Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Review: The Knitter's Book of Yarn

First impression: this book is beautiful. The layout and design are beautiful; even the paper feels beautiful.

Beyond first impression: Yay! The content is good, too.

In The Knitter's Book of Yarn, Clara Parkes (founder of Knitter's Review) sets out to demystify the world of yarn: "how it's made, who makes it, how it gets to you, and what it longs to become in your hands." There's tons of information here, and it's presented clearly. (The glossary is very helpful.) I feel like this book was written for me: I'm not a spinner, I'm not very knowledgeable about different fibers -- I really just learned at Rhinebeck two weeks ago that wool from one kind of sheep can feel noticeably different than wool from another. I don't know crimp from loft. But even though I've really only skimmed TKBOY so far, I can see that it's going to be a useful reference book, like a handy dandy yarny encyclopedia.

To give you an example of the kinds of information in this book, let's say you're thinking of knitting something with cashmere. In the space of a few pages, you'll learn that cashmere is a protein fibre that comes from a goat, probably from China; that the fleece was probably dehaired and the fibres are short and delicate; that U.S. manufacturers may not label a produce "cashmere" if the average fibre diameter exceeds 19 microns; that it suits any weight of yarn, but requires a definite twist; that if it's good-quality stuff it should, according to Parkes, "make you stop dead in your tracks and emit at least one 'ooooooh' as you touch it"; and that while it is good for nearly any garment, it will, sadly, pill and thin over time.

And TKBOY is an encyclopedia with patterns, which is even better. Patterns are arranged according to yarn type; patterns for single-ply yarns are grouped together, followed by those for two-ply yarns, those for textured yarns, and so on. Most of the patterns are for accessories: bags, mittens, hats, socks. There are a few simple tops, too.

My two favourite patterns just happen to be mittens designed by mitten queen Adrian Bizilia. I figured there's no time like the present to figure out continental knitting, and I cast on for the Double-Thick Mittens.


I haven't used DPNs in a while, so my Fair Isle is a little shaky on that cuff. Now that I'm into the solid-gray hand of the mitten, it superfun -- the hand is stranded, too. (Hence the Double-Thickness.) So I figured out how to "pick" with the yarn in my left hand, and now I'm alternating one stitch from each hand. Crazy! I'm not fast at it, by any means, but I'll get faster.

Anyway, if you're looking to buy a book, this is a good one. It's the whole package: beautiful design, useful information, a few great patterns. Highly recommended.

18 comments:

debbie said...

i just received the book and have only skimmed, but agree with you - this one's a keeper and will be much used! i love the feel of the book cover and was so happy that the contents have a good feel too - so informative and the patterns are wonderful!

alana said...

Thanks for the review! I had passed this book over, I'll definatly have to take a look.

Michelle said...

That's good enough for me! I'm going to order it now.

Jodi said...

Thanks for the helpful review! I'm adding it to the top of my holiday wish list.

Those mittens are looking great.

La Cabeza Grande said...

I so appreciate your insight. It goes right onto the wishlist!

Veronique said...

Oh, I am dying to get my hands on this book! I had no idea it would have patterns... Maybe I'll get that and Veronik Avery's book :)

Kim U said...

I've been hoping someone would do a review of this book, this is the first one I've seen! Your review really helps a lot, thanks. I'm definitely going to move it up my queue.

miss ewe said...

Oooh... can't wait! I've been trying to top up an order (for free shipping). This could be the one!!!

SparkCrafted said...

i LOVE TKBOY! i got my copy signed by Clara while in Rhinebeck, which was a nice way to receive the books after hearing so much about it in prepub--a couple of my friends test-knit or designed patterns for the book.

andrea said...

thanks for the review! I briefly glanced at this book, but put it down because I didn't think I needed another reference book. Now that I see these gorgeous mittens, I'm definitely putting this on my wishlist.

xtina said...

I'm loving the edging on those mittens!

Laiane said...

Thank you for your review! It's going on my wish list immediately.

goodkarma said...

Thanks for the review; I'll put this one on my wish list!

maryse said...

i got a signed copy of the book at rhinebeck and am currently reading it cover to cover. it's great.

Adrian said...

By the time you finish these, you'll be speeding along like crazy using both hands. I go probably faster with that method than just plain stockinette now.

Krista McCurdy said...

I love this book too-- it's definitely worth it. I saw it in the bookstore and had to buy it immediately.

Stacey said...

looks like a winner - and some great patterns too! I love those mitts!

pamela wynne said...

Great idea -- maybe some serious stranding is what I need to inspire me to figure out Continental. & I love this book toooo!!