Customer Reviews: Cowl Girls: The Neck's Big Thing to Knit (Cathy Carron Collection)
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on April 3, 2005
While the designs and photographs in this book are absolutely beautiful, I don't know if any of the reviewers actually tried knitting anything. The book is filled with mistakes and typos! I tried to contact the publisher, but there is no listing in New York for Sixth & Spring Publishing. I finally found a phone number in a knitting magazine. They were not very pleasant, but did tell me to contact "" to get the corrections. The book does have a disclaimer about mistakes, but they should have tried knitting from their own instructions before publishing this expensive book!
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on May 4, 2006
Although I have been a fan of Nicky Epstein's other books, this one was a real disappointment. It is stunningly photographed--worthy of a coffeetable book, really--but the photographs are often blurry, set in dim lighting, and focus on the flowers at such strange angles it's hard to see what the finished object will look like--not useful in a knitting instruction book. The typeset is tiny; again, attractive to look at from afar, but hard to read when you're trying to follow a pattern and manage needles at the same time. Also, several of these patterns are already featured in her other books; much of it feels like a rehash. The directions seem too complicated for new knitters, although more experience knitters can worth through them with a bit of effort. It's a shame; just adding a couple of additional sentences to each one would have made a difference. There are a couple of things I might make, but this book is really not worth the money. I would definitely not buy it if I had to do it again. Save your pennies and buy new yarn instead.
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on March 10, 2005
How frustrating! I really wanted this beautiful book and finally got it. Poured over it for weeks and then I got the time to concentrate and actually try out the patterns. Try as I might, I COULD NOT EXECUTE THE PATTERNS! I am a grandmother who has been knitting since I was a kid, armed with my "Handook of Knitting" and ready to understand abbreviations, etc. YET.... I found that the amount of cast-ons at the start of the edgings I tried did not match up with the directions on the first rows. For instance, if it said "Cast on 9" - when I went to do the first pattern row, the instructions always went past those 9 stitches and I could not complete that first row.

I am utterly frustrated and crying out for help. Someone PLEASE HELP!
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on August 4, 2005
Anyone hesitating if Nicky Epstein's second book on knitting borders is worthwhile - worry no more. As her personal intro says, "...completely new...", it is a wonderfully fresh, new addition to her first collection. And, there are many of these new edgings - this is not a skinny, part 2 type of follow up book.

The format of the book is the same - clear concise swatch photos, wonderful use of yarns to highlight stitches, and a larger section on color knitting. You will be able to customize your knitting w. ease since the edging patterns details are clear and concise. The author gives a wonderful intro on texture and size as a jump start point for you. The edgings are organized in logical style categories w. a fresh idea of one, "Noveau" added - it stays true to its title.

As in the first book, patterns highlighting her new edgings are included. The patterns are like palettes for her fantastc new collection of edgings. This one is a keeper, for sure!
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VINE VOICEon July 20, 2008
You can be sure that any book by Nicky Epstein is a good one, and this is one is good. Crocheters mostly use borders for trimming afghans, but many of the innovative ones here are perfect for embellishing clothing.

The frontispiece photo is of a gorgeous small afghan that is a true crochet tour de force -- but it is made up of a large variety of spectacular motifs and medallions and has little to do with borders. Once again the publisher has followed its policy of "don't tell the customer what is in the book" because the cover doesn't let you know tht you get not only borders but instructions for some wonderful garments, Many people now buy books on line and don't have an opportunity to see a contents page or glance through to see what's inside.

The book begins with one border which is photographed worked in many different types, textures and weights of yarn, which is a great graphic demonstration of how yarn choice changes the look of a pattern.

I think one of the author's intents is to show knitters how to use crocheted borders on knitted projects, so the next section is four pages of kntted squares, each edged with a different crocheted border. This too is a great idea, except that the borders were mostly worked onto the knitting in such a way that they distort the
shape of the knitted pieces. This might discourage some knitters from even trying to add a crocheted border.
There is a way to avoid distortion, but no help in doing this is provided.

Then the section on borders begins -- and not only are there written instructions, but complete symbol diagrams for each one. Thank you, thank you! The section starts with the most uninteresting borders,
but don't get discouraged: they get better as you go along. THe designs range from frilly to fun to elaborate to simple-but-lovely.

