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Stitch 'n Bitch Handbook - Debbie Stoller

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Genre: Sports / Hobbies / Games / Author: Debbie Stoller / Paperback / 256 Pages / Book is published 2003-10 by Workman Publishing

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    7 Reviews
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      05.01.2010 22:01
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      A fun read that I would highly recommend for beginners like myself.

      I asked for this for Christmas; I had been leafing through it in a book shop and was attracted to the fun-looking patterns as well as the way the text was written. Although I'm not generally keen on 'overly-American' text, this is easy and pleasant to read without seeming to be aimed at an entirely American audience. I think the somewhat retro style of the book is fairly attractive and easy to read, and I have had no problems with the shape of the book, as well as finding it easy to find particular sections by flicking back through the pages, without having had to use the index very much.
      Previously I had been using a fairly basic, no-nonsense knitting guide, and had been confused by the instructions. Using this book, I was delighted to find that by Boxing Day I had learned how to do rib stitch, increasing and decreasing! I've found it enjoyable to learn from Stitch 'n Bitch and I'm currently working my way through the Skully jumper, learning new steps as I come to them. I have found that Debbie Stoller's encouraging way of writing really spurs me on to try the next step of knitting!
      She writes about how great it is to join a knitting group, and how in her experience it is important to have someone around you who knits, to show you how to do certain things. She also gives information to websites and tells you about knitting communities online, which is more useful to me, as I don't think my local knitting group would appreciate me taking my three under-fives along! I liked the idea of a group however, and I like the way that each pattern is by a different person, with a different experience of knitting; I found this encouraging, as it shows that not everybody creating patterns has years and years of experience.

      Although not every pattern in this book is something I'd want to make, there are a number of online resources mentioned in here that are very useful, and have free patterns. So this is more than a handbook really as it gives you pointers on where to go next with your knitting, depending what you want to achieve. I would highly recommend this book to beginners like myself, who want something light-hearted and easy to understand.

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        31.08.2009 12:27
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        Great Knitting book for beginners / those coming back to it

        I picked up this book about five years ago now, I was looking for something to destress me, and had been thinking about taking up knitting for a while. This book looked quirky and cool, and like it was designed for younger folks than some of the other books out there. It's filled with advice for learning how to knit, different stitches and ways of decreasing / increasing etc, with lots of good patterns designed to allow you to progress at an achievable learning curve. It is an american book, and so most of the yarns recommended cannot be found easily in the UK, but you can substitute yarns easily as long as they are the same weight. I still use this book today for patterns and advice. It also recommends other books, looks at why knitting is on the upsurge, and points you in the direction of other patterns and knitting blogs, and of course encourages you to seek out 'stitch n' bitches' - that is knitting groups in your area!

        Downside is errors in some of the printed patterns, often the way with patterns unfortunately, but there is a page of errata on the website if you google, and links on Ravelry.

        I would thoroughly recommend this book to new knitters, I am still knitting daily since getting this book, and still knit patterns from it! If you are a complete novice then go along to your local knitting group and ask someone to show you, or google for online knitting videos as it is never easy to learn from a book!

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        04.03.2009 10:59
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        A good introduction to knitting - highly recommended.

        So, knitting is suddenly fashionable again... when I was growing up, it was just something my Nan did. She did teach me the basics and I knitted a couple of simple things (all of which she cast off for me, cast off for me and sewed together), but suddenly it seems to be something that lots of people are getting into. I received a knitting kit for Christmas and decided that I should give it a go - the result was my first scarf, a fluffy, feathery creation where the dropped stitches and randomly increasing rows didn't really matter due to the texture of the wool.

        At this stage, I realised I'd been well and truly bitten by the knitting bug, and I decided to buy a book. After talking to a few friends, I decided on 'Stitch and Bitch, The Knitters Handbook' which I purchased from Amazon.

        Instructions and Techniques
        The book starts with a chatty introduction to the world of knitting and then moves on to an explanation of the basics. The first section has instructions on how to cast on, instructions for doing a basic knit (or garter) stitch and then a couple of little projects - a test square and a garter stitch scarf in chunky wool on big needles, which shouldn't take too long to complete even if you've never knitted before. The book then introduces the purl stitch and the concept of rib stitch - there is another fairly chunky scarf pattern in a 2 x 2 rib. Again, this would be quick and easy to make. It also explains how to cast off, how to increase and decrease the number of stitches in your rows, and eventually how to do lots of other knitting techniques such as knitting on circular needles and creating patterns within your knitting. I feel that the instruction section is great for beginners - it is explained in clear, simple language with easy to understand diagrams, and it has certainly boosted my confidence with knitting.

