Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard, photography by Thayer Allyson Gowdy, pub. Stewart, Tabori and Chang (STC Craft), 2014.
I love stitch dictionaries. I read them like novels. My husband often looks up after I sigh, gasp, or even giggle, wondering what I'm reading.
I lift my chin, trying not to look embarrassed, and reveal my weakness---yes, I am reading an encyclopedic list of stitch patterns. And I don't just look at the beautiful swatch photos, I read the pattern to discover what tricks are employed in the lace, the cable, the ruffle, the pleat.
But the swatch photos are indeed beautiful. Stitches stand out, lace patterns are clearly visible, texture is true. I had the good fortune to see a digital copy of a late draft of this book and witness the superior care that went into its editing---comments calling for increased detail in a photo or correction of a swatch's shadow placement were not uncommon. This is an example of the kind of attention that makes STC Craft books outshine others in their category.
What makes this dictionary special is that each stitch pattern comes with multiple sets of instructions. Directions are given for knitting flat and in the round, and patterns that are asymmetrical along the horizontal axis have directions for knitting top-down and bottom-up. Each pattern is presented with an accompanying swatch photo and, if applicable, a chart or charts. The format is extremely readable and it's easy to associate the photo with the instructions.
Although this is a stitch dictionary, we are treated to one complete design in each chapter plus an entire section of the appendix on designing from scratch.
Garments are given in a generous range of sizes, but the hat and sock patterns do not include sizes I could wear. That's okay, since I can easily substitute stitch patterns that will result in sizes to fit my big head and small feet. If I run into any trouble with this, the appendix will help.
The swatches are color coded in tonal families, delineating each chapter without making them look monotonous. The chapters are knits and purls; ribs; textured, slipped, and fancy stitches; yarnovers and eyelets; cables; lace; color work; hems and edgings; and projects.
Little things, like the charting symbols that decorate the spine and the page footers, help make this book exceptional. The coated spiral binding allows the open book to lie flat without presenting a danger to knitting fingers.
Books such as the Barbara Walker Treasuries contain hundreds more patterns but often have ancient black and white photos. Up, Down, All-Around is a wonderful supplement to these, enabling us to not only work the patterns in different directions, but (with a little imagination) to mentally enhance the dated photos.
I recommend this dictionary for folks interested in the mechanics of transformation as well as knitters looking to personalize (or improvise!) a garment or accessory.
Disclosure: Stewart, Tabori & Chang sent Kangath a free copy of this book for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are solely the blog author's.
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