Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
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****The Knitting Experience Book 1

The Knit Stitch

by Sally Melville

photography by Alexis Xenakis

Reviewed March 8, 2004.
XRX Books, Sioux Falls, 2002.  162 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (746.46 MEL).

When I saw the ads for this book in Knitter’s Magazine, I didn’t think I would find it very interesting.  In the first place, it is for beginners, a book on learning to knit, and I’m experienced.  In the second place, I don’t usually like the look of garter stitch and couldn’t imagine being interested in making things only using the knit stitch.

I did order the book for the library, since our collection on knitting needs updating.  I checked it out and was completely impressed.  I’m now sorry that last Christmas I didn’t give my sister (who’s a new knitter) this book instead of The Big Book of Knitting.  That’s a good book, but this one is magnificent.

As an instructional book for learning to knit, this book is wonderfully clear.  All techniques are illustrated with clear photographs, rather than drawings.  New techniques are presented as they are needed, with a section on fixing mistakes at the back.  Sally Melville presents three different ways to cast on, and two different ways to knit.  Different ways of increasing and decreasing and binding off or picking up stitches are clearly illustrated.  There are several techniques that I had never seen or at least never seen so clearly illustrated.  I find just copying patterns out of this book wouldn’t be enough for me.  I want to have the book on hand to refer to the techniques.

And the patterns are wonderful!  I was pleasantly surprised.  They aren’t all made with garter stitch.  Some are knitted in stockinette stitch on circular needles.  Some use an attractive slip stitch pattern.  Even the ones in garter stitch are remarkably creative and attractive.  And because only the knit stitch is used, all would be very easy to make.  As Sally Melville recommends in one of her delightful meditative sections, I believe that you should always have something easy on needles, so that you can knit when you can’t spare a lot of attention for the task.

This would be a perfect book for a beginner, since it is so clear and also presents so many projects that are easy but beautiful.  The one catch is that they would really need to get the first two books, since the purl stitch isn’t covered until Book 2, and they will definitely want to know how to purl.  (I’ll review that book in the next issue of Sonderbooks.)  The fact is, I’ve decided that I want to own all five books in the planned series:  Book 3 will cover changing colors, Book 4 will cover different textures, and Book 5 will cover designing.  I hope she hurries and writes the next three!

Review of Book 2:
The Purl Stitch

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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