Monday, October 05, 2015

Book Review: Short Row Knits

Being a knitter of a technical bent, I rather like a good short-row. Short rows are useful for turning corners, for shaping shawls, and for adding bust shaping. (And if you've ever taken a garment sizing or alterations class with me, you'll know that I am very pro-bust shaping.)

I was very happy to get my hands on a copy of Carol Feller's new book, Short Row Knits.

It's a great combination of technique and pattern book. If you're looking for a guide to short rows, how to work them, and what to do with them, look no further. If you're looking for a nice combination of accessories and garments that are shaped in interesting and intelligent ways, this is an excellent choice.

I use short rows in a number of my own patterns, and I teach the technique in a few classes, and over the years it's become pretty clear that short rows often inspire confusion and fear. But as with many techniques, the problem is mostly because of how patterns are written. Not because the designers and pattern writers are doing a bad job, but they're surprisingly hard to describe and explain. Once you know how to do them, they're easy, but they can be tricky to learn. There's an added complication because there are so many different ways to do them: wrap & turn, Japanese short rows (turn and pin), German short rows (yo and turn), and even for these different techniques there are variations. (I had have some very lively discussions about the order of the steps in wrap and turn: move the stitch or the yarn first?)

I think they're also extra confusing because the purpose of the short-rows (and how they work to do what they do) isn't addressed or explained.

Carol's instructions are clear, precise, easy to follow - and entirely straightforward. She cuts through a lot of of the clutter and confusion, explaining not only how to work short rows, but why, and how they work. She explains the theory and the practice, in a way that is entirely accessible.  She explains the different methods, and how to work them, how they work, and how to change between them in a project. She addresses using short rows to create interesting shawl shapes, and to add bust and ship and hem shaping to garments.

And to make it very practical - because not everyone enjoys learning knitting
techniques for purely academic purposes! ;-) - she includes a variety of projects that use the techniques, for different effects. There's shaped shawls and a sideways hat and flattering garments worked in different ways, all with smart shaping.

I'm particularly fond of the Riyito sweater, pictured at right. A lovely shaped hem and a really nice shoulder line. Enlarge the picture by clicking on it, to see the details.

She also includes two sock patterns, using a a short-row heel. Now, I'm not normally a fan of this method because in their standard form they lack a gusset and don't fit very well, but Carol understands fit, and has created two very nice gusset options for better fit.

Carol's book is an excellent addition to the technically minded knitter's library - and to the library of any knitter who enjoys a nice collection of patterns.

Find it at your favourite LYS, or order it from one of the usual online sources.


Unknown said...

I'm already reading the technical part of the book and looking forward to the patterns. :)

May said...

Thank you for the review. I was debating about getting the book but now I think I will order it.

Unknown said...

Feller has a free course to go along with the book too:

Sabrina said...

I know it may sound silly but I love techniques like short rows and heel turns. I am definitely checking this book out.