The garment patterns are near the end of the book. They are all crocheted, but the patterns are written in the typical knitting pattern style (tell them as little as possible) instead of the more expansive and detailed style crocheters are accustomed to. But with symbol diagrams also provided, most crocheters will

Unless the knitter or crocheter who uses this book is very experienced, they may run into trouble. Little help is given for how to work stitches such as reverse single crochet, a technique which gives many crocheters a lot of trouble. When this is called for in a pattern, there is just a cryptic note saying "see page TK". This page was referenced for technical help a couple of times,but I could find no page TK. Maybe it's just my bad eyesight!

On page 195 is a section headed TECHNIQUES where I assumed to find crochet technique help, but all that was there was how to make lazy daisy and French knot embroidery stitches. At least one border is done in Tunisian crochet, so you better already know how to do it if you want to make that border.

If you are not an experienced crocheter, better brush up on your skills before you add this beautiful book to
your library. And don't give it to your favorite knitter for Christmas unless you know she crochets!
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on July 30, 2013
The photos and ideas for the projects are great but I was disappointed with this book. The most popular 18" doll is American Girl but the doll used for the book was a Madame Alexander doll. This doll is 1" smaller in the hips and shoulders so if you knit the patterns as is some of the clothes do NOT fit the American Girl doll.

Five women in my knitting group bought the book and we've started knitting some of the outfits. We've discovered errors in some of the patterns. Don't know how many more we'll discover as we work our way through the book. Went to the publisher's website and discovered some of the errors had been posted. I emailed them about another error and that has been posted as well.

Visiting the publisher's website is an eye opener. Their page of corrections to patterns in their books is incredible. Can't believe they publish books without testing the patterns from the "proof" or whatever it is called before publication.

Another comment from my knitting group is about the yarns used in some of the outfits. We would prefer a yarn type or weight be listed as opposed to a specific yarn especially if it is a specialty yarn. It would be easier to substitute if you wanted to as some of the yarns are quite expensive. Fine if you are knitting a project for yourself but not exactly suitable to make for a child to play with.
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on November 4, 2010
I was chomping at the bit for this book to come out because I love knitting and wearing neck warmers. But I don't know about the rest of you knitters but I'm frustrated when a knit designer who publishes is tied to the yarn manufacturer's that she uses and doesn't even list the weight of the yarn used in the pattern for substitutions. Really now, how many of us can find all of this yarn locally or even want to use the same yarn called for in patterns? By the time you add up the cost of one bulky to super bulky cowl in this book you have spent over $50.00 in yarn and that seems like alot for a cowl. The majority of these patterns are gorgeous but in high priced bulky yarns, very few in worsted weight. The formatting is confusing but tolerable and it is inspiring eye candy. Never-the-less, I'm determined to make several of the patterns because they are simply smashing designs.
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on September 28, 2005
I would give this book 10 stars if I could, it's just that great!

The popular author of Knitting on the Edge now offers a new book for knitters: Knitting over the Edge. The subject of both books is, predictably, creative edges for knitwear. In this valuable reference, you'll find more than 350 decorative borders for knitted garments of all types.

The lush American Beauty Capelet featured on the cover is just a hint of the treasures you'll find within. Honestly, you could spend a lifetime exploring the exotic ribs, cords, appliqués, and patterns offered by this extraordinarily creative and talented knitter and author.

Beautiful as this book is, however, you'll also find lots of meat inside: plenty of diagrams, concise instructions, close-up photos of knitted edges, and gorgeous, irresistible designs.

Highly recommended for knitters of all skill levels.

-Sharilyn Miller, author of Bead on a Wire
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on September 11, 2012
I love Nicky Epstein and own several of her books, including all of the Knitting on the Edge books, the book of blocks and the book of flowers for knitting and crochet, so writing this tepid review of her latest work that I pre-ordered is not a task undertaken lightly or without thought.

First for the good, as always, the instructions to make the circles and the patterns included are comprehensive and clear and cover everything from lace to eyelets to colorwork both stranded and intarsia. I decided to keep this book just for the circular patterns which might come in handy at some point. The instructions to put the garments together are a lot less clear and this is the first of my problems with the work. Putting together a garment after knitting and blocking and ending with a garment that is attractive and wearable is no small task. Gauge is more important than beginning knitters know and blocking and seaming have entire books devoted to getting it right and here I am referring to putting together a four piece sweater or a five piece cardigan with regular shapes that go together without any spaces between the seam lines.

The projects in this book have a far larger number of components and the knitter will have to put together as many as ~twenty pieces (the dress) in different sizes and gauges and cope with the holes left by the very nature of seaming circles. Indeed, many of the "circles" are blocked into ovals to cope with this difficulty. I honestly believe that any knitter not of the caliber of Nicky Epstein would have trouble ending with anything that anybody wanted to wear. Furthermore, many knitters chronically avoid the finishing work, having more pieces and those pieces irregular is going to make that problem worse.

