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Knitting Book Reviews

Beautiful Knitting - Techniques & Patterns for Creating Elegant Designs
by Luce Smits

This book is a learn to knit / beginner knitting reference. It's also not one I would recommend. It's got some really great aspects but they don't outweigh the really stupid stuff.

Now this book was originally published in France. That means that the entire thing was translated. I don't also know if any formatting changes were made from the original. So although I didn't read every single bit, I expect that there are some errors or differences in terms. I know there is at least one where entrelac was called interlacing. It also explains why the introduction was almost incomprehensible. It must not have translated well.

The entire book is 221 pages. A decent sized reference with sections on "Materials and Tools", "Basic Techniques", "Knitting Stitches", "Shapes and Finishing Touches" and "Assembly and Care".

Now let's break this out into the good and the bad.

The basic techniques are easy to understand with wordy descriptions and lots of pictures (although sometimes small). There are multiple cast-ons, cast-offs, decreases and increases shown with a nice close-up picture so you can actually see the difference of each variation on a technique . There is also multiple collars, pockets, hems and armholes. However there are some weird inconsistencies. For instance, it shows right slanting and left slanting options for decreases but not for increases. We also see raglan and square armholes but not a saddle.

A decent variety of knitting stitches (ribbed, cable, and aran) are included with each shown with the dual pictures (one of the stitch, one of the fabric).

I also like that tips or notes are placed in a contrasting color box so that they are easy to pick out, even if the type is tiny!

The best part of this book is the Appendix. It has a visual index of stitches and techniques although mixed together and in some weird order (my guess is it was alphabetical in the French version). It also shows the projects the same way followed buy what they call an index but what here in the States we call at Table of Contents. If it actually was an index (alphabetical as opposed to order), it would be useful.

On to the bad. There seem to be some pretty glaring omissions to the discussion. It talks about yarns but focuses more on where the fibers comes from than types. It talks about 4 different kinds of wool but doesn't even mention yarn weight. It also goes from showing the knit and purl stitch into selvages (something I look at as a little less important than some other basic techniques).

Also there are projects included in the book - 23 to be exact - but there is no mention of them in the table of contents. You just stumble on to them as you page through the book. In fairness, they loosely correspond to the knitting stitch being discussed.

They cater to a wide range of skill levels and the book jumps into sweaters before ever even mentioning finishing (it is included but much later in the book). Also, the patterns have only one size with many having no measurements. So for example, this basic stockinette sweater is "size 4-years". Yeah. That tells you a whole lot. Like the tunic that is sized "medium" or the women's "large" ribbed sweater. So basically, the patterns are pretty to look at but as a beginner why would you want to knit something when you aren't really sure what size it will be?!?!? Just stupid. Of course, this criticism doesn't apply to the scarves, stoles and blankets.

The finishing instructions are really weak with not as many pictures and sparse instructions. This is especially glaring considering 12 of the projects are sweaters that need seaming.

Overall this book is just not a that good. It has lots of great elements but they don't mesh together into a cohesive whole and a new knitter will just be confused. Heck, even advanced knitters will.

Reviewed by Allison Linehan

Allison's blog, Neophyte Knitter, can be found at
http://gumdrop.typepad.com

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