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on January 2, 2003
I am part of the new generation of knitters so I had never seen the famous Sweater Workshop, only heard about it. So, when it was reprinted, I bought a copy immediately.
First reaction: Wow
Jacqueline Fee has created an incredible, complex-yet-simple system for creating seamless sweaters from the bottom up. All you need is your yarn and some basic math skills to make one-of-a-kind creations that you are sure to love since you designed them.
First though, is the sampler. It's sort of like sweater boot camp. Everything you could need to make a basic sweater. Yes, it's true, it does look rather silly but what fun! I hung mine up on my wall for inspiration.
With the sampler done, you're ready to start knitting your own sweater. This is whrer the fun begins.
Advice to newly designing knitters is sprinkled throughout the book and is greatly appreciated. We learn how to make perfect k1 twisted, p1 ribbing in the round, how many stitches should be in various sleeve styles and learn the glories of the reversable knitted belt. Then there is a whole section on making your sweater unique, by playing with color, using music to make a striping sequence (!) or using yarns that were not meant for knitter. A wealth of information and a great bibliography to back it up.
Fee has a chatty, outspoken writing style that is easy and enjoyable to read. She had plenty of knitting opinions that may open up new options. (I too am an English-style knitter who doesn't mind purling!) Naturally, I don't agree with absolutely everything (I am very fond of my interchangable tip knitting needle set) but it is refreshing to hear new opinions.
Not all of the designs pictured in the book appealed to me personally but what does it matter since we will be customizing our own? This and the fact that I am a big spiral-binding fan are the only reservations I have about this book. Other than that, a wonderful book for knitters!
So, if you have ever had any thought of knitting your own sweaters or if you have some yarn you bought on sale but can't find a pattern for, I hope you will try this book.
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I've knitted for years. But I found this book really useful for the following reasons:
1. The sweater "sampler" is a fun project to learn decreases, increases, the effect of types of ribbings on shape, how to do edgings and more--all in one handy reference project. When it's finished, it looks like a fish that mated with a windsock but that makes it fun to mystify your friends. Hang it proudly where people can see and exclaim over it.
2. You can knit any sweater you like--cardigan, pullover, raglan, using a percentage system that Jackie Fee explains (based on the original by Eliz. Zimmermann.)
3. You can knit anything in any yarn in any gauge and size you want. So this is a great thing for designers and those who spin their own yarns.
I can't think of anyone who knits who wouldn't benefit from this book. It should be a "must" in your knitting library. I hoarded my copy and was really glad to see this back in print because now I can share it with my friends who want to learn.
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on January 11, 2003
I'm a new knitter and had made a few sweaters in patterns from various sources - this book (almost) makes we want to throw every other book and magazine away. The sweater I made with Fee's instructions (and I admit - shamefaced - that I didn't do the sampler first) came out with a finished look and a great fit, which can't be said of my previous attempts (though they're wearable and I love them). Best of all, I acquired more skills and insight with this one sweater than I did in all my previous knitting. I will continue to peruse other books and mags, but just for ideas for variations to apply to Fee's basic instructions.
:-) But first I'm going to do the sampler!!
NOTE TO PUBLISHERS: Can you see we're all annoyed when you don't make books available in spiral-bound format?? Sure, we seem to buy them anyway ... but you're not doing yourselves any favor by forcing craftspeople to struggle with books that don't open flat. Ditto for cookbooks. (A spiral-bound format for this book was supposedly published, but just try to find one!)
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on January 29, 2005
We all have our favorite ways of knitting, and the limitations we like to put on ourselves.

The author is of the opinion that there can only be raglan sleeved, seamless sweaters knit on circular needles or double point needles. Straight needles are a curse, and pieced sweaters with seams and inset sleeves are a pox on the land.

And you must make this hideous little hat sized tube to learn her techniques.

I decided to go along with this dogma, instead of returning the book which was my first impulse upon seeing the positively wretched sample sweaters in it. One would not wear such things if paid to do so.

Then I made the sampler. I cannot tell you how much I learned from this book in two days. I am an experienced if not an expert knitter, yet I had no idea I could learn so much from one book, and an author whose idea of knitting totally excluded my favorite design shapes and knitting tools.

I forgave the author her ugly sweaters, her prejudices against straight needles and her belief that button front jackets (cardigans) are really a waste of time, and a good sweater does not open in the front except for that ugly Henley placket. But what a clever way she has of making that placket! Positively ingenious.

So, if you learn by doing, if you can read through a lot of words to find the next step of the instructions, you will learn from this book at least the following useful things:

How to try on a sweater early on so you do not waste days to make something totally the wrong size,

How to start a placket opening in round knitting,

How to decrease and increase,

How to do short rows, but not why

How to do two color knitting and follow a chart,

How to convert your knitting techniques between flat knitting and round knitting.

How to make tiny, eyelet-like, but neat buttonholes,

How to graft a sleeve in and continue as one piece,

How to make a reversible sweater (not one of my life's goals but interesting).

And you probably will be able to make up your own sweaters, as long as they are raglan sleeved classic "jumpers", or button front cardigans (It's a great day in the neighborhood style!). You might also want to make that great hooded sweatshirt with the kangaroo pocket.

The trouble with all these ugly, and dated designs is that you can buy a hooded sweatsuit that looks like this for about $10 at the local athletic wear store, or get similar raglan sweaters as "drifters" from Land's End in 25 colors.