Finally, beyond the technical problems that I honestly believe will daunt even the advanced and accomplished knitter is the projects themselves: in my opinion very few of them are that attractive. The capelets and pullovers in bulky yarns end up looking bulky and dumpy and even with a knitter of Nicky's talent and experience the technical challenges of working with circles are apparent in design and finished product. The scarves require the seaming of several pieces and are not inspiring enough to justify the additional work - especially when there are literally countless numbers of scarf patterns that are beautiful and require little to no seaming - knitting on a lace edge (itself not an easy task) is usually the most difficult technical issue with scarves or shawls - here difficulty is added to no benefit. Nor was the obvious use of circles for scarves (e.g. seaming the lovely lace or colorwork circles end to end to form a scarf) weren't explored. The adventurous knitter and the first time knitter in circles might actually try this as a skill builder, but no skill builders are included. Even using the admittedly attractive circle patterns as an edge treatment for a sweater, dress or skirt requires a lot of advanced construction and finishing techniques that most knitters will find overwhelming.

All in all, I found Knitting in Circles to be a rare miss from a genius knitter and only a knitter of Nicky Epstein's accomplishment and experience could have made the challenge of working entirely in circles result in any viable and viewable projects. The rest of us may be up a creek or spend years with a bag of knitted circles that are never put together. For those intrigued by Nicky Epstein I recommend Epstein's Knitting on the Edge series, books that I have used in several successful designs and that include lovely, wearable designs that are within the skills of the average to advanced knitter.
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on May 22, 2008
I want to preface this with the fact that I love Nicky Epstein's designs. I get withdrawal waiting for new books. But...

Her instructions SUCK! The best example I have of this is the "Fiesta Flower Handbag". I had many many issues with this (while I was trying to make it for my mother for mother's day no less).

First of all, the required yarn amounts are WAY off. You need 5 skeins of the MC, at least three of the green and two of each of the pink and grape. I had to stop twice to wait on ordered (my LYS is over 92 miles away) yarn (still waiting on some now actually). And for the first time in my life I actually used the recommended yarn for something!!!

Secondly, there is not PRE-felting guage or main panel measurements! How can I figure out if I have even remotely the right size if I have to finish and felt the dang thing before I can measure it. I'm just hoping its close.

Thirdly, the florettes on the handle fold just do not look like the picture, no matter how I read it or try to figure it out (and I am a Master Crocheter) it doesn't look like the picture.

Fourthly, the pictures!!! The instructions tell you to use the picture as a guide, but it only has ONE! There is no picture of the side pockets, even though the instructions say to use it as a guide!!!
Fifthly, the instructions tell you to edge each piece with pink, while clearly in the (one) picture, one panel is edged in the grape!

Sixthly, there is no instruction for closing the bottom of the side pocket! Now granted, you most likely could figure it out, but she goes into great detail as to the edging (for example every corner turn is slowly spelled out to go along the edge and single crochet 3 times in every corner...four times! I think we got it the first time Nicki!!) Besides the fact is that if you got that far, I'm sure you have done that before and its almost automatic! Most crocheters have made simple dishcloths where this is (in my experience) the way EVERY SINGLE one is done!

Lastly, the fact that except for the slightly goofy ear-flap hat and this handbag, the rest of the apparel patterns are really freaky looking, from the wedding dress with huge floppy beaded yarn blobs or the giant messy neck piece or the completely bizarre opera gloves (who really would wear these anywhere but a costume party) are just WEIRD. And don't tell me they could easily be worn by Paris Hilton or some other Hollywood skank, they wouldn't TOUCH them unless they wanted to make the worst dressed list(might finally bump Bjork and her swan dress off the list!)

I won't even bore you with the myriad of typos and just plain confusedness of the flower patterns. And I really can say that about ALL of her books and patterns.

Please Nicky, fire your testers and editors, call me! I am completely zealous when it comes to succinct and accessible instructions, and I bet you a buck that I would be cheaper than the ones you used for this book.

I absolutely love having this book for inspiration. Nicky gets an A+ for inspiration and a C- for execution. So only spend your money if you have the time and patience to sit and play with the patterns. And always double the yarn requirements

If you aren't extremely comfortable with crochet, remember that you might hit some speedbumps and need a little help.
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