything the author left out. The book comes to an end with three “embellishments” you can make for your knitting–like pins made out of buttons, beads, or little pieces of felt. Very cute.
Reviewed by Deb Boyken
Deb has been knitting since 1987 and has accumulated quite a collection of knitting books over the years. Her website, Knitting Scholar, can be found at http://knittingscholar.com.