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So why am I reading an advanced knitting book when I have done, ever, two knitting projects?

Because as far as I can tell the key to knitting is not to be afraid of it. My first knitting project was relatively simple: a scarf. (For those of you who care: Noro Silk Garden, garter stitch rib.)

But my second knitting project was this shawl, in a different colorway, yarn weight, and needle size than specified in the pattern. It has nupps. It has beads. It had a provisional cast-on which wanted a crochet hook and the only previous time in my life I'd picked up a crochet hook I had come damn close to needing stitches, and had left permanent scars on the psyches of the people around me because they could not figure out how I could do that much damage to myself with a really large blunt plastic thing without sharp edges.

The shawl came out beautifully.

And the way I went from k2, p2 and repeat to that shawl is the reason I recommend the sort of knitting book that Debbie Stoller has provided here.

I looked everything up, when I got to it in the shawl pattern, which is what I suggest, looking up everything. Everything. Provisional cast-on? Look it up. If it still doesn't make sense, look it up somewhere else. If you have to take it one loop of yarn at a time to make it make sense, fine. If you need to put a marker in every single stitch, cool. If you have to sit down with graph paper and convince yourself about the topology, go for it. I did all that. I cast the thing on nineteen times. The twentieth was right. I forgot the abbreviations in the pattern over and over and over. That's why the pattern's on a sheet of paper, so I just kept looking it up. Doing this works. It will never be quick but it works.

I am not talented, per se, at knitting. I am stubborn and I refuse to be afraid. That is what this book is for: it is a collection, in the same place, of a great many advanced techniques of the sort that you might want to look up. It's not a book on any specific mode of advanced knitting, so it isn't absolutely comprehensive on lace, it isn't absolutely comprehensive on intarsia, it isn't definitive on how to knit with beads. But it has a bunch of useful things about each of them, and about several other things you might want, including, and this is important, how to design your own projects.

It assumes basic knitting knowledge; if you don't know whether you knit Continental or English, this is probably not your book right now, but that's about the level you need. It's pretty dry, because it basically is a list of techniques-- this is not one of those knitting books à la Elizabeth Zimmermann or Stephanie Pearl McPhee which one can hand cheerfully to people who don't knit. It could have more diagrams, and if you don't understand an explanation when you're sitting there with yarn in hand trying to follow along you will of course need to look things up elsewhere as well. And it has a section of projects at the back, which are as variable as all multi-author knitting project collections and which mostly don't appeal to me at all, but, you know, if you like it go for it and they seem like fine examples of how to do the things in the book.

So this is not a literary experience, but it would have saved me so much internet time during that shawl, and I am considering getting a copy to scribble all over so that it can save me that internet time again during the next thing.

Because inexplicably the internet has failed to yield me a pattern for the bathrobe I need to make for B.-- nothing says 'I appreciate you' like the Master's robe from Manos: The Hands of Fate, right? So clearly I will have to design it myself. I am pretty sure I can adapt some of the arithmetic in here into doing that. The key thing is not to let myself be frightened, because arithmetic is scary. But my cause is noble, so I'll let you know how it goes.

So many thanks to [personal profile] khyros for pointing me at the Aeolian shawl pattern. It was just what I wanted.

Yes, this book review is basically me bragging about my knitting. Sometimes these things work out that way?

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