One of the first projects many knitters choose to undertake is a basic scarf, usually in Garter Stitch. And many people stay in that rectangle mode for a long time, knitting scarves, washcloths, maybe rectangular wraps, anything that doesn't require shaping or a lot of fancy stitch work.
That's fine, but there's a big world of knitting out there beyond the simple rectangle. Actually, there's also a lot people can do with rectangles they might not have thought of, too, which is where Rebecca Wat's Knit Tricks! Easy Shaping Techniques: 25 Stylish Projects from Simple Rectangles comes in.
Knit Tricks! aims to be a sort of transition between scarf knitting and more structured projects, showing newish knitters what can be done with just a few rectangles.
The back of the book includes 10 pages of basic knitting and crochet instruction for those who might not be familiar with all the techniques used in the book. This section isn't exhaustive, however: for example, it includes instructions on a horizontal seaming technique but not a vertical one. (Of course it's easy enough to find such information from other sources.)
The bulk of the book, however, is made up of patterns for ponchos, shrugs, tops, vests, scarves (of course), gloves (all without fingers) and bags.
These 25 patterns gussy up basic rectangles in various ways: adding a ruffled border, using interesting stitch patterns or cables, combining yarns, adding embellishments like ribbon, fun borders, collars or picot edging, and playing with scale and color.
There's no real increasing or decreasing of stitches happening in the patterns; instead, extra-long borders, changing needle sizes or changing stitch patterns makes what little shaping there is happen.
The patterns are mostly cute, but even from looking at the pictures in the book you'll see they aren't universally flattering, even to headless mannequins.
Still, there are a few patterns that shine above the rest. My favorites are the Cardigan Poncho, a wrap with a poncho shape but that buttons closed in the front; the Big Cross Top, a twisted scarf-like top with sleeves that's roomy but an interesting shape; and the ingenious Convertible Vest/Bag, a zippered vest with colorful ribbed sides that can be folded into a zippered bag.
These patterns are creative and stretch the idea of what you can do with plain old rectangles, using different construction techniques and fun combination of materials to make otherwise plain knitting more interesting.
New knitters who are looking to expand beyond scarves without a lot of effort will enjoy this book. Knitters with more experience may gain a little inspiration from it as well, but it's really a book for those who haven't yet branched out beyond the rectangle.
Publication date: November 2007.