It occurs to me this almost daily posting is rather unusual, and probably only happening due to the break. In any case, I doubt anyone shall really complain.
As I mentioned the other day, I’ve gotten a copy of 400 Knitting Stitches. I’ve had enough time to go through at least one of each of the sections, and so here’s some general feedback on it, in a list type deal.
–While opinion based, many of the stitches shown are ones that I would be willing to use. Many are elegant, look interesting, and so forth. There’s several different types of ribbing, and several other combinations of knit-purl that aren’t just ribbing (much to my delight).
–There’s a wide variety. Stitches are divided into sections based off how they are formed (lacy type stitches, cables, knit-purl, slipped, and so forth), and includes a few interesting sections such as ‘fancy-stitches’ that don’t really fit anywhere else and ‘cast off stitches’, which involve casting off stitches within the row.
–The pictures are all very clear, in a pretty cream coloured yarn that shows off the stitch definition very well. It makes a good frame of reference to check your knitting against, and gives a good idea of how the pattern will look. Most stitch pattern samples have at least two vertical repeats.
–While I’m not sure everyone will use them, (nearly) every pattern has a chart. These can be read in two ways: right to left for RS rows and left to right for WS rows for flat knitting, and right to left every row for round knitting. There’s more to say about these charts, but I’ll address it in a moment.
–There are also written out instructions. While I didn’t use them when knitting my samples (other than a quick reference for what some symbols meant), they are there for the knitter who prefers those to charts.
–In the written instructions after the name of the pattern, you’ll find what multiple to work over, any additional stitches necessary for symmetry, and edge stitches required if making a swatch. If there’s anything else of note–changes in how many stitches are in certain rows, for example–then it is also mentioned before directions start.
–There’s 400 knitting stitches! If you can’t find something to at least start with when designing, then I don’t know what to tell you.
–Some of the more complex stitch directions I find difficult to follow, and there aren’t any real pictures to follow. There is a large key in the back that describes the techniques, and the written instructions do the same in parentheses. I’ve been lucky so far on some of the more complicated slip-stitch patterns I’ve done; perhaps I just lack the type of common sense needed to understand these types of instructions.
–Due in part with how many different types of knitting there are in this book, some of the symbols can’t be really guessed at. I haven’t seen some of the symbols they’ve used for ssk or k2tog used that way (they look far more like the 3 st versions to me), and I feel like the symbols they used for cables could be clearer.
–Some of the charts (especially the knit-purl!) are bogged down because every knit stitch and purl stitch is marked as such. For knit-purl and a few others, I’d see it as necessary to either highlight in the book what is knit and what is purl, or to copy it out to some graph paper, leaving knit stitches as blank squares.
–The charts also tend to be very small. This is so they can fit one in without wasting pages excessively, so unless you enjoy reading such tiny things or laying magnifying glasses over the charts, I’d say just go ahead and break out the graph paper.
I think this is a great resource, and I’d recommend it. While I don’t mind recopying the charts for my own use, I’m sure it would get on some people’s nerves. I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable recommending this to someone who can’t figure out written instructions for techniques they haven’t used before, but at the same time there’s plenty for the established knitter. For someone who enjoys design, I’d definitely recommend this book–even over the Treasuries. While I do like the Treasuries, I feel like (for my tastes), this has for more bang for its buck. I think it’s a great book. While not indispensable, if you don’t have a stitch dictionary, then I think you wouldn’t go wrong by getting this one.