I’ve been a knitting addict for a while now, so I don’t normally check out introductory knitting guides. The KnitPicks podcast with Megan Goodacre, though, was enough to convince me that I should take a look at this one. I’m glad I did!
Idiot’s Guides: Knitting by Megan Goodacre. Penguin Group, 2013.
Welcome, I guess, to the new Idiot’s Guide books. Not that I’ve looked at a lot of them in the past, but I have a vague memory of lots of text with some two-color line drawings. Not here! The instructions for knitting are explained in large, clear, step-by-step photographs, with the working bit of yarn highlighted red to stand out. Rather than starting with the typical scarf – which is boring and goes on way too long for a new knitter – Goodacre introduces each new skill with a tiny project, including a washcloth, coasters, a striped baby hat, leaves for shaping, a cabled headband, and a lace bookmark. The book is divided into beginning and intermediate skills, and each one includes a stitch gallery – encouraging knitters to start designing their own projects from the very beginning. The final section includes bigger projects, working up to sweaters at the very end. My favorite projects from this part included the striped baby jacket (matching the hat from the striping lesson), the simple raglan pullover, and the infinity lace scarf. (Ravelry tells me that the Friendly Critters are more popular.) It’s not surprising that it was featured on a KnitPicks podcast, as it uses KnitPicks yarn for all projects, though she describes the weight and fiber content first, so knitters can easily make their own substitutions.
There was a lot in here even for experienced knitters – it got used every time I took it to Knit Night – and even the tiny projects are charming. Even though I’ll always have a spot in my heart for the rebellious and snarky Stitch and Bitch by Debbie Stoller, this book will probably now be my go-to book to recommend to would-be knitters, as well as a handy reference for any knitter.
I totally agree that a scarf is the wrong project for a new knitter. Not only does it go on f.o.r.e.v.e.r, the early mistakes and the change in ability/gauge as the learner progresses make the result very discouraging. Far better a series of washcloths – each one fairly consistent, each one slightly better than the next, and best of all, each of the DONE and USEABLE in a reasonable amount of time.
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