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The Principles of Knitting

The friendly people over at Simon and Schuster asked if I’d like to review the newly-revised and updated The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt. And I, being in the middle of knitting my third sweater in five months, happily said, “yes!”

I didn’t really know what to expect from this book. I just assumed it would be another lavishly-photographed project-based book (and there can never be too many of those, in my opinion). But no, this is quite a different animal.

Hiatt discusses every technique imaginable, in eight sections entitled:

  1. Learning and Methods
  2. Constructing a Fabric
  3. Decorative Techniques
  4. Special Fabrics
  5. Stitch and Color Patterns
  6. Pattern Design
  7. Materials
  8. Working a Project

She takes you from cast-on (in a dizzying number of ways) to bind-off, and everywhere in between, often using photographs and illustrations to help get the point across.

Learn to knit, purl, pick up stitches, do yarnovers for lace, make a basic cable, form pockets, make horizontal stripes…

Or try something unusual like Tunisian knitting, smocking, or seed-stitch cables.  They’re in there, too.

If you are looking to design your own pattern, or want to know how your substitutions will work in an existing pattern, Hiatt’s sections on fiber types and fabric care are not to be missed.

Did you know linen is stronger when wet, so there’s no need to fuss over it when washing it?  And that soiled cotton makes a tasty meal for silverfish?  And that the newer “superwash” wool actually includes a plastic resin coating to keep the wool from felting?

This is one seriously encyclopedic volume.  I mean, just look at it!  It’s two inches thick. (It takes a beating, too – I can’t tell you how many times one of my kids knocked it off the arm of the chair and onto the floor while I was contemplating this review…)

So what’s the verdict?  I don’t picture myself curling up with The Priciples of Knitting and a cup of tea on a Winter evening.  That said, it does serve a valuable purpose for knitters: especially those who like to try unfamiliar fibers and techniques.  I see it like The Joy of Cooking: an indispensable reference to keep on the shelf for those times when I need to know how to hard boil an egg do a three-needle bind-off.

Definitely worth owning.

The Principles of Knitting was published just yesterday, and is available all over the place, including Amazon.com. It’s available for Kindle, too, BTW, which could come in handy if you are debating the merits of one fiber over another while pawing through the displays at your local yarn shop…

Posted on 2 Comments

2 thoughts on “The Principles of Knitting

  1. 1st- I think you’ve just sold me on this book! I’m new to knitting, but I’ve been crocheting for YEARS and I know how valuable a book like this can be. I can’t wait until I’m good enough at knitting to need this (and therefore can justify the book purchase).

    2nd- How awesome is it that you got to review this book? I’d love to review crochet manuals.

    Did you find the instructions were fairly intuitive? There’s nothing worse then having a book that you’re using to reference and finding passages that are inaccessible. What I wouldn’t give for a tutorial book/DVD combo that has videos of some of the tricky to explain techniques.

  2. Apparently this is a much awaited revised addition of a book that has been out of print for some time. Old copies were selling for very high prices if you could find them. The author revised and updated it herself. I’ve never seen the book but it sounds like it would be a treasure to own.

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