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
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
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...
HOW TO BECOME AN “EXPERT KNITTER”
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