So learn to knit from this book, there is a lot of good utilitarian information in there. But you are not learning how to design anything hip or stylish from this book, that is for sure.
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on July 6, 2005
Like some knitters out there, I became increasingly frustrated with the patterns availble for sweaters. It seems like the designers think a large is someone with a bust measurement of 42". As someone from a family of over 42" busts, I was very disappointed to find a pattern I wanted to knit, only to discover that it wasn't big enough. I began to think that there must be some way to mathematically calculate percentages to alter the patterns to my meausrements. I began my search for this, only to find exactly what I didn't know I was looking for. The Sweater Workshop has brought out the designer in me, and given me a freedom I had only dreamed of. I made a cardigan sweater for my aunt in late summer, a vee-neck pullover for my grandfather for Christmas, and I just learned how to knit in the spring! Knitting in the round is the way to go! I have lent this book out, only to beg for it back again, I seemingly can't live with out it! (My friend went on to purchase her own copy.)

I encourage anyone who is interested in breaking free from the pre-fab patterns available from yarn manufacturers to check out this book, you won't be sorry.
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on March 4, 2003
I avoided getting this book for a while because I really do not wear the boxy style sweaters shown in this book. Even when I leafed through the book, I did not see a sweater I wanted to sit down and invest the time to make.
I have to say that I'm really glad I took the time to read the reviews for this book. The fact is, this book is not meant to be a book of patterns to follow, it is a book that teaches you the skills to make whatever darn sweater your heart desires. The point is to learn to make a seamless sweater embellished as you please, in the shape you desire.
As is mentioned in most of the reviews, there is a sampler to be done which is well worth the time, for countless reasons. You'll learn various techniques you can apply both to your own designs or to other patterns you find.
The book is well written and time tested.
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on June 15, 2005
This is a great, invaluable knitting book. In the first few chapters, Jacqueline Fee actually took the time to explain the differences in knitting flat and in the round.

The author favors knitting in the round, which is logical since you do not have to deal with seams. Most books and yarn companies design their patterns "flat"; this is because the designs are proofed on knitting machines that can only knit flat. Sometimes one wonders if a lot of the flat patterns sold in yarn stores were ever tested by human knitters since a lot of them have mistakes.

"The Sweater Worskshop" teaches you the basic, intermediate and advanced techniques necessary for designing and knitting a sweater by having you knit a sampler object that looks like a sock. The sampler actually takes you through the most important techniques needed in order to knit sweaters in the round. If you do the sampler, you can knit the sweaters and design your own. Using Elizabeth Zimmerman's percentage system, the author also explains how to adapt your needle size and yarn to any project. Contrary to popular belief, you really do not have to stick to the yarns and needles dictated by commercial patterns as long as you have the knowledge to make the adjustments. This book provides you with this liberating and eye-opening knowledge.

Granted, the designs are old fashioned; however, after mastering the techniques in the book, you can design your own sweaters without having to depend on other people's designs. Ms. Fee's explanation of the chain selvedge alone is worth the price of the book.

Again, this is a great and essential book for the knitter, and especially for those who would like to knit sweaters. You will never go back to knitting flat after using this book. Of course you will need to supplement it with other knitting books. I recommend purchasing the spiral bound version, since it lays flat while you are knitting.
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on June 30, 2002
I began knitting with this book (first edition in 1983) and was able to tackle fairly complicated patterns is no time. When this new revision was published I just had to have it and it is even more thorough than the first book. The author takes you step by step through each stitch explaining how it works and why you may want to use it, as you knit a sampler (which sort of resembles a sweater for a fish). But it's a great learning tool and fun to make. You'd probably have to make 25 or so sweaters (with lots of trial and error) to learn all the techniques in this one sampler. The book also contains simple patterns that you can modify to suit yourself and teaches you the basics of sweater design. This is a must have for a beginner and intermediate knitter.
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on August 15, 2006
If I could give more stars, I would. For beginning knitters this must be the most useful sweater book on the market. It really is a workshop: Jacqueline Fee guides you through the sampler (fantastic idea - you get to try all techniques with one skein and in one weekend) and then a plain sweater (which I skipped - I immediately applied the "plain" instructions to the steps and moss sweater) - every step's why and how is explained in detail. All you need to know before starting is how to knit and purl - cast-on is described, as are all the other techniques necessary for the sweater.

The earlier in your knitting career you get this book, the more you will profit from it. Experienced knitters will notice that there are techniques missing that they might want to use (for example, there's only one technique for increases). The raglan-sleeved sweater knitted in the round is the only type presented, but there are different sleeve variations, different necklines and how to do a cardigan.

So, this is not the ultimate sweater reference book (that might be "Knitting in the Old Way" and/or "Sweater Design in Plain English"). This is the ultimate "how do I knit my first sweater if I hate following patterns and don't have anybody to ask questions" book. I found everything I needed to knit my sweater (the second ever - the first one was knitted 20 years ago with the help of my Mom) without ever having to check other sources. This book is one of the best buys I've ever made!
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on March 23, 2005
I have been a knitter stuck knitting scarves and doll blankets for years now - too confused by all the different techniques to knit more than one color or shape anything, or heaven forbid knitting any fancy stitches....well, thanks to this book, I UNDERSTAND knitting-!!! The little details left out in other books are included in this book in a clear conversational style - as if the author was sitting next to you explaining what to do. I learned more from the sampler of knitting techniques - for which directions and instructions take up the first half of the book - than anything else I've read or knitted - it is so well worth making-!! It is true there are very few sweaters included in this book that I would actually make, but that is not the true value of this book - it is in the knowledge and experience gained and understanding this art form well enough to create, design, and adapt on your own.
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