Beautiful photos, strange designs

Sarah Forth

1.5 Stars

May 28, 2015

by Nicky Epstein
Potter Craft, 2010. 240 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0307586520

EpsteinKnitting Block by Block is a handsome volume.

Printed on creamy coated stock, the multitudinous color photographs offer stunningly sharp, detailed close-ups of Epstein’s 150 designs, which are sorted by six broad topics: basic, ornate appliqué, creative colorwork, special techniques, cables and counterpanes, and eclectic style. Samples progress from beige at the book’s beginning to yellow/orange, purple, blue and so on through the rainbow, a beautiful and clever conception. Directions are written out and, where appropriate, charted.

That's the good news.

It's a mystery for whom this book was written. Not beginners. Epstein assumes users have already mastered some very sophisticated techniques: intarsia, entrelac, stranded colorwork, and cables among them. A few of these are briefly described at the back of the book, but not in any depth.

As for the designs themselves, I don't find many attractive and most of those I do you’ll find in other books. Granted, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but an intarsia pattern for a martini glass, complete with olive on toothpick? Really?

Many designs seem overwrought, a judgment that especially applies to the appliqué section. With others, I wonder to what use I might make of them.

The author attempts to answer that question by including 12 original projects. Now, an afghan, scarf, or bag made up of blocks I can understand. The sense of making a shrug or sweater out of blocks, which cannot be shaped to the body, eludes me. If a knitter is capable of using the techniques called for in these projects, he or she would be better off finding a good shrug or sweater pattern. The finished product would look better.

So, this is not the book to buy if you're looking for patterns. And experienced knitters who wish to learn new techniques and novel stitches might try the Harmony Guides' 101 Stitches to Knit by Erika Knight. Novices should purchase Barbara Walker’s Step-by-Step-Afghan Book instead, which may lack glorious color photographs, but is carefully written for beginners and rewards you with a handsome finished product.

As for Knitting Block by Block, pick it up from a discount book table or borrow it from your library, but please don't spend 30 of your hard-earned dollars on it.

Knitting Block by Block was furnished to me free of charge by Blogging for Books.