Book Review: The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges
By: Ann Budd
Published by Interweave, Fort Collins, Colorado, 2002
112 pages
ISBN 978-1931499040
$24.99 US / $27.00 Canada

This book teaches the reader how to create custom garments by providing the building blocks for several basic types of patterns.  It provides construction information for mittens, gloves, hats, tams, scarves, socks, vests, and sweaters.  It takes the reader through the basic anatomy of each garment, how it is constructed, and stitch counts needed for a wide number of sizes and gauges.

After a quick introduction, Ann discusses the importance of gauge with a detailed description of what you would be looking for in your gauge swatch.  She also provides a large diagram of how to accurately measure your gauge, instead of just a written description of how to do this.  The magic of this book then happens within each chapter dedicated to a different garment.  Based on the gauge of your swatch and the size garment you would like to knit, Ann breaks down the steps to knit the item.  This consists of tables within in the pattern where the reader looks up their gauge/size to get the right number of stitches to cast on, bind off, repeat, etc.

The amount of tables in this book may be intimidating to some, but if they take the time to understand the usefulness of the tables, I’m sure they will come to appreciate it.

I appreciated the wide range of gauges available.  The number of stitches-to-the-inch covered in the hat and tam tables range from 3 up to 9 in whole number increments.  This allows for a wide variety of yarns and stitch patterns to be used.  Scarves, vests and sweaters range from 3 to 7 stitches-per-inch and socks are 5 to 9.  She also gives some helpful tips if you are between whole numbers on your gauge measurements.

I also appreciated the large range of sizes included.  For example, the sweater section includes finished chest measurements from 26 to 54 inches, in 2 inch increments.  This makes the book useful to knitters of all shapes and sizes.

Each section also includes a full page schematic that shows the measurements of each section of each garment.  For example, in the glove section, the schematic shows the measurements for each finger individually.  Then in the quick-tips at the end of that section, she talks about how finger lengths can vary significantly from person to person and how to modify accordingly.

At the end of the book, Ann includes a section on expanding your options.  This really allows the reader to take the step from knitter to designer.  She talks about how to incorporate different stitch patterns or colorwork and how the gauge might vary based on those things.  In addition, within each section, she talks about how to give the garment your personal touch with additions like different edgings, cardigans vs pullovers, and toppers like pompoms or tassels.

This book is had a hardcover and spiral bounding, which is handy for allowing the book to lay open while knitting from it, or photocopying pages to makes notes on when you do your knitting.  Due to the large number of tables and numbers in this book, I highly recommend photocopying and circling your numbers.  The book also has a pocket built into the back to hold those photocopies, or your swatches!  In my copy some of the pages were sticking together under the spiral, so it was difficult to pull them apart.  I was afraid I’d rip the page out of the book instead of just separating them.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone with some experience knitting, especially those who are interested in designing or those who have trouble finding patterns that suit them.  It is written in a very easy to understand voice that makes you feel like Ann is there guiding you through every step.

The only limitation is on some of the variety of construction methods.  For example, the sweater and vests are only knit in pieces, there isn’t an option to knit in the round or knit top down.  Also, the socks are only top-down construction.  If you were looking for a book to specifically knit sweaters in the round, or socks from the top up, then this isn’t the book for you.  However, I believe that this book is a must have for anyone looking to start experimenting with designing their own patterns.

Ann Budd is a book editor and the former senior editor of Interweave Knits magazine.  She has published many knitting books, including Best of Interweave Knits, Getting Started Knitting Socks, Simple Style and more.  She currently teaches classes and holds retreats in various locations around the US.

This entry was posted in Book Review, Knitting and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.