Sunday, 23 September 2012

Book Review: Cast On, Bind Off

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Cast On, Bind Off. 54 Step-by-Step Methods.
by Leslie Ann Bestor
Storey Publishing 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60342-724-1

Publishers and authors have noticed that there is increasing interest in alternative ways of casting on and off in knitting - this book is one of two recently published on the topic. The other book, by Cap Sease, offers 211 methods but has not yet been released in the UK. Where knitters may previously have managed with one or two methods to start and end their work, people now seek techniques with particular properties: a stretchy cast-off for the cuff of a sock; a closed cast-on for the base of a bag; matching results for both ends of a scarf.

Leslie Ann Bestor's book is compact, affordable and an excellent resource. It is carefully organised, and it is this organisation that takes it beyond the instructional information available for the techniques online. The book has two parts, one for Cast-Ons and one for Bind-Offs. Within each part the methods are arranged into categories, including for example stretchy, circular and provisional cast-ons. Within each category, there's a page of swatch photos allowing easy comparisons. Additionally, inside the front and back covers are suggestions for methods to use in particular circumstances. At the front, circumstances for cast-ons include methods to use at the end of a row or for toe up socks. At the back, circumstances for bind-offs include those for lace or stretchy ribbing. So, you don't need to know the name for the method before you start.

The 54 methods are made up of 33 cast-ons and 21 bind-offs. Included are both traditional methods and relatively recent developments such as Judy's Magic Cast-On and Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. Each method is described in the same format, which includes a description, photos (both front and back of a swatch) and step by step instructions, with step by step photos. Some of the methods also have a "Getting It Right" box, which covers alternative approaches, hints and tips.

The book is attractively produced. It is full of clear photos, and methods within each category have been worked in the same colour of yarn. In each case the colour allows the stitches to be seen in the photos, at least for me. The spiral binding means the book will lie flat when open.

Cast On, Bind Off is ideal for the knitter who finds that their standard technique isn't quite working under some circumstances and who would like to try something that might work better. It will also make a fine, and portable, reference book for those frustrated that the patterns they follow suggest the use of methods with which they are not familiar. I'm pretty sure that anyone who flips through it will be tempted to try something new. The people who might be dissatisfied are those already familiar with most of the techniques, those looking for fully comprehensive coverage or those for whom only video instructions will do.

I'm very pleased I bought my copy!

Disclosure: I purchased this book

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