Knitting Beyond Scarves
by Melissa Leapman
A bright addition to the world of beginner knitting tutorials. Color wise I mean. This book is aimed at the "scarvies" - those knitters who know the bare minimum of knitting skills - how to get loops on a needle, how to knit them and how to get them off again.
I like the concept of this book - distinct lessons to take you through a progression of knitting skills. At least that's what I envisioned when I looked at the Table of Contents and saw all the sections broken up into lessons. But when I delved in a little deeper, the disappointment set in.
It started off common enough with the first "lesson" being a discussion on tools and fibers. Then it's on to some basic skills - the cable cast-on, basic finishing, and fixing mistakes. It finishes off with gauge, reading patterns, and terminology & abbreviations.
The next lesson was "Adding More Yarn" aka 1/2 page with a some graphic. A little sketchy but still a good skill. It was the third lesson where things started really getting fishy. It was "Working with Fringe". What?!?!?! I mean fringe has it's place in the craft but as a basic knitting skill for a beginner? No. The next was "Juggling Two Balls of Yarn." Ugh.
It continued on in this fashion. The next one was what should have been meatier subject but was so brief, it was laughable. It was a whole "lesson" (I use this term loosely now) on k2tog/k3tog to decrease. Then it was an invisible seam for garter, circular knitting needles, dpns, yarn over,ssk, k1tbl and picking up stitches.
Finally in Lesson 13 we get to the purl stitch. I just find that ludicrous. Knit/purl are the yin/yang of knitting. You shouldn't know one (for long) without the other. And putting it further back gives it the illusion of being harder than the the knit stitch or all those other techniques. We all know that's not the case. And in that same lesson you get purl decreases and how to fix stitches in stockinette. Then it's more seaming (this time for stockinette), more decreases and the final lesson is make one.
Project write-ups assign skill levels, list all the stitches and techniques used and have schematics. They are well done. Projects use some really nice yarns including Colinette. I think they are a bit too nice for a beginner. For example this huge orange wrap would be ~$120.
The projects themselves run the typically gambit. Accessories are particularly cute.
I also detect a pandering to the "younger" set with a series of belly baring tops.
And some sweaters.
Despite some good projects, I still think this book can't rise beyond the disaster that is the lesson format. I was especially disappointed because I expected more from this author. Melissa Leapman recently put out a great book that was published just a month after this book. I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that the publisher had a huge part in the fundamental problems with this book and not this excellent knitter. I do have to say that one of the good parts of this book are the "Knit Notes" sprinkled through out the. They are the type of useful tips I would expect an expert knitter like Leapman would be able to provide to the new knitter.
So this is another book you can skip without missing a thing.
Reviewed by Allison Linehan
Allison's blog, Neophyte Knitter, can be found at http://gumdrop.typepad.com