I’m afraid I have very little to report as far as knitting or crochet goes, not because I haven’t been (rather the opposite) but since everything I am making is a gift I can’t really share it on this public forum. Sorry!
So I thought I would distract you with what crafty reading I am doing these days. I went to the library a couple weeks ago and signed out Stitch ‘n Bitch – Superstar Knitting after a friend asked me about colour work in knitting. While I was at the library, the librarian recommended the other Stitch ‘n Bitch books which I knew existed, I just hadn’t thought of signing them out.
So sign them out I did and I thought I would share a bit of a review of the first book in the series, Stitch ‘n Bitch, The Knitter’s Handbook, by Debbie Stoller. This book is a few years old, published in 2003 so it has been out for a little while. I don’t know if knitting was as non-existent as the author would like us to believe 8 years ago, but then I wasn’t knitting then either.
The book is divided into two sections; the first has instructions on things like making a center pull ball, casting on, stitches, bind offs, etc. The instructions aren’t horrible, and if you are a person who doesn’t need to be shown this would suffice. I’m a visual learner, though, and the drawings included don’t really do it for me. She does cover everything you need to know if you have never picked up needles and yarn before, so if you are an absolute beginner this section is a good resource. She also goes into yarn weights and a description of what to look for when going shopping for yarn. If you have knit from start to finish anything at all that involves increases or decreases, you have more than likely moved past the instructional portion of this book.
The second half of the book has patterns. Bearing in mind that this is a book for first time knitters, the patterns are very easy. Simple knits, work with some fun yarns, even some felting projects. A lot of scarves and hats, simple chunky sweaters and bags.
This is where the book loses me. Remembering that we are targeting the brand new knitter, the materials listing is not friendly to a person who has no idea what they are doing. I very very very rarely use the yarn recommended in a project. Yes, I know the designer has a reason for recommending the yarn they do, but if I want to change the colour or brand I should be allowed to do so.
The very first pattern uses Brown Sheep Company Cotton Fleece which is 80% cotton, 20% merino and will run you about $9.50. Not horrible, but what if your local yarn store doesn’t carry it? Is there a substitute? What weight is it? How do we know what would be an acceptable substitution?
It also recommends Trendsetter Yarns which is an eyelash yarn, which I have a hard time finding a supplier to Canada. But no matter. A new knitter is not going to know what an eyelash yarn is, much less that it can be substituted with say, Lion Brand Fun Fur.
I’m probably going to make a few people gasp here while I go off on a tangent. For a brand new knitter or crocheter, I don’t recommend anything but acrylic, the same stuff you can buy at your local Wal-mart. $6 for a giant ball is more than appropriate for your first few projects. It’s easy to work with, washable, cheap, and if you are like me your first scarf will be a little wavy anyway since you are picking up stitches where there shouldn’t be, dropping stitches, adding random yarn overs, etc. One does not want to spend a lot of money on something like this.
I still use acrylic for a lot of my projects. I’m not a brand new knitter, but I’m not knitting socks; no way am I going to spend $20 a skein on yarn if I’m going to screw things up. “Oh, but it’s not a natural fiber!” you say. Quite right. I wear polyester t-shirts too, and I’m still standing.
Anyway. Back to the book. As I say, the first portion is great for someone who has absolutely no clue. You may need to supplement your instruction with Youtube (believe me – everything you need to know about knitting is on there), but this is a good start point.
Tune in next time when I review the next book in the series.