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How to Become an "Expert Knitter"   *Buy this book on CD for offline reading!

table of contents » introduction

About This Book

KNITTING  can be an absolute joy.

Knitting can become a disappointment.

I hope this book will make your experience lots of the first and as little as possible of the second.


If you can learn to knit a scarf, you can learn to knit a sweater.

And if you knit a sweater, it might as well be a wonderful sweater.

It takes exactly the same amount of yarn, the same number of stitches, the same amount of hours and the same amount of effort to make a wonderful sweater or a so-so sweater. The main difference is in the finishing, and the finishing will be easy if any problems have been ironed out during the knitting.

Over the years, I have found that knitting, however varied, has a few basic rules, and if they are followed, you can dance through a knitting project from the first stitch to the last button without skipping a beat. I learnt these rules by trial and error. I’ve done it and you don’t need to do it all again.

There are wonderful knitting books available. They explain every facet of knitting. What needles to use. How to hold the needles. Where to put them. How to knit. Knitting in different styles. How to cast on in ninety-nine ways. Cast-off in a hundred ways. Making the perfect button-hole (every book shows a different way). On and on and on. I buy so many books and am fascinated by all the techniques. There is no need for me to write another book about how to knit. Every angle has been covered. The reason I wanted to write all these pages is because I feel that important parts of making a garment, the way it is knitted and shaped and the finishing, haven’t been completely explored and explained.

I wander around my home city, Melbourne. I have wandered around other cities, New York, Paris, Delhi, Rome, Beijing, London, Tokyo, Den Pasar. I search the world of the Internet. As other people notice diamond jewellery, terrific shoes (me, too) or great hairstyles, whatever, I notice the hand-made knitwear.

Why does so much of it look so clunky? Buckled seams, wonky bands, shoulders cobbled together, ends sticking out, hours of work put into making a garment from nasty looking yarn, sleeve tops forced into lumps, incredibly complicated and time consuming patterns or cables made into a horrid thing that a hobo would refuse to wear. I’ve seen it all. Why put in an enormous amount of effort without a good result? There must be a gaping hole in the world of knitting knowledge.

The finishing of a garment makes all the difference, but the success of the finishing is controlled by the way the pieces have been knitted. It is all like a house of cards. To make it stay up, you have to have the right start.

After creating and selling thousands of hand-knits, I want to pass on what I have learned over the years. I am consumed by perfection, but I am also lazy and I want to make a wonderful garment without any extra work. It takes exactly the same time to knit an awful garment as it takes to knit a wonderful garment. There are exactly the same number of stitches to be formed. There will be exactly the same amount of yarn required. The speed and the success of the finishing is controlled by the way the pieces have been knitted.

I am a real knit-picker and have gone into very fine detail in the explanations in this book, but I have also standardised everything so that you apply the same treatments to different parts of the knitting. There are really only a few major facts that need to be remembered and they are constant, which makes everything nice and easy. I can’t do specific instructions for every knitting style. I don’t need to do that. Casting off, casting on, knitting, increasing, decreasing, buttonholes and so on, all can be done in many different ways, but all present exactly the same problems to be dealt with, and the method doesn’t change because of the way the stitch has been made.

However it is arrived at, a stitch is just a stitch and is usually the same shape, just smaller or larger, unless a pattern technique drastically changes the shape. Stitches are not square, they are rectangular, and so you need to be aware of the stitch to row ratio when you are constructing a garment which, after all, is made up of stitches and rows. There are many tiny gradations in the ratios when you use different yarns and needles, but in the end, the difference is so minute, maybe two or three stitches, that I just stick to the three stitches are equal to four rows ratio. Apart from garter stitch, I have never needed to change my habit.

Counting stitches and rows when making the pieces of a garment is much more accurate than just measuring. Bands, two sleeves, panels of a skirt, backs and fronts, most pieces, need to have the same number of rows. And then, when the seams are to be worked, they can be matched perfectly. No buckled or ugly looking seams.

If the edges of the knitted pieces are smooth and straight, the seam can be made to look almost invisible. The position of the shaping which forms the piece is crucial. The placement of shapings and the angle of the edge stitches is also important when it comes to joining one piece to another or when adding bands or trims.

So there it is. Knitting, shaping, finishing.

Well, why are there so many pages?

After the “before you knit” bits, I have arranged the chapters in the same order as the way a garment is knitted, from casting on to the last button. Each chapter is a stand-alone, but because the same elements really apply to all knitting, the explanations are repeated in the way they will be used for different areas of knitting. If you read this book like a novel, you could feel that you are being brainwashed, but if you look at the chapters that fit in as your knitting progresses, you will see how to apply each one.

Who am I trying to reach?

Knitting has become the big what-to-do. Non–knitters are being converted to mad scarf knitters, lots of scarves. One after the other. It’s so much fun. Buy a few balls of the wonderful yarns available. Grab some huge needles, learn how to make stitches, cast on and off you go. Unless you drop too many stitches and end up with a triangle, you should soon have a scarf. After you have finished the fifteenth scarf, you may want to try something else. Don’t be frightened to start a sweater. Look at the few things you really need to know and give it a go. You are one of the people I had in mind when I wrote this book.

Then there are the knitters who have been knitting for years, and always do things in the same way. I have met lots of those knitters in my time and just looking at things in a different way gave them a new impetus and often straightened out knitting problems that had always bugged them.

This book is also for knitters who only follow patterns, and patterns usually don’t include small, but necessary details. Are you are supposed to instinctively know everything about knitting just because you are in charge of a pair of needles?

However, not everyone follows pattern instructions to knit a garment, and many marvellous and innovative creations are born. Some of the hints in this book could make the project easier and even more wonderful.

If you read the last pages you will find out how I started, what knitting has meant to me, why I felt I should write this book, and why I called it...