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90 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Pretty but of Limited Utility
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.