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Circular Knitting Redefined: Leave Those Straight Needles Behind Paperback – April 1, 2010
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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First, I personally do not define everything knitted on a circular needle as being circular knitting. I was taught to knit using circular needles and the only straight needles I use are dpn's. So, looking carefully at the book title I note that it says "Leave those straight needles behind". And that part's accurate. The majority of the projects are knit flat and seamed together just as if knit on straight needles.
On my first look through this book I estimated that more than one quarter of the projects are knit as flat pieces which are meant to be seamed together on the sides or at the shoulders and sleeves set in. Nope, I was wrong. Looking through the book again, I see even more sweaters knit in flat pieces. At first glance, I found only four sweaters for adults and one for a child knit completely in the round (I looked again, there are a few more). All the side-to-side sweaters are knit as large flat pieces seamed together. Several projects consist of tubes with knitted straps sewn on (all for little girls). There is a "mock moebius" cowl which can be untwisted and worn like a cowl so why not a real moebius scarf/cowl? It's not hard to do. One plain circular skirt for an adult. A couple of bags/purses. Oh,and pull-up long pants for a toddler.
Shaping is almost completely non-existent, not even with ribbing. There is one shawl collar knit with short rows. Since everything is basically shaped as squares, there's a lot of bagginess in some of the pieces.
The absolutely worst train wreck is the "Restauranteur Shawl" knitted flat and seamed together under the arms to produce arm holes. Look carefully at the photograph and you will see that in the front view the model's arms are pinned to her sides with arms crossed in front to hold in the billowing baggy shape at the back. You can see the potential bagginess to the side of the model's left arm. Recall Maggie Righetti's chapter one title in "Knitting in Plain English" - "You can always tell what's wrong with the garment by the way the model is posed, or slender five-foot-ten-inch models can look good in anything". Okay so it's just a batwing cape. I still don't like it.
I have my doubts about the "Aztec Top" pullover "based on the pretzel sweater concept", whatever that is. This sweater looks interesting, but again look at the model. If she walks a few steps, it's going to become an off-the-shoulder sweater and then possibly descend even lower.
Okay, did I like anything in this book? Yes, the "Jacob's Ladder" pullover knitted in two colors on the yoke with a single color vertical pattern on the yoke. It's kind of hard to see the details because it's knit in dark denim and dark gray, but it looks attractive. I also like the little boy's pullover knit from the bottom up with raglan sleeves "Shazzam Pullover" which appears to use self-striping yarn - only two different yarns are specified in the materials list.
Oh yes, and there is minimal instruction in techniques in the book.
There are much, much better books out there:
Knitting In Plain English by Maggie Righetti (now in a 2nd edition) teaches circular knitting from the get-go (Stupid Baby Sweater, her title; it's a learning piece). Be warned that Maggie is verbal, not visual.
Knitting from the Top by Barbara Walker will teach you how to knit circularly in one piece (no seaming) all the basic clothing shapes: pullover sweaters and cardigans with a variety of shoulders and sleeves, for example, saddle shoulder, raglan shoulders, turtlenecks, square necks,v-necks), pleated skirts, gathered skirts, ski pants, tights, flared pants, seamless set-in sleeves, ponchos, capes, caps, and more, (although no socks or gloves). However, this book assumes you already know basic knitting.
Current beautiful doable true circular knits:
Fitted Knits by Stephanie Japel
Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard
The book covers the basics of "back and forth" knitting, which is how you do cardigans and retain an open front, "bottom-up"--standard method for making tunics and pullovers, top down (a way to do sleeves and yokes and to fit while you are knitting) and "knitting in new directions" which includes sideways knitting and picking up along a piece to change directions--as in a yoke on top of a tube-shaped body piece. There is some seaming of parts, but the sewing is minimized by the circular knitting and knitting-up (knitting onto a part rather than sewing it on.)
There are 40 projects in the book, from shawls to shrugs, to tunics, hats, gloves, scarves and a very beautiful cabled tote bag. There are some kids' knits including pants, and accessories (felted bag, the tote I mentioned) and a zippered man's hoodie. MANY techniques are covered; entrelac, mosaic, cables, lace, felting, shaping. I plan to make the "Restauranteur's Shawl"--a sleeved shrug that looks like one of those throw-on sweaters you wear all the time. Sizes for women range from XS to XXL (up to 48-52 inch chest, depending on the project.)
The photos are large and clear, and there are schematics to show you the flat construction of the garment to give you an idea of how you are going to knit up the garment. The only thing I did not like were the choices of yarns and color schemes of many of the knits. I found a lot of the multi-colored yarns kind of ugly. But that is no reason not to buy the book, as you can find yarns of your own, swatch them and select a color scheme that pleases you more.
On the whole, I give this book a hearty five stars as any beginning or intermediate knitter will find something of value here to knit, whether a shell or toddler outfit, and the more experienced knitters will use these patterns as templates to customize the shapes to new designs of their own.