The Principles of Knitting

The Principles of Knitting, by June Hemmons Hiatt has been touted as the quintessential knitter’s guide.  It went out of print in 1995 and, with a hefty price tag, has been out of reach of the average knitter. Finally, the second addition has been issued.  Mine arrived in the mail last week and I am over the top with awe.

For me a good book, fiction or non-fiction, makes me want to keep turning the pages.  A talented author instills a sense of mystery and a desire to know what will happen next.  It is the mark of good story-telling.  Hiatt uses this skill even in a technical tome.  She creates a sense of intrigue by offering a more complete view of even the most simple techniques in her work.


The Principles of Knitting has the answers to many questions that arise during the knitting process.  It is written for the beginner with great detail about why techniques are important and provides easy to follow directions.  What I love is that it holds great nuggets of information for the seasoned knitter as well.  She promises to offer new skills and information that will make knitting more interesting and delivers on her commitment.

There are chapters dedicated to Knitting Techniques, Yarn, Fiber, Tools, and a variety of techniques from shaping, pattern design, casting on and off, and color work, just to cover a few. There are over 700 pages of detailed information that not only shows the knitter what they should do but explains why.  As a life-long learner, I appreciate the brain candy that she provides when she talks about why something in necessary or how it fits into the design of knitting.

Being a primarily self-taught knitter, I only recently started working with teachers on bigger, more complex projects like sweaters.  I often prefer to get my hands into a project and just ask what to do when I can’t fix a mistake.  In just a week with this book, I have found yet another teacher to turn to with questions.

If you have ever knit something, wanted to learn to knit or feel like you need more challenge in your knitting, this book is a requirement for your resource library.  Although there are many videos on how to knit and various techniques and scores of books with every kind of pattern and knitting techniques to try most offer directions on the technical aspects with little thought to educating the reader on understanding the benefits and deficits of each technique.

In my experience there is no other book on knitting so comprehensive and detailed in the purpose of techniques.  Having all that information at my fingertips makes me feel like I can tackle just about any project.

Pros

  • This book is comprehensive and detailed.  I love that Haitt gives the purpose for using specific techniques or why something is important.  She also details when it would not be prudent to use a technique to skill in knitting.
  • It is written to support the beginner but interesting enough for the seasoned knitter.
  • Haitt offers great information on swatching that makes me excited to try something new.  She offers a unique perspective that encourages the dreaded task most knitters avoid.
  • This book is a new designer’s dream.  It has a comprehensive section on designing a knit, the elements to consider and a variety of techniques and calculations for how to create the look you want.  This alone makes this book invaluable.  Personally, I have been looking for several years for a book with all this information in one convenient place.

Cons

While I love this book, there are a couple of things I would like to be different.

  • The index could be easier to use.  I have had some difficulty finding information that I have been looking for with common knitting names. I understand that knitting terms vary from place to place and it is impossible to know all the common names for a technique.  It does make simple reference more difficult.  For example, I was looking for information on doing a sloped bind-off for a sleeve.  I thought I might find it as that name clearly describes the intended technique.  I haven’t found what I am looking for yet, but I am sure once I spend more time with the book I will get a better understanding of how to find things. In general, any book with a difficult to decipher index is a sticking point for me.
  • Many people have stated that the paper is a bit thin.  More than 700 pages can get pretty hefty if you are using a heavy weight paper and the type does show through a bit. I will think twice about the writing implement I use to make notes on the pages.  I have seen equally large books with more substantial paper but they are quite a workout to carry around. It’s not a deterrent to me but bears noting here where disadvantages are a concern.
  • Each section holds a fair amount of detail and information that connects to each section.  It is not so easy to just pick a topic and have a quick read.  The format requires the reader to take their time and learn the entire process.  If you just want a quick how-to-something, you might look for another source if you don’t have the time or want all the details of the why, when, and how much.

Summary

This book is really an amazing resource for anyone serious about making more than scarves in their knitting careers. The depth and intricacies of the information is geared towards supporting an informed knitter.  The author clearly took her time and efforts to produce a comprehensive reference guide.  I look forward to many years of knitting with this book by my side.

 

Disclosure:  I was not solicited to do a review of this book.  These are my opinions of a book I purchased for myself.  I share this here to provide useful information for knitters wanting more information and resources for their craft.

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