Monday, 13 January 2014

Books: The Knitter: Knitting Masterclass

Last Christmas I was given The Knitter's collection of masterclasses in book form. Knitting Masterclass is a pretty book: hardback cover, the beautiful pictures we know from the magazines, a range of techniques and corresponding patterns. It has to be said that if you regularly read the magazine, there is no need to buy this book as there is nothing new in it. The reason I had it on my wish list was that I stopped buying the magazine after issue 7 or so. The masterclasses were the only interesting feature after a while, so I thought the book would be a good buy.

I would say the book is great for beginning to intermediate knitters who would like a quick reference book, especially if they don't have many knitting books. In our digital age, of course you can easily find information and videos about all the covered techniques as well, so whether you get the book or not depends on how much you like to have a physical book on your shelf, especially one that is so nicely made. It isn't necessary, but it is nice to have. 

There are 13 chapters in all:

1. Choosing & Substituting Yarns
2. Casting On & Off
3. Different Styles of Knitting
4. Cables
5. Liberating Lace
6. Fair Isle Techniques
7. Shaping & Fit
8. Steeking
9. Slip Stitch Colourwork
10. Reversible Knits
11. Stripes in the Round
12. Kitchener Stitch
13. Creating Curves

I consider myself to be a knitter somewhere between intermediate and advanced, and I found that there were only 3 techniques I wasn't (too) familiar with. I have an issue with the magazine itself: I find it appealing because it is not as basic as Simply Knitting, for instance, but it is not as advanced as I had expected either. The book is similar. An intermediate knitter, I would imagine, does not need a chapter about casting on and off, for example. Steeking, however, is interesting and something many may not have tried before. For me, chapters 1, 7 and 8 are the best ones and possibly the only really useful ones as an intermediate to advanced knitter.

At 160 pages there is a limit as to how much you'll find in this book. I was disappointed to see that there was nothing new in it. You'll find exactly the same photos, the same text, and the same patterns that were in the magazines. So in a way the book was just put together quickly, collecting existing material with no extras. It strikes me simply as a minimum effort to make more money (just like all the Mollie Makes books and spin offs). The appeal of this book would have been greatly enhanced by some new additions, especially in order to also appeal to the regular readers of The Knitter. As it stands, there is no incentive for them to buy the book.

I understand that there is very little space in magazines for in-depth explanations and as many photos as may be necessary to show a new technique, but I would have expected the book to offer more. Sadly, it does not. It needs more information and certainly far more images. As it is, it would make sense to look up instructional videos (or find a more in-depth book about the technique in question) in addition to what you find in Knitting Masterclass just to make sure you really understand what is being described. However, this book is good as a first introduction.

So to sum up, Knitting Masterclass is a beautiful volume to flick through and it serves well as a first introduction to some techniques. You won't find very detailed information, for the most part, and may need to find other resources to elaborate. For me, the most appealing things about the book are, firstly, the look and feel of the book and, secondly, the albeit few chapters introducing techniques such as steeking I have been curious about. So if you are a beginning or intermediate knitter interested in an introductory volume to some techniques, this is a good book to start with. Advanced knitters will most likely be disappointed and might want to look for books with more in-depth coverage of their topic of interest.

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