On Simple Knitting...

I normally politely wait to be offered a review copy of a book (often that doesn't happen and when it does I invariably decline as, unless I feel completely enthused about something, then review blogging isn't something that I want to get into) but the minute I saw a preview of the cover of Erika Knight's Simple Knittingbook on Amazon a couple of months ago, I actually wrote to Quadrille (who publish the book) and begged for a review copy because I knew that I was going to love this book and couldn't wait for the publication date. Yes, no shame, and that's completely out of character for me. I only share this with you as some sort of confessional therapy.

'But Florence, you can't knit', I hear long-time readers muttering confusedly. Well exactly! Simple Knitting is a book that teaches the novice how to knit, but crucially, instead of doing this by doling out uninspiring multi-coloured egg warmers as starter projects, (which make me want to run away so quickly that one would only get in a yarny tangle trying to make such a fast getaway), Simple Knitting provides the complete beginner with projects that are instantly covetable, sophisticated and look...well, like someone who hasn't just learnt to knit has made them. This book bypasses the 'here's-what-I-made-in-my-Home-Economics-lesson' stage, and takes you straight to that leaping-for-joy feeling of contemplating projects that look like they've leapt out of the White Company catalogue.

Let me tell you the ways that I love this book, because there are so many. Firstly, every single project in it is something that I want in my own home or about my person. So many books look completely wonderful, fit together perfectly, but when each item is looked at in isolation I suddenly realise that they're things that I'd make only for the joy of creating them and that their kitsch charm isn't actually something that fits in with my life.

The techniques are illustrated with clear diagrams and written up in the most perfect, unfussy typeface (yes, I know that should make no difference...but really, every aspect of this book has been well-designed and thought through and the tiny details come together to make it a complete delight).

The pages are thick and matt, to the point of being only a couple of steps away from light cardboard (the no-expense-spared paper weight, aside from all the other loveliness, transforms this book into something that is perfect for gifting).

The book contains a wonderfully photographed and explained stitch library (see above photo).

As well as photographs of well-worn and aged loveliness that makes me want to buy antique knitting paraphernalia for no other reason than because it looks so lovely on the page. Perhaps I'd be better off just framing the page.

The projects become more complex (but retain the wonderfully pared-down visual appeal) as the book progresses, which makes embarking on the learning curve more enticing. This book is everything that I'd hoped it would be and rather a lot more - it's a complete joy to look through.

So how is my knitting coming along? Well, that's partly why I'd delayed reviewing this book for so long. I really wanted to see how the book worked practically and to be able to tell you about that, but because daily life doesn't allow the time needed to learn completely new hobbies at the moment, I was saving it to take away on holiday with me during the last half-term. Sadly, we decided to cancel our holiday as circumstances suddenly meant that it felt more important to stay at home near the people we love...however, Mr Teacakes is planning to take some time off in the next couple of months and I'm ear-marking that time for mastering (she said hopefully) this new skill. It's something that I've long wished to feel comfortable doing, as it would be so nice to have something creative to do that is more sociable and portable than sitting in front of a sewing machine tends to be.

Oh and the Slouchy Make-Up Bag pattern of the last post...I have been bowled over by how many of you have bought a copy - thank you! I'm so delighted that you like it and can't wait to see some of the finished bags. x


  1. I really admire Erika Knight. I used to swear by Debbie Bliss, especially for baby knits, but I recently bought Natural Nursery Knits and fell in love with the vintagey style. Erika is nudging her way onto my craft-book shelf!

  2. Any excuse to buy a knitting book is good with me - I've been knitting since I was a small child but always find something new.
    Love to hear and see how you get on.

  3. hello, how funny you should mention this book. i have a copy on the side that i picked up from the library last week... i didn't realise it was new.. i must be the first one to borrow it which i find very exciting!
    it is just gorgeous, i agree. i am going to make the rag bag first as i have rather a lot of shirts awaiting an upcycle.
    love to you x

  4. OMGOSH!!! Guys! I am soooooooooo indebted to you, praise indeed! What a fantastic review! I just love that you get me! That all the things you have mentioned i agonise over, [note to self must get out more, mingle with people] I am sooooooo appreciative of your very kind comments and that you have taken the time to post, buy, review, lend and indeed knit from my book!
    Love to see what you have made too!
    erika x

  5. Sounds like a good book--I agree, many learn-to-knit books have very impractical projects. I know first-hand--I have a shelf full of them with nary an item made from them.

  6. Ginny, what a find, it's always so nice to be the first one to borrow.

    Bethany, that's such a shame...but actually, I realised on a recent clear out, I think that I often buy books for the eye-candy, rather than their practical use.

    Erika - you sweet thing - thank you for stopping by and, of course, your book is completely deserving of every lovely thing written about it.

    (ps. - and I should say, as I don't want my review to appear biased, this is the first time I've had any contact with Erika).

    Thank you for your lovely comments. x

  7. Lovely review Florence, I agree with all you say. I'm very excited about making up one of the projects

    I have ordered some of the Japanese cotton to make the note books (couldn't resist buying 3 colours) so will tweet and blip my results.

    Its definitely going going to be my first blog when I get started, even if the book has been out for a while by then. (just have to get teh day job in manageable proportions)


    Catherine H (will be chopkins2011 when I get started)

  8. I agree with all you say Florence, the book is fabulous. I have ordered some of the Japanese cotton to make up the note book. In fact I have ordered it in 3 colours.

    I am definately going to blog about it when I eventually get started with that. Just have to get the day job down to manageable proprtions!


    Catherine H

  9. I've just been given a copy for my birthday. Just love the circular cushion. The styling is beautiful. Am champing at the bit to have a go but have to, have to, have to finish my darn tapestry before I can start anything else!


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Florence x