        Patterns
        The patterns section of the book also looks really good, although I have yet to be brave enough to try any of the bigger projects. The patterns include hats, bags, gloves, socks, mobile phone cases, jumpers, cardigans, a baby blanket and even a bikini. All look very wearable (actually, I'm not convinced that a knitted bikini would be flattering on anyone, but the other patterns look good!) and they have clear instructions for how to make them. I am just trying to summon up enough courage to order the wool to knit myself a jumper - if I get round to it I might be back to update this review! There is a good variety of patterns - some that are small and (hopefully) simple enough to knit as gifts and others which would be good additions to your wardrobe.

        Price
        Currently £7.09 on Amazon, recommended retail price is £10.99.

        My Thoughts
        The only real reservation I would have with this book is that it is an American book and all the yarns used are American ones which are not necessarily available in the UK. I think that if you went to a good knitting store and talked to the people there, they would be able to help you source alternatives though. I have really enjoyed reading through the book and it has both made me feel more confident in my own ability to knit, and given me inspiration for things that I would like to try. This is the only knitting book I've bought (so far) so I can't really compare it to others on the market, but I would definitely recommend it for beginners. For more experienced knitters, I guess the best thing to do would be to flick through and see if any of the patterns take your fancy - if you want to make anything from it, it's probably a good buy. Watch out though, knitting is suprisingly addictive and it could prove to be an expensive new hobby!

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          08.02.2009 16:39
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          A good book for knitters looking for something different.

          Stitch 'n Bitch, the handbook and Bible of the wave of neo-vogue knitters (touted in magazines as knitting because it keeps their hands off food amusingly enough) has a certain kind of try-too-hard feel - knitting isn't cool so let's make it cool with instarsia and doggie coats with matching human accessories and use really hard to work with wool and...well, the list goes on. Try too hard is almost the mantra of this book.

          It's laid out in a very accessible way (like any other beginners knitting book but...well, hipper) with instructions on how to knit, purl and block for example with a little plug for crochet (Debbie Stoller has since gone on to produce a Stitch 'n Bitch ala crochet book) and other tidbits of information (The Virgin Mary knits! Marge Simpson knits! Truly, this is a trandescental craft!) which while I found interesting, the actual technical stuff just didn't make any sense. She attempts to use a metaphor to explain a knit stitch and somehow makes it really incomphrensible - maybe it comes across better when you're being instructed by someone at the same time but it just made me want to throw my book across the room!

          I ended up watching a video of how to do a knit stitch and prepared, set on the tasks set in the book which are based around each new skill you acquire (scarves for knit and purl stitches, a nice little headscarf for increasing and descreasing) which are nice, fast projects and very usuable.

          Eventually, I got to the patterns which are made up from a number of contributors. There's a little section about knit pattern lingo - the k*1 and so on - but the patterns themselves can be immensely complicated and maybe since this is promoted as a total beginners book, translations in the back would have been helpful? And then you can begin:

          1. All the wool/yarn used in this book is American. There are no other suggestions. This is quite annoying.

          2. Some of the objects you can knit are just plain useless or ugly or won't look anything like the picture in the book.

          3. There are no real instant gratiftication projects and the cooler projects are without fail, the longest and most complicated ones while the quicker ones are plain and without anything 'hip' to distingush them from everyday patterns.

          While this does sound like an overly critical review, it is only because there are better books for beginners out there. I feel like most people would get frustrated or bored with this book very easily as the basic intructions aren't always clear and the hipster tone can be very grating but overall, the patterns are imaginative and there is a lot of information about salvaging projects, blocking them after finishing and adding decorative touches that you wouldn't perhaps find in other books for beginners. This is definitely a book for intermediate knitters or beginners with dialup so they can watch videos of the basic stuff.

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            20.01.2009 21:55
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            Stitch n' bitch

            I bought Stitch 'n Bitch in Cardiff Hobbycraft, whilst browsing the books that have to offer and wanting to update my home making skills, that I came to this book, and laughed to myself about the title. Stitch 'n Bitch - The Knitters Handbook by Debbie Stoller has really really catchy title and funny front cover of a cowgirl holding knitting needles. After along thought about it, Knitting... Me? Well I'll give anything a go once J

            My mother has always been a fantastic seamstress, and what a great chance to follow in the footsteps, so I nabbed all her old knitting needles and wool and began to read the book.

            Stitch 'n Bitch is great right from the start, showing the reading how to cast off first, how to choose your right wool (or yarn as they like to call it) and the needles that you use when knitting. In great easy follow steps and pictures to guide you on the patter it is a fantastic book to start you knitting and taking you into years of kitting garments, which are actually trendy, not the ones that are from decades before.

            I love this book and will refer back to it evertime I pick up the knitting needles (about once every two weeks) I still have not mastered the more advanced techquiues yet and have bearely made my first scarf (a great looking scarf I may add) but really look forward to becoming a Knitting Queen.

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            23.09.2008 15:35
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            A useful resource for existing knitters, but a bit too complicated for beginners.

