The Knit Stitch

by Sally Melville

When I first learned to knit, I went to Wal-Mart and bought a little kit that included two pairs of straight needles, some notions, and a little book with black and white line drawings for illustrations. It was one of the most painful learning experiences of my life. Some of the illustrations were very, very difficult to decipher and the sample patterns weren’t all that and a bag of chips. I really wish that The Knit Stitch had been in print at the time and that someone had put a copy into my hands.

The Knit Stitch is an excellent introduction to knitting for a variety of reasons. First off, it stays simple. Everything in the 162 pages can be knit using just the knit stitch (hence the title) – the purl stitch isn’t introduced until the second volume in the series. Second, the photos are wonderful. When a technique is introduced, there are step-by-step photos of each part of the process. These photo series are much easier to follow than the drawings that were in the book I learned from. There are also nicely done shots of all the patterns being worn by a variety of models. Third, most of the patterns are really worth making. Ms. Melville’s got this thing for asymmetrical patterns that I’m not particularly in to, but those by no means dominate the book.

The book introduces the reader to a number of techniques including flat and in-the-round knitting (so there is some stockinette stitch work introduced). It also provides instructions on finishing, including weaving in ends, joining in new yarn, seaming, making buttonholes, and many other basic techniques.

The book also introduces the reader to a notation system that tells you almost everything you need to know about each pattern at a glance. It provides the gauge the item requires, what needles were used, what weight and what yardage of yarn were used, and roughly how complicated the pattern is. She continues using this notation system throughout the series, which provides some very welcome consistency.

This book is the first in a series called The Knitting Experience. As of this writing, the volumes published include this one, The Purl Stitch (vol. II), and Color (vol. III).

As a beginner, this book would have provided me with a better and more complete introduction to the craft than the manual that I had. As an experienced knitter, I still use this book as a reference all the time.