Newer knitters sometimes have a problem figuring out exactly what to knit to move beyond basic projects. More knitting patterns these days suggest a skill level, but lots of knitters still get stuck at a particular level because they aren't sure how best to proceed when it comes to building their skills.
Kate Atherley, the lead technical editor for Knitty.com, who also blogs at Wise Hilda, shares one logical progression through shaping, circular knitting, colorwork, cables, lace and more in Beyond Knit & Purl.
About the Book
- Pages: 128
- Format: paperback
- Number of patterns: six mini projects to help build skills and 17 larger patterns
- Skill level: none given, but range from relative beginner to intermediate
- Sizing: varies from two for a pair of mitts to three for a couple of socks and hat patterns, and five for a baby sweater and some other socks
- Illustrations: full-color photographs
- Knitting lessons: covers the basics you need once you already know how to knit, purl, cast on and bind off
- Publication date: 2012
Getting to the Next Level
Beyond Knit & Purl, begins with a discussion of some ways you might determine if a project is suited to your particular skill level and which projects might be better avoided. The charts labeled "Kate's Tips for Choosing Appropriate Patterns" offer a quick way for knitters to see how they might progress through different stitch patterns and types of projects.
She suggests, for example, that working a single cable in a project is easy but more than one takes more skill. After working a pair of mittens she says it's a good idea to try socks or toys.
The chapter on preparation covers things like measurements and ease, thoughtful yarn substitution, gauge and tools. Other introductory material covers reading and working from patterns, things patterns often don't tell you (like how to weave in ends) and other tips such as how to care for handknits and good sources for more knitting knowledge.
Skill-Building Lessons and Patterns
The rest of the book is devoted to specific skills or techniques including shaping, knitting in the round, socks, cables, colorwork and lace. Each chapter covers the basics (anatomy of a sock, for instance, or why there are two kinds of needles for working in the round), the skills needed to complete a project and a mini project (cabled coffee cup cozy, lace bookmark, for example) to get knitters comfortable with their new skills.
Each chapter also includes three bigger projects that will allow knitters to try these techniques on a bigger scale and to get into things that are a little more complicated (shawls with allover lace patterns, houndstooth socks).
A knitter who was really just starting out could pick up this book and read and work through it form the beginning and would end up in a really good grounding in all the major disciplines of knitting skill. Someone who has holes in her knitting experience -- say, no lace knitting or socks -- would also find this book valuable for its overview of the basics as well as information on where you can learn more and what to try next.
The patterns in the book are nice, too, even if you already have all the skills taught in the book. I really like those aforementioned houndstooth socks, and there's a pretty zig-zag tam worked in stranded knitting, too. The Spring Leaves lace shawl is a nice one for a first lace shawl, and the Top-Down Triangle Shawl would be a good first any kind of shawl knit.
Most of these projects are understandably not too complicated, but they will stretch the skills of knitters who haven't tried these techniques before, which is exactly the point.
Knitters who already know how to shape knitting, knit circularly, make socks and complete cables, lace and colorwork don't need a copy of Beyond Knit & Purl, but for everyone else this is a nice little book that has a concise view of what you need to know to get started in attaining all those skills.
These patterns are a good starting point and show you the path to take from a Garter Stitch loving beginner to a full-fledge knitter who isn't afraid to turn a cable or a heel.