In honour of National Non-Fiction Day Usborne very kindly offered bloggers a pick of their non-fiction titles to review. So I picked How to Knit as a) I can't knit very well and b) I tend to stick to simple projects which allow me to watch the tv at the same time. Last year I knitted my own version of the Tom Baker/Doctor Who scarf for a Doctor Who library event.
How to Knit by Fiona Watt (Usborne Publishing Ltd, March 2007, ISBN: 0746071574)
One of the first things I noticed was that unlike many knitting books this is written for a UK audience, rather than American, and uses the UK knitting needle sizes and weights of wool eg double knitting, aran etc. This means one less thing to have to translate when you are just starting out!
The book opens with a simple guide to what you might need to start, along with your needles and wool (yarn), such as a tape measure, scissors and then takes you through casting on and the knit and purl stitches - which form the basis of all knitting, no matter how fancy the pattern is. The instructions are straight-forward and are accompanied with clear illustrations and the finished objects are shown actual size (except where stated).
The patterns include a first project of a garter stitch (all knit stitches) scarf as well as mobile phone/mp3 player covers, hats, cushions and handbags which incorporate other patterns such as rib and moss stitch. I liked how the projects are things you'd actually use. As well as whole projects there are ways to jazz plain items up: with instructions on how to make fringes, pompoms, knitted flowers, leaves and bows.
Slightly more tricky techniques such as making a stitch, increasing and "slip stitch, knit stitch, pass slip stitch over" (S1K1PSSO) are also covered and at the back is a glossary of terms including abbreviations and the US terms for different weights of wool.
I thought this was a great book for beginners (and not so beginners) and it would make for a lovely Christmas present, which would enable the current enthusiasm for knitting to be passed on to a new generation.
NB. The edition I received is the paperback edition but the newer (2009) version is spiral bound which means you can lay the pages flat a bit more easily.
You can see a few sample pages at the Usborne website including a list of the projects included.