Guest Author - Lisa Linnell-Olsen
Finishing is one of the most important parts of knitting, it can make or break a garment. If a knitter wants their knitting to have the mark of a quality piece, understanding finishing techniques is critical. Deborah Newton’s book Finishing School is a good choice if you are looking to develop or improve your finishing skills.
There are already several books available about finishing. This one has a few stand out points that make it a valuable contribution to the existing knitting literature. First is the books overall appearance. It is more than just a technique book, it is also one of the quality hardcover knitting books full of beautiful knitting eye candy that you want to leave laying around so you can enjoy the pictures at your own whim.
Newton’s book has several nice patterns. Some of the patterns included are for lace and cabled scarves, a lace tunic, an embellished cardigan, children’s pullover sweaters, a fair isle cardigan, a fitted women’s sweater made from large colored blocks, and even a bag that is made from an upcycled sweater. Each pattern is used to demonstrate finishing techniques detailed in the book. There are a good variety of patterns here, some are knitted flat and seamed, and some sweaters are knitted in the round. Steeking sweaters is covered. Steeking is a relatively simple finishing technique that many knitters find intimidating since it involves cutting their project. This is a good guide that gives dressmaker level attention to the steeking process.
Newton does an excellent job of showing how the finishing process begins in the actual planning of a knitting project. The lace tunic is shown knitted in two totally different yarns, showing how just the yarn choice alone can drastically change the outcome of a sweater. A number of tips are sprinkled throughout the text, for every stage of the process. For example, Newton suggests that knitters evaluate a pattern also for the finishing techniques provided before they even begin knitting. She advises knitters to get or make a dress form. I had never though of using a dress form for finishing sweaters before. Now I am looking forward to making a simple duct tape one so that I can lightly steam sweaters to perfection on it.
The book is very well organized. Chapters are given for each stage of the finishing process. Chapter 1 covers pattern selection, tools and knitting a proper swatch that will actually let you know how the various stitches, edges and yarn you have selected will work together. Chapter 2 covers blocking and shows pictures of lace and cables before and after proper blocking. Chapter 3 is on seaming, and gives excellent, professional level methods to getting your seams right in your sweaters, including working with the shoulder caps. Chapter 4 covers edgings, which can both embellish your knitting and change the way your knitted fabric drapes and behaves. Chapter 5 covers closures such as buttons, zippers and pockets. I will be sewing a zipper into the sweater I am currently working on, and I know feel like I understand what I will need to do when I get there. The instructions in the pattern for my home project were not written with enough detail. I feel much more confident about adding zippers into my knitting. The final Chapter goes into special techniques including altering sweaters for size and adding linings. Linings is another technique I have seen on very high-quality for sale sweaters that I want to try and now feel like I have the guidance to do a proper job of it. Each technique is clearly explained and proper visuals are given to ensure that the reader understands the technique.
Overall, this is an excellent guide to finishing techniques and pattern book for anyone who wants more information about quality finishing techniques.
I purchased this book with my own funds.
Here is a link to purchase the book from Amazon.com:
Finishing School: A Master Class for Knitters