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How to read a knitting book

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Finally, it was clear that… I wasn’t going to knit three projects from each knitting book I bought before buying another, but I was going to be learning a lot from each book.

What can you learn from a knitting book if you don’t make any of the projects in it?

You can:

1. Read the materials and tools lists for each project and learn about the supplies you will want to have in your knitting bag at all times.

2. Look at the schematic drawings for all of the projects and learn about the sizing of garments and accessories, as well as the shapes and construction of various types of knitted projects.

3. Compare the charts and photographs, and gain an understanding of how the symbols in the charts are not arbitrary, but are drawn in a way that they look like the stitches that are being knitted, and the overall chart looks like the actual pattern created from the stitches.

4. You can gather information about the yarn, needles, and gauge for a specific project and learn about what yarns knit up to what kind of gauge measurements, and approximately what size needles are used for different weights of yarn.

5. Note the fiber content and colors of the yarn used and look at the photographs of the finished items to learn about how different yarns work up in different pattern stitches and in different types of finished objects.

6. Read the introduction to each project and find out what kinds of techniques the designer likes to use and learn about where they find their inspiration and get their ideas.

7. Read the acknowledgements to learn how much of a collaborative process book-writing and knitwear design is, and if you have been thinking about starting your own knitting-related business, you can get ideas about the kinds of people you’ll need to have on your team.

8. Read the finishing instructions for each project and look at the techniques section (usually in the front or back of the book), to learn how to finesse the finishing on your own knitting projects.

9. Knit swatches of the pattern stitches used in the book, or use the stitches to make scarves or washcloths to improve your knitting skill and expand your knowledge about knitting different types of stitches such as knit-and-purl patterns, lace, cables, or even colorwork.

10. Read the resources list at the back of the book and visit the websites of various companies to learn about their products and perhaps discover new yarns you’d like to work with in the future.

11. Read any stories in the book to learn about different cultures and histories and travel and adventures, or for pure entertainment.

12. Scan the index for any terms or techniques you’re not familiar with and read up on how to do them, and try them out on swatches.

13. Learn about fashion design or ethnic knitting design, and the different ways there are to make sweaters, socks, mittens, or whatever type of project is in the book.

14. Try to imagine each project knitted in a different color to exercise your own creativity.

15. Work up several swatches of a pattern stitch you particularly like in yarns that all seem to be the same weight but are made of different fibers or spun differently to learn about how yarn behaves. Don’t forget to wash the test swatches to see what happens to different types of yarns when it’s washed and blocked.

16. Work up several swatches of a pattern stitch you’ve never made before and block it in several different ways — by steaming, spritzing, washing, and pinning into shape — to compare the results.

17. Draw up your own schematic and indicate how you’d adjust the same garment for someone of a completely different size. Change an adult sweater to a child’s size, a woman’s sock to fit a man, or a child’s hat to fit yourself.

18. Change the yarn and gauge suggested in a pattern and figure out how many stitches you would need to make the garment in the same size and with the same pattern stitches at the new gauge.

19. Try charting out pattern stitches if they are only given in line-by-line instructions. Knit the pattern first from the written instructions and then from the chart and compare the experiences.

20. Just enjoy looking at the photos and feeling inspired by the beautiful photography.

Donna Druchunas

Interested in my books, check them out here.

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22-11-13 | 7 comments | in Knitting, Knitting articles by Donna, Writing

7 Responses to How to read a knitting book

  1. Leslie says:

    Very helpful information. I know I won’t live long enough to make many of the patterns I’ve collected. But this list will help me get more out of each book. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  2. Nicolette says:

    Love this list. I love ‘reading’ knitting books and normally don’t knit a pattern from them. Particularly like books that give a sense of place and interesting information on technique as well as patterns. They make for excellent reading.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I only wish authors would put more stories into their knitting books! I think knitters would love that. I get so many comments about that part of Arctic Lace.

  3. Ellie says:

    Thank you for this article, very interesting! In reference to #17 in your tips above, could you please give me some ideas of where to look to learn how to adjust different patterns such as using an adult size sweater for a child? Thank you again.

  4. donna says:

    Hi. Have you seen Ann Budd’s book, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns? I think that would be very helpful for you.

    Donna

  5. Mary Lou says:

    I have read several of your books, Donna, but never knitted a thing from them. Just glad to have them on my shelf.

  6. […] un bellissimo post scritto da Donna Druchunas sul suo sito Sheep to Shawl in cui spiega come leggere un libro di […]

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