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The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting

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The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting

The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting by Nancy Queen and Mary Ellen O'Connell.

Watson-Guptill Publications.

If you're looking for a book, for yourself or someone else, that covers all the basics of learning to knit without being overwhelming and includes practice projects you'll actually want to knit, The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting: Learn to Knit with More than 30 Cool, Easy Patterns should be on your shopping list.

Nancy Queen and Mary Ellen O'Connell offer new knitters 23 lessons that take them from learning about the necessary supplies through knitting, purling, increasing, decreasing, finishing, adding buttonholes and much, much more.

Knitting Step-by-Step

The great thing about this book is that it really is a step-by-step workbook for learning how to knit. The authors call it "no fear, no sweat, no problem knitting," and that's really what the book provides.

No one chapter is too overwhelming, and each builds on the previous ones. A knitter could work through all the projects in this book and have a very good grounding in most aspects of knitting, or she or he could pick out favorite projects to get a better feel for the basics.

Topics covered in the book include:

  • knitting tools, yarn and reading patterns
  • casting on, knitting, purling and binding off
  • increasing and decreasing by various methods
  • felting
  • swatching
  • garment construction
  • changing colors through stripes, fair isle and intarsia
  • ribbing, seed stitch, lace and cables
  • knitting in the round
  • shaping for cardigans and making buttonholes
  • blocking and sewing
  • fixing mistakes

Each chapter includes step-by-step instructions illustrated with drawings, and most include at least one pattern to illustrate the concepts presented in that chapter.

The Patterns

The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting has 32 patterns, starting out, of course, with a garter stitch scarf. But it moves on pretty quickly to bags, washcloths, wraps and, before too long, a simple shell and a couple of sweaters.

The patterns are all pretty basic, falling into the skill levels of beginner or advanced beginner, but they're more interesting than many of the patterns you find in learn to knit books because of the use of lovely yarns and simple, timeless designs.

I would knit some of these projects right now even though I could easily complete something more complicated. Some of my favorites are the Five Below and Itchin'-to-Knit sweaters, which are the same pattern knit on very different yarns in terms of gauge; the Town and Country Tee, mostly Stockinette with Seed Stitch edgings; the Metropolitan Pullover, worked in Broken Rib; and the Twisted Tahoe Pullover, a simple bulky sweater with a cable worked down the front. (There are a few patterns for guys, too.)

The book teaches all the skills you need to finish these patterns, and includes tips like writing out each step of a complex pattern on index cards to ensure that you always know where you are and don't miss a step.

The chicks also suggest writing out instructions in "knitter's shorthand," which is actually a longer version of instructions such as "dec 1 st every 7th 5 times" writing down which rows are straight and which have decreases.

Bottom Line

If you or someone you know if trying to learn how to knit and would like some good, basic but still beautiful patterns to try, The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting is a great choice.

The book provides lots of solid information, good illustrations and great patterns that knitters will go back to again and again, even after they have more confidence in their knitting skills.

Publication date: September 2008.

Publisher's website
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