Friday, August 18, 2006

It'll keep you in stitches

My recent unpacking of stuff out of storage reunited me with one of the best knitting resources I've ever had: Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns. If you like to knit, it's absolutely worth the investment.

First published nearly 40 years ago, this book -- all 300 pages of it -- has straightforward, easy-to-understand instructions for hundreds and hundreds of different knitting stitches. And lest you feel overwhelmed by the choices, make note what the author wrote in the forward in 1968:

"...suppose that you are a novice knitter or one who has done only 'plain knitting ' for years and imagines that 'all that fancy work is too complicated.' It is important, then, for you to realize that many of the most attractive patterns are astonishingly simple to do. All the pattern stitches in this book can be done by anyone who knows just four basic knitting operations: how to knit, how to purl, how to make a yarn-over stitch and how to use a cable needle."

True to her word, Ms. Walker keeps everything easy. She organizes the stitches into basic categories - from simple knit-purl combinations and color-change patterns to eyelet patterns, fancy-texture patterns, cables and even lace.

Her brief commentary on each stitch (and ways to use it) is both helpful and charming. Few of us will probably be knitting the lace gloves or winter suits she sometimes mentions. But it's great to know which stitches are reversible, have little elasticity (or a lot), or feature "a pleasing texture of horizontal corrugations," as she writes about the Roman Rib Stitch.

In fact, the Roman Rib stitch worked out nicely on the little blanket I knit last week as Dan and I drove to Cincinatti and back. I'm so glad to have this book close at hand again!

To double your fun, check out the Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, too. Both are classics, and you'll never be at a loss for knitting inspiration again.

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