The Principles of Knitting

For day 7 of #blog12daysxmas

I finished the back of my grey tweed cardigan yesterday so now I have just the sleeves to go! I’m hoping to have it finished by the time I go back to work in another week. I’m quite pleased to have the grey Peace Fleece on the way to being knitted up because, while I love it, it’s been in the stash for a while now and I could never find quite the right project for it.


I have completely the wrong personality to have a yarn stash containing any more than one sweater’s worth of yarn. I actually get get slightly panicked when I think about it, so 2013 is the year to knit through the stash and this will be a great start to the new year.

the-principles-of-knittingFor Christmas I scored the revised edition of June Hemmons Hiatt’s epic tome The Principles of knitting which comes in at around 700 pages. As the author says “the heft of this book proves that while knitting may seem to be a simple craft, there is indeed quite a lot to say about it.” Indeed!

What I love about this book it is that it isn’t just the usual knitting reference book where you look up a particular question, as in a dictionary, and it tells you the answer.

It does not simply provide instructions in how to do a technique, with the expectation that you would learn in a rote fashion, but instead it provides the knowledge you need to truly master the craft. Therefore each technique is explained; how it works, what its characteristics are, how it can be expected to behave in the fabric, and how it compares to other, similar techniques.

I do love a bit of knitting geekery and I plan to work my way through the entire book, but through dipping in and reading bits here and there I have already found a solution to a problem that’s been bugging me for ages: getting paired left and right decreases to match, as on the back of my cardigan.

I’ve used SSK (slip, slip, knit) at the beginning of the row and K2Tog (knit 2 together) at the end which seem to be the best matching pair of decreases but the author notes that “this can be problematic because the facing stitch of a Left Decrease tends to be larger than that of a Right Decrease.” I agree! As I hadn’t seen the problem discussed anywhere before I assumed it was something I was doing wrong. The author explores the technical explanations before concluding that “why it does this remains a mystery” and then goes on to offer several solutions. This is the one that worked for me:

When working the Slip, Slip, Knit version of the Left Decrease, draw the new stitch through, drop the right discard stitch first, and then pull up on the left discard stitch before discarding it. This will draw some yarn out of the facing stitch.

It will make sense when you do it and my raglan decreases now look much the same on left and right.


2 responses to “The Principles of Knitting

  1. I got this book for Christmas too. I am toying with reading it cover to cover, it’s that fabulous!


    • Isn’t it wonderful!? Like enrolling in a university course for knitting. I’m sure you’ll find a few ideas for podcast topics.

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