First, the facts:
Authors: Lisa R. Myers, Laura Grutzeck, and Carol Sulcoski
Type: Patterns–Mostly Sweaters, with some Accessories and one Skirt
- The Skinny on Fine Yarns
- Tools, Tips, and Techniques
Published by: Interweave Press, 2008
Pattern Size Range: Varies widely from pattern to pattern, anywhere from 27″ to 48″
The In-Depth Look:
The self-professed aim for this book, as stated by the authors: “Skinny yarns get a really bad rap. Knitters have somehow gotten the idea that they’re slow, fussy, or old-fashioned. We’re here to prove otherwise. Thin yarns offer a world of possibilities; in fact, they can do anything a thick yarn can do and more–and often, they do it better.”
Well! As a fan of not-chunky yarns myself, this is definitely an objective I can get behind!
The first chapter explores the advantages of fine yarns–better fit, better drape, better economics, to name a few–and then goes on to point out the things you can do with thin yarn that you can’t at do at all with chunky ones. (Socks, anyone?) I particularly liked the picture of an hourglass-figured doll wearing a dress in a chunky yarn and one in a fine yarn; if even SHE looks fat in a bulky knit, think how the rest of us look!
There’s a very nice, basic chapter about types of yarn, and things to look for–the fibers, the importance of a swatch, the benefits to things like lifelines in lace. It’s a perfectly nice chapter that more or less tells you things that a lot of knitters already know–which doesn’t make it any less important!
Also useful? A series of tips on staying motivated if you’re feeling bogged down by your fine-gauge project. This strikes me as brilliant because, “It takes too long” has to be one of the biggest excuses for NOT using fine yarns for things like sweaters. And how can you object to a section that tells you to, “Treat yourself to a small pleasure when you reach a particular milestone?”
Then, of course, there are the patterns.
As a rule, I thought this a really nice collection. Nothing is so young that it’s too “weird,” but nothing is boring and old, either. I think it skews a little more to the young demographic, but not in a way that someone out of her 20s is going to be embarrassed.
I counted 14 sweaters/vests, 1 dress, 1 skirt, and an assortment of various accessories–a beret, a ruffly scarf, a lace shawl, gloves, and legwarmers. I really liked the Kimono Top, which looks eminently wearable. (Although using a DPN as a closing device seems fraught with danger when you sit down–something the model isn’t doing–but then, I’m sure you could use something less pointy). The Ribby Vest is fantastic–a striped, V-neck in an assortment of Trekking yarns.
I wasn’t crazy about the Dolman Top, which is a little too 80s-retro for my taste, but I would love to have one of those Skater Sweaters in my closet–a short-sleeved “thermal”-knit t-shirt designed for layering for a little extra warmth. I loved that. And the Wrap Dress? Divine, except that I think you need a very specific (perfect) figure to pull it off. Ditto about the Bamboo Skirt which is lovely but–a ribbed skirt could be clingy in the wrong places if, again, you’re no longer in your 20s. (Oh, and the shoes the skirt was photographed with? I couldn’t find a pattern for them, but I’d like a pair, please!)
And, the Travelling-Stitch Legwarmers? Oh, so very NOT “Flashdance.”
The write-ups of the patterns looks good–they’ve got the (should-be) essentials like schematics and notes, along with the written instructions. The charts, where they’re needed, are large enough not to strain the eyes, and there are tips for using them at the back, along with some extra instructions for things like short rows and the cable cast-on.
The pictures–all-important in a book of knitting patterns–are good ones. They’re well-lit, give a good look at the sweaters, and there is a nice balance between “whole-view” and “close-up” looks at the various knits.
Oh, and the patterns are listed by name in the Table of Contents AND there is an Index at the back highlighting the locations of different techniques and talking points. In other words, the publishers actually considered that people might not memorize the entire content of the book the first time through. I SO appreciate that in a knitting book.
What didn’t I like? Not much, really. Some of the patterns I wasn’t crazy about, but there wasn’t anything that made me want to hide my eyes. (And, believe me, I have books like that!) I wouldn’t want to knit or wear everything in here, but there are a few patterns I really liked and a bunch more that I liked enough that I’d offer them closet space–and since my feeling about a knitting book is that it’s worth the price if there’s just one or two patterns I want to make, well … that definitely makes this one a winner. Like I said, I think it’s geared a little more toward younger knitters, but not in an “exclude everybody over 30” kind of way.
Again, this is Knit So Fine, and it’s selling at Amazon for $16.47.