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Knitting in Plain English Book Review

First published in 1996, Maggie Righetti’s Knitting in Plain English was revised in 2007. Hands down, this is simply one of the best books written about the craft. More than an instruction primer, this is a series of articles that range from project choice to blocking a finished piece. At 304 pages, this is an essential inclusion for any knitter’s library.

This book differs from others from the first chapter, where Righetti discusses the problem of picking an appropriate pattern. By starting here, she anchors her information with the fact that knitting is, first and foremost, about making useful objects, and many times sweaters. By understanding the way knitting patterns are photographed, and by knowing how to look at a pattern, even beginning knitters can create items that are wearable and flattering. This is great knowledge to have at any point in a crafting career, but especially helpful for those moving from scarves to sweaters, as they will be able to make discerning choices with the information Righetti provides.

The book is divided into three parts. The first, entitled “Before You Begin Knitting,” covers pattern, needle, and yarn choices, as well as an insightful discussion of gauge. The second, “Details, Details, Details,” goes into detail on such necessities as casting on, increasing, decreasing, buttonholes, and hems. Section Three, “After the Last Stitch is Worked”, talks about finishing and blocking. Finally, “Learning Lessons” gives a few projects suitable for beginner and intermediate knitters.

Righetti’s tone is blunt and straightforward, often opinionated; there are some ideas that more advanced knitters will disagree with (who says a sweater has to fit snugly at the bottom?); however, even when she is controversial, she is fun to read. While there are a few pictures in this book, it’s not designed as a visual reference; this may be problematic for those who want to see what they are trying to do. The pattern section is extremely simple, not nearly as exciting as those included in other books for beginning knitters. However, with these caveats, this is still an accessible, readable work by a knitting teacher with a great deal of information to share. It’s worth the time to at least check it out of the local library and peruse; after a chapter or two, most people looking to build a knitting reference library will undoubtedly want their own copies.

Righetti, Maggie. Knitting in Plain English. St Martin’s Griffin Press. 304 pages. ISBN: 978-0312353537.

Disclaimer: I purchased this book with my own funds. I have no connection to either the author or the publisher.

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