Monday, 15 August 2011

Book Review: Power Cables

Power Cables: the ultimate guide to knitting inventive cables
by Lily M Chin
Interweave Press 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59668-167-5

I was attracted to this book (published in 2010) having seen an extract on reversible cables, a technique for which the author Lily Chin is justly famous. Reversible cables are useful on items like scarves, where both sides are on display, and one would like the back to be as attractive as the front. The book is a strong introduction to this area, leading the reader from an understanding of why a “normal” cable looks different on each side to the point where s/he could design their own the-same-on-both-sides pattern.

The book has two key features. Firstly, it is the definitive work on reversible cables. This is much more than a stitch dictionary. Secondly, it introduces Lily Chin’s novel way of charting cables. This method is not really intended to replace a conventional knitting chart, as detail at the stitch by stitch level may be omitted, but the book demonstrates that the method is a superb aid to the visualization and understanding of the construction of cable designs.

There are nine chapters in all. The first is an introduction to cables in general and is essential reading even for the experienced cabler. It includes tips on generating complex-looking patterns from a single cable operation by mirroring or using the half-drop; how to cable without a cable needle (two ways, one of which was new to me) and introduces Chin’s cable charts which are used throughout the book. Each of the next seven chapters concentrates on a particular cable technique and includes at least one knitting pattern using the cable in question. Cable types included are textural cables, travelling stitch cables, coloured cables, raised wale cables and phony (or mock) cables. The last chapter is on cable integration and includes suggestions for using cables in your own designs.

The book is attractive to look at with well-photographed project photos, and clear photos of swatches (although the book is more than a stitch dictionary, it can still be used as one!). There is thematic colour coding throughout, for example all the swatches in Chapter 3 are grey and all those in Chapter 4 are gold. The dependable Interweave Press pictorial glossary is included at the back.

There are 15 knitting projects in the book, with patterns for both men and women. The most appealing to me are the spectacular XOX Raglan Turtleneck pullover on page 59 () and I love the look of the Bi-color Brioche Stole on page 118. However, I am most likely to knit the Reversible Cuffs Hat (Page 126). All patterns include both written and charted (in conventional style) instructions.

You’ll love the book if:

  • You wish to gain confidence in understanding cables, so that you could substitute in an existing pattern or develop designs of your own

  • You simply enjoy cabling!

This book is a real resource and I can envisage referring to it for many years to come.

Disclosure: I purchased this book

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