            So a few years back I heard that knitting was really 'in vogue' so I decided to try it out, and every shop I went into seemed to be peddling 'Stitch 'N Bitch' by Debbie Stoller, and being the easily-persuaded shopper that I am, I decided to give it a go. I originally bought it for £10.99, but I've just seen on Amazon that you can get it for as low as £6.99 now.

            The General Idea: This book is supposedly designed for anyone who likes to knit, from beginners to pros. It goes through all the basic techniques and has progressively harder patterns. It also gives a background to knitting and resources (unfortunately only in the US) on where to go for supplies. It also offers a background to Stitch 'N Bitch groups - groups of people who meet to knit and natter! There is advice on how to fix mistakes, which knitting books and magazines are the best and fancy knitting techniques to impress your friends (well, maybe not impress...).

            The Background Bit: On the one hand it is great that Stoller takes the time to explain the background to knitting, but I think she spends too much time talking about her own knitting history, which to be honest is dull to read. It's great that the book features tips on how to start your own Stitch 'N Bitch and where to find free knitting patterns online, as this gives a really rounded approach to knitting.

            The Patterns: There are 40 patterns in this book, from the simple 'techno-cozy' (a pouch for your mp3 player or phone) to the more complicated 'punk rock backpack'. Each pattern comes with a colour photograph featuring a hot twenty-something wearing the item and a step-by-step instruction on how to make the item, the equipment needed and a little bit about the designer of each pattern. My personal favourite is the Alien Illusion Scarf - you look one way and it's just a stripy scarf, then the other way and it has alien faces on it! (though a word of warning - do not iron! I had a kink in mine and decided to iron it - next thing I know all my hard work has been put to waste because I have ironed out the alien faces). The great thing about the patterns is that they are all really modern, there are no fuddy-duddy doilies and ugly tea cozies, but a range of stylish knitted items that you would actually want to wear. I would say most of the designs are aimed at 15-20 year olds (things like beanie hats with devil horns or sweatbands saying 'geek'), but there is something for most ages, including things to be used by babies and cats! The range of items you can make is unbelievable - bags, socks, hats, gloves, blankets, sweaters, cat beds and even a bikini!

            As A Beginner: Speaking as someone who had never picked up needles before this book, I have to say I did find it a challenge. Although the book thoroughly goes through the basic techniques, when it came to the actual patterns, I struggled to pick it up. In the end I got a knitter-friend to take me through the patterns (which I guess is why having a Stitch 'N Bitch group is such a good idea!). Once I had them explained to me I found the patterns a lot easier to read, but I think without that help I would have given up. I also found that there were so many items I had to purchase - although the book itself was cheap it started to turn into an expensive hobby. For example the 'Chinese Charm Bag' involves not only particular sized needles and yarn, but also lining fabric and bamboo handles (which I still haven't been able to locate!).

            The Book Itself: The book is almost square in shape, which is a complete nightmare to try to fit on a regimented bookcase! It is printed in this weird orange and black layout (I think it's trying to look retro, but I think it just looks cheap), although it does feature 30 pages of glossy colour photos.

            Conclusion: I think this book is for 'in-betweeners'. As a complete novice I really struggled to pick up the patterns, although the background to knitting was really useful. I think that the sections on knitting techniques and knitting terminology might be a bit patronizing for expert knitters, but for people in -between it would be great - the patterns are challenging and modern, and prove that knitting can be cool!

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              09.01.2008 12:09
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              Well if you can't stitch, at least you can bitch...

              Knitting is taking over the world! Well, maybe not quite. But it's sure as hell trendy again.

              This came as something of a shock to me. I first became aware of the newly fashionable status of knitting when I was working at a leading museum in London. When I head there was a knitting circle taking place down the corridor from me at lunchtimes, I imagined it would be populated by a few grannies and mumsy types (stereotypes, moi?). So I was pretty surprised when I saw a train of the trendiest wendies in the place, people literally dripping design chic, heading for the room to get creative.

              Stitch n Bitch is the knitting bible for this new generation of knitters. Unlike older knitting books, it is designed for people who have never so much as seen a needle in the flesh before (and is thus ideal for me!) An introductory section takes you through the basics: different types of needles and yarn, casting on and off, various stitches, knitting shapes. This is well laid out, with really clear descriptions and pictures to assist even someone like me who is all fingers and thumbs. A second section follows, with a number of pretty trendy patterns, ranging from simple scarves and hats to trickier jumpers - and there's a clear explanation of how knitting patterns work to help you understand the strange masonic jargon that these things use.

              My only gripe with the book is the design. It's printed in monochrome, with orange and black type, which isn't very nice on the eye after a while. There are some full colour pictures of the patterns (with trendy models) but the feel is still very old fashioned.

              Go on and give it a go. It's the new yoga, y'know.

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