Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Principles of Knitting - June Hemmons Hiatt

There are so many books that I want to write about at the moment, but yet again the day has run away from me, and as I probably have less to say about this one (we'll see how that goes) than some of the others it's up first.

This doorstop of a thing was a book I hinted heavily for, and got, as a Christmas present a couple of years ago after seeing it recommended somewhere as a classic. I duly cleared out the much less comprehensive How To guide I'd initially used to try and re learn to knit from. There have been moments since, especially when I've just wanted to check something really simple, when I've wondered if I was a bit hasty.

On reflection it was the right decision. One of the reasons I got rid of that first book was that I couldn't make any sense out of a couple of stitch patterns it described - and if that was a problem I'm not convinced I'd have got much out of any of its patterns or projects. It was also the case that I wouldn't have willingly given House room to any of the projects in it, so however useful they might have been for learning from there was no inspiration to make them.

Meanwhile this year I've finally found myself turning to 'The Principles of Knitting' more and more often. It's certainly comprehensive - so far I've only scratched the surface, but it's proving very useful, and as reference books go it feels pretty definitive. I certainly don't imagine I'll ever need another general guide.

It's true that you can find all of this stuff online, with added video tutorials for good measure, but I learn best by trying something (sometimes over and over until it makes sense) rather than watching -so I find a book easier to follow than a screen which turns itself off at critical moments. Nor does a book throw irritating adverts at you midway between instructions.

An unexpected advantage to the size and weight of this particular volume is that it tends to stay open at the page I want too, which makes it much easier to keep referring back whilst trying to memorise some particular technique (making things lean left or right is my current example).

I like the way that June Hemmons Hiatt writes as well. She's admirably clear in her general explanations, easy going about you finding the technique that best suits you, and thorough when she gives instructions. Knitting language is baffling at times, so deciphering what's meant isn't always as straightforward as I might hope. This book hasn't let me down yet which is extremely encouraging when it's something that doesn't come particularly naturally to me (I really have to work at some of this stuff) it certainly gives me confidence in what I might go on to make in the future.

In short it deserves its classic of the genre status, and I can add my voice in recommendation. Want a comprehensive guide to the methods and techniques of hand knitting - look no further. It's genuinely useful and a worthwhile investment even for relative novices who wonder why there need to be so very many cast on or cast off techniques...


  1. I have just forwarded this to my daughter who has decided to relearn to knit - and I am no expert! Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. When I first got it I was a bit daunted by its size and detail, but I'm finding it increasingly useful. Ravelry is brilliant for finding what you want to knit on, and this book is encyclopaedic in its scope so I can check everything. Hope she enjoys the knitting as much as I do.

  2. Looks like the kind of book that would be a useful addition to any knitter's book-shelves.