I really love the subtitle to Jennifer Wenger, Carol Abrams and Maureen Lasher's book Teen Knitting Club: chill out and knit. It's good advice for young and old alike. Knitting is a hobby that can reduce stress and build confidence, so long as we don't take it--or ourselves--too seriously.
That's just one lesson in this playful knitting guide that works as well for younger knitters as it does for those of us who've been at it for a while.
Begin with Basics
Like most knitting books geared toward beginners, Teen Knitting Club has a lengthy section called "All You Need to Know" that covers yarn weight, needle size, knitting and purling, increasing and decreasing, substituting yarn and more. Experienced knitters can skip over this section, while newcomers (or those who stopped knitting years ago and are picking it up again) will find this section informative and valuable.
In particular the brief section on substituting yarn provides a good reminder to knitters of all ages and skill levels that just because a pattern says to use a certain type of yarn does not mean you have to use that yarn.
The section on gauge, too, is a good reminder of why checking gauge matters because knitting in the wrong gauge can result in a too-big or too-small finished project.
Many of the patterns in this book are scarves, but each one teaches a different technique such as working with novelty yarn, slipping stitches, knitting horizontally, making fringe, making stripes and more. Hats teach knitting in the round, embellishments and embroidery.
Bags, ponchos, tank tops and sweaters round out the bulk of the book, while one-day projects and a group blanket finish the pattern section. The book has hard covers but is spiral-bound inside for ease of use.
These patterns are all suitable for beginners of all ages and each teaches valuable skills about knitting. There are no fancy pattern stitches, minimal shaping, and all the sweaters are knit flat and sewn together. There's nothing here that will intimidate a new knitter, which is what's so great about this book.
That's also a bit of a drawback, however, because it has little to offer knitters who have moved beyond the basics, unless they are looking for cute, fast projects their teenaged relatives will love, which is a perfectly valid reason to buy this book.
Join the Club
This book is called Teen Knitting Club for a reason, and the final section of the book provides tips for teens who would like to start their own knitting groups and what the groups can do when they meet. This advice works just as well for adults looking to meet up with their fellow knitters.
Perhaps the nicest part of this book is the quotes scattered throughout from teen knitters talking about why they enjoy this craft so much. They talk about it as a reason to get together with friends, a way to learn, help others and feel more relaxed, all while making something beautiful that didn't exist before. What could be better than that?