October 16, 2012

Knitting Library Review

Several new knitting books recently moved into the Casa Haifischhappen recently. One by one I will review them here. This is the first one:

The Principles of Knitting. Methods and Techniques of Hand Knitting
Author: June Hemmons Hiatt
2nd edition, February 2012

The Principles of Knitting

When I bought this book, I knew it must be quite a compendium, but little did I know what kind of compendium it would be. It’s the most comprehensive book about knitting techniques I have come across yet. One of my teacher at the Fachhochschule once said said, a handbook about a topic is a book that cannot, by any means, be carried in one hand. And this is absolutely true about this book. On about 700 pages Hiatt gives a thorough overview about and detailed instructions for knitting, planning projects and caring for the knits.

Divided into eight chapters the author covers topics from basic techniques as casting on and off, shaping, stitches and decreases over special fabrics such as double fabric or twining to the importance of gauge, discussion of fibres and how to work on a fabric. The chapter about measurements, gauge and schematics is one of the best I’ve yet come across.

All techniques are thoroughly described in written word and accompanied by concise drawings showing the main steps. So whether you learn better by reading or by looking at pictures, both is equally possible.
I like very much, that not so common techniques like twining or double fabric are described as well as “everyday techniques” as k2tog and ssk.

There are some drawbacks, though.

One thing is the cross-references. I personally like if things are cross-referenced. But Hiatt doesn’t give page numbers. So to find the reference, the reader has to keep his current page, go to the index, find the reference page and go there, to read the correspondent article – which might contain another cross-reference. With the weight of the book, this is quite uncomfortable reading.

The second is that Ms. Hiatt invents her own names for some techniques. Would you know what a Half-Hitch-Cast-On might be? Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? It’s commonly known as Long-Tail-Cast-On. Yes, knitting is notorious for its inconsequence in naming certain techniques. But some things have names that are commonly used and using a different name for a technique widely known makes it hard to find information when one really needs it.

The Principles of Knitting

Conclusion: This is an excellent reference book I think every knitter should own. The information given is excellently researched and edited. I have personally learned a lot about the Half-Hitch-Cast-On I didn’t know before (e.g. the right and left side of the Long-Tail-Cast-On. I never thought about it), I don’t recommend it for the beginner though, it’s not a book for someone help in learning to knit.

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