Friday, April 06, 2012

Blog Tour: Beyond Knit & Purl by Kate Atherly

Hmmm. It didn't seem like that long since I blogged last, but apparently, it's been a little while.  Nothing major going on here: getting lots of yarn dyed for the trunk show at Loop kept me busy for a while,then a sweater to finish for the lovely folks at Universal Yarns, and now I'm finishing up a week with the kids on spring break. I am glad that our lovely friends at Cooperative Press sent me a review copy of Beyond Knit and Purl: Take Your Knitting to the Next Level, by Kate Atherly.  I agreed to be today's stop on a blog tour, so let's take a look.

Kate Atherly has been teaching knitting for nearly a decade, and when teaching newbies, she was asked the same questions, over and over:

What’s easy to knit? What’s a good first project? Where can I find good patterns? And inevitably: I’m tired of scarves. What’s next? 
Her book is her answer to these questions, and more importantly, to address the big challenge that new knitters face:  the fact that "there’s a big gulf between knowing how to knit and purl and knowing how to choose and successfully work a pattern."

Spring Leaves Shawl (Chapter 10)

Her book begins by helping new knitters (and probably a lot of not-so-knitters) make sense of knitting patterns. Chapter 1 starts off with advice for how to select a knitting pattern. Atherly begins by explaining difficulty ratings; gives some tips for how to estimate pattern difficulty with a quick scan; covers the importance of checking for errata and updates; and includes a chart, setting out type of garment along with typical skills needed and how that translates into easy or hard.

Lace Bookmark (Chapter 10)

Chapter 2 walks you through pattern prep, touching on issues like sizing, ease, fiber selection, gauge, quantity of yarn to buy and needle size. Chapter 3 covers issues that arise when actually reading the pattern, including terminology, how to read pattern-speak, reading charts, and how to reverse shaping. Chapter 4 addresses some issues that your pattern might not cover, such as how to join a new ball of yarn, how to measure your progress, and even what to do if things don't seem to be going well. Chapter 5 then covers a few additional issues, like continental vs. English knitting; care of knitwear; and additional references for both technical advice and patterns.

Cat Toy (Chapter 7)

The next section of Beyond Knit & Purl cover very specific skills that a newbie knitter needs to master. Chapter 6 is devoted to shaping, showing various types of increases and decreases, along with photographs of how to work them and -- very helpful -- clear photos of what the increases and decreases look like knit into a swatch. The chapter ends with three basic projects designed to illustrate these techniques, including washcloth, scarf and baby sweater.

One-Piece Baby Sweater (Chapter 6)

Chapter 7 explains knitting in the round, again with lots of photographs showing how to hold the needles and join, how to work the first stitch, distributing stitches and troubleshooting. You can practice by working a kitty-cat toy, then progressing to a slouchy hat, wristwarmers, and double-layered mittens.

Slouchy Hat (Chapter 7)

Chapter 8 looks at socks, giving a structural overview; outlining top-down and toe-up approaches, and starting the knitter off with a mini-sock. Next up is a toe-up basic pattern, a tutorial on Judy's Magic Cast-on, a cuff-down basic and ribbed patterns, and a brief section on designing socks.

Bias Scarf (Chapter 6)

The next few chapters cover specific skills:

  • Chapter 9 covers cables, including how to  read cable patterns, charts, and includes a quickie pattern for a coffee cup cozy; the knitter can then progress to a chunky cable scarf  and hat, and cabled socks.  
  • Chapter 10 is lace: basic mesh and fishnet patterns, reading charts, gauge, lifelines, and blocking. The first project is a sweet lace bookmark, and then the knitter can practice her skills on a Crest o' the Wave scarf, and two triangular shawls.
  • Chapter 11 covers colorwork, from basic stripes to fair isle to intarsia. Projects begin with a cell phone cozy and include a candy-cane-themed Christmas stocking, a zigzag tam, and herringbone socks.
Houndstooth Socks (Chapter 11)

The book closes with the usuals -- glossary, bibliography and acknowledgements.  (You can purchase the book in print, digital or both forms here. The cost is $16.95 for the PDF version, and $26.95 (plus shipping) for both print and PDF version.)  There's a lot of good technical information in Beyond Knit & Purl, perfect for a knitter who's mastered the basic stitches but wants to learn more complex techniques without getting overwhelmed. The manageable projects will allow the less-experienced knitter to stretch her wings, again, without being overwhelmed and discouraged.

To learn more about the book and Kate, follow along with the blog tour:  next stop:  LeeLeetea.......on April 8th.

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