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Book Review: A to Z of Knitting by Martingale & Co. and Stitch Style: Bags by C&B Crafts

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A to Z of Knitting: The Ultimate Guide for the Beginner to Advanced Knitter by the Martingale Company is a thorough but standard “learn to knit book.” It starts at the beginning – literally, opening with a history of knitting. From there, the book walks you through the things you need to learn before you cast on: needles, yarn fibers and textures, sundry tools and accessories, abbreviations and how to read patterns and charts. It even tells you different ways to hold the yarns and needles.

I am not fond of the cast on section. It begins by stating that all cast ons must begin with a slipknot, which is not true. The most commonly used cast on, the long-tail method, uses no knot, and is not taught in this book. However, the rest of the instructions are tops. Other tutorials include: basic knit and purl stitches, increases, decreases, ribbing, buttonholes, bobbles, cables, adding beads and sequins, fair isle, entralac, short rows, lace, looped knitting, knitting in the round, embroidery and decorative stitching, multiple methods of correcting mistakes, grafting and seaming, blocking, fringe and tassel, pom-poms, and caring for your knit garments. The photographs are clear and easy to follow – and all in color. You would be surprised at how many knitting books only have sketches or black and white photos. Each technique also comes with a photo of a finished swatch, so you know what it is supposed to look like.

Ready to move on to a project or two? Try Stitch Style: Bags from C&B Crafts. This portable volume has 20 different patterns to knit or crochet. “Tweed Tote” is a small handbag with a bobble texture and bracelet handles. “Duffle Bag” uses horizontal stripes and double ribbing make this the perfect laundry bag. “Chevron Holder” is a great crochet tote with bold chevron stripes. “Fair Isle Book Bag” is a cute boho bag, but frankly, it doesn’t look tough enough for books. “Uber Bag” is a huge shoulder bag with variegated yarn. “Lace Evening Purse” is delicate and has a vintage feel. The satin lining is good reinforcement. “Tweedy Shopper” is a good-sized carry-all, but the stupid knit ruffle along the top turns this into a child’s purse. “Fair Isle Carpet Bag” is a good size, but the super bulky yarn does not show off fair isle very well. “Black and White Evening Bag” is a simple little top-handle, dressed up with a knit flower, and button and lace embellishments. All in all, a cute little book that is best suited for teens.

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