Jil Eaton is known for her easy, quick to knit and cute knitting patterns sold under the name MinnowKnits, and she shares the basics and skill-building knitting patterns for in her book Jil Eaton's Knitting School: The Complete Guide to Becoming a Confident Knitter.
The book is aimed at new knitters or those who have knit before and are returning after a hiatus and thus need a refresher. Like most learn-to-knit books it begins with the rudiments of casting on, making the knit stitch and binding off, and takes knitters through purling, shaping, texture, cables, bobbles, Fair Isle knitting and more.
Knit and Learn
Jil Eaton's Knitting School is divided into three major sections: beginner's delights, intermediate charmers and graduate school. Each section includes a handful of lessons that build on the previous ones and prepare the knitter for the next project.
Lesson 4, for example, includes joining a new ball of yarn, performing a 3-needle bind off, picking up stitches and making a crocheted edging, all of which are employed in the crew sweater knitting project that follows.
Lesson 12 involves knitting cables and making tassels, necessary skills for the cabled sweater for dad and matching hat with tassel for baby.
Most of the patterns are relatively easy and quick knitting projects, but that doesn't mean they aren't cute or that they are boring. And some of the projects -- that cabled sweater, for instance, or the final project, a latticework tank top with bobbles and lace -- are certainly best suited to knitters with some experience.
The patterns mostly use Eaton's yarn line or Classic Elite yarns (which distributes her yarn line and some of her pattern books), and many of the projects use worsted weight or heavier yarn for quick knitting and confidence-building easy completion of projects.
Eaton is an enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, and the book is colorful, well-illustrated with photographs and includes good written descriptions of all the required knitting skills.
The book includes 19 patterns, one to go with each lesson, ranging from a basic Garter Stitch scarf to the above-mentioned fancy tank top.
In between there are sweaters, hats, a shawl, a shrug, a striped tee, a felted dog sweater and a baby bath blanket, to name a few.
Some of my favorites include a cute Garter Stitch puppet, a child's pullover worked in Seed Stitch, a wispy cardigan knit in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, cute worsted-weight socks for the whole family and a summery little girl's dress that includes knit pleats.
Other than the tank top and a bobble-covered shawl, there are no real show-stoppers here, but that's not really the point of this book. It's intended to help new and returning knitters build their confidence and skills easily and quickly, and on that count it succeeds (it even managed to get our Guide to Family Crafts to finish knitting a project, which has never happened before).
There are a lot of books like this on the market, but this is a good one for knitters who like bright colors, heavier-weight yarns, cute projects for kids and simple sweaters for grownups. After working a few projects from this book new knitters are sure to feel confident enough to try their hands at something more complex.
Publication date: August 2010