Book Review

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Knit Fix
by Lisa Kartus

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The more we learn about knitting, the more mistakes we can make. From dropped stitches to un-turned cables to turtlenecks only fit for a turtle, the possibilities are endless.

Knowing how to fix these mistakes isn't always evident. Very few books exist on the topic, and not everybody has a built-in community of seasoned knitters on call 24 hours a day to help. All too often we may weepingly pull out the entire project, beloved stitch by beloved stitch.

Thanks to Lisa Kartus, this is about to change.

Getting Your Fix of Fixes
Lisa Kartus, a professional journalist, learned to knit as a child and then took it up again as an adult in the mid-80s. She not only knows her knitting, but she expresses her knowledge with the skill and ease of a seasoned writer.

Her premise is simple and clear: Mistakes happen. Learn. Move on. And that's precisely what she helps you do throughout the next 100 pages.

What's Inside
Kartus covers everything you're likely to encounter in your voyage from beginner to intermediate. She starts with the very basic, showing how to knit and purl. (I should note that the instructions rely on your knitting and purling in the traditional method, where the right leg of the stitch sits in the front of the needle.)

Once she's made sure you're all on the same page with her, Kartus moves on to un-raveling, showing how to work down several rows to a problem stitch and bring it back up to your working row. She also shows how to secure your destination row before letting loose and unraveling several rows at a time.

Those techniques are then referenced throughout the Troubleshooting chapter, where she covers everything from twisted and dropped stitches to reading charts, working pucker-free Fair Isle, and re-twisting incorrectly turned cables. Kartus presents just enough information to get you through most crises, but she never delves deeper into advanced topics, such as lace lifelines and entrelac.

You'll also find a whole section on what Kartus calls "extreme" fixes. These are the knitterly equivalents of open-heart surgery in which you do things like take a sweater that's too big, machine-stitch new seams, and (gasp!) cut the extra fabric. She also talks about how to avoid these problems in the first place with things like gauge swatches, un-twisted stitches on DPNs, and flexible cast-ons.

While you could scan the table of contents or search the index, there are so many great tips tucked in these pages that you'd be best served by reading the whole book, cover to cover. Be sure to have a pen handy because you'll want to mark up your copy for easy reference later.

Minor Qualms
The only time I faltered was when I got to the section on how to choose fibers. Kartus details a whole list of fibers and marks their general traits.

But she lists camel hair, silk, and rayon as dryclean-only fibers, when all three do perfectly well with a careful handwash. She lists Tencel as a natural fiber and rayon as a synthetic fiber, when Tencel is actually a trademark name for lyocell, a subcategory of rayon. She lists angora as a fiber that comes from both rabbits and goats, when today we say that angora comes from angora rabbits and mohair from angora goats. And she lists both polyamid and nylon as separate synthetic fibers when polyamid is essentially nylon.

These small issues are tangential to the focus of the book, but I wanted to mention them nonetheless since the book is targeted at beginners who may not otherwise know better.

Target Audience
Although knitters of all experience levels make mistakes, I think Knit Fix is best suited for relative newcomers who might still be daunted by the idea of a dropped stitch. Kartus covers all the major goofs, usually providing one or two proven fixes where there may be, in fact, many more out there (enough for a Knit Fix II, perhaps?).

Technical Specs
Most problems are illustrated with vivid photographs of swatches, while the solutions are depicted in illustration form. This is very helpful if you're looking at your problem and can't quite figure out how you did it—you can just leaf through the book and match goof to picture.

The book has been given the same binding as Ann Budd's brilliant reference, The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, with a hard cover concealing a spiral binding underneath.

I can see this book becoming a dog-eared reference in which all sorts of extra notes and ideas are shoved—and in that regard I wished they'd given it an elastic closure like Budd's books have. But we can't have it all, now can we?

Still, if you're a relatively new knitter who is prone to making mistakes (er... I mean you know a knitter who is prone to making mistakes, wink wink), this book will come to your rescue more times than you'll want to admit.

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