Review: Big Book of Knitting by DK

4 Aug

For my birthday my cousin Andrew and his wife Sadhbh (she is a gorgeous Irish lady hence the funny name – it is pronounced “Sive”) very generously bought me a £20 Waterstones book voucher. Thanks you two! I decided to invest it in a really good knitting book. Mr Frog took me in to the shop and I spent a few hours in the attached coffee shop browsing to find the perfect book – what a wonderful afternoon! – and I settled on this one:

Big Book of Knitting £25 (on offer for £20 when I bought it)

big book

Now you may have heard of the publisher ‘DK’ – they produce all kinds of non-fiction books from travel guides to history books. I feel the risk with brand publishers like this is that you get a trusted format, arguably at the expense of quality information – these people aren’t knitting or even craft specialists – they have simply commissioned people write under their brand for the purposes of knitting and you are at the mercy of their choice. Why is this relevant? Well in the shop I grabbed a few DK published knitting books from the shelves…

The Knitting Book – £16

knitting book

A little Course in knitting – £9.99

a little course in knitting

Now this is VERY important – the content of these three books is pretty much identical. Yep, the projects, techniques, tutorial photos are exactly the same. With each ‘level’ of book you get all the projects and explanations from the previous one, plus extra content. However if you own any of the previous books then do not buy this one as you already own about a third of the book. As this is not explained anywhere I think this is a little naughty of the publishers – someone could, in good faith, buy all these books to discover they have, in effect, only been written once. Each book has some unique content, but not a lot. If I hadn’t gone in to the shop to spend my voucher in person I would never have discovered this.

This review pertains to the book I own – The Big Book of Knitting which is the ‘Mummy’ book – i.e. it has nearly all the projects of the other two put together and then some.

 

Overview

The book is broken up as follows:

Projects: clothes-

  • cardigans
  • Sweaters
  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Gloves
  • Socks

Projects: home and accessories –

  • Blankets
  • Cushions
  • Bags
  • Toys

Basic equipment and techniques:

  • Yarns
  • Equipment
  • Following a pattern
  • Basic techniques
  • Knit and purl stitches
  • Simple increases
  • Simple decreases
  • Twists and cables
  • Lace knitting
  • Knitting in the round
  • Selvedges
  • Beaded knitting
  • Seams and blocking
  • Embroidery on knitting
  • Knitted toys
  • Charted colourwork
  • Stitch patterns

The book is choc full of knitting patterns – over 100 in all – making this great value even if you only use the patterns. They are marked ‘easy’ ‘intermediate’ and ‘hard’ with all techniques to complete them explained in the back. This means you can ‘grow’ in to the book as you gain more skills. They are organised by type of project, rather than level of difficulty. As an utter beginner (at the moment!) I would have appreciated them in order of difficulty, or a cross-index by difficulty. I spend an awful lot of time wading through tantalising projects completely beyond me to find something less impressive marked ‘easy’.

The Projects

‘Taste’ in knitted goods is pretty crucial – many times I have stood cringing at knitting patterns thinking ‘who would wear/want this?!’. However this book really judges the projects well; as a thirty-something there is next to nothing I wouldn’t want to make or gift. The book does recommend specific wools, but most projects use double knit which is really easy to find in any shop. This is such a relief as so often as a beginner I can’t justify spending huge amounts on expensive wool specified in knitting patterns – you don’t learn to drive in a Ferrari!

Format

 

project page

Projects have a double page spread with a nice title and prosaic explanation, excellent quality colour photo of the item, then a breakdown of essential information about what you need in terms of needles, wool, notions etc. Then the pattern itself. The format is really user friendly both for browsing for a projects and when working on one.

Negatives

There are drawbacks though. This really is the BIG book of knitting. It is a weighty tome. If you want to knit on the go it simply isn’t practical to tote this enormous volume round with you. However, I simply photocopy the page I am working on then I can slip it in my knitting bag. It also means I can annotate the pattern i.e. highlight the instructions for the size I’m using, or any alterations I may make.

The other thing which could be better is the techniques section. Yes, they cover all the things listed above but not in a spectacular amount of detail:

techniques

Most of the techniques have very little actual explanation, some which are really quite complicated only get a sentence. Having said that, the photos are excellent and it may be that I struggle a bit with that learning style. It gives me a basis for my googling at least. Let’s agree to say it isn’t the ‘last word’ in knitting tuition.

Conclusion:

I am just so happy with this book! Yes it has certain flaws:

  • some of the content available in other books
  • Techniques section could be more detailed
  • Too big to be portable

But for me it is outweighed by it’s positives:

  • LOADS of patterns I actually want to knit
  • Great layout/format for each project
  • Range of difficulty means this will remain pertinent as my skills increase (here’s hoping!!)

I recommend buying this for yourself or gifting to a knitter at any ability level.

**nobody is paying me for these views – they are entirely my own and I bought the book with the voucher I got for my birthday. There are no affiliate links in this article – if you want to buy it google it!**

 

 

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