Wednesday, December 9, 2015

‘Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop’

After three attempts at learning to knit, I finally succeeded with the help of a circular-knitting class: 16 inches of knit stitch on circular knitting needles to form the body of a bag.

It’s precisely this approach that is taken by Susan B. Anderson in her Kids’ Knitting Workshop (Artisan Books, 2015). “Knitting in the round is the easiest and most effective way for children (and adults) to learn how to knit.” All of the knitting in her book uses circular knitting needles.

I appreciated this book for its comprehensive explanation of tools (types of needles, weights of yarn, how to read a knitting pattern, how to determine gauge).

Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop lays a foundation for the student to explore knitting independently. The projects are fun and colorful, and seem to logically build upon each other for new techniques and skills. (Each project includes a list of skills the student will need to know, with page numbers to refer to for instructions. Anderson cautions her readers that this section won’t usually be included in a typical knitting pattern.)

As a person who is left-hand dominant in a dextronormative society, one concern for me when evaluating a book on knitting is how the author addresses “division of labor” between the left and right hands. Under this criterion, I found areas of concern.

Anderson acknowledges that knitters work with the yarn held in their left or right hands (Continental- and English-style knitting). Unfortunately, she provides long-tail cast-on directions only for the knitter to hold the yarn in the left hand and cast stitches onto the right-hand needle.

This seems to be a common approach in knitting books, even when they otherwise address both left-hand and right-hand carry.

When it comes to the knit stitch, Anderson describes both Continental-style and English-style knitting, with an illustration of the hands holding the needle and yarn in position. She offers step-by-step directions for Continental-style knit stitch, with illustrations that show the yarn end angling toward where it’s held in the left hand.

For English-style, Anderson instructs readers to follow the instructions for Continental but hold the yarn in the other hand.

The directions don’t specifically refer to the yarn being in the left hand, but — again — the accompanying illustrations show the yarn end angling toward its position in the left hand. I’m concerned that visual learners trying to knit with right-hand carry will have difficulty following the illustrations and would prefer that Anderson had provided a separate sequence with illustrations for English-style.

Directions are clearer for the purl stitch, with both Continental- and English-style instructions. Each come with their own illustrations.

Bottom line: I recommend Anderson’s book for what it does well, which is to explain the “tools” of knitting and allow students to build on their knowledge through increasingly complex projects — but it needs to be supplemented with a cast-on technique that reverses the hand positions. And absent specific illustrations, teachers may need to model knit stitch with the right-hand carry.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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