Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Review: Color Knitting Techniques

From the comments on yesterday's post, it sounds like a lot of you really like hummus! In answer to Jacey's question about whether I have ever tried to make my own: yes, The Brain and I used to make our own hummus, and yes, the hardest part was always getting the consistency just right. But then The Brain broke our blender and we haven't gotten a new one, so...homemade hummus is on the back burner for now. :(

Anyway, on to the book review! "Santa" left me some cash for Christmas, in the form of cards from my grandparents. Instead of spending it on more yarn, I ordered some new books. The first one I have read so far is The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques, by Margaret Radcliffe. I may have mentioned that one of my goals this year is to knit a full-size stranded colorwork sweater. I have been working up to that goal by practicing on a couple of smaller projects (fingerless mitts and mittens), and I wanted a book that would give me a few more tips on the technique so that I won't make a ginormous mess of things when I get started.

This book was just published in December, 2008, so I couldn't find many reviews of it and had to go on faith. I have Radcliffe's The Knitting Answer Book already, and I have found it very helpful in the past, so I already knew her to be a thorough writer. But holy crap! I was NOT prepared for this book. There is just so much stuff in here that I never even thought of before. Reading it was a whole series of "I never knew that I didn't know that" moments.

First off, this book is big: about 9" x 11". It is a hardcover book with thick, glossy pages full of full-color photos (naturally). It has all the heft and feel of a textbook, and it sort of reads like a textbook as well. (Not in a dry, boring way, but in a very thorough, explanatory way.) I really can't believe that a book of this quality is less than $20!

She starts the book of with a brief review of color theory and how to best choose yarns that compliment each other. Then she launches into chapters based on different color techniques: Stripes, Pattern Stitches (with a mini stitch dictionary), how to work with Multicolor Yarns, Stranded Knitting, Intarsia...she even has chapters on finishing techniques and designing your own colorwork knitting projects. The back of the book has a glossary of knitting techniques, a guide to using charts, how to interpret symbols, and additional reading recommendations. This book is so packed with information, that I don't think you need any other books on color knitting techniques. I got everything I needed to know from this book, and then some. Seriously, I'm not likely to do any modular knitting, and I hate intarsia, but I know everything I need to know about it now. She even covers double knitting, helix knitting, shadow knitting, mosaic knitting, twined knitting (never heard of it before!), and entrelac.

All in all, a very thorough and high-quality reference book that I can easily recommend to anyone out there who wants to try new techniques. It won't make you an expert on any one thing, but it will show you the hows and whys of different techniques, and highlight problems you may encounter, along with clever solutions to them. I was so fascinated that I read it cover-to-cover in only two days. :)

1 comment:

Hilary said...

Wow -- all that for less than $20?? Thanks for the recommendation...this definitely looks like one to check out.