Many knitting books assume our relationship with yarn is linear. They think we pick a pattern, we buy the yarn, we knit the project. If only life were so easy, right?
The vast majority of my stash was acquired with little idea of what I'd actually do with it. I knew the yarn would be great for a shawl or scarf, or maybe some mittens, but beyond that, it was a giant question-mark. I'd buy a skein or two, or spin a few hundred yards, enough for something, but still, no pattern.
Miriam Felton's new book Twist & Knit is a clever and welcome addition to a crowded market of knitting books. It addresses this very issue of small yardage projects for special yarns, featuring 12 lovely patterns designed, as Miriam puts it, "to get the most out of your unique yarns."
Miriam's eye for elegant yet economical use of stitches was already apparent when she designed her phenomenally popular Icarus shawl, featured in the Summer 2006 issue of Interweave Knits magazine and later reprinted in The Best of Interweave Knits.
The patterns range from shawls and stoles to mitts and even socks. They incorporate everything from graceful arcs of stockinette (in the Lune Shawl) to zigzagging yarnovers (in the Transverse Scarf).
Miriam has a gift for adding ornament and detail without dipping too far into frippery. And by using small pattern repeats, flexible gauge, and specific construction styles, she is able to help you eke out as many stitches as possible from that precious yarn.
The Other Half
But that's just half of the book. The first 35 pages are dedicated to technique. Not just a cursory "this is what a knitting needle looks like" paragraph, but a broad and deep explanation of things people need to know in order to get the most out of her projects.
Miriam has been answering knitters' emails for years, she knows exactly where we get tripped up and where we need help. And because she published this book herself, she had the luxury of giving these techniques as much space as necessary to explain well.
You'll find photo-rich tutorials on four cast-ons, three bind-offs, two specific stitch techniques, and blocking (the latter inspired, I'd like to guess, by having seen one too many improperly blocked Icarus shawls in the wild).
Taking it Digital
The book is available in full-color printed form for $20 from yarn stores nationwide, and from Miriam herself. Miriam also offers a $2 digital add-on option with the purchase of the printed book. That $2 gets you digital versions of 11 of the 12 designs, which will be added to your Ravelry library, assuming you have one.
You can also buy the patterns individually on Ravelry, although if you know you like more than three of the book's patterns you're better off buying the whole deal.
Hit or Miss?
The book may lack a bit of clarity and tightness that more rigorous editing may have provided. And it may lack the slick look and feel of a book designed by people who do nothing but design books all day, every day.
But this is a knitting book, and what we care about first and foremost is the content.
Are the patterns good? Yes. Are they well-written? Yes. Do these patterns fill a need? Very much yes. Does the book fulfill its promise? Again, yes. And in that regard, Miriam's book is a home run.
Note: This review was based on a galley copy provided by Miriam. I have since ordered my own print copy—and yes, I got the $2 digital add-on!