Circular Knitting Workshop by Margaret Radcliffe, photography by John Polak, pub. Storey Publishing, 2012.
This book is astoundingly thorough. I started looking at it, thinking it would be a quick review. Months later I am only half way through.
There are two main sections, Circular Knitting Techniques and Workshop Projects. I guessed the major portion of material would be in the Techniques section, leaving very little to review in the Projects section.
Ha! Ha ha! Ha ha ha!
The projects progress from simple scarves to steeked sweaters, and get this: they come with sidebars explaining how to customize for size or gauge, how to work variations, how to measure gauge in ribbing, how to work a top-down piece from the bottom up or a center-out piece from the outside in, and on and on. Radcliffe's instructional style is direct and generally unbiased. She doesn't assume any particular base of knowledge, but never condescends, even when reviewing something covered earlier.
But let's focus on the half of the book I actually read.
After a short and informative introduction, Radcliffe spends over 20 pages discussing casting on. Helpful photos accompany the clearly worded text.
She covers the various types of needles used in circular knitting; joining without twisting; cast-on problems; basic, stretchy, closed center, and closed straight cast ons; two versions of hem; and casting onto work in progress.
When discussing doubling the stitches of a straight-line cast on in preparation for knitting in the round, she neglects to mention the "k1, sl 1 to another needle" method of continuing after the row of kfbs. She slips all the stitches off the needle, divides them into fronts and backs, then slips all the fronts onto one needle and all the backs onto another. She mentions ways of making this less scary, but I think I'll stick to knitting and slipping.
Then she discusses how to work with each type of needle introduced in Chapter 1, including how to swatch. There follows over 20 pages on finishing techniques. Last in this section is a wonderful chapter on converting flat to circular covering knitting from charts, special issues with pattern stitches, disguising the jog, and converting garment instructions. All very useful information, well organized and laid out.
One issue on which she and I disagree is the issue of fit. She lists it as a reason to knit flat, saying tailored garments "can be made circularly, but they require short-row shaping." This is not true, as anyone who has worked Barbara Walker's simultaneous set-in sleeve (using increases) or SusieM's contiguous method can verify. In fact, working circularly enables the knitter to work the entire garment in one piece, making it easier to try on and fit.
But that's a small issue in the context of an invaluable book. I recommend it heartily for anyone wanting an introduction to circular knitting or an intellectual, systematic approach. I recommend it for designers interested in the whys of one way versus another. It is also exemplary reading for anyone (not just knitters) looking to write instructional text. Thank you, Margaret Radcliffe!
Disclosure: Kangath reviewed a copy of Circular Knitting Workshop from her library. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Storey Publishing or Margaret Radcliffe.
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