Vickie Howell is known as the queen of cool knits, and her latest book, Knit Aid: A Learn it, Fix it, Finish it Guide for Knitters on the Go aims to give knitters of any skill level the confidence to knit their own cool projects, no matter where they are.
The book is small, portable, quick to read and full of those useful things you're always forgetting like how to read a chart, knit with beads or make duplicate stitch.
My only issue with the book is that a few of the illustrations don't match the instructions, which would surely frustrate new knitters trying to learn from the book.
Quick Tips and Techniques
Having worked in the publishing industry and had my own book published, I know how easy it is to make mistakes. And for the most part the book does exactly what it aims to do.
But there are more than a couple mistakes, confusing bits and messy or missing illustrations that keep this book from being completely useful for outright beginners.
But if you have some knowledge of knitting and just need a portable guide to jog your memory when you need to remember how to do a make one increase or a three-needle bind off, this book will work just fine.
You'll appreciate the small size and easy-to-use spiral binding, as well as the quick rundown of basic techniques.
The drawings sometimes contradict the text in a way that could confuse new knitters. A knitter who has already successfully made a purl stitch will know to follow the text and put the needle with the stitches on it in their left hand, but someone trying to learn the continental method of purling from the pictures might be confused by the drawing of the stitch-filled needle in the right hand and the empty needle mysteriously floating over the left thumb.
For the most part the basic information provided in the book is sound, but there are just enough errors that a new knitter might be easily frustrated and wonder if the parts that aren't contradictory or unclear can be trusted (they can).
I don't want to give the impression that the book is nothing but errors. Most of the book is perfectly fine and would be helpful for a knitter who has never used those techniques before.
In addition the book has a good basic reference section on things such as reading yarn labels, determining ease, making a gauge swatch and basic sizing standards for clothing and hats (though, interestingly, not adult hats).
There are tips for new knitters and tips for busy knitters (small projects and taking knitting everywhere, for instance), and a cool gauge ruler with needle gauge and knitter's graph paper that you can scan, print out and use to design your own projects. (Instead of square boxes, knitting graph paper has boxes that are the shape of knitting stitches.)
Despite my hesitation at recommending this book for completely new knitters (and I do hope that the issues I have with the book will be corrected in future printings), the bottom line is that this is a good, inexpensive (under 10 bucks, with a portion of profits going to the Red Cross) and portable book for those with enough knitting knowledge to know which part of the instructions is right.
Newer knitters, as well as those looking for complex fixes like how to correct knitting with the wrong color without ripping out your work, should try Knit Fix, which is more comprehensive but also less portable. If you want a book to throw in your bag so you can be reminded how to make a buttonhole or pick up a dropped stitch, Knit Aid can help.
Publication date: May 2008.