This morning I heard the heavy thud of an envelope hitting the doormat that could only mean fun mail. It was a copy of Erika Knight's Simple Knitting that the lovely people over at Quadrille Publishing sent me to review.
At first glance the book is beautiful. It's filled with stunning photography and hand drawn illustrations of knitting "how-to's" and stitch patterns. It gives insight into the whole creative process, from doodling an idea to the finished article. Each project is finished true to Erika's usual style - simple, clean and elegant designs in muted, natural tones, where texture and pattern, rather than fussy colour changes or decoration, complete the finished piece.
Upon closer inspection the book doesn't disappoint. The first half of the book is dedicated to the basics: Guides on identifying yarns. choosing colourways, measuring gauge, reading patterns, etc. There are instructions for basic and more advanced patterns in the stitch library, and images of swatches so that you know what they're supposed to look like - always handy for comparison!
The 20 projects, found in the second half of the book, range from cushions to sweaters, note book covers to socks. At the beginning of each project there's a skill classification, a note of every stitch used in the pattern, and it also tells you what skills you'll learn in order to complete the piece. In essence, it gives you all the information you need before beginning, to choose a project within your comfort zone. Each project contains a masterclass, giving detailed instructions on a particular technique relevant to the pattern used.
What I love about this book is that it tells you the type of yarn to use, instead of insisting on using one particular (usually very expensive) brand. I'm very much a "use what you have in the stash" type of girl, but of course it also gives the name of the yarn used in the images. I also love that this book even tells you how to change gauge for different types of yarns for some projects.
The book suits all manner of knitters, old and new, accomplished and uncertain. It has simple, comprehensive instructions, with enough information to encourage beginners without being overwhelming. For the more practiced knitter, the instructions on how to adapt patterns for different yarns gives insight into how Erika develops her own patterns, and inspires me, at least, to try my hand at writing a couple of my own.
So, if you hadn't have guessed, I really like this book. I'll be trying a few of the projects out over the next few weeks so I'll keep you posted on how I'll get on. I'm particularly excited about the cable patterns, as I've never tried before but it seems simple enough. We'll see!