While the timing wasn't planned, I now have a third book to share with you in November – I have just received my copy of Nicky Epstein’s Knitting Block by Block.
Just in time for holiday gift-making, Knitting Block by Block is a compendium of squares – an amazing array of knitting techniques and stitches – as well as tips on how to utilize the squares. Of some interest is a pictoral index of all the squares, made to be copied, cut, and individually placed into one’s own potential design templates. Additionally, there is a brief section on edging and square joining techniques (most of which are crochet) to help the crafter in the all-important finishing aspect of projects.
The blocks themselves are gorgeous – from the simple to the sublime. Epstein also includes several projects to make; however, I viewed these as merely so much imagination grease.
I attended a day of classes taught by Nicky this previous August in support of the book, during which participants could pre-order Knitting Block by Block. Each student was instructed to bring up to three 12x12 squares to class in either garter, stockinette or seed stitch. I, along with many of my classmates, only brought one – but still walked away with a completed project. There are three adorable animals included in the book, each needing only one square, and I made a cat. All students also walked away with many design ideas – and this is the strength of Epstein’s latest book. The blocks are fresh and fun, and there are many design possibilities.
My only issue with the book stems from Nicky’s one criticism (and it was very gentle!) of my work during the workshops – my, shall we say, lackluster sewing skills. It was clear after completing my cat, with its seam down the belly that would have made Frankenstein’s forehead stitches look like excellent plastic surgery, that sewing is not my strong suit. I knew this prior to class. I avoid sewing at all possible costs. Really.
In Knitting Block by Block, however, many knit embellishments are sewn on to completed blocks, and several projects have sewn block seams. This is the downside of the book – many knitters and crocheters just don’t want to deal with seams, or more generally, sewing. Given the various, virtually seamless garment construction options available to the experienced knitter, it might appear that Epstein is bucking current trends.
I choose to overlook this aspect of an otherwise well-conceived crafting book. Instead, I’d rather focus on the wide array of new stitches/combinations I can explore, as well as the portable nature of anything made from the book. I already have a project in my contemplation, using my own choice of blocks. Stimulating the designing and crafting imagination are strengths of Epstein the instructor, as well as Epstein the author.
So along with all that holiday baking, and dreaming of Sicilian multi-course meals, you will probably find me making blocks for the next few months. If my imagination is greased by any more books in November … I’ll definitely let you know.