Sunday, June 26, 2016

Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook

Get the hard copy, not the digital. It's so much easier to peruse
craft books that way.
I suck at knitting. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to go beyond the absolute basics— straight knitting needles and square shapes. That isn't for lack of trying, or lack of being informed, though. After falling in love with Stitch 'N Bitch: The Happy Hooker, I was sure that Debbie Stoller's original knitting handbook would be the perfect way to teach myself to knit! I wasn't exactly wrong... But my increased knitting knowledge has not helped me complete complex projects. And why? Because if this book has taught me anything, it's that I need five times the tools and a blood sacrifice to achieve what I could with one crochet hook. But let's pretend for a minute that you're already a knitter and are used to these blood sacrifices.

I keep sheep for this express purpose!
I would keep sheep for the eventual yarn but if you want to play it biblical and keep them handy for blood sacrifices, that's cool too, I guess. You do you.

So, you're already a knitter: Jump into the deep end with 40 knitting projects of varying difficulty! They range from quick scarves and hats to marathon-style, focus-heavy sweaters and blankets. There is even a pattern for a cat bed in here. I find that one amusingly pointless, since my cat would prefer to sleep on a pile of clean clothes or on my face over her own bed any day.

Tools of the trade: Crochet hooks (top left), circular knitting needles
(top right), straight knitting needles, and resource book.
The only thing I found frustrating (and this has more to do with knitting as a craft than with the book) is that I wanted to make some of these hats and they required two or three different types of needles. That means I would need to have between five and seven needles for one project. Is that Debbie Stoller's fault? Or the fault of the designers featured in this book? Absolutely not! I appreciate that they let me know beforehand so I didn't waste my time starting a project that I'd never finish for lack of owning every damn knitting tool on the market. But we're pretending you're already a knitter, so maybe you own all that already. Congratulations! These are some cool-looking projects! My favorites are the different bags. As I was flipping through the book again today, I got the itch to make all of them: backpacks, purses, and totes. They look complex, but are fairly straightforward to make. All patterns contained herein include a briefing on necessary materials, the gauge you should be aiming for, finished size, and best yarns to use. All patterns were screened by a technical editor as well, so they're pretty much guaranteed to work. I certainly haven't found any technical problems with them yet.

What if I'm a complete beginner?
Fear not! This is still a fantastic, beginner-friendly resource book. The beginning half of the book is dedicated to teaching you knitting basics and some additional niceties. One of the things I love about the Stitch 'N Bitch series is how in-depth it goes. While some books will attempt to teach you as they go along with the pattern, Stoller does it all up-front so you can try tackling those tougher projects after some reading. Even if you've never held a pair of knitting needles and yarn, she explains the process in a clear and entertaining manner. You could, of course, just read the portion on how to start your project and jump into the patterns. You can use this book however you damn well please. But I think you'll have an easier time if you actually read some of it first.

You know what else is pretty cool about this? Stoller mentions several different resources within the book to further educate yourself on the subject of knitting! She mentions multiple books, magazines, and websites for additional reading. If you want to shop for fancy yarns at discount prices, she points out the best way to search for them. This book is full of handy tips and tricks for getting the most out of your knitting experience. If you're interested in the craft, I highly recommend checking this book out. It can only make your life— at least the knitting portion of it— easier. Good luck, and happy knitting!

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