One admitted perk of blogging is that occasionally new books cross my desk to have a look at for review – and believe me, I see all kinds. There are pattern collection books, extreme niche knitting books, and also the reference manuals – all of which have their place on a knitter’s library shelf. Today I have a book review for you in the latter category, the recently published Circular Knitting Workshop by Margaret Radcliffe.
I’m one of those knitters who, while I am happy to try new techniques – yea verily, I will sometimes reach for the most crazy ambitious patterns just so I know I’m guaranteed not to get bored with my knitting (the horror!) – I am also just as likely to fall victim to the knitter’s comfort zone, where I keep going with particular methods and techniques just the same way I learned them because that’s exactly where I like it and changing it up might be different and irksome. (I have a related story here where I thought I was going to be a double-pointed-needle/DPN knitter for the rest of my life and didn’t need Magic Loop in my life thank you very much, then tried Magic Loop knitting and now write all my sock patterns for both DPNs and Magic Loop because I love them both.)
This is all a way of saying I thought I had circular knitting down and really didn’t understand what else there was to say about it once you knew how to do it, but sure I’ll take a look at this Circular Knitting Workshop anyway because you just never know. I mean, once you know how to “join to work in the round, being careful not to twist,” you’ve got it licked, surely…but maybe on the off chance that there’s something else to it, I’ll give this a read.
Let me cut to the chase and summarize: this book is awesome. There are several instructional sections supported by full-colour photographs of techniques like cast-on and bind-off, and problem-solving for things like what to do if you have, in fact, not been “careful not to twist” at the join and you have a twisted mobius-like piece of knitting instead of the tube you wanted. (Hint: catching this sooner makes it more likely that you’ll be able to fix it, but Margaret Radcliffe has your solution.)
Then there are a whole pack of guidelines for things that knitters tend to learn as they go, handily assembled in one easy reference – things like how to convert stitch patterns or whole garments from flat to in the round, working from charts, and a nice series on various ways to finish things like hems, toes, etc. There is a brilliant alternative to kitchener stitch in here, credited to Lucy Neatby, that allows you to finish a sock toe without doing regular kitchener stitch, that I might be a little bit in love with. (I have another related story here about how I still avoid kitchener stitch if I can help it. Actually…that’s pretty much the whole story, right there.) Finally, there are several patterns included here for practice and inspiration, including hats, socks, and sweaters.
I also appreciate that Margaret stops to point out things like this list of 5 Reasons to Knit Flat, and 5 Reasons to Knit Circular. Because while being able to work in the round is fantastic and has wonderful applications, I agree that it’s not the best approach 100% of the time. Flat and circular knitting are both worth being comfortable with, and worth getting better at.
In short, this is such a lovely reference book that I’m afraid I can’t bear to part with my copy of it for a giveaway – I’m going to make it a nice home in my knitting library and will enjoy having it as a reference.
However, I do still have a giveaway for you today, of one of these fun little sewn notions kits from Pog Totes. Mary who runs Pog Totes sent me one and they were so adorable I asked if I could do a blog giveaway for a reader, and she kindly offered!
To win one of these little handsewn, lined, zipped, brightly coloured darlings, leave a comment on this blog post between now and noon on Thursday (Toronto time), telling me your favourite thing about knitting in the round, and I’ll do a giveaway in a post Thursday afternoon.
Happy knitting this afternoon, and stay cool!