Book Review

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Knitter's Companion
by Vicki Square

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When people ask me to recommend the very best knitting reference book, I frustrate them with my answer: "It depends." But it's true.

Not only do we learn differently—some of us respond more to visual cues, others to written instructions—but we also have different skill levels. Meeting everybody's needs within one book is nearly impossible.

Having said that, The Knitter's Companion is one book that, in its recently updated and expanded form, comes pretty close.

In the Beginning
For years, this handy little book has been trusted by countless knitters to guide them through their dark hour of technical need. It was a strong reference that covered all the bases well.

But if I had to point out one potential shortcoming for people who learn visually rather than verbally, it would've been the layout and illustrations. Everything was black and white and presented in large areas of text highlighted only by bolded section titles.

Let There Be a Reprint!
Well, all that has been completely redone in this new edition. Gone are the little black and white drawings and walls of text. In their place, larger, vivid full-color illustrations and easily scannable text. From a readability standpoint alone, the book gets an A+.

The binding also got a facelift. The earlier edition had a spiral binding and soft cover, which sometimes posed problems when carrying the book in your knitting bag. Spiral binding and yarn don't always get along.

Now the spiral binding is concealed beneath a hard cover that opens and closes with ease, protects the contents and your knitting, and can still lie open flat on a table. While the new book still has the same compact-sized pages as the earlier edition, the new binding does add just a little bit to the overall footprint.

Meat of the Matter
The content itself has been reorganized and tightened up where necessary, although much of the good stuff remains virtually unchanged. Those large blocks of text I mentioned have been broken up into shorter nuggets, with many of the tips placed in separate "Tip" boxes with a colored background.

I was delighted to see that the index was also improved. For example, while the earlier edition's index hid knitting in the round under "double pointed needles, using," it's now listed as "knitting in the round." A stronger index is vital for a nuggety book like this.

The content itself remains vast, spanning everything from six different cast-on techniques to Kitchener stitch (one of the best examples I've seen yet), increases (knit side, purl side, left slanting, right slanting, you name it), buttonholes, duplicate stitch, cables, correcting twisted or dropped stitches, and even colorwork.

It's not a book you'll want to read from cover to cover. Rather, you'll flip through it in search of an answer and—most likely—find it.

A Must-Have?
If you don't yet have a good reference book in your knitting library, I strongly recommend The Knitter's Companion. Even if you do have a good reference book, you may still want to pick up a copy for backup. Leave it in your knitting bag, in your desk at work, perhaps even in your car. Consider it a knitterly first-aid kit that's well worth the $19.95 investment.

And if you already have the earlier edition? I'll leave that decision up to you. If you're familiar with the layout and it works for you, then no, you might not need this one. If you found yourself never quite able to get into the book, I urge you to pick up a copy of the new edition at your LYS or bookstore, browse through it, and see if the new design and layout do the trick. If they do, then you may have yourself a new knitting companion.

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