Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Finishing School: A Master Class For Knitters by Deborah Newton

If you hate finishing your sweaters, raise your hand.  Me!  Me! Me!  Why?  Well, it is similar to washing dishes: tedious, time consuming and somewhat boring.  After reading Deborah Newton's new book, Finishing School: A Master Class for Knitters I think I might actually start to enjoy seaming, picking up stitches, etc.  I suppose I never liked doing those things because I only had a vague idea how to do them so I would end up rushing through just to get it done.  This book answers a lot of questions I spent doing some late night Googling and feeling a bit embarassed to ask other knitters.  For a few examples: why are there HOLES along the neckline when I pick up stitches?  How exactly do I sew a smooth shoulder seam?  Why is it so difficult to seam a nice seam worked in a textured pattern?  Should I pick up collar stitches on the right side or wrong side?  Well fear no more, knitters, Ms. Newton seems to magically know all our questions and has answered them all plainly in this book.

Chapter 1, Finishing 101 is a basic overview of  finishing and what sort of tools you need to get the job done.  Choosing a pattern that is right for you and using schematics is also discussed.

Chapter 2 is Blocking Basics.  For a long time I thought the only way to block something was to dunk it into a bucket of warm water mixed with a bit of Woolite (yikes! what was I thinking???) and pinned down onto a dry towel.  I blocked the heck out of a lot of projects before I realized that some fibers need to be treated a bit more gently.  I was so happy to read that Ms. Newton doesn't even particularly like wet blocking and finds it to be unnecessary for most projects.

Chapter 3 is Seaming Seminar.  Yes, if you knit a sweater in flat pieces you have to seam them eventually.  No, they won't seam themselves.  But after reading this chapter it might be a little less painful.  The most important thing I learned from this chapter was the use of seam stitches.  I had never heard of them before, but after reading I thought the idea was so simple why didn't I think of it?  Seaming together two pieces in a complicated stitch pattern would be very difficult so why not make the job easier and add in a couple seam stitches worked in plain old Stockinette stitch.  This chapter also covers seaming the dreaded sleeve cap seam.  Stitches meet rows, ahhhh!!! run for cover.

Chapter 4 is Edgings Intensive.  And you thought that all edgings had to be either Garter stitch or rib.  Well maybe not you, but at least that is what I thought.  Learn the right way to pick up stitches, and how many stitches to pick up and let your imagination go wild with creative edgings.

Chapter 5 is Extra Credit: Buttons, Zippers, Pockets and More.  Buttons just need to be sewn on right?  With a needle and a bit of thread?  Erm, no.  If you have ever made a beautiful sweater only to have it ruined with saggy buttons you know it is not that easy.  And don't even get me started on zippers.  I made one cardigan with a zipper and was a bit less than pleased with my sewing job.  Now that I know the correct way to sew it in (which is not the close-your-eyes-and-hope-for-the-best method) I might actually try it again.

Chapter 6 Continuing Education: Special Finishing.  Covers a few miscellaneous topics like alterations, linings, felting, and (gasp) steeks.

Scattered throughout the book are projects associated with the various techniques explained.  I might not rush out to knit any of them (beautiful as they are) but it really helps to read the why and how and then see the ideas implemented into a pattern.  This book was a bit difficult to get a hold of.  In early December I ordered it from Amazon and got a notice that it was on back order.  A month went by with no update until I got an email from Amazon that my order was being cancelled because the book was still on back order.  Luckily I checked Knit Picks and found that not only did they have it on their website but it was on sale.  It appears to still be on sale, you can find it on the Knit Picks website here.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your wonderful review of my book. I am so happy I can share my love of finishing and hopefully I can inspire others with my "bag of tricks"! By the way, the book which was out of print is now back in stock everywhere for those who are interested. Best-- Deborah Newton