On Valentine's Day I got an email from a man ... it was actually someone from the publisher, Stitch Craft Create in the UK, telling me about this new book: Knit the Alphabet: Quick and Easy Alphabet Knitting Patterns by Claire Garland. I remember saying to my sister in law over Valentine's Day dinner that I really didn't think I would review it, because knitting little things and stuffing them -- even before I had my stroke -- weren't really my cup of tea. Some of my loyal readers will recall an unfortunate pre-Ravelry Easter incident now known as "Frankenbunny". It was frightening.
But the more I thought of it, the more I thought of all the cool gifts I could make with the many, many odd balls that I have stashed over the years. And the many, many Kindergarten and early childhood teachers that I know who would love this book, the people I know who are in the print business who decorate their houses with letters, the owners of boats who would love the name of their boat in their house or on the boat, the parents of smart little kids who would like things besides enormous stuffed giraffes and giant jaguars ... so I said I would review the book! Stitch Craft Create has very generously offered a giveaway -- a copy of the book too! Details at the end of my post!
I started out my review thinking I would knit a word, a name maybe. Maybe my name -- Beth. It's short, I could knit it in a short time. I allowed a week to knit the four letters, figuring each one can't take over a couple hours to knit.
I looked over the book then. It is a beautiful book! There are wonderful, winsome images of letters used as decorations for the home, used to spell out simple words such as "OK" or "LOVE" or initials, such E&K.
The bold colors are reminiscent of pre-school without being overly child-like, and there are some beautiful hand-drawn examples of each letter of the alphabet that look like they are made out of yarn. The book has a brief welcome from the author, and then gets right into the alphabet letters.
Each letter comes in three sizes: small, medium and large, achieved through using different sizes of yarn and needles. Small letters use fingering weight yarn and size 1 (2.5mm) needles, medium letters use worsted (Aran) weight yarn and size 8 (5.0mm) needles, and large letters use bulky (chunky) weight yarn and size 15 (10mm) needles. Usually you use two sets of circular needles for the knitting and you use double-pointed needles to hold stitches til you get back to them, but since I only have one hand because of my paralysis after my stroke, I had to use a couple sets of double pointed needles.
I found the directions very clear and accurate. There was a point where the words didn't really make sense to me, but when I looked at the knitting, it became clear. Also, I wondered why the directions said something like "k 1, kfb, k 22, k 22, kfb, k1". Why not just say "k44" in the middle? But it was clear if I had two circular needles -- "k 1, kfb, k 22" was on one needle, and "k 22, kfb, k1"on the other.
The book also includes three non-letters: an ampersand (&), a heart in outline form, and a star. At the end were a Techniques section where there were instructions for making striped letters, abbreviations used in the book, basic equipment, yarns, gauge, and a good, clear explanation of knitting, including casting on, the knit and purl stitches, increase and decrease, binding off, Kitchener stitch, knitting in the round, making up, and how to stuff your letters. The cast on was especially helpful for me, because often the letters start with a cast on such as is used in a toe up sock. This 127-page book was truly a little gem!
So, how did my name go? It took me about 6 hours of time to knit and stuff and sew only the first letter of my name. So much for quick! But I add that I can only knit one-handed, so a two-handed person is probably much quicker. Also I started with the letter "B", which is more time consuming than, say, a letter "I".
At the beginning, when I had this, I was thinking, what have I gotten myself into??
That is nine needles -- four to hold stitches and five that I was knitting on! But it wasn't even scary. I got over my fear of letting go of needles long ago, and the directions were incredibly clear and easy to follow. It was actually really fun to knit, and I think that the result was a really cute "B":
I was very pleased with the result! I'm excited to knit more letters now!
Clair Garland has a wonderful blog over at Dot Pebbles. You may remember her book Knitted Babes, but she has many other books! This new book, Knit the Alphabet, can be had on the Stitch Craft Create site as well as on Amazon ... or, you could win a copy right here, courtesy of Stitch Craft Create!!! Just leave a comment on this post or on the Facebook post about it by Wednesday, March 19, at midnight EST and I will choose a winner first thing on Thursday morning!
Now go see what everyone else is saying on the blog hop for Knit the Alphabet!