The Mitten Handbook by Mary Scott Huff, photographs by Lesley Unruh, pub. Abrams, 2017.
This unassuming paperback is one of the best books about knitting and designing mittens that I have ever read.
Oh yes, there are patterns at the end of the book if you want to knit Huff's irresistibly cute/gorgeous/original designs. But the book begins with an overview of the design process and some pro tips.
Part 1, "Designing Your Own Mittens," names the components of a mitten, covers gauge and size, looks at design theory (of color, texture, proportion, and repetition), and provides a list of some common types of mittens (various ethnic or technique-based). Included is a design worksheet (with a sample completed one as well as a blank one to photocopy) that directly translates to a pattern (along with a sample of how that works).
Part 2, "Components," is a dictionary of edges, cuffs, thumbs, and tops. The beginning of each category gives an overview of the component's purpose, feel, and potential for visual impact ("The top of your mitten does more than cover your fingers"). The entries include notes (top-down or bottom-up, left/right interchangeable, etc.) as well as tips for customization and easier or neater working of the particular element.
The introduction to Part 3, "Techniques," includes advice on how best to use online videos to learn new skills. The techniques themselves are not what you might expect: Measuring, Ease, Gauge and Swatches, Choosing Yarns, and Mitten Architecture (comprising Knitting Direction and Needle Configuration). I appreciate starting with measuring as a technique to be explored. It is the first, most basic step.
Part 4, "Patterns," takes up the majority of the pages. For me, this book is less about the designs and more about the design process. For others, I can imagine that while the opening material might be interesting, Huff's adorable mittens take center stage.
I heartily recommend this book for anyone interested in knitting or designing mittens...for any age group!
Disclosure: The publisher sent Kangath a review copy of this book. Kangath was not otherwise compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in Kangath's reviews are her own.
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