The Mitten Handbook: Knitting Recipes to Make Your Own by Mary Scott Huff
|The Mitten Handbook: Knitting Recipes to Make Your Own by Mary Scott Huff|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A UK knitter will require some experience to make the best of this book as the yarns used are not readily available in the UK, but if you have the knowledge you'll be able to build that perfect pair of mittens you've always wanted.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 144||Date: October 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
I love mittens - they're so convenient and much easier to get onto (and off) cold hands than a pair of fiddly gloves. They're not something you regularly see in shops, so I knew that if I wanted new pairs I would have to knit them myself. Well, actually, that's my rationalisation of the situation: in truth I love knitting mittens. They have just enough technique to make them satisfying, plenty of quick work and a pair of warm mittens in a few days. Patterns, though - where do you get them from?
I looked around and I could find plenty fashion patterns, but what I wanted was a good basic pattern which I could customise to suit myself and I eventually settled on The Mitten Handbook. I say eventually because I looked for reviews of the book from UK knitters and found a few saying what a beautiful book it is (perfectly true) and how it inspired knitters. All the information for a beginner was there (I'll come back to that a little later) - and most people were giving the book five stars. What I couldn't find was a review from a UK knitter who had actually used the book to produce a pair of mittens - and that was what I needed.
The book is produced in the USA: the yarns used in the patterns are not readily available in the UK. Unless you have the experience to work out from the gauges given whether your substitute will work, or how to change your needle sizes so that the pattern can accommodate a different yarn you might be in for a disappointment. An inexperienced UK knitter is not going to be able to pick this book up and knit that pair of comforting mitts which will be stuffed in their parka pockets for years to come.
Right - that's my warning out of the way. Now for some information about the book. The subtitle says Knitting Recipes to Make Your Own and that largely sums it up. The mitts are broken down into components: edges, cuffs, thumbs and tops and you can build your mittens from these. You get techniques to use: how to measure your hand, a standard size chart, how to calculate wearing ease, gauges and swatches, choosing yarns and mitten architecture. Mitten architecture? Well, you might have thought that you started knitting at the bottom and finished when you got to the top, but you can do that, or knit from the top down, or side to side. The there's the question of how many needles you should knit on...
What I liked best was the way that I could alter the mittens to fit my hands. I have a set of principles which I can apply to any yarns to make the perfect mitts. All my measurements are recorded in the book, so patterns for future mittens can be produced quickly. So, does it work? Well, I found using the book a little confusing on the first run through but I've got a pair of mittens with the longish, firm cuff which I prefer and the appropriate length. They'll last me for years.
I could have followed one of the many patterns - and I must admit I was tempted. They're beautiful and they are inspiring. If I went to the opera, I could have opera gloves. I have plans for a more frivolous pair of mittens - a lacy look, possibly with a fine liner for added warmth. Every size is catered for and if you don't have someone's measurements there's a handy chart which will give you a steer. Initially I did wonder if I'd made a wise buying choice but I'm now convinced that I have.
I bought The Mitten Handbook myself, and it shelves happily alongside The Knitter's Dictionary: Knitting Know-How from A to Z by Kate Atherley - both give you the sort of information you need to take your knitting to the next level.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mitten Handbook: Knitting Recipes to Make Your Own by Mary Scott Huff at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mitten Handbook: Knitting Recipes to Make Your Own by Mary Scott Huff at Amazon.com.
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