First, the facts:
Author: Melissa Leapman
Published by: Potter Craft
Type: Patterns, How-to, Design
1. First Things First: Cables are Easier than they Look!
2. Knitting in Circles: Closed-Ring Cables
3. The Foreign Language of Knitting Symbols and Charts
4. Designing with Closed-Ring Cables
5. General Techniques
6. You Can Do it! Simple Starter Projects
7. Comfy Cables: Accents for the Home
8. Cable Style: Clothing for Women
9. Cables to Give: Gifts for Friends and Family
10. Closed-Ring Panels
11. Closed-Ring Motifs
12. Closed-Ring Horizontal Bands
Pattern Size Range: Varies
The In-Depth Look:
I’ve wanted this book since I read the subtitle, “An Exploration of Knitted Cabled Knots, Rings, Swirls, and Curlicues.” That pretty much sums up the appeal of cables for me–that intricate interweaving playfulness as they wind around–and I think it’s clear that Melissa Leapman likes them for the same reason.
She starts the book off with explanations of how cables work. This is accompanied with well-drawn illustrations, and asides called “Cabling Up Close” that give extra insights or tips to add layers. There are also instructions on cabling without a cable needle. (Though, interestingly, her method uses an extra step over the method I use, but, whatever.) I’d have to check to see if this chapter has any real differences from her last book on cables, but it was all pretty basic information.
The second chapter, though, provided information that I don’t remember having seen specifically spelled out before–making closed cables–as in a circle, with no clear beginning or end. I’ve seen instructions inside sweater patterns for this sort of thing, but can’t remember having seen such a thorough presentation of the whys and hows that make it work. Not to mention the chapter on how to insert these kinds of cables into your knitting. “One of my many goals in writing this book was to present garment patterns you’ll enjoy knitting. But I hope that’s just the jumping-off point! … Once you understand how these cables work, I hope you’ll be inspired to be adventurous and create your own closed-ring cable patterns!”
The first chapter of projects is titled, “You Can Do It!” and it offers some simple patterns, just to get your feet wet. A pillow. A pair of hats. Then the really interesting part starts … the rest of the patterns. There are a few stunning afghans, and the Stowe Cabin Throw Rug? much too beautiful to put on the floor. One of the prettiest, intricate cable I’ve ever seen, from end to end, totally covering the rug. Love that–but personally, I’d make it an afghan to curl up on the couch with, not something I’d want to walk on. The two-color pillow that has a contrasting cable “knot” in direct relief against a different color background is also unique. The Celtic Motif Throw, I think, was reminiscent of the the cover pattern on her last book, and I remain a little hesitant about the idea of using handknits as placemats on my table, but … this section has some great patterns. Really, the only drawback I can see on some of them is that at least two of the afghans are knitted in one, huge piece, which makes them well, beautiful, but unwieldy. (But isn’t beauty worth a little inconvenience?)
The next section is knitwear for women. I like some of these more than others, but loved the Swirl Pullover, with its dramatic cable up the center, with a simple, criss-cross over the rest of the sweater … that one made me stop in my tracks as I flipped through the book the first time. I liked how the central cable of the Honeysuckle Sleeveless Shell blends right into the neckline–a nice detail. I did think the placement of the big, circular motif in the Quick-to-Knit Bulky Pullover seemed a little odd–I’d like that motif better on a pillow than on the center of my sweater. (Though if it were a little lower, it would be interesting on a maternity sweater.) And I didn’t like the Interlocked Cables Skirt at all … though it’s possible that the blouse the model is wearing is throwing me off … hmm. No, I really just don’t like it. I think it’s making the model look heavy (though, that tucked-in blouse isn’t helping matters). The cover sweater, though? Ooh, that’s just lovely.
There are baby blocks and some cute knits for tiny people. A knitted shoulder bag (without which no knitting book is complete these days). Also two stunning cabled pullovers for men. The Tweed Boyfriend Sweater is handsome, with a large central panel and a horizontal cable around the neckband, and the Man’s Entwined Circles Pullover? All those interlaced cable circles … I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Aran-sweater design with quite that cable and it’s really just stunning. There’s a good reason that pattern is highlighted on the back of the book–gorgeous.
Then, as an extra treat? A stitch-dictionary of closed-ring stitches for you to experiment with. Some of them are used in patterns throughout the book, but not all of them, and well, is a good stitch dictionary ever a bad thing? I thought it was interesting that the last section uses a completely different kind of paper stock than the beginning of the book–not so glassy, but it doesn’t hurt anything.
One of the things I particularly liked? Even though there is a good key and glossary of all the chart symbols at the beginning, there is a key alongside every single pattern. As you page through the book, there are large, clear charts for each pattern, and either on that page or the next, is a key for all the symbols in that project. So you don’t forever have to thumb through to the beginning of the book when you’re sitting in your comfy chair with your knitting. Or if you’ve photocopied a pattern so you can scribble on it … very handy.
The photos all look wonderful, in that they give you a good idea of the shape of the sweaters, yet are suitably atmospheric and artistic. The different patterns are all listed in the Table of Contents; there is an index of techniques at the back. The stitches in the stitch dictionary don’t have names, but they are sorted by technique and color-coded, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a specific one if you need to back later on.
All in all? A really nice book, with a couple patterns I liked a lot. Not all of them, of course, but good odds (grin). The author is obviously very enthusiastic about the subject and that shows through. (She may be a little too fond of exclamation points, but, well, she was excited.) Her sense of cabling adventure is fun to share–and that chapter on closed-ring cables was fantastic.
This book is selling for under $22 at Amazon.
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