Book Review

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Seven Things that can "Make or Break" a Sweater
by Margaret E. Fisher

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Of the very few official credentials in the knitting world, The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) comprehensive self-study Master Knitting Program is perhaps the most widely respected. Achieving Master Knitter certification can take years, and by the time you reach the third and final level, your knitting pretty much walks on water.

A core part of the program involves submitting your own knitted samples for review by a committee. Every inch of those samples is closely scrutinized. For several years now, Margaret Fisher has been on that committee and has even co-chaired it. Which means that she knows her knitting, knows what can go wrong, and is ideally suited to write a book on helping you not do those things wrong.

The Story of Seven
After years of teaching and evaluating other people's work, Fisher has identified those pesky little techniques and methods that, more than anything else, tend to make or break our projects. And she wants to help us move past these potential shortcomings and become more skilled, confident knitters.

This book focuses on seven simple things that Fisher has found to be the most common causes for sloppy results in sweaters. Seven simple things—a manageable, tangible number that makes this book both approachable and extremely helpful. She doesn't attempt to teach you everything you may ever need to know about knitting. Just seven things that will produce results.

What are those seven things, you may ask? The cast-on edge, ribbing increases, slanting decreases, invisible increases, blocking, picking up stitches for bands, and buttonholes. While the book focuses on these concepts as they relate to sweaters, they can be easily extended to many other types of knitting projects.

Simple Structure
In keeping with the "seven" theme, Fisher divides the book into seven chapters: one for each "thing." She clearly and succinctly presents the issue—for example, picking up stitches to create even and smooth button bands—and then gives you tangible techniques for doing it well. Not only do you learn the techniques, but you understand why the techniques work and when and where you'll want to use them. Abundant and extremely clear color photographs illustrate each point along the way.

Following those seven chapters, Fisher provides seven sweater patterns. The first—a baby sweater—is an especially helpful tutorial project that gives you a chance to practice each lesson learned from each chapter. Designed for women, the remaining six sweaters use fairly classic styling and let you practice at least one technique from the book as well.

Clarity of Course
This clean, well-conceived book never strays from its purpose. Fisher makes a reasonable promise and she delivers on that promise. Read this book, and practice each new technique using the practice baby cardigan pattern, and you will gain knowledge that will make your next sweaters look better. Simple.

Even the writing shows economy and restraint—that's perhaps more notable if you consider that Fisher published this book herself and could have written anything she wanted. (Though I'm guessing a publisher would've changed the title so that "Make or Break" wasn't in quotation marks, but that's just me.)

Her clean, factual writing style is infused with warmth and encouragement. She wants you to learn new options and understand why they work, but she never says, "You must do it this way." She concludes, "The real bottom line is that in your sweater, you get to decide what looks best and what works for you." It's all about choices, and she gives you plenty.

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