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Finishing School: A Master Class for Knitters Hardcover – October 4, 2011
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Here's my take on "Finishing School - a master class for knitters:"
1. The book itself is heavy and hardbound, but produced in such a way that it opens fully and stays open at any page you may be studying. Paper is also heavy and feels great.
2. The book is packed with illustrations. Most are photographs, but there are also line drawings to simplify the technique and help you understand clearly how to proceed.
3. Newton tackles sticky problems, like how to block lace without skewing or messing up your lovely pattern in other ways. Steaming and patting can go a long way! And if you ever thought to skip the hated step of knitting a gauge swatch, you'll be ashamed to do it again.
4. Ever wonder how to seam your new sweater so that it comes out looking professional? You'll learn a number of techniques here, including my least favorite -- grafting. And you'll feel better knowing that seams do not necessarily need to be hidden. Whew, that's a relief.
5. Newton devotes a big section to knitted edgings. You may already have seen a widely read book on knitted edges, but Newton makes it clear how to attach these fancy edgings to a garment. There's more than one way to kiss that pig.
6. Another large section addresses issues like buttons and pockets, along with felting, making easy linings, and more. I still have not conquered my fear of steeks, but with these instructions I may yet.
7. Newton has included workshops in most sections to help you apply the techniques you've just learned.
8. Finally, there are patterns -- gorgeous patterns for scarves, sweaters, bags. There are some real knockouts here.
Absolutely none, but there are caveats -- this is not a beginners knitting book. Enjoy the text and illustrations now, but shelve this book in your library until you've finally created something you need to finish!
I'm delighted, and I can't wait to finish my current project to get started on some of the patterns Newton presents. I cannot imagine any seriously addicted knitter who would not enjoy this book. How about as a present for a special occasion?
We've all spent a tour in Knitting Hell because the pattern author hired people to knit for them. Deborah shows us exactly what a good pattern should read like, and gives us little clues to let us know when the pattern author is clueless or if the pattern is simply a poor fit for our figure. I so love it when she empowers knitters by in effect saying; it's your time. You've spent a lot of money on yarn.
But if you're hoping for advice on all your finishing challenges, and want to make your knitting projects as professional-looking as possible, this isn't the book you're looking for. Weaving in ends? There's one tip for weaving in very short ends. But ways to weave ends in invisibly on different surfaces and fibers, so the finished project looks its best? Nothing. Blocking? Newton roughly describes how she steam-blocks, but doesn't go into detail about ways to make the most of the technique on a variety of projects, or how best to block or wash different fibers. She mentions wet blocking, but since it's not her preferred method, she doesn't give instructions. She notes that blocking wires exist, but says she's never used them, so doesn't offer any help with them. She often says something must be done "carefully," but doesn't go into what kind of care she means or what to be sure you don't do, or what will happen if you do it badly. And you'll look in vain for tips on making button bands and collars lie smooth and even, or knitting a neat, flat hem, or sewing in pocket linings so they don't show--all of which seem like finishing essentials to me.
This is also not a knitting pattern book. I didn't expect it to be, but it was a bit frustrating to find that many of the garments photographed to illustrated Newton's points were available...in other books and magazines for sale. The example patterns included in the book seemed perfunctory; I would rather have had that space filled with techniques and how-tos and step-by-step photos.
I did find some of the information I was looking for when I bought this book: on verypink.com, where you'll find many good on-line videos of finishing techniques for free. But this book, which I'd been looking forward to buying for many months, turned out to be a disappointment.